People to See, Demons to Kill

As I'm sure everyone who wastes time reading this blog is aware of, I have these phases when I can't stop myself from turning every single conversation that I have into a passionate ramble about Nightwish.

Occasionally I get obsessed with other things too, like when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out last December. At that time the rest of my household was pretty much equally insane for the same reason so that worked out just fine because we were just making one another's fangirl feelings worse.
My mind isn't currently occupied with either Nightwish or Middle Earthly adventures although I am always subconsciously very much obsessed with both of them. Instead I have found an entirely new course to satisfy my escapist appetite with: a gem of American television - Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. 

Well yes, it's not strictly speaking brand-new as the series finale aired in 2003 - ten fucking years ago. Oh boy, am I old.

Let's take a moment to appreciate the fabulous fashion choices of the Scooby Gang in the late 90's.
I never really watched Buffy when it was on TV around the early 2000's. I guess that's just because I happened to watch Charmed - and I don't know, maybe it was on when I had skating practice. Which is a perfectly viable option by the way. However, I didn't start watching the show now, at the mature age of 21, because of childhood nostalgia but because I had a strong feeling that I should - and also because it is Joss Whedon's brainchild thus superb quality by definition. And maybe a little because of Spike.

I could easily deliver a Joss Whedon appreciation post, or a feminist analysis on Buffy, or something titled incredibly lamely "Buffy, The Fashion Slayer" because seriously have you seen how these people dress.
But actually, I just want to tell you why Spuffy is better than Bangel. In my opinion anyway. And god do I hate these silly ship names, like Bangel just makes me think of bagels and Spuffy kinda resembles fluffy and that's pretty much the exact opposite of Buffy and Spike's relationship.
I am going talk about other things as well but really, the reason why I started writing this post is the character development of Spike, and if you're not okay with that you should go home now.

The entire show in a nutshell. I stole this pic from tumblr, sue me.
So, let me jump right in the most horrifying and painful scene of the entire seven seasons and 144 episodes of BtVS. As a passionate feminist I should probably hate Spike for what happens in the scene in question but fortunately this is a TV show about vampires so we'll find our way around it.
If you're familiar with the show you know what occasion I'm referring to. If not, I'll explain briefly what's going on. First of all, Spike is a vampire, a soulless abomination, creature of the night, and Buffy is the Slayer whose job is to turn guys like Spike literally into dust. However, due to various circumstances that I won't go through now, Spike and Buffy have been having a lot of kinky sex throughout the previous episodes on this season (6). They're not exactly together though, and their relationship could be described as mutually exploitative. Spike is head over heels in love with Buffy (no, he doesn't have a soul; yes, he is capable of some form of love nonetheless). Buffy is kind of emotionally messed up, and is struggling with, on one hand passion and desire and on the other, her own moral issues concerning banging a mortal enemy.

Then there's this scene where Spike almost rapes Buffy.
Before we all lose our shit, let me remind you that Spike is essentially a beast who's killed - and most likely raped thousands of people during his ~120 years of vampire existence so there you go. He doesn't have a soul, which simply means that his understanding of right and wrong is a bit hazy. And so far, his affair with Buffy has basically consisted of her saying no while simultaneously pushing him up against a wall in an undeniably sexual manner. Hence a certain amount of confusion is bound to be present.

When I said kinky...
Obviously none of this would justify a rape, and that's not what I'm trying to do at all.

Actually I don't even know why I have such an urge to explain and defend Spike. This isn't tumblr after all, and I don't intend to get in a fandom war with some passionate anti-Spike-ist.

Anyway. Just to quickly demonstrate why Spike is better than Angel.

First, in case you haven't watched BtVS but are still reading this for some reason, unbeknownst to me, let me tell you about Angel. He's also a vampire, but unlike Spikey, he has a soul because gipsy-curse-magic stuff happened. He used to hang out with Spike and a couple of charming ladies when he still was soulless, ruthless killer. Now he's just a puppy, a brooding puppy to be exact. You see, if he experiences even a fraction of a second of pure happiness he will lose his soul and become quite unpleasant. This happened when he had sex with Buffy a few years back. That's why they're no longer together.
Just in comparison, soulless Spike is completely smitten with Buffy, accidentally almost rapes her, but stops when realises that this time no actually means no.
Soulless Angel almost kills everyone but doesn't because Buffy kills him first.
I would advice everyone to stay the fuck away from attractive vampires because clearly they are trouble.

This is looking to become a long, long post. I am sorry. No I'm not.

Let's forget about Angel because let's be honest, his constant sulking pisses me off. And also he's not British and sassy.

After the awful incident Spike falls apart and goes on for his own quest - to get a soul so that he might be worthy of Buffy's love. When he's passed several gory and violent tasks he's indeed rewarded with his soul, which causes him to fall apart even harder. And that, dear reader, is terrible to watch.

Stuff happens, apocalypse is once again near, the usual. Spike and Buffy don't really end up together but they do have a very special connection. Not so much physical this time. There's this amazing scene where Spike is trying to convince Buffy that she is going to come out as a winner. Here's what he says:

"When I say I love you, it’s not because I want you, or because I can’t have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are. What you do. How you try. I’ve seen your kindness, and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you, and I understand, with perfect clarity, exactly what you are.

This is definitely one of the most beautiful declarations of love that I've come across in films, TV or books. The sincerity and selflessness that he wants her to see, that this is not an attempt to get in her pants, but real and pure sentiment, detached from his desires and wants is heartbreaking and powerful. Moments - and more importantly - story arcs like this are the reason why I am so into pop-culture. When a singular scene, a storyline or a character in a series with 40 minute episodes affects you, makes you stop and think - that's when you know that it's not all pointless. That quote by Spike (so technically by Joss Whedon or whomever wrote it) has been with me since I heard it, and it is personally significant because it puts into words something that I haven't been able to. What's more, I strongly relate to some aspects of Spike's character development, especially how he learns to deal with his feelings toward Buffy.
I guess, that's the best thing you can get out of any kind of fiction: the feeling that you can empathise with a character - and in a way that they might empathise with you if they were real. Forming a connection to a story and learning something in the process - even if you're connecting with a bleached vampire dressed in leather - is exactly why stories are awesome.

There are so many other things about this show that I could discuss, but I think this is probably enough for one day. Just one more thing that I absolutely have to mention is how beautifully Willow's sexual orientation is handled. She is such an amazing character to begin with, and when they gave her a girlfriend I almost bursted with excitation. The way her lesbian relationships are not fetishized or made into spectacle makes me so happy because that's what the standard should be for every TV show and film. None of the issues that Willow has to face in the series originates from the fact that she's gay. And I feel gratified, which is weird because I shouldn't even need to think about this. I'm just so used to having homosexuality presented as a joke or a fetish that seeing it this way,  the way it is, gets my attention. I salute you, Master Whedon.

That's Tara and Willow and I am a puddle of goo.
Wow, okay, I should really stop before this gets any more out of hand.
Watch Buffy, it'll be good for you - once you've stopped crying and sobbing after the season 7 finale.

No comments:

Post a Comment