Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thoughts on Season Seven of Buffy The Vampire Slayer

It was a long journey, but I have finally come to the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I am going to miss sharing this experience with my twitter family and your often challenging remarks.  Out of all seven seasons, I would have to say that this was among my least favourite.  I believe that the show peaked between seasons  4-6.  I loved the character development of Willow and Spike, but as for Buffy herself, her selfish irritating ways, were only surpassed by Dawn.

Okay, I was not enthused with Spike having cognitive difficulties throughout most of the season.  I know that Whedon thought he was covering his ass blaming it on the woo woo, but really enough already.  When we consider that almost every second word coming out of Buffy's mouth is the word lame, it was just another sign of the disableism that has plagued the show from the very beginning. Also, can we possibly be more trope filled than neurologically atypical equals violent?

This episode also brought us the dueling mothers.  Spike was triggered by a song his mother sang to him and Principal Wood, was desperate to get revenge for the murder of his mother.  They ended squaring off in a battle and Spike declared that his mother loved him, and that Wood's mother chose the job over him.  So much for the supposed feminist slant of Buffy.  The treatment of Wood's mother suggests that one cannot possibly be a good mother and have a job. It is further problematic that the White mother was cast as ultimately loving, though she is the one who said hateful things to Spike after he changed her.

On the heels of killing off Tara, Whedon decided to give Willow a new interest named Kennedy from the potential slayers.  Unlike the relationship with Tara, Willow and Kennedy were not chaste.  With the exception of Willow turning into Warren on the first kiss, I was pleased with their physical closeness. There was even an episode with the two in bed clearly in the beginning of sex.  

This season saw the death of Spike and Anya.  I think the whole season was steadily built towards Spike's death. He did after all travel to the end of the world to retrieve his soul, so that he could be a better man.  The problem is that it read like a redemption for his actions.  Much of the season was focused on Spike trying to prove that he had changed, and the problem with that is that you cannot redeem an rapist. Not only did Spike rape Buffy is season 6, he also was extremely emotionally abusive to her though he claimed to love her.  Spike's death was tragic because he was easily the most interesting character on the show, when he was not mooning over Buffy, but as a point of redemption it fell flat. I don't buy into the soul vs no soul set up that Whedon created.  A rapist is a rapist.

My overall assessment is that Buffy is a far more likeable protagonist than Bella Swan from Twilight, but that really isn't saying much.   She often exhibited spunky agency and charged forward when she really needed to stop. Much of the time she was almost as self involved as Sookie Stackhouse.  In the end, I think that Buffy was full of a lot of fail, but in terms of the genre, Buffy really was no worse than much of the urban fantasy that is presently available.  As a text, though the message was supposedly girl power -- because women of colour were treated as disposable -- it fell short of its over arching message.  There are no great lessons to be learned from watching Buffy. Yes, in the end the White girl and her compatriots saved the world, but all that really did was affirm that woman ultimately means White woman.  

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