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Kendra and Lynne Edwards
-- desert rat, 20:56:23 08/09/02 Fri

I just got hold of Fighting the Forces, ed. by Rhonda Wilcox and David Lavery. I just read "Slaying in Black and White: Kendra as Tragic Mulatta in Buffy", by Lynne Edwards. I was wondering if anyone else had read it and what they thought.

I'm 'digesting' the paper and just wanting to get other people's thoughts.

[> Fighting the Forces -- Maroon Lagoon, 21:42:50 08/09/02 Fri

Why pay for this stuff in book form when you can get an infinite supply for free off the web?

[> [> Re: Fighting the Forces -- desert rat, 02:39:27 08/10/02 Sat

I didn't. .... I checked it out of my school library!

[> [> reference -- desert rat, 02:49:34 08/10/02 Sat

Thanks for the web page reference. However, when I tried to visit the page, I kept getting an error. Am I just having bad luck, or is there a typo?

Thank you!

[> [> [> It works for me. -- Maroon Lagoon, 12:24:55 08/10/02 Sat

I'm glad you didn't pay money for the book. That web address works for me in Netscape and Opera.

[> [> [> [> Re: It works for me. -- desert rat, 13:19:34 08/10/02 Sat

Thanks. It works now. Must have been a server or ISP thing.

[> [> [> [> Those academics and their high pay! -- Rahael, 14:19:59 08/10/02 Sat

Why should they get any money? What do they contribute to society anyway?

Okay, now I feel like going out and buying the book.

Rah, feeling irritable.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Those academics and their high pay! -- MaeveRigan, 15:00:11 08/10/02 Sat

Um--the Blood, Text and Fears conference, for one thing. I call that a contribution.

"Slayage," for another (, the Online International Journal of Buffy Studies (which seems to be offline, at the moment--does anyone know the what's happened to it?).

These kinds of things help academics justify their mania for Buffy and Angel, which otherwise would be scoffed at by their snotty academic peers and administrators.

[> [> [> [> [> [> I think you misunderstood my sarcasm -- Rahael, 15:02:32 08/10/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> Pseudo-academics, you mean? -- Maroon Lagoon, 15:26:48 08/10/02 Sat

Cf. Darby's point about people with no real arguments using trendy pop-culture references to make themselves seem hip.

Subversive queer readings of vampire as text? Uh, huh. If you buy that as legitimate scholarship, I've got a bridge I could sell you.

If it looks like gibberish and it quacks like gibberish, I'm going to make the leap and say, hey, maybe it's gibberish.

[> [> [> [> [> [> my position -- desert rat, 17:43:04 08/10/02 Sat

I would probably buy the book if I had money. As an impoverished grad student trying to get my degree so that I can toil in obscurity and further poverty, I'm happy to use the library.

I've read through a number of the papers in the book, but skipped some. I'll probably read them all in time, but my reactions to the papers thus far vary. I found a paper on the act of speech as a weapon in Buffy to be excellant. I've skipped (for now at least) the "queer readings of vampire as text". As Buffy is my only real frame of reference in meanings associated with vampires, the topics struck me as odd, and of lesser interest to me. However, to be fair, I should see what they have to say before I dismiss these authors.

What I am currently pondering are two papers dealing with Kendra. One author seemed to read a lot into her ethnicity (see thread topic), and seemed to offer evidence that her ethnicity was indeed significant in her casting. Another saw her relationships with Buffy and Giles to be a reflection of her adoption of the patriarchal orientation of Council procedures. I was just wondering if anyone else had read this and had any thoughts on it.

[> [> [> [> [> [> I believe desert rat had a question.... -- mundusmundi, 18:50:27 08/10/02 Sat a legitimate thread that got shanghaied by snarkiness. I can't answer it, as I haven't yet read the book in question, but any other takers?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> OK, mundus, I'll bite... -- redcat, 22:47:01 08/10/02 Sat

since I've read every article in Wilcox and Lavery's edited anthology, Fighting the Forces (FF), most of the articles on the Slayage
Journal academic website run by the same two author/editors (which does seem to be down, BTW, desert rat - they're due for a
new quarterly round of articles soon, perhaps they're down for posting/maintenance?), and most of the articles in the second hard-
published anthology of Buffy/Angel criticism, _Reading the Vampire Slayer_, ed. by Roz Kaveney.

And I'll also bite, mundus, because I, too, find Maroon Lagoon's original comment to desert rat's sincere question about Lynn Edwards' article, including her (sarcastic, I presume) suggestion of a website to be visited instead of paying to read FF, to be completely and inappropriately abrasive. And I was especially annoyed by her later *really* snarky response to Rahael, in which she implied that cultural studies, queer theory or intentionally subversive readings of texts are not legitimate scholarship, and that people who do this type of work are not true professionals, and thus apparently deserve no financial recompense for their work. I **strongly** disagree with Maroon Lagoon's snide presumptions about the legitimacy of critical cultural studies, literary theory and subversively politicized academic analysis in general, and of the articles in FF in particular. In fact, I find these comments aggravating in the extreme, so aggravating that unless their author can justify them through a carefully reasoned argument, I would not feel remiss in calling them trollish. More importantly, I find them unworthy of a legitimate question asked of members of this board. Given the nature of Maroon Lagoon's response, I think desert rat deserves an especially serious reply to her query.

And finally, I'll bite because, for better or worse, I came to this board several months ago directly because of Wilcox and Lavery's
Slayage Journal website, which included a link to this site's archives in one of its articles. Without what Maroon Lagoon so
patronizingly derides as the "pseudo-academics" of critical Buffy studies, I'd never have found the Masq'd gang or become a
member of this on-line community. So I feel like I owe some contribution in defense of this work and of the possible place of such
analyses on a board like this.

But desert rat, I'm not quite sure which FF article you're referencing in which Kendra's character is analyzed as adopting the
Watcher's Council's patriarchal authority, although this is a common-enough critique of the character. So I'll focus on Edward's
article, "Slaying in Black and White: Kendra as Tragic Mulatta."

I find the article carefully argued, thoughtfully presented and critically sound. Edwards places her work within the critical lineage
of Burke and Barthe (and thus, by extension, Foucault and Baudillard, as well as Campbell). Her main argument is that Kendra's
character reproduces almost all of the specific attributes of the Tragic Mulatta trope, as identified by Black feminist cultural and
literary critics like Hazel Carby and Barbara Christian (*1); and that it thus remains open to critiques that interpret the character
primarily as representative of the problematics of race relations in American culture. She carefully traces the specifics of the
classic trope, most dramatically manifested in Kendra's overt articulation as the light-skinned, aggressively-sexualized, highly-
exoticized, female "Dark Other," and in the cliche of her early death (after only 3 episodes), primarily as a plot device used to
move a white main character's, Buffy's, story of alienation and sacrifice forward in the narrative. Edwards minimally assess the
achingly ironic development of the trope for a post-modernist, post-feminist audience, including Kendra's growth toward an
independent identity during her second visit to Sunnydale, but she also notes that, progressive re-imagining or not, Kendra still
dies "at the end," as the Tragic Mulatta consistently has done throughout American literature written by whites (*2). Further,
Edwards supports her contention that the actual issue of race, as distinct from the show's concern with "otherness," displayed
through its metaphor-rich weekly parade of vampires and demons, is problematic for BtVS. She cites the limited and limiting roles
of Black female characters on the show, i.e., Olivia, who leaves Giles after her first encounter with the demon underworld; the
First Slayer, who can speak only through the intervention of a white woman's (Tara's) voice; and Nikki, the silent New York-
based Black slayer whom Spike kills in the 1970s and whose black leather coat becomes a symbol of his Big Bad Cool factor. (She
also tangentially mentions Forrest, but her focus is on female characters and the show's stated emphasis on issues of female

However, after laying out her case for interpreting Kendra primarily through the critical lens of racial stereotyping, and especially
through the character's close adherence to each of the specifics of the Tragic Mulatta cliche as it has developed in 20thC American
literature, by her conclusion, Edwards seems to want to excuse Joss Whedon for having relied on this egregious cultural
mythology in his representation of a Black female character, and for having created "marginalized representations" of characters of
color throughout his serial work. Her defense of Whedon rests on the argument that since he is not responsible for the existence
of the cliche or its stereotypic, tropic characteristics in the larger society, he can't really be held accountable for its presence in his
television series. She then argues that to dismiss the characters as merely or primarily racist depictions that perpetuate cultural
stereotypes is to miss the possibility that, because of it mythic nature, BtVS can, as Edwards phrases it, "illustrate and illuminate
historical 'truths' from which black and white viewers can learn to transcend their ordinary existence." (p. 96) This seems like a
rather disingenuous conclusion, a sort of academic "fan-wanking" cop-out intended to rescue a favorite cultural production from
the abandoned dust-heap of critically-slain texts. Edwards' initial case for reading Kendra as a near- classic Tragic Mulatta is too
strong to be side-lined by this type of redemptive denouement.

As for the core of her conclusion, however, there have certainly been vigorous debates on this board as to what attention, if any,
Joss Whedon and the ME writers "should" pay to ethical considerations, progressive social concerns or the impact of their work
on their audience, much less the larger society. These have ranged from fierce denials that Whedon is obligated to reproduce
anything resembling "after-school-special" morality plays, to more measured arguments over the role of the artist as a member of
society and the nature of the artist's responsibilities to their art ("the narrative") versus their responsibilities to their viewers. As
well, members this board have engaged in serious debate over the various possible interpretations of Tara's death, focusing on its
(actual or purported, depending on one's POV) re-enactment of the Evil-Dead-Lesbian cliche, and on the "meaning" of that death
in terms of narrative structure, character development and plot. The bulk of Edwards' critical analysis of Kendra's character and her careful detailing of the ways Whedon's plots "make use of" Kendra in a fashion that re-inscribes the Tragic Mulatta cliche are, IMO, academically and critically valid, in much the same way that the more carefully considered critiques of Tara's death as representative of the EDL cliche are valid. Just as clearly, however, and again only IMO, such an interpretation is not only not the only one available, it is not necessarily the richest nor the strongest interpretation of the show's overall text or the place of Kendra's character in it.

Edwards' analysis, for example, focuses on the earliest appearance of Kendra and the tense relationship that develops between her
and Buffy in her first episode. The ways in which the character's development in the later episodes subverts certain aspects of the
Tragic Mulatta cliche are glossed over in Edwards essay. I think a thoughtful comparison between Kendra's situation and the
Angel episode, "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?" would also allow a fuller reading of Whedon's "take" on the Tragic
Mulatta cliche, perhaps suggesting that he is willing to address criticism over the ways he represented Kendra, especially through
his later depiction of the mulatta character Judy, and might suggest that he has a more textured and less stereotypical approach to
the issue of a Black character's death than Edwards claims.

Further, while I think her article raises important questions about the position of Black characters in BtVS in particular and in
cultural productions such as television and literature as a whole, I would find an analysis that assesses such "othered" characters in
light of the show's broader concerns with otherness and difference more appealing. I think such an analysis might find that the
show and its writers and producers are, indeed, more comfortable creating vampire and demon characters s modeled on white
characters who act AS IF they were characters of color, while actual characters of color more generally do seem to act within a
fairly narrow range of racial stereotypes. Such an analysis would need to assess the character development and plot uses made of
Gunn as well as Kendra, the First Slayer as well as Forrest, and Faith as well as Spike. However, in a show that has as one of its
overt objectives an exploration of "otherness," simplistic conclusions or accusations of crude racism will not likely be able to be

While I am certainly always aware of BtVS's near lily-white (mis-?) representation of American society, having lived for a time on
the North American continent, basically within white culture and certainly mostly around lots and lots of white people, I suspect
that the racially narrow depiction of the show's characters is actually a more realistic reflection of the majority of white
Americans' experience than a more diverse cast list would provide. In that sense, Kendra's story is not so much a cliche as an
expression of a troubling truth. To say that a show is embedded in and reflects a racist culture is not the same thing as saying that
it is itself racist, of course. However, Edwards lays out a good enough case, in terms of Kendra at least, to argue that BtVS in the
early seasons may have unwittingly recreated the Tragic Mulatta cliche, and her own strong evidence for that argument, while it
isn't as complete as it might have been, subverts her final conclusion that we can and should excuse the show for playing into
racist stereotypes just because it's special genre, the myth re-told for a contemporary audience, allows that audience to learn
something good from something bad.

And finally, if Edward's work, as flawed as I think it is in its conlusions (if not its initial analysis), is merely trendy illegitimate scholarship, I'll take it over snarky, unsupported and anti-intellectual comments any day!

*1)  I was a bit surprised at Edward's reliance on the somewhat dated (and occasionally sloppy)
work of Donald Bogey. Her footnote notations to the more recent work of Lisa Anderson
suggest that the bulk of the article may have been written before Edwards' had access to
Anderson's texts.

*2)  Edward notes the contestation of the trope in literature written by Black women authors,
particularly Zora Neale Hurston and Bebe Moore Campbell.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: OK, mundus, I'll bite... -- Arethusa, 06:39:46 08/11/02 Sun

I would never argue that people shouldn't write and discuss articles attempting to understand and illuminate the less attractive aspects of humanity ingrained in our society. We live place and time when people are still being killed because they are different-a Black man in Texas, a gay man in Wyoming, and so on.


Couldn't one say that because any character displays negative characteristics, or suffers an unhappy fate, its creator is playing into the Fill-in-the-Blank Cliche? We could say Joss uses the Absentee Father Cliche, which proves the hatred American society has for fathers. There are fathers' rights organizations which could easily make that claim. We discussed an article a while ago where the author claimed BtVS emasulated men because women gave the orders and usually saved the day. Is Joss secretely or unknowingly perpetuating the FemiNatzi Cliche so beloved of right-wing conservatives? Willow is Jewish. Do the events of "Grave" perpetuate the stereotype of a Jewish conspiracy to overtake the world? Bethany in AtS's "Untouched" fulfills the cliche of the boderline insane, oversexed and homicidal child abuse victim. Is Wedon perpetuating the Incest Cliche?

I am not debating the validity or importance of Ms. Edwards' article. But I don't see how negative stereotypes can be avoided, if there is someone out there who is looking for them. I made a half-joking reply (that I accidently did not tone down) to a post of Tanker's a while back, accusing him of using anti-female language. He never intended to be sexist and rightly got a little upset.
Should only Black writers write Black characters, and only show them positively? Is Wedon really racist, anti-gay, or so imbued with negative stereotypes that he is unthinkingly perpetuating them before the world? I don't think we should stop asking the questions, but what happened to giving a person like Wedon the benefit of the doubt?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Fandom and job of cultural critics -- redcat, 11:36:49 08/11/02 Sun

Your thoughtful post here deserves an equally thoughtful response. For once, I find myself disagreeing with several points you've
made, an unusual occurrence to be sure. But in the spirit of civil and reasoned discussion that I take to be a prime motivator for most
members of this community, I feel compelled to comment on a few of your statements.

Your idea about "giving a person like Wedon the benefit of the doubt," makes sense if one is a either a fan or even just an interested
but casual observer/consumer. While Lynne Edwards probably is a fan, she certainly is not merely a casual observer. She is a social-
cultural critic, a professional academic in the field of critical cultural studies (*1), whose full-time job is to critically think about,
carefully research, thoughtfully write about and (hopefully) inspiringly teach others about what you cite as "the less attractive aspects
of humanity ingrained in our society," such as racism, sexism, classism and colonialism, with the objective of helping to make that
society less racist, less sexist, less classist and less colonialist. The heart of a critic's job is absolutely subversive. A critic can
*never* "stop asking the questions." As a fan, or even as an interested, deeply engaged, thoughtful and careful observer-essayist on
a board like this one, one may well choose to give Whedon the benefit of the doubt. More likely, one will experience his popular-
culture production in simultaneously multiple ways, i.e., as narrative, as embodied metaphor, as character development, as plot, as
visual enactment, as aural reproduction, as emotionally engaging experience, and perhaps as relating to one's own personal life
events or experiences. What such an approach most likely will not be able to do, and what it is exactly the job of the social-cultural
critic to do, is to understand that piece of cultural production, that "text" if you will, as both constructed from and reflective of broad
social and cultural patterns. The text, in its illumination of them, may also contest those patterns, as I personally think Whedon's
work often does. But Edwards' job as a professional, academic critic is to explore and expose those patterns AS A WAY to think
through the nature and power of them in contemporary society ­ that same society in which recently, as you so chillingly note, a
Black man was pulled to his death behind a truck *because* he was Black, and a gay man was strung to a fence and left to die
*because* he was gay. Edwards did not publish her work on a fan-board, even an analytical one like this. She published her essay in
a juried anthology of similar academic critiques, aimed primarily at an academic audience. Oddly enough, as I noted in my discussion
of her article, I believe that Dr. Edwards' stance as a true fan of the show actually caused her to subvert her own scholarship,
through her attempt to excuse Whedon on the grounds that we can all learn how to not be racist by watching his mythic contribution
to the long and nearly unbroken line of Tragic Mulatta figures in American literature, film and television. And it is because of that,
IMO, that her article is ultimately unsatisfactory as an academic analysis. When she writes as a fan, she ceases to be a critic, and her
justification for the existence of the classically Tragic Mulatta character she so carefully outlines in Whedon's early work is almost
laughably inadequate.

Secondly, I'm disturbed by your notion that Edwards somehow created or improperly imposed a "Fill-in-the-Blank" cliche on the
show, that she went looking for something bad and found it. The Tragic Mulatta is a very specific literary and film trope, identified
by a tightly clustered set of specific characteristic attributes that includes a characters' physical, emotional and social identity, her
abilities and goals, the story's narrative structures, plot lines and moral imperatives, and the reactions of other characters to her. The
trope and its cliched uses was identified in American literary criticism about 4 decades before Edwards wrote her essay. Major
critical analyses of it, and of texts in which it appears, have been done by literary critics as famous as Toni Morrison and Audre
Lorde, as well as those who are famous only within specialized disciplines in the academy, like Hazel Carby and Barbara Christian
(who is one of my personal favorites, although Hazel has both a great flair for clothes and a wonderfully dark sense of humor, and is
a fabulous dinner guest!). The trope is neither sloppy in its identification nor fuzzy enough in its boundaries to be applied
indiscriminately across a broad range of literary female characters of color. Edwards articulates the specifics of the trope extremely
well, and clearly identifies specific aspects of Kendra's character, her physical presentation and speech (including her bad Jamaican
accent), the lines she delivers, the plot movements she's involved in, the reactions of other characters to her, her reactions to those
other characters, and her place in the overall narrative, all in support of her contention that the character and her story arc do, indeed,
reflect **very closely** all of the most important attributes of the previously-identified cliche. This is not the same as somebody
claiming that Joss must be anti-Semitic because the show's only Jewish character tried to end the world. Nor is it the same thing as
saying that Joss is "so imbued with negative stereotypes that he is unthinkingly perpetuating them before the world," as you suggest.
Although I personally disagree with Edwards' contention that we should read Joss' use of the trope as morally instructive, I prefer to
trace what I see as a growth in his attitude toward and work with characters of color over the six years of the show. I think, like the
rest of us, great artists are open to change and growth. I'm still not sure what he's doing with Gunn, but he's moved far beyond the
urban, Black, street-tough, gang member his character was originally presented as. Had Kendra not been killed -- which seemed
necessary in purely plot terms to get the "second slayer" out of the way and in narrative terms to send Buffy to LA for the summer in
disgrace, regardless of Kendra's racial identity -- I think we might have seen much more interesting developments of her character
that would have allowed Whedon to play out the trope and truly contest it, as I think he was trying to do with Judy, rather than
merely replay and get stuck within it, as I think Edwards' analysis convincingly demonstrates he did.

If you have problems with the analytical work of Edwards and other academics like her being presented on this board, then please
take that up with me (or with desert rat, who originally brought the topic here). I'm more than willing to discuss what is appropriate
for this board if this is not, and perhaps, given shadowkat's comments (below) on overly academic language being used here, that is
a discussion we should have as a community. But it rankles me to see the entire enterprise of critical cultural analysis, in which I've
professionally been involved for a dozen years, dismissed first by Maroon Lagoon as "pseudo-academics" and now by you as
something that merely plays on negative stereotypes for shock value. If you want to argue that Kendra does not fit the Tragic
Mulatta cliche, or (what is probably a more fruitful exercise) that such an analysis is less interesting or less satisfying or less
informative than a different type of analysis, please, be my guest. Just expect me to keep asking questions, 'cause that's at the heart
of what I do.

(*1) I've never met Dr. Edwards, but a quick Goggle search based on her 2-line bio at the back of Fighting the Forces uncovers the
following: she earned her Ph.D. from U-Penn and now teaches at Ursinus College, a small liberal-arts institution in Pennsylvania;
besides her published work in the fields of communication and popular cultural studies, she is also on the editorial board of a new
peer-reviewed on-line academic journal, "Popular Communication," whose editorial scope provides (quoting from their website) "a
forum for scholarly investigation, analysis, and dialogue on communication symbols, forms, phenomena, and strategic systems of
symbols within the context of contemporary popular culture. Popular Communication will publish articles on all aspects of popular
communication texts, artifacts, audiences, events, and practices, including the Internet, youth culture, representation, fandom, film,
sports, spectacles, the digital revolution, sexuality, advertising/consumer culture, television, radio, music, magazines, and dance. The
journal welcomes diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives.... [It] is intended for scholars, researchers, and educators in
mass communication, advertising, media studies, visual communication, and cultural studies. It will also appeal to readers in family
studies, gender studies, race/ethnic studies, sociology, social psychology, women's studies, American studies, and other disciplines
with an emphasis on or interest in popular communication." As Sophist notes, these are specialized fields using specialized
vocabularies. Entering them has only one requirement, the same one that's true for every field of human endeavor - you gotta learn
the lingo before you can play the game....

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Thank you -- Arethusa, meekly, 12:02:52 08/11/02 Sun

for your very thoughful post. I'll be more careful with my petulant streak in the future. It didn't occur to me that I was writing as a fan until well after I made that post-then it was too late.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Fascinating points in both r'c and arethusa's posts -- shadowkat, 08:34:46 08/11/02 Sun

First - haven't had the pleasure of reading FF b/c isn't in bookstores. Although I have explored Tried submitting to them - but I'm afraid my essays aren't well
academic enough and I'm too busy to edit and make them more so. (Bad excuse I know.)

1. Academia is an odd place. Or at least my experience of it has been. And the response of those of us who have left it or never quite got in, tends at times to be snarky.
But I don't know if that's where MAroon was coming from exactly. I do know - that occassionally I find the academic scholarship on the board to be off-putting, but this has more to do with the tone and use of the words which feel to a layperson as "pretentious" or "outside" the common vernacular. Legalese by the way has the same overall effect - placing a unintentional (or actually intentional from some lawyers' pov) distance between the reader and layperson. This distance may cause someone to make snide comments.

2. Another problem I've encountered with the posting of essays on the internet - which Lagoon points out - is why would anyone buy something they can get for free? I asked a potential agent if I could publish my work - I'd written over 20 essays, 8-10 pages in length and have had numerous requests for them. A couple of people even asked if I was planning on publishing them in a book - they would certainly buy it. The agent said that editors and book publishers as a general rule do not publish work that has been released first on the internet. If people have access to it for free - why buy. And he strongly advised me not to post any portion of the novel I'd written to my site. (He decided not to represent still looking for an agent at this point.) There is a view in the publishing field that work published on the internet is unworthy. This is an elitist old school view that has been disproven by the success of certain self-published works including House of Leaves - an artistic and unique book which was released first as an electronic work on the internet. But as Stephen King discovered one can lose quite a bit of money by publishing something on the internet first.

What traditional trade publishers and writers don't understand about academic scholarship - is that for academics and lots of ex-academics and information junkies -the free-exchange of information and scholarship is often more important than the money. I did not write my Buffy essays for money. If I wanted to make money - I'd write something else -which I've been encouraged to do. I wrote them out of love for the show, a desire to share thoughts and ideas with others similarly obsessed, and a need to figure out a few things about my world. So I chose a tv show to do this exploration - it was my choice to do so.
It does annoy me greatly when people take issue with that.
It sounds like the writers of FF did the same thing. And I have to say I admire them for taking the next step and publishing their work outside the internet.

But I can see why some may take issue with them for doing it.

Onto the far more interesting topics discussed!

1. Kendra - was she really mulatto? For some reason I thought she was African from Kenya? Was I wrong?
Not that it's relevant. I do see an interesting theme
developing in Ats and Btvs. They appear to be attempting to use the ensouled vampire as a metaphor for a mulatto or a person who is excluded from two worlds. I certainly saw that metaphor being emphasized in Are You Now or Have You Ever Been - which by the way was a reference to the MCARTHY
Hearings - where screenwriters and others were dealing with charges of communisim. "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been a communist sympathsizer? Supporter of a leftist cause?"

At issue in Angel - very subtle at times - is the question which side are you on? Btvs often asks the same questions of its characters. You are either on my side or against me.
Willow certainly showed this in the last few episodes. In Villains she makes it clear. If you are against me - I destroy you. Angel also makes it clear in Forgiving - you are against me? Stay away. Problem with life is there are usually more than two sides and hey, it's not that simple.
I love Holtz's line to Justine in Loyalty. She asks how Wes and the others can work for a vampire. Holtz says "Life isn't always black and white, Justine. It's not that simple.."

4. The problem with cliches is they are almost impossible to avoide. A fiction teacher of mine once told me that there are no new ideas. Just new ways of expressing them.
Hence the cliche. Some cliches bug me more than others. My personal pet peeve is the bad boyfriend turned rapist cliche/fatal attraction - really hate that one. They sort of redeemed it by not killing the guy at the end and having him seek a soul instead of being dusted. Usually? He's dusted.

While I can see where Edwards comes up with her racist cliches and holds Whedon somewhat responsible. I agree with redcat. I think that is one interpretation and the least interesting. Gunn, Forrest, Trick, Kendra, Olivia, and Nickki
did not come across to me as minorities or blacks or mulattos. They came across as people with histories and concerns, fully realized characters. And all were very different. Trick was actually one of my favorite villains.
He seemed to really get off on being a vampire. And he was different than the other vamps. He was a businessman, made me think of an organized crime boss. Kendra felt like a woman who was raised at birth to follow a calling, a calling her parents and community supported with religious devotion. When i compare Kendra and Buffy what I see is how cultural attitudes can build a personality or individual calling. To Kendra - slaying was her religion. Buffy sees it as a job. Buffy really doesn't have a religion. Kendra sees the world with rules and boundaries and an end zone. Buffy wishes it had them but doesn't see them and takes life and her job on a case by case basis. One of the most interesting Kendra/Buffy scenes is in Giles' Library where they discuss the role of slaying. Kendra tells Buffy Angel is a vampire and should die. Is supposed to die. Buffy says the soul changes things. Kendra doesn't see it. A rigid rules based cultural view contrasted with a more open less rules based view. Forrest is actually very similar to Kendra. He sees the Initiative as a way of life, a calling, nothing should distract you from it. Girls are well just like ice cream, enjoy them but don't let them take you from your calling. Riley is struggling with this concept. Forrest represents part of the reason for that struggle. His race seemed well irrelevant to me. (Of course I'm not black - so perhaps I have the luxury of not seeing that, don't know.) Olivia's purpose was to show why giles has little to no romance in his life. Joss Whedon in his commentaries for HUSH mentions how Olivia is scared off by the horror of it all. She is NOT a "black" character. She is Giles' lover and a person. If she had been played by someone who was white - would anyone have made the criticism?

2. I remember back in undergrad writing a critical analysis on the tv show MASH. My professor at the time criticized me for not being more critical of MASH's improper treatment of women on the show. She felt that the negative representation of women on the show MASH as love objects, sex objects, or objects ridicule should have been addressed more in my essay. I was more interested in the use of Black Humor in a horrible setting - like war and the delicate balance of humor with drama. I really hate knee-jerk "issue" topics. But was getting so tired of getting flamed for forgetting to address them, eventually gave in.

Still tired of seeing the "issue" topic overtake other equally legitimate ones. I think sometimes we can beat an issue into the ground so that the whole piece of work is blotted out by it and those who are not interested or not directly involved with the issue begin to resent the people who are and wish they'd disappear. In college this happened with the Feminist Movement. My friends and colleagues got to the point were the issue was an annoyance. People became sick of their anger. Nothing got accomplished. They got ignored. And a lot of what they were saying, the valid stuff? Got lost.

I'm not saying issues aren't important. I've espoused many in my life. But beating someone over the head with one? Not a great idea. People as a rule don't like being told what to think or do about something. They like to discover it on their own. Part of the reason I love BTVS and ATS so much is it doesn't beat me over the head. The issues when they are there are subtly referred to through metaphor and theme and character development. I still don't know what I think
about some of the stories presented in Season 6, but they all made me think, quite a bit.

And the cliches? I don't mind so much, not as much as I've minded them in other television shows (I've watched a lot of tv in my lifetime). Whedon seems to give them new twists.
The cliche of the father's betrayle in Helpless - was actually quite thrilling. And the bad boy rape scene cliche - actually ended up throwing the rapist on a path to possible maturity and redeemption as opposed to the more predictable big bad route. Cliches sometimes can be useful and at times - their continued use means we haven't solved whatever issues they represent. The cliche still exists because well it's still relevant in our unconscious minds. We still have something to say about it. And the negative cliches? The blots on our media? They also exist because we as a society have yet to take steps to erase or change them. Until we do - they will pop up. Screaming at tv shows and media isn't in my opinion the most constructive way to do it. Creating your own art, creating art that challenges the cliche, working to show the world how the cliche is wrong? While far more difficult and seemingly impossible? Maybe the more constructive approach. Positive action often provides postive results. Negative action often equals negative results.

Anyways not sure if I stayed on topic or not. But thanks for making this thread interesting.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Books and academics (even further OT, but oh well) -- mundusmundi, 09:20:52 08/11/02 Sun

Academia is an odd place. said it. I've been teetering along the fringes of it for several years now myself. Often my responses are contradictory, either defending academics or mocking their pretentions. I don't necessarily disagree with Maroon's comments; I just thought that their tenor was undermining desert rat's sincere atttempt at discussion.

2. Another problem I've encountered with the posting of essays on the internet - which Lagoon points out - is why would anyone buy something they can get for free?

A few years ago I had a debate with an intelligent, visionary older man who sold me my old car. He was involved in computers and prophecized that one day the internet would make books entirely obsolete. Maybe he'll be right in the long run, but at the moment I see numerous obstacles before that prediction becomes a reality.

Personally, I lean toward Rah's feelings about books having sentimental value. Moreover, I think that books are extremely practical. I can only read off a computer monitor for so long before I start going zooey. Particularly if the subject is interesting, I like to be able to carry it around. Go to a cafe and lounge on an easy chair with it. Take it into the restroom where, as everyone knows, all profound thinking occurs.

Aesthetically, I like to feel the pages in my hand. I like turning them. That's why I frequently print posts off this board. And that's why I wouldn't be adverse to spending money on something that originated on the net. Also, if money's an issue, follow desert rat's example and go to the library. (They have DVD's there too, incidentally. If more people took advantage of this, would Blockbuster go out of business?)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Sapere Aude -- Rahael, 09:49:05 08/11/02 Sun

I love them, much the same reasons that Mundus outlines. Every book I buy, I commit the sacrilege of writing in my name, the date and place of purchase. Nearly every place I visit, I buy a book.

There is also a huge problem with the internet - many institutions in Britan are finding that things recorded for posterity in electronic form sometimes become unreadable because the technology used to create them become obsolete. This is one of the biggest problems faced by copyright libraries like the British Library - who are trying to make their collection available electronically. Both forms are vital.

A book's techonology will never be rendered obsolete with the passage of progress.

As for academia, ironically, books on pop culture will probably find a much wider audience than dry as dust traditional academic tomes. A close friend of the family said that his book once published probably paid him about 50 pence an hour for the work he had put in. My tutor's book about church courts in early modern England is a key text for those interested in the field of sexuality, marriage and law, but would no where near find the readership that the essay on subversive queer readings of the show.

Also, it is my understanding that with the huge slash fan fiction genre, that essay may prove more interesting to many hard core fans than anything else in that book.

By the way, Maroon Lagoon, authors still get money every time one of their books get taken out of libraries - at least that is so in Britain. So Desert Rat still contributed money to the authors of that book.

As someone who decided not to do any DPhil at all, than do one in an obscure and uninteresting area that no one else had attempted, I must confirm that there are as many 'ridiculous' and 'pretentious' subjects in the traditional, 'approved' scholarship as there in more easily ridiculed areas. THis is more enforced by the chronic underfunding of academia than anything else.

There's a quote that no book is ever underservedly remembered, though many are undeservedly forgotten. As I used to sit in centuries old libraries, filled with books written by other students who had formerly sat there, (quite possibly the times where I have been happiest) I know that academia still provides a haven for serious thought and questioning that is sometimes missing everywhere else. It is not surprising that many of my favourite posters here have, or still, teach at universities.

Moreover, venture out of the Western world, and you'll find that academics play even more vital roles in maintaining civil society.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: OT - Books -- Brian, 10:45:52 08/11/02 Sun

When its comes down to which medium has lasted the longest and will last the longest, books win.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Teachers and Persons -- mundusmundi, 12:44:29 08/11/02 Sun

There's a quote that no book is ever underservedly remembered, though many are undeservedly forgotten. As I used to sit in centuries old libraries, filled with books written by other students who had formerly sat there, (quite possibly the times where I have been happiest) I know that academia still provides a haven for serious thought and questioning that is sometimes missing everywhere else. It is not surprising that many of my favourite posters here have, or still, teach at universities.

Of course I agree, and not just because I've been a teacher and am about to become a student again. Academia has its share of silliness, but in a way that just reinforces the fact that scholars are as human as everyone else. Worth remembering, often forgotten.

Speaking of quotations, I can't for the life of me recall who wrote this (could have been anyone from Sagan to Bloom), but a famous scholar not long ago addressed the paradoxical attitude that American culture has toward academia. He wrote that we are suspicious of intellectuals, but we are not disappointed when our children become one.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Interesting discussion - Reminds me why I love mm and Rah :-) -- Dedalus, 13:20:07 08/12/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> books are like old friends and good wine - the best of them get better with age -- redcat, 13:44:01 08/11/02 Sun

I love books!!! When I packed up my library to move it across the Pacific last year, the movers kept shaking their heads.
Their office manager politely suggested that I might want to winnow through them when she realized I'd be paying to ship over
4,000 pounds of paper more than 6,000 miles. But every time I go to the used book store to sell a few, I just come home with
many more.... :)

BTW, authors don't get paid in America when their books are checked out of a library, and it's only the tiniest fraction of the
elite at the very tops of their professions, or those who write specifically for general or mass audiences, who actually make any
money off academic writing.

Case in point: my dissertation chair wrote the 4th-best-selling American colonial history text in the history of academic
publishing. Given that the majority of copies of academic books are purchased either by libraries or by undergraduate and
graduate students who are forced to do so as part of their college course work, this means that her text was widely enough
assigned by other professors that nearly 1 out of every 20 college students in the US in the 1990s probably read (or at least
were assigned to read) parts or all of her work. On its 10th anniversary, the publishers brought out a "new" edition, which
included a retrospective "afterword" written by her about the impact of the book on her field, and a new, more brightly-colored
cover. The price went up by almost $2 for the new edition, of which she received an increase in her royalties of about 17 cents.

From the royalties for this book, she has been paid ­ over a period of thirteen years and after the six years of unpaid labor it
took for her to research and write the book -- not quite enough money to hire a local, non-union contractor to remodel the
attic of her house into a personal study, with built-in book shelves, a larger dormer window for light, better electrical
connections for her computer, and a small sleeping platform for her old futon, on which she naps during those long marathon
writing sessions. She's hopeful that after the next four or five years, if the book continues to be assigned in college classrooms,
she might just be able to pay off the loan she had to take out to finish paying off the contractor. But on the day we moved her
desk and library from her living room into that new attic study, we decorated its walls with some of the hundreds of letters
students from all over the country have sent her, thanking her for writing something that helped changed their lives.

No academic does it for the money. It's just too bad the bank won't take those letters against the interest on the loan, eh?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: books are like old friends and good wine - the best of them get better with age -- shadowkat, 14:04:09 08/11/02 Sun

"No academic does it for the money. It's just too bad the bank won't take those letters against the interest on the loan, eh?"

Very true and something I've learned in the past six years of obtaining rights to academic journal content to disburse in online databases for well little money in royalties.

This is a concept that trade (general mass market book
and magazine) publishers don't understand. Why would someone spend all this time and effort to write something which makes no money?

Well - tenure is one answer. In some universities it is a recquirement to write a certain number of papers and books.

Another - is just the pure absolute pleasure of it. I certainly didn't write my essays for money.

The problem with publishing is well it's not as easy to get something published as you might think. I'd love to publish a book of essays for example - but no buyers. Can't afford to self-publish. And to be honest? Getting more out of the fan mail from the site. Yes- prefer books to electronic.
I own more than I can possibly count. Half reside with my parents because I can't fit them in my apartment. And I buy everything - no genre or type of book escapes my attention.
As for electronic? Print off reams of paper - because not real good at reading all this onscreen without going blind.

So the publishers out there who were terrified that the internet and advent of electronic books would replace print - have been proven wrong. People just can't carry a tiny electronic book or laptop to bed, on the subway, into an airplane or into the bathroom with them conviently. Besides it's tough on the eyes.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: books are like old friends and good wine - the best of them get better with age -- aliera, 05:11:19 08/12/02 Mon

I do the same. The subject 's far from closed on internet publishing though. I do as much if not more research on the internet as at library. There is incredible access on the internet and immediacy, and I think we will have the capability to read in bed or anywhere one day. Then I'll really be in trouble. *grin*

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Specialized vocabulary or jargon? -- Sophist, 09:54:26 08/11/02 Sun

I do know - that occassionally I find the academic scholarship on the board to be off-putting, but this has more to do with the tone and use of the words which feel to a layperson as "pretentious" or "outside" the common vernacular. Legalese by the way has the same overall effect - placing a unintentional (or actually intentional from some lawyers' pov) distance between the reader and layperson. This distance may cause someone to make snide comments.

This seems to be a problem with most specialized fields. In the early years of a new area of study, the participants tend to give words their common usage. The desire for greater precision then results in fine distinctions, the coining of new words, and/or the emphasis on archaic or obscure definitions. After a while, a technical vocabulary separates the practitioners from everybody else. The process seems inevitable, given enough time.

It's easy to see the frustrations this creates. Those on the outside want an explanation in "plain English" (as though there really is such a thing!), without realizing the loss of precision that requires. Many on the inside use the specialized vocabulary to intimidate others (and, perhaps, to hide their own insecurities). The legal profession seems particularly prone to this, but no profession is immune -- just look at the way science popularizers like Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould were sometimes criticized by their "peers".

Part of the criticism of lit crit seems to me to arise from the use of specialized vocabulary in ways that appear strange or even wrong to outsiders. Such writers may suffer more from such criticism because literary analysis has always had a more traditional vocabulary, and people aren't yet used to the change. Part of the criticism, of course, may come from the use of fancy words to hide ridiculous assertions.

Personally, I appreciate the fact that posters here are willing to use a sophisticated vocabulary, because I learn a lot that way. I also don't feel intimidated about asking for an explanation if I don't understand, and I hope that is true for those who read my more obscure posts.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Specialized vocabulary or jargon? -- mundusmundi, 12:33:23 08/11/02 Sun

Personally, I appreciate the fact that posters here are willing to use a sophisticated vocabulary, because I learn a lot that way. I also don't feel intimidated about asking for an explanation if I don't understand, and I hope that is true for those who read my more obscure posts.

I love learning new things, particularly new words. I keep a dictionary and thesaurus beside my desk, because I never know when I'm going to come across a word I haven't seen before.

Also got one of those calendars. Yesterday's word was fanfaronade. Ain't dat kewl?!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Words, words, beautiful words -- shadowkat, 13:53:00 08/11/02 Sun

Actually have a love of learning new words. Even if I'm not a genuis at spelling them. One of my favorites was redcat's Neurasthenic. Cool.

Then of course there's the slang term I discovered recently - "blog" - I think it means data on the writer
or information on the website person.

I tend to figure out the meanings of words via the context.
And see their use as a necessary technique in writing clearly, concisely and well.

That said - nothing is worse than to use too many long arachic words to get across a point which could be clearer with a few short well-chosen ones. I'm not saying anyone on this board does that!! I've read and learned quite a bit here. But I know from my experience in law school that there are a few words such as herein, wherefore, that it
would be nice to not see again any time soon. ;-)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> "rabble-fish" -- redcat, 15:31:27 08/11/02 Sun

was my calendar's daily word for my solar return a few days ago. Definition: "A fisherman recognizes two general classes of
fish, such as are saleable in the market and such as are not. The latter is termed 'rabble-fish' ...perfectly wholesome, and
therefore the food of the fisherman and his family, but yet not sufficiently esteemed to be sold in the market." (from Joseph
Wright's "English Dialect Dictionary, 1896-1905").

Hmmm... Seems like a pretty good description of our board. Maybe "Beware the Masq'd Rabble-Fish Gang!" could be our next motto?

...and 'kat, I realize that I tend to get long-winded in my posts and that I sometimes use overly formal sentence construction,
lots of clauses and a complex vocabulary. I'm sorry if you or others find anything I've posted here annoying or off-putting. I
certainly never intended that, but it wouldn't be the first time someone's told me they find my writing or speech disconcerting.
My friends sometimes complain that when I'm on a roll, I talk in paragraphs, with complex sentences, multiple clauses,
parenthetical statements, precise word choice and generally correct grammar. The real problem is that I think in paragraphs,
too. I often speak in my own mind as if I were writing formal text. I'm convinced this is because I learned to read too young,
before I got to learn enough language through verbal speech to make that my knowledge base. The first fully articulated
speech that came out of my mouth (when I was already three - I was a nearly silent infant) was a full sentence with two clauses.
My mother used to swear she could hear the commas. So I apologize for the form of my speech and my sometimes overly
vigorous presence on the board. As for the content of any of my posts, well, they'll have to stand ­ or not ­ on their own
merits, eh?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [>, you are not off-putting -- shadowkat - bowing head in apology, 20:09:08 08/11/02 Sun

Oh dear. I tried to deflect the possibility of you thinking I meant you personally by saying "NO ONE ON THIS BOARD"
but oh well.

I have learned quite a bit from your prose. I was trying somewhat clumsily to explain the difficulty non-academics have with academics without ruffling feathers. Impossible obviously. Did not mean to offend.

Some of the best writers write as you do...Faulkner, Joyce Carol Oats, Dickens, Austen...while there are others like
the author of the Corrections, which won the National Book Award, that I want to hit. You do NOT write like him.

What I was trying to discuss was the problem with "elitism"
or "exclusiveness" of language in some professions. The legal one being a major violator. Often we throw degrees at each other, forgetting that someone who has none may have something more powerful to say than we do, but is well somewhat put-off or afraid of speaking up. I really don't see that happening here very often. Just look at the posts by non-academics, 15 and 19 year olds. Exegy posted some brillant work and is still an undergraduate. (*This would never have happened if she was put-off by us.) Age and scholarship and experience while important are not the only things that provide us with insight. Again I am NOT saying that you feel this way - please this is NOT in any way directed towards you or sophist or any of the other posters. I'm talking in general terms.

I guess I was trying to explain why some people may react the way they do to language. Writing can elicite the oddest emotions. Without intending to we offend - as I feel I may have offended you. If I have - please accept my heartfelt apology it was not intended. Was merely offering something up for discussion.

Must learn to stick to essays and not write spontaneously.
Gets me into trouble.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> And you didn't ruffle my feathers -- redcat (who mostly has fur anyway), 20:34:54 08/11/02 Sun

shadowkat, you were incredibly polite and sensitive and did not offend me *at all*. I understand that your posts spoke in general terms & were not directed at me. My apology comes from my own musing heart, not your comments. Please know that.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Blogs -- Darby, 07:06:50 08/12/02 Mon

As I understand it, blogs are derived from bloggers, software that allows someone to easily upload their periodic musings, kind of setting up an internet-accessible diary posted like some boards are, from recent to older entries.

I'm fairly addicted to Neil Gaiman's blog at

although it seems to be down right now. I haven't checked, but my impression is that there are LOTS of blogs out there.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Blogs -- d'Herblay, 07:20:12 08/12/02 Mon

I think that blogger is derived from blog rather than the other way around. Blog is a truncation of weblog -- a frequently updated logbook posted to the World Wide Web.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> gotta question a few things -- anom, 23:40:10 08/11/02 Sun

"Her main argument is that Kendra's character reproduces almost all of the specific attributes of the Tragic Mulatta trope...and that it thus remains open to critiques that interpret the character primarily as representative of the problematics of race relations in American culture."

What effect does it have that Kendra was not from American culture? I don't think it's mentioned where she's from, but her accent sounds Caribbean, & her Watcher has a non-European name. Not only is she not American, she's been isolated from her own country's culture since her parents sent her, as a small child, for Slayer training.

I'm certainly no scholar on this subject (not on any, in the academic sense), but what I've heard about the Tragic Mulatta theme includes her having feelings of not fitting in anywhere--not in the black world, not in the white world--so that she's torn over her racial identity, & usually a decision about whether to try to "pass." Kendra came across as confident & sure of her role, yet open-minded enough to question & even change her approach--the one she'd been taught since childhood--when Buffy & her own new experiences challenge it. She didn't seem to feel a need to fit in w/either her own culture or America's. And whatever she felt about being the Slayer & about how to be the Slayer had nothing to do w/her race. In other words, her "mulatta" status didn't seem to be an issue for her or for the regular characters, & certainly not the cause of her death. My impression--& it's no more than that, so please let me know if it's wrong--is that that's not the case in the cliché. It's definitely not the case for Judy in Are You Now..., but what that ep does do is clearly show society's racism as the root of the problem. As far as I can see, it's not even a factor for Kendra.

"Kendra's overt articulation as the light-skinned, aggressively-sexualized, highly-exoticized, female 'Dark Other'"....

Well, not all that dark @>). Exoticized, certainly. But Kendra never struck me as "aggressively sexualized." I'm not sure whether you mean that her own sexuality was aggressive (didn't look that way to me) or that she was treated in a sexualized way (beyond that her clothes were kinda tight, I didn't see that either--at least, no more than most of the women on the show).

"She cites the limited and limiting roles of Black female characters on the show, i.e., Olivia, who leaves Giles after her first encounter with the demon underworld; the First Slayer, who can speak only through the intervention of a white woman's (Tara's) voice...."

The First Slayer speaks through Tara at 1st, but later she speaks in her own voice. True, this is at the insistence of Buffy (white), but she does.

As to Olivia, I didn't see any indication that she cut her visit short. We don't know how long she was planning to stay in the 1st place, & at the end of Hush, she's talking calmly about it, almost in musing tones, w/Giles. No freaking out or distancing herself the way Jenny (white) did after her encounter w/Eyghon (which was admittedly more personal). Olivia is one of the few non-regular characters, of any race, who get out of Sunnydale alive.

And that's my main problem w/this reading of Kendra & other black females on BtVS: it seems to ignore the context of what happens to characters in general on the show. Indeed, there are few non-white characters on BtVS, but it takes place in a small California town &, as you said, redcat, may well reflect the populations of many such towns. I've actually been surprised to see as many black characters as are shown (& how few Latino/a characters there've been), & often in nonstereotyped positions--teachers & the guidance counselor at school, etc. True, they often end up killed, but is it any more often than white characters? That's the thing: Large numbers of characters get killed on BtVS, enough so that when it happens to nonwhite characters, it can't necessarily be interpreted as having any relation to their race.

One more thing, redcat: I have no problem w/your defense of academics & academia. But please remember that's not who you're writing for here:

"Edwards places her work within the critical lineage of Burke and Barthe (and thus, by extension, Foucault and Baudillard, as well as Campbell)....Black feminist cultural and literary critics like Hazel Carby and Barbara Christian...."

I recognize the names Foucault & Baudrillard & have some idea that they were instrumental in the development of Postmodernism (which I don't know that much about otherwise, beyond the very basics!) And I think it's safe to assume nearly all the readers of this board know more than the general population about J. Campbell. But I have no idea who Burke & Barthe were (are?), or what opinions Carby & Christian espouse. Ditto for Bogey & Anderson (but not Hurston & B. M. Campbell). I'm not saying this as criticism but to ask for more info on these writers & what they've said that's relevant to this discussion. You cite them as though you expect all of us to know of them, & I doubt I'm the only one who doesn't. (If I am, I'm gonna feel really out of my depth on this board!)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: gotta question a few things -- Rahael, 07:28:36 08/12/02 Mon

"What effect does it have that Kendra was not from American culture? I don't think it's mentioned where she's from, but her accent sounds Caribbean, & her Watcher has a non-European name. Not only is she not American, she's been isolated from her own country's culture since her parents sent her, as a small child, for Slayer training."

It would be a fair question that Kendra not being from an American culture might affect the TMC, except that, of course, she is from an American culture, being created by Joss.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: gotta question a few things -- shadowkat, 09:39:11 08/12/02 Mon

"It would be a fair question that Kendra not being from an American culture might affect the TMC, except that, of course, she is from an American culture, being created by Joss."

Interesting. Can you create a character outside your own culture? Can I as an American write and create a character who is say Russian and is outside my culture? Is that possible? I know there are British writers who have created American characters. British actors who have played them.
Just as there are American actors who have created British characters.

David Lean created and filmed characters who were in Saudia
Arabia in Lawerence of Arabia and Indian characters in India in A PASSAGE OF INDIA. Were those characters outside British culture?

Or is it the fact Whedon created Kendra and place her in the US in a dark fantasy -so since Whedon is American and the show takes place in America, and Whedon created Kendra and placed Kendra in a show taking place in America - therefore Kendra as a character cannot exist outside American culture?

Not sure I'm following the logic here. Because if that's the case - none of the non-American characters created in American media have a validity outside American culture. Or do any of the characters in other countries media that aren't from that country have a validity outside of that countries culture. Sounds very isolationist. Am I misunderstanding you? Slightly confused or perhaps I've only confused myself? ;-)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Joss and minorities -- Rahael, 09:59:20 08/12/02 Mon

What I'm saying is that Joss writes wonderful women characters. He's less good at doing minority characters.

Do you think Kendra is a believable character? Is she rounded? is she complex? Or does she indeed, as someone on the board once commented, appear from the magical land of Jamaican leprechauns?

I find Kendra, Gunn, Forrest et al pretty cardboardy. Even the deligthful Mr Trick is pretty stereotyped.

Funniest of all is Forrest, who manages to be both subservient (interested in following orders, being 'good') while also being insolent and 'uppity' - Riley has to put him in his place and pull rank with him.

I cannot dicuss the tragic Mulatta because I have not read the essay, nor am i familiar with the background research. What I do know is this: Kendra manages to both look down on Buffy (for all the wrong reasons, and which she is taught a good lesson in) and be finally shown to be lesser than her.

All I see is a walking, talking cardboard cut out. Of course great writers can imagine characters and write characters from different cultures. I think Kendra and Forrest are proof that Joss doesn't think very hard about race. He thinks in a very sophisticated way about 'otherness', which enables me, as a non white viewer, to see a lot of my concerns addressed. But I don't look to him to portray realistic and complex versions of people like me.

In short, what I was trying to express in my reply to anom was that Joss can say all he likes that Kendra comes from Africa. I can just laugh and look sceptical.

If you want an American show which portrayed black characters with subtlety and complexity - go to Homicide.

And I thought Tim Minear's Have you Now, where he made race a side issue, and talked about society instead, and the darkness/fear/paranoia that underlies it, a pretty good attempt to have a sophisticated look at 'otherness', into which race was conflated. Judy was a character I could believe in. I'd be interested in redcat's opinion of her, because she was a 'mulatta'. Perhaps there are nuances I didn't catch.

(I very reluctantly talk about race here. I don't really like discussing it)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Joss and minorities -- shadowkat, 12:12:48 08/12/02 Mon

I also try to stay away from the "race" topic. Partly because I don't consider myself qualified to discuss it.
I do experience issues regarding race but from a different

In Whedon's defense? I think perhaps he has somewhat the same experience as most Americans who are raised in Suburbs and go to prep schools - a segrationist upbringing. Their interaction with people of other races is usually quite limited. I know mine was in high school and junior high. (It isn't now, quite the reverse - thank god.)
This is an unfortunate occurrence in our society, but let's face it a realistic one. It's a hard task he has - to create characters outside his own experience and tell stories that appeal to people of all races and cultures.
Obviously he's accomplished the second task or well we wouldn't have some of the communication we do on this board.
Whether he has accomplished the first task? I do not believe myself qualified to judge, since the only minority I represent, and it is hardly a real one, is female.

Kendra did annoy me and felt under-developed, but I had more sense of her character early on than Tara - that character didn't really come across as realized until Family, a year and a half later. And I agree about Forrest. But I also found Riley to be a cardboard, two dimensional character, with little purpose outside of being Buffy's "boyfriend" or the stereotypical "all American boy" or as Joss thinks of him in Restless "cowboy guy". What little development he had came later - and he left. Forrest actually had more character IMHO than Riley did or for that matter Graham who had even less.
Trick - I liked. He had much more going for him and was far more interesting than the Annoited One, Luke, or The Master.
He also was far more interesting than the Mayor's Deputy.
Or, once again, Riley. Actually at one point I found Trick more interesting than Angel in Season 3. Wished I had more of him. I guess what I'm trying to point out is it may be a subjective thing?

As to Gunn - he was quite interesting in Season 2, struggling with issues of belonging and living in two worlds. I actually liked him better than Angel in several episodes. He also seemed more developed than Riley ever did.
I don't mean to bash on Riley - I'm merely using him as an example since well you brought him up and because Riley is the "white" all American boy stereotype.

So I guess I remain unconvinced of the argument presented.
Again, maybe that's just because it isn't an argument that affects me on a deep level. Don't know.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> re: Forrest and casting -- ponygirl, 12:56:49 08/12/02 Mon

I liked Forrest! I thought he was pretty interesting, especially the homoerotic subtext between him and Riley. Forrest played the jealousy very well, something which I think moved him beyond the sidekick role into a more well-rounded character.

The real problem IMHO, and one that I do think ME needs to be more aware of, is that they seem to only have one non-white character on the series at a time. Kendra, Mr. Trick, Forrest -- they all end up having a much heavier weight of representation and symbolism. I keep hoping Gunn will be allowed to reconnect with friends or family, or that Los Angeles will finally be able to demonstrate that it is far more multi-cultural than AtS has shown (and I don't mean demons!). Sometimes all this takes is casting people willing to bring in a more diverse range of talent and producers aware enough to call them on it when they don't.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: re: Forrest and casting -- shadowkat, 16:32:31 08/12/02 Mon

From what I've seen of season 7 casting spoilers? They may be trying to rememdy the problem you speak of.

But I agree - they do only have one minority character on the show at a time. In Season 5 it was one of Dawn's friends that we saw in The Body. I liked that girl and wanted to see her again instead of the highly annoying Janice in ALL THE WAY. Sometimes when I see the one minority character I feel as if the show is saying - see NAACP etc - we are fairly representing everyone! sigh.
The further we come, the further we need to go.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: re: and re: -- aliera, 17:52:57 08/12/02 Mon

Now that's amusing in a scary way..."the further we come the further we have to go." I was writing something very similar to you this afternoon regarding perceptions of women in our culture. As much I/we try to be open-minded and I have no sense that the people here don't, it's a very difficult thing. But to see others thinking that way, questioning not just the world but themselves is the opposite of scary. You look at the world around you (and farther away) and worry and wonder and hope people question.

I often feel I err in the other direction of being too empathetic, too emotional sometimes. Not decisive enough or insightful or educated enough to contribute. It is my nature to try to bring things together, to assimilate. Unlike redcat, I didn't have the grace to wait long before starting to post and I also started visiting in the spring. I sometimes jump into threads where I don't belong such as here. Maybe my given name Angela should not be translated as messenger but rather going where angels fear to tread.

Posting boards do have their own pyschology, a result in part of the medium and why people read and post (I am remembering a book on this and in particular The Well) and there are cycles and changes to the groups posting which changes the tone at times; but in general, this board seems one of the more balanced and open I have visited. I too think that's a part of why I return; but mostly to learn and try to understand.

Sometimes it's hard to know how to interpret the posts; but, as someone else here reminded me not too long ago different people may have triggers on certain issues or words that I am unaware of. Just as I don't know when someone will read the post (or if) and what they are going through at that time, how it will 'sound'. Maybe I am too naive and simple; but I think it admirable to try to discuss some of the topics that you as a group attempt here. I think the drifts are interesting and lead to learning things I wouldn't normally come across, and I appreciate that since my job isn't intellectually challenging. I think that to be self-reflective and to really try to be understood is rare and very valuable. And for me, the heart of this board is a safe place, even when, and perhaps mostly when, it's uncomfortable and challenging. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be challenged.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Echoing the board love! This is an amazing place! -- grateful ponygirl, 07:08:12 08/13/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Can I just re-phrase your last sentence? -- Sophist, 09:00:32 08/13/02 Tue

The further we come, the further we need to go.

I would say it this way: The better you get, the harder it is to improve.

That has always struck me as one of the great ironies of life -- it's such hard work to get better, and then you find you have to work harder yet to improve more.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Diminishing Returns? ;-) -- aliera, 09:21:42 08/13/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> In my case, vanishing. :) -- Sophist, 13:08:44 08/13/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Actually like your phrase better -- shadowkat, 09:46:04 08/13/02 Tue

Mine is or was I think a cliche or overused one.

What's that old saying? We never stop learning and growing and hoping to evolve to a higher plain...?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> On the other hand... -- Darby, 10:20:43 08/13/02 Tue

I find that in some areas, any improvement I make is partly because I've found a process by which to improve and beyond that I can both improve and refine the improvement process.

Maybe it's because the goals of my vocation, teaching, are too amorphous - you can get better, but you never get it "right" and every semester is a new and different set of challenges. And my avocation, fencing, is something that I continually strive to improve at but while my technique and strategy improve my physical skills (which were never particularly impressive) diminish, so my goals are still mostly to feel like I understand more and can do the fine-motor actions better. Which helps me to teach them.

Or maybe it's that I'm so far from an endpoint that I can't feel the gradual deceleration...that would be a good thing, right-?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: On the other hand... -- aliera, 12:21:10 08/13/02 Tue

Wasn't there an old story in karate from the founder (what his name? how do I know?) It goes something like this...

Master, what is the secret to your success at such an advanced age?

Well, when I was a young man I would stand toe to toe and defeat my opponents through brute strength. As I got older I realized it was easier to just step aside and let them fall on their face.

...heavily paraphrased...

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Off Topic-Success in Old Age -- Arethusa, 12:51:40 08/13/02 Tue

You Are Old, Father William
by Lewis Carroll

'You are old, Father William', the young man said,
'And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head --
Do you think, at your age, it is right?'

'In my youth', Father William replied to his son,
'I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.'

'You are old', said the youth, 'as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door --
Pray, what is the reason of that?'

'In my youth', said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
'I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment - one shilling the box -
Allow me to sell you a couple?'

'You are old', said the youth, 'and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak -
Pray, how did you manage to do it?'

'In my youth', said his father, 'I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.'

'You are old', said the youth, 'one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose -
What made you so awfully clever?'

'I have answered three questions, and that is enough,'
Said his father, 'don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you downstairs!'

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: On the other hand... -- Tymen, 14:41:30 08/13/02 Tue

Another saying:

Old age and treachery beat out youth and skill everytime.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Might have beens... -- Just George, 18:13:29 08/12/02 Mon

A TV show is effected by a number of creative decision-makers. The executive producer/show runner sets the shows overall direction and selects the actors. The writers craft the stories and words. The actors choose how to perform the words. The directors frame the shots. The editors form the shots into a (hopefully) coherent whole. The interactions among these decision-makers are multi-dimensional. The actors may ad-lib new words. The director may choose a shot based on how an actor plays a scene. The writers may change the words based on the strengths or quirks of the actors.

It is my understanding that this has happened many times in BtVS. Reports of the cast "behind the scenes" or at conventions report that Alyson Hannigan occasionally speaks in the fractured syntax some might recognize as "Willow-babble", or that Nicholas Brendon occasionally makes "Xander-like" jokes. Over time, the writers have crafted the characters to better fit the strengths of the actors.

This has a tangential connection to this discussion because of the casting choices in BtVS. According to some sources, Bianca Lawson, the African American actress who played Kendra, was initially selected to play Cordelia. The actress pulled out to work on another project.

Must the race of the protagonists effect the progress of the story? I once heard Will Smith say that his race changes the tone of any movie he is cast in. He plays many parts that could have been played by actors of any race. For example, the fact that Will Smith played Robert Clayton Dean, an African American lawyer being chased by enemies who were predominantly white men increased the tension in his movie "Enemy of the State." At the start of the movie, Dean is prominent, successful, and well to do. While his background is not given in any great detail, Dean is shown to be a rising lawyer in a firm run by older white men. Given the situation in America, it is easy for the audience to assume that Dean's climb up the legal ladder was as hard or harder than those of a white lawyer of similar ability. This makes Dean's success noteworthy and his persecution by the government seem more unfair. It also makes Dean's ultimate triumph more satisfying.

How would Cordelia's character have changed if she were African American and played by Ms. Lawson? We will never know. Would issues of race have been more prominent if an African-American woman had been sitting in the library during all those long exposition scenes in Seasons 1-3? We don't know that either. But, from the evidence, I'd expect that the writers would have modified Cordelia's characterizations based on the strengths and quirks of Ms. Lawson's acting and personal style. Also, the introduction of mixed race interactions might have changed some of the details of specific stories.

Cordelia as played by Charisma Carpenter was a girl with all of the advantages; she was tall, beautiful, rich, popular, and white. Her assent to the top of the social heap seemed almost an entitlement. This made her a target. It seems somehow more acceptable to "put down" someone who seems to have all the advantages.

It seems less acceptable to verbally attack someone who has overcome greater burdens on their way to the top. If Cordelia were African American, her assent to the top of the social ladder might have seemed like something of a triumph in a society tinged by racism. Some of Buffy's put downs of Cordelia might have "felt" wrong or mean spirited. I expect the writers would have had to carefully craft their words to take this into account.

Also, if Cordelia were African American would class have become a bigger issue in the show? In BtVS Cordelia seemed to be the richest girl in the school. She was the only character that carried a cell phone and had a car, while the core Scoobies were shown at home watching Indian musicals on TV because they didn't have enough money to go to the Bronze. Would an African American Cordelia who was the richest girl in school trigger different subconscious reactions in the audience (as Will Smith's successful lawyer did in "Enemy of the State") or would her class status have remained a part of the subtext?

There is also the subject of inter-racial romance. While AtS has downplayed the racial aspects of the Fred/Gunn relationship, the show occasionally acknowledge the subject. Would BtVS have played Cordelia/Xander the same way? What about Cordelia's other relationships? Perhaps to avoid bringing up inter-racial issues, Cordelia's early boyfriends (like the football player killed in "Prophecy Girl") would have been played by an African American actor. Would more of the Cordettes have been women of color if Cordelia was African American? We can only speculate on how any of this would have played out. But, by changing the casting of one central character, we potentially effect the casting (and therefore the racial balance) of other peripheral characters on the show.

This exploration into "might have beens" is not specifically a comment on how minorities have been portrayed on BtVS. The show has been on the air for six years. The episodes are there for each person to see and draw their own conclusions. It is a comment on how different initial decisions made by all the decision makers (including Ms. Lawson) might have changed aspects of the show.

The creators of BtVS embrace some cliches and archetypes. They bust others. They sometimes use cliches and archetypes as shorthand for communicating with the audience. Other times they use these tools as slight of hand to get the audience looking one direction as the creators perform dramatic magic in another. Sometimes the cliches and archetypes are so ingrained that I expect the creators use them subconsciously. The cliches and archetypes can also effect the perceptions of the audience, both consciously and unconsciously.

The issue of race has not been a place where the BtVS creators have done as much "cliche busting" as they have on some other subjects. However, I think the initial casting of Ms. Lawson indicates that Joss and Co. may not be adverse to playing dramatic games in this arena.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Joss and minorities -- Rahael, 13:29:54 08/12/02 Mon

Just because one can argue that Riley was at first a cardboard character (Captain Cardboard) - it's not sterling proof that Kendra wasn't is it?

You obviously think that I'm arguing that Joss is a racist - which is a allegation I absolutely refute. I'm just saying that Kendra was unconvincing. And that Trick was fun, but two dimensional, that Gunn was initially 2 dimensional two. Here comes this black character, and gosh, he belongs in a gang!

The difference was that on AtS Gunn was allowed to live, and grow as a character. Riley was allowed to live and grow as a character, and so was Tara, for a long time.

I totally ascribe the growing complexity of Gunn to members of AtS (cough Tim Minear cough) who have shown on eps that they can address race in a sophisticated way. I saw This old gang of mine as an ep which just got rid of that rather clunking story line that Gunn was a gang member, and did it in a way that made Gunn more complex.

I'm the person who argued and argued till I wanted to leave the board that the black, other experience was included in BtVS, and that it was not just a 'white' show. Because America isn't white. It has a whole lot of people in it who are of very mixed parentage. And Gunn and Forrest are as American as Riley.

I'm not keen to rehash those old arguments here. Just that if people can point to Riley and say, hey cardboard, and to Dawn and say, what a stereotyped picture of teenagehood, why is it more upsetting to say, I haven't come across many deeply complex black characters on Buffy? Because for me, that is not the be all and end all of my enjoyment. 99% of the literature I read is about the white European experience.

Just one final point. I'm not overly thrilled with the argument that demons on the show represent the black other experience. THat one always pushes my button. Fine, other people can look at bloodsucking parasitical vamps, who kill innocent people and murder and torture and say - look Joss is speaking to how alienated black people are! Personally, it's not a parallel that makes me very happy. You know, I think I'm very normal, very human. My otherness exists in the eyes of others, not myself.

And I refuse to believe that Joss, with that wonderful imagination, and that empathy cannot reach beyond barriers to see that black people, even if he hasn't spent much time with them, are as complex, as different as all the other characters on the show. They are just human beings! Not all of us 'talk differently' or 'act differently'. The problem with Kendra was that she was so laughably 'foreign' and 'other'. One of the best black characters on the show, who barely got 10 mins airtime, but who was still fully complex was the black counsellor in (I forget in which ep). He was just a human being. Not 'different'.

I'd rather see Buffy as my role model for dealing with otherness than Spike. To get up and fight back, because all I have left is me, not skulk around the edges of society striking tragic poses.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Joss and minorities -- shadowkat, 16:44:07 08/12/02 Mon

Sounds like I hit a nerve. Sorry didn't mean to. This is why I usually stay away from this topic.

No I do NOT think that you think Joss is a racist. Don't think that at all. I was just commenting on points made that he was falling into stereotypical tendicies of creative artists. Sorry if I didn't make myself clear.

I do agree with you regarding Kendra - she seemed underdeveloped to me. We'll just have to agree to disagree on Riley? I've written three essays with him and he still seems partially developed to me.

I do not see Spike as a representative of minorities or otherness. Actually I've always thought that Angel was more of that symbol. Buffy is an interesting case, she represents both the "in crowd" with her cheerleading and easy popularity in LA and the "outcast". She reminds me
of a friend of mine who started out the school jock, was incredibly popular in junior high than in high school?
Suddenly was an outcast because he was no longer good enough and went another path.

I am sorry if I offended you Rah. Didn't mean to. The other argument you mentioned? I avoided due to how intense it got.
I don't remember the specifics. I usually tend to avoid these types of debates because it is so easy to be misunderstood as I've been a couple of times in this thread.
Trying to play devil's advocate and apparently doing a horrible job.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Joss and minorities -- Rahael, 16:53:01 08/12/02 Mon

Not at all!

I intended that to be my last post on the topic, so was trying to cover all my bases, definitive opinion and everything. The last parts were just my general thoughts on the issue. I was issuing my defence just in case this was cast in the light of "ME can't win". I love Buffy as it is. I think it could be better, and this is one of my pet criticisms. I have no really strong opinion of Riley.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Joss and minorities (S7 Spoilers) -- Dochawk, 15:39:30 08/13/02 Tue

if the casting call sheets are correct Joss is confronting this issue head on. The new Prinicpal Mr. Wood is described as a "hot" and sympathetic black man. (I speculate and noone else agrees with me, that he may be Buffy's new love interest). Also one of Dawn's new friends will be a hispanic boy (there are NO towns in Southern California without a Hispanic population, so it is about time).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> All things lead to Postmodernism. -- Darby, 11:13:54 08/12/02 Mon

Is Buffy a product of American culture? Well, it's a product of Anglo-American hybrid Joss Whedon and a bunch of American writers, so on one level it has to be.

Can I, as an American, portray another culture to the point at which it no longer owes any part of its portrayal to my cultural background? Is that possible?

Even if Kendra had been achingly researched, the information would have filtered through the ME sensibility, and I'd have to say that she is a product of American culture interpreting another culture. And, if the DVD commentaries are accurate, one highly eccentric dialect coach.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Agree with you on this one. -- shadowkat, 12:14:18 08/12/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: cultural fictions and depictions -- mundusmundi, 14:56:50 08/12/02 Mon

Can you create a character outside your own culture? Can I as an American write and create a character who is say Russian and is outside my culture?

Martin Cruz Smith did it, beginning with Gorky Park, the Arkady Renko series. One of the most convincing, lived-in portraits of a Russian character ever written, IMO. Of course he spent the better part of eight years in Moscow until he got it right.

One could argue that those outside a particular culture may have a vantage point that those on the inside lack. Cruz Smith's American characters are often sketchily drawn, for example (and are even more commonly the bad guys). In movies, the Czech director Milos Forman has made some of the most perceptive movies ever about American life. Ditto Billy Wilder, now that I think about it.

As for Lean, while his movies convincingly depicted locales as diverse as Russia, India and Saudi Arabia, he usually had British and American actors playing the major ethnic roles. With varying results. Alec Guiness made a regal Arab prince in Lawrence of Arabia. But he was embarrassing in A Passage to India, verging, as Pauline Kael said, on Peter Sellers-like parody, especially compared to the real Indian actor seated next to him, Victor Banerjee.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: gotta question a few things -- recat, 10:47:25 08/12/02 Mon

Aloha e anom,
Your response to my post demonstrates some of the difficulties and the strengths of this board community. We are a rather
odd mix, a 'rabble-fish' mix if you will, of academics from disciplines as diverse as evolutionary biology and literary criticism,
along with high-school students, lawyers, plumbers, doctors, novelists, audio technicians, office managers, stay-at-home
mothers, editors, technical writers, college students, teachers, graphic artists, professional witches and who knows what else.
We range in age from 15 to 70, we come from major cities and small towns, live on continents or islands, stay up late or get up
early, and in most cases don't even know each other's real names. The central thing that draws us together, a set of television
shows about heros and demons, often acts, as Arethusa once noted, as a fantasy base from which we take off on flights of
philosophy, science, literature, religion, politics, myth, comics, real life and whatever else strikes our collective fancy. And in
the act of communicating here, we only seem to respond to each other as individuals, one writer answering another, when in
reality our posts are read by dozens of others (perhaps more?), some of whom we will never meet and most of whom never
enter any conversation.

My post discussing Lynne Edwards' article was in response to a question asked about it by a poster I'd not heard of before.
(Although I am myself relatively new to the board, having only started reading here in February, and I didn't make m first post
until early April, so perhaps desert rat is someone you or others know well. ) Her/his question seemed sincere and for awhile,
s/he seemed persistent, even in the face of what I and at least one other regular poster, mundusmundi, took to be a snarky
response about a certain type of academic scholarship rather than a sincere attempt to address desert rat's question. In the few
short months I've been posting here, I've come to feel somewhat protective of this community, and so I picked up on mundus'
call to answer desert rat's post partly in what I think is the same spirit in which he made it, that this is a board known for its
civility and intelligent conversation, and a serious new poster like desert rat deserved better than Maroon Lagoon had given.

Now I've certainly made my share of mistakes on this board, as you personally know quite well. And when I've made
mistakes, I've generally tried to sincerely apologize for them, learn from them and go on. By this morning, I'm feeling that my
response post about Edwards' article is one of those mistakes, a really big one. My problem is that I had forgotten, in the
wonderfully engaged, heady intellectual delight of writing out a serious response to a serious question about an academic
article, that not only is this not a place for professional academic discussions, the article in question probably hasn't been read
by very many posters. In just the tiniest bit of my defense, I also knew, by the time I wrote my response, that the person
originally asking the question was a graduate student with enough background in cultural studies and/or linguistic theory to
(correctly, IMO) positively assess another article in the FF anthology, one on speech acts as weapons in Buffy. So I do
apologize to you and any other readers who were confused or put off by my post to this public board, anom, because I forgot,
for just long enough to allow me to hit that final "approve" button, that desert rat wouldn't be its only, or even its primary,
reader. And since s/he seems to have been put off by the whole thing and hasn't returned to the board since before I posted my
response, I've no idea if s/he ever even read what I wrote to her/him about Edwards' article. What I'm afraid was her/his self-
defensive exit from the community is exactly what I was trying to avoid in the first place. Not only did I apparently fail, I've
now opened a can of worms I had no intention of even bringing to the table.

Your questions about Edwards' article are certainly valid, and your potential criticism of her reading of Kendra's character
through the Tragic Mulatta cliche may very well be supportable. But the fact remains that any problems you have with her
employment of that cliche are with her, not with me. I really don't feel like becoming the champion of either Edwards' work,
about whose strengths and flaws I've already posted my opinion, or of the TM cliche in general. As I noted in my post, I do
not find reading Kendra's character through that cliche to be the most informative, useful or engaging interpretation, although I
think Edwards did a very good job of doing so. If you want to argue with Edwards about her analysis, I really think you should
try to read the article itself (I'm sure the book is available in one of New York's great libraries), and then perhaps either bring it
to the board as a full critique of her particular perspective, or take it up with Dr. Edwards herself (I assume she can be reached
through the Ursinus College website). Each of the points that you mention, i.e., Kendra's physical appearance, her sexualized
presentation, her "foreign" identity, and her sense of being between two worlds, are addressed in specific detail in Edwards'
article. One can agree with her or argue with her, but that should be done based on her own work, not merely on my short
review of it.

I direct you back to her article because it was never my intention to write a full critique of the cliche itself nor its application to
Kendra as Edwards uses it, only -- and only in response to desert rat's direct query ­ to write a review of her article as an
academic argument, discussing the strengths and weaknesses of that article. My own opinion about the character and her
resonance with the TM cliche is probably somewhere between yours than Edwards, which is why I noted that one of the failings of her
article, IMO, is that she doesn't address Kendra's later episodes as closely as she does the earlier one, nor does she push her
race-based analysis to later non-Kendra episodes in which characters like Olivia appear (especially "Restless," in which I think
Olivia's character and her use as a metaphoric device to explore Giles' character is incredibly richly expanded in a just a few
short seconds of screen time). In my opinion, such problems weaken, but do not overturn, her carefully-developed,
interestingly-articulated and thought-provoking argument about race in general (or Kendra or Olivia, in particular) in
BtVS. But each reader of her article should make such a judgement on their own. Doing so from only my review is a risky

As for your other concern, my overly facile maneuver of trying to place Edwards' work, as she does herself, in a particular
academic lineage of (mostly European) linguistic and cultural theorists, and to highlight her use of the work of highly respected
but lesser-known Black feminist literary critics -- well, that *is* clearly inappropriate for this board. There's absolutely no
reason for anyone outside of those working in very specific disciplines in the academy to have heard of any of these folks, or
for me to have assumed that anyone on the board, other than cultural critics or graduate students like desert rat (who I had in
mind when I wrote that opening set of paragraphs about Edward's work), would find such references useful. But at this point,
going into a long and inevitably detailed explanation of how any of their work influenced a particular lineage of intellectual or
theoretical approaches, or how Edwards' employment of their work suggests the rigor of her own work, is really WAAAAY
beyond what I'm prepared to do. So again, I find myself apologizing to you, anom, and to any other readers who might have
felt left out of the conversation. I know how frustrating that can feel, since after all, it's the main feeling I've experienced
reading the long thread on comics and cartoons that's also on the board at the moment, and have certainly felt that way in the
past when matching mole, Darby, mundus, Sophist and many other posters have discussed various theories of evolutionary
biology and the academic politics of that field, or when posters have entered long and detailed discussions of popular culture
phenomenon like Star Wars or non-Buffy television shows.

I know you were just looking or information on these writers, and I fully assume that your intention here is to forward the
conversation about the TM cliche. You are one of the most honorable and reasonable posters on this board. I always read your
posts, because they are inevitably fair, informed, intelligent and very often extremely funny. But I'm tired this morning and not
feeling very much like a professorial academic (I just found out I got turned down for another job and am feeling like a not-
very-smart person this morning - sorry). Plus, the last thing I think most readers here want is another of my long, lectury,
overly-formal explorations of a really off-off-topic subject. And truly, anom, I think you might enjoy reading Edwards' article,
and some of the others in Fighting the Forces. But I was wrong to respond to desert rat as I did. My main complaint was (and
remains) with Maroon Lagoon's dismissal of much of the contemporary academic work that I find the most satisfying and
exciting. I should have stuck to that issue and not tried to do something here more suited to a graduate seminar in cultural
criticism, or rather, I should have tried to send it as a private email post to desert rat. Please forgive me, both for my original
poor judgement and for not now answering your serious queries. You might try a google search on the authors - each of them
would give a huge number of sites, I'm sure.

But I simply haven't the heart or the energy to teach class today and I'm REALLY sorry that I ever tried to do something that sounded like that here.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Please don't apologize -- d'Herblay, 12:07:56 08/12/02 Mon

This is the second time in one thread you have apologized for behavior that, in my opinion, makes the board a better place. I think that no one ever needs to apologize for writing well; I think that no one ever needs to apologize for speaking on a subject which he or she knows a great deal about (or, for that matter, on one which he or she knows very little, or nothing at all, about). I have no qualms with anyone discussing topics which may be above my head. My mental reach often exceeds my intellectual grasp; this board can be quite heavenly indeed.

I don't think that anom was trying to forestall discussion of Edwards's paper; rather, she was trying to encourage it. And with Lynne Edwards, as far as I know (and I would be very surprised if she turned out to be vhD), not present, it is up to us to provide that discussion. (For my part, I suspect that Kendra's country of origin, whatever that may be, has little impact on the applicability of the Tragic Mulatta trope). It would be best if those best qualified to participate in that discussion would not preemptively disqualify themselves. I appreciate the fact that you are not feeling particularly professorial at the moment; should the time arise when you feel that way again, you have eager students here.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Speaking as one author of esoteric posts to another -- Sophist, 12:21:05 08/12/02 Mon

I don't see any need to apologize. I enjoyed your post. I say so even though I remain somewhat skeptical regarding the evidence of stereotype in the particular case of Kendra. (I am tempted to say that such evidence is stronger in the case of W/T. That, however, would be snarky, so I refrain. Hehe.)

A great deal of my enjoyment of the Board arises from reading other posters who have expertise in areas where I have none. Yours are always very well expressed, even when I disagree. Don't feel like you need to hold back. It's like Rah's ability to quote poetry -- I may never have heard the lines before, but they are always apt.

BTW, did anyone else think that Kendra's accent was Irish? Maybe DB could have used her dialect coach.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Echoing D'h and sophist here...please listen to them -- shadowkat, 12:40:22 08/12/02 Mon


As you may have noticed, I've been posting less lately.
If I didn't find your post interesting, well-written and
informative - I would NOT have responded to it.

Your response to Marroon was well-written, informative, and one of the most interesting posts I'd seen on the board for several days. The points you raised inspired me to write a post in response. I wanted to take some of your interesting points and generate more discussion on them - which has happened. I also found Maroon's responses to desert rat to be inappropriate. I was hoping someone would provide more information on an interesting topic that was raised by desert rat. You did and did it well.

I look for your posts when I visit this board and will read threads that you have posted to. I know I am not alone in this. Without you - I would not have learned about the neaurthesentic male in 19th century - which I used in an essay. Without you and Sophist - I would not have learned about the true history of names or numerous other topics.
I've lurked on numerous posting boards and of those boards this is the only one I've stayed with. Why? Because of the academics and other intellectuals who frequent it. The posters here are generally polite and I always learn something new - even if we have a tendency *cough* to go off on rants about stuff we don't like. (I've never seen you do this - you are one of the few who hasn't).

Please continue posting. And stop apologizing. We love your writing - it enriches us or at least me.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Hey, guys, -- redcat, 13:30:38 08/12/02 Mon

I did not apologize to either anom or shadowkat because I was trolling (in the older, non-web sense of that word) for someone
to tell me that something I've done poorly is really OK. I apologized to anom for inappropriately posting an academic review
of an academic text in a non-academic forum when I knew very few posters here would have read it, that act made especially
egregious because it already has been has brought to my attention that I have a tendency to lecture rather than discuss. And I
apologized to shadowkat because I recognized myself in her general comments about language use (and once again, I know
they were NOT aimed at me). As you might note, I have not apologized to Arethusa, one of my very favorite posters of all
time here, because I don't feel I need to. Last time I checked, I was an adult with a pretty fair ability to examine my own
behavior and make my own judgements about it. I stand by my apologies.

But I don't come to this board to be anyone's teacher. Rather, I come here as a colleague and hopefully, in some cases, a
friend. If anyone wants to discuss Edwards' article, read the damn thing. It's publically available ­ that's what published
generally means. If anyone wants to discuss the Tragic Mulatta cliche, do the research, read the work and then decide for
yourself if YOU think it applies to Kendra or BtVS in general. If you then want to bring either of those ­ the article or the
cliche ­ to the board, do so. I'll probably be happy to join the conversation, since by that time I'll (hopefully) be over this snit.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Hey, guys, -- Arethusa, 14:05:00 08/12/02 Mon

This is so totally not fair. How come when I'm in a snit I sound stupid (see above post-no, don't) and when youre in a snit you sound dignified and scholarly? Yet another way I'm learning from you, and glad to do so.

P.S. Thanks for the nice words. I've been feeling pretty foolish lately.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> One rule of thumb. -- Darby, 13:19:57 08/12/02 Mon

I don't recall where I swiped this from, and it's not absolutely true, but it's true a remarkable proportion of the time and removes a lot of pressure:

When reading technical literature, if you run into a term or reference with which you are unfamiliar, just skip it and keep on reading - the omission will have no effect on your ability to understand the piece.

With such an esoteric bunch of people here, it also applies when discussions wander outside my fairly limited knowledge.

And it works most of the time here.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I find this rule of thumb works very well with character names in Russian novels. -- Sophist, 13:50:05 08/12/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> A belated thank you.... -- mundusmundi, 14:24:18 08/12/02 Mon

...but I'll say it anyway, to you and the others for bringing the thread back on track to what I think desert rat intended. I notice he/she hasn't returned, btw, which is what I feared might happen on account of the original responses. (This sort of thing happened all the time at the old EW movie and TV boards. The contempt spewed at newbies there was unbelievable.) Hopefully, desert rat will come back and participate again.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> About Your Posts -- Finn Mac Cool, 16:05:06 08/13/02 Tue


Why do all of your posts have this weird indentation with

One full line
a few words
One full line

It can make it difficult to read some of your longer posts.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: About Your Posts -- redcat, 19:05:13 08/13/02 Tue

hmmm... my posts don't do that on my screen (and that's certainly not how I write them), but it IS how some other posters' stuff appears to me. Do other folks have a similar problem? Is this a matter of mixing formats between DOS and Mac systems? Or something else entirely? I usually write off-line, and always for the longer posts, because I'm terribly dyslexic and have a special spell-checker set-up that helps with that on my word processing program. I then copy and paste to the Voy system via the regular posting window.

dear goddess, I shudder to think that something not under my control makes my stuff any harder to read than it already is!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: About Your Posts -- Just George, 00:25:29 08/14/02 Wed

I suspect that your Mac system is putting an end of line (EOL) character in every 255 characters when you cut and paste your post into the text entry field. Macs and PC use different EOL characters (CR vs. LF, I can't remember which uses which). Your Mac browser displays your text just fine, but PC browsers may hiccup on it. The perils of cross platform off line composition.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: About Your Posts -- redcat, 09:40:13 08/14/02 Wed

Thanks for the info. That must be what's happening. I'm on a PC, however, not a Mac. I write off-line in Word Perfect-8 (Coral) because it has the spell-checker adaptability for both Hawaiian words (which have diacritical marks) and adjusts for repetitive dyslexia. Is there something I can do to adjust my computer settings so this is not a problem for others? And if so, can you please explain it in really simple English, because when I say I'm nearly computer illiterate, it's not just a metaphor. Thanks!!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: About Your Posts -- matching mole, 10:12:02 08/14/02 Wed

You should really get advice from someone who knows a lot more about computers than I do. There is probably some way to set the line length in your word processing program to be the same number of characters as the window on voy but I don't know what that would be.

On my computer (a Mac) most of your lines (in your long post earlier in the thread) go about two thirds of the way across the screen (this may reflect the line length in your word processing software). There are a couple of blocks of lines (usually about half a paragraph) that go all the way across the screen. This doesn't make it difficult to read because the lines are in blocks that are all the same length.

I don't have any problems with long line/short line alternation with any posts on this board. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Actually have had same thing happen with my posts -- shadowkat, 11:37:22 08/14/02 Wed

Actually I have the same thing happen to me and I'm on a PC.
It happens whenever I post spontaneously and often have to spend time wrapping things to get the paragraphs and sentences more even.

It doesn't happen on your shorter one's I noticed. So I think it only occurs on longer posts and has to do with Voy's box.

I know when I write my essays and post them, I often find myself spending 10-15 minutes correcting spacing and paragraphs and trying to make them look better on screen before hitting approve. They look fine in word but Voy translates it weirdly. Don't know the reason for it. But it has made me want to scream at the computer a few times - particularly when I get kicked out before Voy approves it and I have to do the whole thing again.

Oh - understand the dyslexia, have a similar disorder myself - the actual diagnosis was Visual/Auditory Coordination Ephasia or Disorder.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: OK, mundus, I'll bite... -- fresne, 18:29:08 08/13/02 Tue

You know the frustrating thing on a thread like this is that I want to respond to so many different points and places in it. Gall darn it, you're all waaaaay too interesting, which should in no way be taken as an exhortation to write less so.

Well, okay and the other frustration is that I don't really have the time to do the kind of close reading that the discussion deserves. However, this post's detriment is my household chores benefit. So, whatever.

This is less a post on Edward's main contention, which I'm not sure that I have the background to argue for or against, but to some elements that I found distracting when I read the essay low the many months ago. While I'm sure that redcat is correct as to its critical soundness, I had trouble reading the essay. My brain kept returning to a point of negative space. That is to say, I didn't notice a reference to how ME overturned of the viewer's expectations when Kendra was very first introduced.

We, the viewers, were told that Spike had hired assassins to kill Buffy. Dru pulled three cards from her - well it's not a Tarot - seer's deck. Each card represented a figure in the following scenes. The third image was a black cat. We were shown the bug dude, scar face and Kendra arriving in town. To my mind, that would indicate that ME was pushing the viewer to think that Kendra was an assassin, "Oh, look a black character who is an Evil (Evil I say) killer."

Of course, the viewers, and Buffy when she meets Kendra, are wrong. Kendra is not an assassin; she's a Slayer, a "white" hat. Although, the implication that her somewhat skimpy only outfit was picked out by her male Watcher/mentor does give me a bit of pause. Just try and imagine Giles shopping for a similar outfit for Buffy. Nope, brain does not want to go there.

Anyway, this overturning of viewer expectations, (black Kendra isn't Evil with a capital E, but is rather the first of three black slayers introduced in the series), would seem to be relevant to a discussion of race representation and Kendra's role as a tragic Mulatta. What does it mean that ME tricked me into thinking that Kendra was a "black hat" and then ended up having her fight by Buffy's side? I don't know and wanted Edwards to have an opinion on it.

This is not to say that I don't think that ME's casting needs a bit more ethnic diversity. Heck, Smallville, set in Kansas, is rife with heterogeneity, which given my experiences in my mother's home town in South Dakota is pretty funny. However, I find the racial mix of Slayers, or at least the ones whose ethnicity has been mentioned, fairly intriguing - three blacks (Kendra, Nikki, 1st Slayer), two Asians (Boxer Rebellion, Korean/Chicago 30s Slayer), and two Caucasians (Buffy, Faith). I also find it intriguing that all of the minority Slayers, have their speech cut off. Kendra's throat is cut. Nikki is first strangled and then her neck is snapped. The first Slayer existed before speech. The Boxer rebellion Slayer spoke another language, which Spike, a white man, did not understand. The Korean Slayer is represented by another's words, the mannequin of a demon hunter, and is herself long dead. It's one of things that the more I think about it, the more their lack of speech becomes a negative space within the text.

It makes me wonder then if all Slayers, as marginalized female outsiders, aren't all tragic Mulattas, Mixtisas, Eurasians. Half in one world, half in the other. The magic and the real. Girl and Demon. Female/life bringer and fighter/death is their art. Eternal (there is always a Slayer) and yet always dying young. Under the control of the Watcher's Council and yet really owing nothing to them. Wielding a primal power and yet representing order. Carrying out a vital function and yet unable to earn a "living" because of it.

Slayers occupy a liminal space. Twilight. Representing a power rooted neither in darkness nor in light, but in the luminous period in between.

Pausing a momentŠ

And now for something completely different, regarding books, on-line versus paper, ah sweet paper, there's an interesting post over at the Baen website as to why they have a free library for some of their books. Note: It's possible that other publishers have free libraries, etc. I just happen to know about Baens.

It boils down to the idea that giving people free access to books rather than creating a, "Well if I can have it for free, why pay," attitude, results in increased sales, along the lines of , "The first one's free and now you're an addict." As a result of the success of the free library, Baen has started an evil and diabolical web subscription service. Basically, you pay a little and get several serialized novels a month. The interesting thing is that hard copy sales of books on web subscription have increased, rather than decreased. (i.e., people buy the same book twice. Once cheaply on-line and once in hard copy because they liked it.) So, it would seem that, as with most things, the effect of the web on publishing is unpredictable.

fresne - who bought and read both "Fighting the Forces" and "Reading the Vampire Slayer" because I believe that if I support the things that I like with my money, maybe people will make more of same. Not minding e-books, but Quality paperbacks are a scourge. Neither hardcover nor mass paperback they exist in this more expensive and harder to carry around than mass trade, not as sturdy as hardcovers liminal space that just plain irks me.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> wow, fresne--KA, & may i say, BOOM! -- anom, 23:14:01 08/13/02 Tue

On both the silenced Slayers & the multitude of dualities. The 2nd gives me a chance to bring up something I've been thinking about. The First Slayer's attitude is (as she's also called) primitive--no friends, no human connections, just the kill. Sounds pretty violent. But when Buffy & her friends tapped into the collective power of all the Slayers throughout history, most of her fighting was to forestall violence, not meet it w/corresponding or greater violence--an invisible wall against bullets, turning more bullets into doves, reversing Adam's transformer arm. (OK, I'll have to skip the very end of the fight--it doesn't quite fit in.) Buffy seemed to be tapping into something spiritual, a benevolent force. The First Slayer was "created" for a benevolent purpose (at least from the human point of view) but didn't seem to have any of that spiritual element. Buffy was saying spells. It's hard to imagine the First Slayer doing that, even if she could talk.

Comments on a couple of other things:

"We, the viewers, were told that Spike had hired assassins to kill Buffy. Dru pulled three cards from her - well it's not a Tarot - seer's deck. Each card represented a figure in the following scenes. The third image was a black cat. We were shown the bug dude, scar face and Kendra arriving in town."

Maybe one of the cards corresponds to the cop who tried to shoot Buffy. This would also upset our expectations of "black cat = feline-ish black woman." Oh, & I haven't watched it in a long time, but I don't remember Kendra's outfit being that skimpy--just tight.

"...along the lines of , 'The first one's free and now you're an addict.'"

OT here, but I can't help thinking of Tom Lehrer's "The Old Dope Peddler":

He gives the kids free samples
Because he knows full well
That today's young innocent faces
Will be tomorrow's clientele.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: wow, fresne--KA, & may i say, BOOM! -- aliera, 05:30:28 08/14/02 Wed

Anom's subject line says usual late for work and no time to write; but, very glad I skimmed down the thread. Thanks for a great post, fresne.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Ah, fresne, what you have done here! -- redcat, 09:20:09 08/14/02 Wed

fresne writes: "... I find the racial mix of Slayers, or at least the ones whose ethnicity has been mentioned, fairly intriguing - three blacks (Kendra, Nikki, 1st Slayer), two Asians (Boxer Rebellion, Korean/Chicago 30s Slayer), and two Caucasians (Buffy, Faith). I also find it intriguing that all of the minority Slayers, have their speech cut off. Kendra's throat is cut. Nikki is first strangled and then her neck is snapped. The first Slayer existed before speech. The Boxer rebellion Slayer spoke another language, which Spike, a white man, did not understand. The Korean Slayer is represented by another's words, the mannequin of a demon hunter, and is herself long dead. It's one of things that the more I think about it, the more their lack of speech becomes a negative space within the text.

It makes me wonder then if all Slayers, as marginalized female outsiders, aren't all tragic Mulattas, Mixtisas, Eurasians. Half in one world, half in the other. The magic and the real. Girl and Demon. Female/life bringer and fighter/death is their art. Eternal (there is always a Slayer) and yet always dying young. Under the control of the Watcher's Council and yet really owing nothing to them. Wielding a primal power and yet representing order. Carrying out a vital function and yet unable to earn a "living" because of it.

Slayers occupy a liminal space. Twilight. Representing a power rooted neither in darkness nor in light, but in the luminous period in between."

Writing like this takes my breathe away. Thank you, fresne, for opening up whole new worlds of ideas and pictures and connections in my head, and for writing it so beautifully. It is for ideas and writing like this that I come to this board. I deeply appreciate the gift. -- rc

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> what redcat said -- ponygirl, 09:52:10 08/14/02 Wed

Quite amazing fresne... the Slayer is of course a symbol. The vessel of power, fated to die and endlessly be reborn. Individual lives may briefly impress but it is the role not the person that continues.

So many wonderful thoughts, thank you!

Connections---spoilers for Lord of the Rings, but not OT I swear! -- Purple Tulip, 23:08:44 08/09/02 Fri

Ok, it's probably too late for me to even be forming a coherent thought right now, but I'm afraid that if I don't get it down now, I'll lose it by morning.

All right, so I watched The Lord of the Rings for the first time tonight, and I really liked it even though it was a bit long. Anyway, I'm not extremely familiar with the whole mythology and everything b/c I never read any of the books (though I did play a troll named Essie in a production of The Hobbit when I was 10 - and let me just say that I stoll the show). Anyway, this is how much of a Buffy fanatic I am: when I was watching the beginning (and even throughout the whole movie) and they were explaining the story about how the ring came to be in the hands of Bilbo Baggins, I immediately began to think about the Gem of Amarra from season four that Spike was after. Here's my connections:

1. Both rings were ancient, lost and burried a long time ago- one under water and one underground- and they were both thought to be a myth, not really existing, until each one was found. Giles seemed surprised when he learned that Spike had found the Gem and Bilbo too seemed surprised when he discovered the Ring.

2. Both rings, when discovered, fell into the hands of evil beings, or beings that wanted the rings for bad and selfish purposes. Spike wanted the ring so that he could finally beat Buffy and really become the Big Bad that everyone would fear. The creature that found the other ring under water (I forgot what his name was- there were too many to remember), became entranced with it, as it brought out his inner evil.

3. Both rings were very powerful and, when in the right hands, could allow its wearer to achieve super feats, be different than what they are used to. When Spike put on the Gem, he was able to go outside in the sun, something that would surely kill a vampire instantly, and fight Buffy, almost over-powering her. When Frodo puts on his ring, he becomes invisible and is transported to another place. However, both rings were essentially used to save their lives in a battle, as Frodo used his to escape the Orks and the member of the Fellowship (again, not good with the names) who tried to take the ring from him. Spike, used his in his fight against Buffy, so that he could essentially take the fight to her- be on her own terf during her own daylight hours and still beat her.

4. Both rings eventually came into the hands of the "good", as Buffy beat Spike and took the ring from him, knowing that it would be safe with her. Bilbo realized the ring's power and gave it to Gandalf who knew that Frodo would be the right one to protect the ring and not let it fall into the hands of evil. In this same way, Buffy wanted to get the ring to Angel whom she knew would take care of it and not abuse it's power. She said of the ring "he should have it" meaning that it rightly belonged with him, just as Frodo's ring belonged with him.

5. In the end, both rings needed to be destroyed. The Fellowship's ring because it was too dangerous to have it out there where it could fall into the hands of the enemies and be put to use for the side of evil. Angel destroyed the Gem of Amarra because he was afraid that it would fall into the hands of someone like Spike again and produce an invincible vampire that would put everyone in danger. So rather than use it for his selfish purposes, he destroyed it. Much as how Frodo could have run off with the ring and used it to become more powerful than anyone, but instead he went on a journey back to the place of its birth to destroy it the only way possible- burn it in the fire in which it was created.

Ok, well that's about all I've got---if this makes any sense, then I'm glad, if not, oh well, just disregard.

One more thing---does anyone think that maybe Joss had this story in mind when he came up with the idea of a powerful ring? And why a ring? Even Spike was surprised when he found out it was a ring---he thought he'd been looking for a necklace or something bigger.

[>Re: Connections---spoilers for Lord of the Rings, but not OT I swear! -- Day, 00:08:50 08/10/02 Sat

Interesting post, but some of your speculation may be off-base because you haven't read the books.

The One Ring was created by Sauron (one of Tolkien's Big Bads), and was always evil. The Ring never 'belonged' to Frodo, it was trying to return to Sauron. Note in the movie, the ring continually drew the Nazgul (Ringwraiths) to Frodo whenever he put the Ring on, so they could kill him.

It's debatable whether Frodo could have used the Ring to become powerful--Hobbits didn't seem to be able to use the Ring in that way. And although the Ring didn't ever seem to wield power quite the way Sauron expected it to, it destroyed everyone who came in contact with it--through death (Isildur, Deagol) or madness (Smeagol/Gollum). The Hobbits Bilbo and Frodo seemed the most 'immune' to the power of the Ring, but were still affected--Bilbo's rapid decline after he gave the Ring to Frodo; Frodo's continual illnesses until he goes into the West at the end of 'The Return of the King'.

I think JW was probably influenced by the story of LoTR--as is much of modern horror and fantasy. One can't write a story about a powerful ring these days without evoking LoTR.

Why a ring? Well, rings are a powerful metaphor. Circles, eternity, the ouroborous (the end is the beginning, and vice versa). Rings are a traditionally more emotive symbol than, say, necklaces--they represent commitment, faith and even love. From a purely Tolkien perspective, it's a powerful metaphor, to use something 'pure' and good (the circular symbol) and twist it into something evil (the actuality of the One Ring).

[> [>OT now: ---spoilers for Lord of the Rings -- auroramama, 11:09:11 08/10/02 Sat

I think that even hobbits could eventually use the Ring for power, but only after succumbing to its lure. The gift of the hobbits is their highly resistant nature -- they're people of the soil, common-sense folk with deep roots and little tolerance for what they see as elvish nonsense.

Bilbo and Frodo have enough Took in them to be interested in things beyond most hobbits' ken, but it also makes them more vulnerable than the average hobbit -- which may be why Frodo needs Sam so much. In fact, by the end of his quest Frodo has been changed enough that he falls to the Ring's lure. But at the same time, he's changed enough that he can use the Ring a little (while it uses him a lot, of course): it gives him strength to stand straight and raise his voice. We never get the chance to find out how powerful Frodo might have been (fortunately for Middle Earth) -- certainly not powerful enough so soon to stop Sauron from destroying him, but if the circumstances had been different, MHO is that he'd have been quite dangerous.

Gollum succumbed to the Ring immediately, and it gave him power after his own limited ideas. He was disappointed by the "secrets" he found under the mountains, and as the Ring gives no new life, perhaps it could give no new inspiration. Frodo would have had lots of inspiration, just like the other figures of power who are tempted by the Ring.


[> [>Nazgul and vampires --
leslie, 11:13:11 08/10/02 Sat

I do think there is one interesting interconnection here, inadvertent more than anything. Tolkien's depiction of the Nazgul has always struck me as being more influenced by the post-Dracula literary concept of vampires than by anything in traditional mythology (which is the inspiration for most everything else of his). Tolkien describes the Nazgul as being "stretched thin" by their wearing of their rings, and when Frodo puts on the Ring himself and sees them with Ring-filtered sight, they are very much Undead. Traditionally, vampires are just evil things of death--they have no personality, they are simply forces of unnatural death and are similar to jealous ghosts--beings that resent being dead and therefore decide to take life from everyone who has it. After Dracula, however, the idea starts to develop that eternal life may not be all its cracked up to be--first you start to get vampires as actual "characters," beings with thoughts and feelings and passions (even if these are evil); then writers start to realize that an ageless, eternal being has a lot of time for self-reflection, and vampires start to become somewhat burdened with their immortality--"stretched thin" like the Nazgul, who are also burdened with immortality. I think this is a theme that can only have arisen as medical technology has made it actually possible to live too long--life-weary vampires are, in some sense, the flip side of "do not resucitate" orders, they're what people fear will happen to them if they are kept alive with technology but unable to truly live. My parents recently sent me copies of their living wills, and I notice that the whole first paragraph of the boilerplate goes out of its way to define death as a natural event--vampires, undead, are unnatural in this very sense. So are the Nazgul. I think it's an interestingly modern concern that Tolkien is voicing in these figures.

[> [> [>Immortality as a Curse -- Finn Mac Cool, 21:11:14 08/10/02 Sat

Immortality as a curse has existed long before Tolkien or Stoker. I remember vividly Jonathan Swift describing a tribe of immortal people in "Gulliver's Travels". They were born with a red mark on their body, signifying that they were an immortal. They continued to grow old and age. They were cursed with eternal life, without eteranl youth. Growing ever more decrepit and senile. So, depecting living forever as a curse instead of a blessing is not so new.

Post Script: I just remembered that this same story was told in a Greek Myth. A goddess fell in love with a mortal man and asked Zeus to granted her love immortality so they could be together forever. However, while he was immortal, he continued to grow old until he wrinkled (for lack of a better word) into the grasshopper. So, immortal creatures being uncer a curse like vampires and Nazugal is most definitely an ancient tale.

[> [> [> [>Re: Immortality as a Curse -- leslie, 12:16:37 08/11/02 Sun

Hmm, yes, but these are all instances of individuals who are immortal yet still subject to aging--the curse is that they can't die, but they are still burdened with all the aches, pains, and decrepitude of old age. The thing about the vampire "immortality curse" is that they stay forever young--they would seem to have everything, youth, beauty, and power (the physically repulsive vampire seems to have had his last fling around the time of Murnau's Nosferatu)--and yet eternity is represented as simply giving them the time to realize how hollow it all is. That's the new part. Again, I think influenced by medical technology--plastic surgery, the ability to artificially preserve one's youth as well as artifically preserve one's life. Key word "artifice".

[> [> [>Re: Nazgul and vampires and elves OT -- aliera, 07:08:47 08/11/02 Sun

Interesting point Leslie. It remind me of something about this regarding the elves also, how their magic was that of stabilizing, preventing change (in it's negative aspect stagnation.) Perhaps linked in some way to their immortality.

"The Third Age

These were the fading years of the Eldar. For long they were at peace, wielding the Three Rings while Sauron slept, and the One Ring was lost; but they attempted nothing new, living in memory of the past."

TRotK Appendix B

The thing that reminds me most of BtVS is Galadriel's group of stories (the book versions, not so much the movies) in regards to both Buffy and Willow.

Buffy, the New York Times, and Bioterrorism -- TimE, 11:23:42 08/10/02 Sat

Well, I've lurked on this board for over a year now, so I thought I'd briefly de-lurk to point out a interesting, though somewhat disturbing article I ran across in the New York Times. I concerns a topic that was brought up a few months ago, namely an paper titled "Biological Warfare and the Buffy Paradigm." The reason I thought some of you might find this interesting is they use the Watcher's Guide to do a little compare and contrast between "Buffy" and the real world. I found it distrubing because, well, it brought up some good points. Maybe it's just me, but I like to keep my "Buffy" and my disscussions on bioterrorism separate. Enjoy.

ps - since I've never posted to this (or any) board, I'm not sure if the formatting will work. [insert picture of crossed fingers here]

Slaying Terrorism

It has been foretold that into each generation a Slayer is born, and since 1997, that Slayer has been Buffy. What she slays are vampires ‹ usually on Tuesday evenings as part of U.P.N.'s primetime lineup.

What "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and her gang don't do is create plans, learn from mistakes or pause to think about what they're up against. And in these regards, they are a lot like us ‹ or so says Anthony H. Cordesman, the holder of the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a longtime ABC News military analyst.

In a paper titled "Biological Warfare and the Buffy Paradigm," Mr. Cordesman suggests that the challenges (and shortcomings) facing the United States in the war on terrorism are not unlike those facing Buffy and company. After all, they too live under a constant threat, or at least over one: Buffy's town, the story goes, is built atop an evil portal that "every slag wants to unlock" so as to "unleash hell on Earth."

The paper has been sitting quietly at the center's Web site for months , but as the United States continues to battle its own slags, perhaps it would help to become familiar with the source of Mr. Cordesman's observations. Following are some selected bits of theory from "The Buffy Paradigm," paired with plot excerpts from Volumes 1 and 2 of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Watcher's Guide" (Pocket Books, 1998 and 2000).

Buffy Paradigm: "[An] aspect of the Buffy Paradigm is a lack of any systematic net assessment of the overall nature of the threat. This has been equally true of the U.S. government, and its lack of any clear net assessment of the probable trends in the offensive and defensive capabilities of biotechnology."

On the Show: "In the episode `Welcome to the Hellmouth,' we meet Buffy, who believes she can ignore the dangers that lurk around her. She hopes that a recent move to the town of Sunnydale and a change of school will allow her to put her slaying days behind her."

Buffy Paradigm: "The characters in Buffy constantly try to create unrealistic plans and models, and live in a world where they never really face the level of uncertainty they must deal with. They do not live in a world of total denial, but they do seek predictability . . . that never corresponds to the problems they face. In short, they behave as if they could create and live with the kind of strategy and doctrine that is typically developed by the U.S."

On the Show:". . . Angel and Buffy have to try to stop the reanimation of a demon whose sole purpose is to cleanse the Earth of the plague of humanity.

"They fail in their task, though they escape unharmed. . . . `I love you,' Angel tells Buffy. `I try not to, but I can't stop,' Buffy replies. `I can't either,' and they kiss, which leads to more."

Buffy Paradigm: "What expertise there is consists largely of bad or uncertain advice and old, flawed and confusing technical data. . . . Arcane knowledge is always inadequate and fails to predict, detect and properly characterize the threat."

On the Show: "Rupert Giles, the school librarian and Buffy's [mentor], . . . acquires a new book for the Sunnydale High library ‹ a 500-year-old tome used to imprison the demon Moloch the Corruptor in the 15th century. The book is scanned into the computer as part of a project . . . and Moloch is released into cyberspace and begins his evil work."

Buffy Paradigm: "The importance of any given threat changes constantly, past threat behavior does not predict future behavior, and methods of delivery keep changing. . . . The attackers have no firm or predictable alliances, cooperate in nearly random ways, and can suddenly change method of attack."

On the Show: "In `Bad Eggs,' the Gorch brothers ‹ two vampires who were Wild West bad guys in their mortal lives ‹ have arrived in Sunnydale. Buffy is busy helping research the brothers and misses health class, where the students are given eggs to care for as if they were children. But these are not ordinary eggs. They are offspring of a Bezoar, a prehistoric, mind-possessing parasite that lives under the school. Buffy's attempts to slay the Bezoar are interrupted by the Gorch brothers deciding to attack."

Buffy Paradigm: "It is never clear whether the threat is internal, from an individual or from an outside organization."

On the Show: "Despite Giles's warnings, Buffy decides to take advantage of [a] lull. She is invited to a fraternity party at a local college by an older boy named Tom. . . . Unfortunately, the fraternity worships a demon known as Machida and once a year has to sacrifice three teenage girls to it. Buffy is on the sacrificial menu."

Buffy Paradigm: "The more certain and deterministic an expert is at the start, the more wrong they turn out to be in practice."

"One of Buffy's constant problems is that demons are more lethal than vampires, and simple-minded as this may be, it illustrates the point that some weapons of mass destruction are far more lethal than others."

On the Show: "Buffy suspects Claw, a vampire whose hand has been replaced by sharp implements, as the culprit in her biology teacher's murder. But [she] is surprised when she sees that very vampire whimper and flee at the sight of . . . a creature who kidnaps male virgins with the intent of mating with them and then killing them."

Buffy Paradigm: "The effectiveness of any program may be determined by its weakest and/or most expensive link, [and] once again, the Buffy Paradigm is not without insight. Anyone on the show can call loudly for action. Developing an affordable and well-justified program proves to be an entirely different matter."

On the Show: "A very old and powerful vampire . . . wishes to unleash the Anointed One, a small boy created to be a primary weapon against Buffy. Through a series of events, Giles recognizes that there is this . . . danger and warns Buffy to be on alert, but the teen wants to go out on a date with dreamy Owen Thurman, a quiet student who likes Emily Dickinson."

Buffy Paradigm: "All efforts at planning a coherent strategy collapse in the face of tactical necessity and the need to deal with unexpected facts on the ground."

On the Show: "Buffy just wants to have a normal Thanksgiving with the people she loves, but when her friend Xander accidentally releases a Native American vengeance spirit, . . . she ends up having to do battle with ancient warriors who cannot be killed with [the] normal tools of the trade."

Buffy Paradigm: "The past . . . is unlikely to be a representative prologue of the future, and once again the constant flow of unpredictable and somewhat irrational scenarios on Buffy may be more realistic than a great deal of the deterministic planning going on in and for the U.S. government."

On the Show: Refer to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Seasons 1 to 6.

[>Who is this supposed to persuade? -- Maroon Lagoon, 12:31:50 08/10/02 Sat

I didn't pay much attention to this thread the first time around, but why does the author think anybody whose opinions matter (FBI, military, Whitehouse) has heard of/gives a hoot about/is influenced by Buffy?

If he has any great insights for dealing with terrorism, why doesn't he just say them? I don't see how making spurious connections to Buffy helps his case any.

[>We discussed this a while back... -- Darby, 13:02:00 08/10/02 Sat

...long before somebody on the Times got wind of it, apparently. It's a pretty thin excuse for a policy paper using "trendy" pop culture references that the writer doesn't really understand to support policy that's questionable itself. It wasn't even very well written - when I read it over a month ago it was in firm need of some proof-reading. A few of the potential terror scenarios were kinda chilling, though.

It's August - famous slow news period, even for the New York Times.

[> [>The original discussion can be found in the archives for 07/08/02 (Mon) -- -- redcat, 02:02:16 08/11/02 Sun

Look for Rufus' post: "Biological Warfare and The "Buffy Paradigm."

[>if they're gonna reference the show, they should try watching it -- anom, 23:53:50 08/10/02 Sat

"What 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and her gang don't do is create plans, learn from mistakes or pause to think about what they're up against."

The hell they don't. They plan multipronged attacks, seldom repeat mistakes (except Willow w/magic), & pause to do research so they know what they're up against & how to deal w/it. And Buffy, as she told Faith, thinks too much.

"Buffy Paradigm: 'The characters in Buffy constantly try to create unrealistic plans and models, and live in a world where they never really face the level of uncertainty they must deal with. They do not live in a world of total denial, but they do seek predictability . . . that never corresponds to the problems they face. In short, they behave as if they could create and live with the kind of strategy and doctrine that is typically developed by the U.S.'

"On the Show: '. . . Angel and Buffy have to try to stop the reanimation of a demon whose sole purpose is to cleanse the Earth of the plague of humanity.

"'They fail in their task, though they escape unharmed. . . . "I love you," Angel tells Buffy. "I try not to, but I can't stop," Buffy replies. "I can't either," and they kiss, which leads to more.'"

Huh? How does this resemble *any* "strategy and doctrine..." ever "developed by the U.S."? Or behavior that suggest they could live w/it?

But the Times writer & the CSIS strategist aren't the only ones to use Buffy as an example without knowing enough about it. Has anyone else seen Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" column, mostly in alternative papers like the Village Voice? It's nothing like the usual horoscope columns, & even though I'm not into astrology, it's usually interesting to read. But his 6/27/02 horoscope for Sagittarius really missed the mark, at least in its use of BtVS as a reference:

"Did you abandon a dream once upon a time? I'm here to tell you it's coming back around for a fresh look. Did you give up a child for adoption years ago? He or she has begun looking for you. Have you given up hope of ever finding a certain valuable item you lost in the past? Believe it or not, it's almost within your grasp. You know that legacy that should have been yours some time back? I bet it will finally become available soon. Do you sometimes see a metaphorical resonance between the events on TV's 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and your own life? In the coming week, you may feel a bit like Buffy after her resurrection."

Well, we obviously know something about how Buffy felt about her resurrection, but Brezsny apparently doesn't. Or didn't--I actually emailed him to set him straight. (Haven't heard back....) Looks like he heard she got resurrected but didn't bother to check out how it played out.

And I'm sorry, I know I should have given you guys a heads-up on it back when it was printed, but I've had a lot to do lately. But maybe we can, I mean, subvert this thread into a list of media Buffy misreadings. Anyone got any more?

[>if they're gonna reference buffy, they should at least watch it! -- anom, 00:10:50 08/11/02 Sun

"What 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and her gang don't do is create plans, learn from mistakes or pause to think about what they're up against."

The hell they don't. They plan multipronged attacks, seldom repeat mistakes (except Willow w/magic), & pause to do research so they know what they're up against & how to deal w/it. And Buffy, as she told Faith, thinks too much.

"Buffy Paradigm: 'The characters in Buffy constantly try to create unrealistic plans and models, and live in a world where they never really face the level of uncertainty they must deal with. They do not live in a world of total denial, but they do seek predictability . . . that never corresponds to the problems they face. In short, they behave as if they could create and live with the kind of strategy and doctrine that is typically developed by the U.S.'

"On the Show: '. . . Angel and Buffy have to try to stop the reanimation of a demon whose sole purpose is to cleanse the Earth of the plague of humanity.

"'They fail in their task, though they escape unharmed. . . . "I love you," Angel tells Buffy. "I try not to, but I can't stop," Buffy replies. "I can't either," and they kiss, which leads to more.'"

Huh? How does this resemble any "strategy and doctrine..." ever "developed by the U.S."? Or behaving as though they could live w/such a strategy & doctrine?

But the Times writer & the CSIS strategist aren't the only ones to use Buffy as an example without knowing enough about it. Has anyone else seen Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" column, mostly in alternative papers like the Village Voice? It's nothing like the usual horoscope columns, & even though I'm not into astrology, it's usually interesting to read. But his 6/27/02 horoscope for Sagittarius really missed the mark, at least in its use of BtVS as a reference:

"Did you abandon a dream once upon a time? I'm here to tell you it's coming back around for a fresh look. Did you give up a child for adoption years ago? He or she has begun looking for you. Have you given up hope of ever finding a certain valuable item you lost in the past? Believe it or not, it's almost within your grasp. You know that legacy that should have been yours some time back? I bet it will finally become available soon. Do you sometimes see a metaphorical resonance between the events on TV's 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and your own life? In the coming week, you may feel a bit like Buffy after her resurrection."

Well, we obviously know something about how Buffy felt about her resurrection, but Brezsny apparently doesn't. Or didn't--I actually emailed him to set him straight. (Haven't heard back....) Looks to me like he heard Buffy was resurrected but never checked the show to see how it played out.

And I know, I shoulda given you guys the heads-up back when this ran in the papers. But maybe I can make up for it by doing something worthwhile w/this, I mean, subverting it into a list of media Buffy misreadings! Anyone got any more?

[> [>ignore one of the above, they're the same post (so how come i got an error message the 1st time?) -- anom, 00:16:07 08/11/02 Sun

[> [> [>Voy's system -- Cactus Watcher, 07:35:55 08/11/02 Sun

Voy's system tries to activate one or more cookies every time we post. If one of them fails to work properly, occaisionally we get dire error messages as if the post failed. When in doubt you can assume your post went through. Go to the main board. Refresh if necessary. If the post isn't there you can use the 'back button' of your browser to get to your submission again. I've never had one actually fail twice, and only very rarely have any failed the first time, dire messages or not.

I'm sure most all of us know this, but for newcomers, after your post goes through always use the 'Go back to main message index' button on the webpage not the 'back' button on the browser to go back to the board. Your post will show up immediately and you won't get confused and send it twice.

[> [> [> [>ok, but this time my browser had actually frozen -- anom, 11:04:33 08/11/02 Sun

That's why I thought the post hadn't gone through.

So now can we talk about getting "Buffy" wrong? I'm not talking about the assumptions we all hear (it's a teen show w/vampires, it's some dumb horror show)--I mean times when someone in the media tries to refer to the show to illustrate a point & just gets it wrong. Or even some good examples of their getting it right! Those would be rare but welcome.

Question about Buffy at the end of "Crush" -- Quentin Collins, 00:35:18 08/11/02 Sun

Why didn't Buffy make more of an effort to find Dru or Harmony at the end of "Crush"? She seemed much more concerned about luring Spike to her house so she could spite him by revealing to him that he was "locked out" of her house. This strikes me as morally problematic.

Dru is vicious even by vampire standards. She had already tried to destroy the world once. Yet Buffy seemingly never mounted a Scoobie posse to find her at this point. How many more people will Dru be able to kill now?

Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies always tend to underestimate and almost pity Harmony. On several occasions (including "Crush") they have let her go without seriously trying to hunt her down and stake her. She is a vampire. She will hunt. She will kill.

[>We don't really *know* what happened after the end. -- HonorH, 00:38:56 08/11/02 Sun

It's late, so I'm not going to write a treatise, but consider: we only see Buffy getting out of Spike's crypt and going home. Suppose that after she got there and ditched Spike, she called her friends. They certainly knew about the whole thing in the next ep. They could easily have gone on a hunt for Dru *without* Spike tagging along and interfering, as he would have if Buffy had gone hunting immediately.

[> [>One other thing: -- HonorH, 12:04:12 08/11/02 Sun

It didn't look to me like Buffy was "luring" Spike back to her house. He was tagging along after her *very angry* back. She was telling him to get out of town, leave her alone, not saying "Come with me, I've got something to show you." No, he was following her against her stated wishes, and when they got to the Summers house, she very appropriately, IMHO, slammed the door in his face. Then called her friends, told them about the entire debacle, and went hunting for Dru.

[> [> [>Wasted valuable time -- Quentin Collins, 13:28:20 08/11/02 Sun

It still seems to me that Buffy wasted valuable time in going back to her house at all. She didn't really need anybody to go with her to stake one vamp. Dru did not have that big a head start on Buffy. Of course she could have persuaded Spike to dust Dru when she was chained up. But god forbid Buffy admit that Spike had "a chance" with her. Yet another time where sticking it to Spike was more important to her than doing her job.

[> [> [> [>Re: Wasted valuable time -- Robert, 14:09:02 08/11/02 Sun

>>> "But god forbid Buffy admit that Spike had "a chance" with her."

You think Spike had a chance with Buffy at any point in season five? What is your evidence?

[> [> [> [> [>I think his point was ... --
Earl Allison, 14:19:05 08/11/02 Sun

... that Buffy should have lied to Spike and told him he had a chance, that way Spike would have staked Drusilla.

Of course, had she done that, it would have been infinitely worse than the abuse she heaped on him (not in my opinion, but in others') in S6 -- she was screwed up in S6, there was no excuse for such actions here -- which seemed to be the poster's original point, that Buffy was cruel to Spike instead of doing her job ... so why lying to Spike in such a cruel way would have been okay when the gist seems to be that what she ACTUALLY DID was cruel seems beyond me ...

Take it and run.

[> [> [> [>Re: Wasted valuable time -- HonorH, 17:01:34 08/11/02 Sun

>>But god forbid Buffy admit that Spike had "a chance" with her.

That's not what you do with stalkers. And it's not in Buffy's character to lie in order to get others to do her job for her. Oh, and as you'll recall, Buffy did tell him it was perfectly fine with her if he staked Dru. In S5, btw, Spike most certainly did *not* have "a chance" with her. The only way he had a chance with her was when she came back from the grave, seriously messed up.

>>Yet another time where sticking it to Spike was more important to her than doing her job.

Gah! This statement sends my frustration level through the roof, so I'm not going to address it directly lest I flame.

What I will say: For that stunt, Spike deserved every single word that Buffy said to him. Actually, he deserved to get staked right then and there, but she couldn't do that due to his "handicap," which makes her a better person than I.

[> [> [> [> [>And now that I've cooled down-- -- HonorH, 17:24:44 08/11/02 Sun

It also occurs to me that maybe Buffy *did* go looking for Dru after decking Spike. She could've spent any amount of time trying to figure out where Dru disappeared off to before Spike tracked her down and started with the waffling. We're just not given much in canon, "Crush" being a rather badly-structured episode, but you can fill in the blanks any way you like.

[>Re: Question about Buffy at the end of "Crush" (spoilers) -- Robert, 14:02:07 08/11/02 Sun

You wrote:
"She seemed much more concerned about luring Spike
to her house so she could spite him by revealing to him
that he was "locked out" of her house."

I don't agree with your interpretation of the events. Buffy tells Spike the following before Spike reaches the house.

You're out, Spike. I want you out of this town.
I want you off this planet. You don't ever come
near me, my friends and family again.
Ever - understand?

If you interpret this as luring, then how do you define the word luring? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary;

lure(transitive verb)
1 : to recall or exercise (a hawk) by means of a lure
2 : to draw with a hint of pleasure or gain : attract actively and strongly

So, what part of this definition applies to Buffy's line, I want you out of this town? Please explain this, because I am baffled by your interpretation.

I was surprised when Buffy didn't kick his ass again, the next time he showed his face in I Was Made To Love You with hurtful remarks like, "Trolling for your next ex?".

Vampires and Heroin -- yabyumpan, 16:09:58 08/11/02 Sun

I've just read a very strange fanfic where Angel died of a heroin overdose (and was buried, not actually becoming dust when he died).
Ignoring the ending (another 'lets ignore the canon' fic), what effect would heroin have on a vampire, could they get addicted? would they be susceptible to infection from dirty needles? Could vampires OD? would they die from an OD as in being dust? what about other drugs? I remember Spike mentioning one time about tripping after feeding from a hippy at Woodstock, would cocaine affect them? I think alcohol works but they take longer to get drunk, what drug would be best suited to vampires? I'm thinking Acid as their senses are already hightened. Scarey thought, Spike on PCP!!

OK, this is todays official 'silly' question post, any takers...

Bored and counting down to Oct 6..... ;-)

[> Re: Vampires and Heroin --
Earl Allison, 16:23:43 08/11/02 Sun

Could heroin affect a vampire? Absolutely. We've seen alcohol (Spike), tranquilizers (VampWillow), and whatever drug induced artificial happiness in Angel work -- no reason heroin wouldn't work the same for a vampire as it would for a human.

Could they get addicted? Probably not, since vampires are already addicted to blood, as it were. They might enjoy it, but I doubt they would become dependent on it, since the only thing that truly provides them sustenance is blood.

Infection? Absolutely not. Vampires are disease-free. We never see them get infected from injuries (Spike comes to mind since he was roughed up good in S5 by Glory). Sure, bandages and treating of wounds makes them heal faster, but I doubt it's necessary.

Could they die from an overdose? No. They die from very specific things; sunlight, immolation ("When She Was Bad," "Graduation Day Part II"), decapitation ("The Harvest"), stakes in the heart, and sufficient amounts of holy water ("Helpless"). They MIGHT be killed by being devoured ("Band Candy"), but in being eaten, the head might have been separated, causing death.

Hope that helps.

Take it and run.

[> [> Vampire death methodology (slight Angel spoiler) -- KKC, 16:51:07 08/11/02 Sun

Actually, I always wondered about the death of some vampires... In 'Band Candy,' one of the Mayor's minions is brutally devoured by the giant ophidian demon Lurconis. Was this vampire digested, or did he turn to dust upon being chewed up, or what? Other vampires have survived incredible trauma to appear again as the plot dictates. :) Perhaps the mystical forces that keep a vampire body from decomposing keeps it from being disfigured or mechanically separated in other ways. It would certainly explain why vampires 'heal' so quickly when technically they're supposed to be animated corpses. So Angel won't be a mess of rot and mildew when he appears next season.

Blade II has an interesting take on vampire death. It justifies vampire physiology in purely biological terms, making vampires nothing more than mutations of the human genome. Taking a page from Lumley, the berserker vampires in Blade II are vampire mutants whose cells are essentially independent organisms. One such creature has his head sliced in half diagonally, yet the severed head part continues to live and look around with its one remaining eyeball. Disturbing, but almost unbelievable.

-KKC, who has no UPN affiliate in his town since July 1 and must watch Buffy at 11 pm on Tuesdays on the Fox station. :(

[> Re: Vampires and Heroin -- Brian, 21:20:20 08/11/02 Sun

Wasn't the vampire in Helpless addicted to pain killers?

[> [> Re: Vampires and Heroin -- Finn Mac Cool, 22:24:59 08/11/02 Sun

Well, to some type of pill. It's uncertain whether it was a physical addiction or a mental one.

[> [> [> mental illness -- Vickie, 23:08:01 08/11/02 Sun

Zachary Kralick was insane before he became a vampire. He took drugs that mitigated his symptoms, including horrible headaches.

[> Yeah, it's Weird... -- HarryParachute, 23:46:53 08/11/02 Sun

I mean, the heart ain't pumpin', the blood's not flowin', you'd think it would take a while for a Vamp to get hammered/tranq'd/high...and an even longer time to get the stuff out of his system.

Guess it's something we're supposed to turn a blind eye to...sort of like how Vampires don't show up in mirrors while photographing and taping them on camera works out just fine.


Wait a minute here...would a Vampire's reflection in a mirror show up if you took a picture or recorded it? Hmm.

[> [> vampires in the mirror -- purplegrrl, 14:49:48 08/12/02 Mon

The idea of vampires not casting reflections in mirrors started with Bram Stoker in his novel "Dracula" -- one of the several, interesting things that Stoker added to vampire lore.

One of the explanations for this is that mirrors were originally a pane of glass painted with real silver on one side to create a reflective surface. Silver is supposed to have a detrimental affect on vampires, possibly because of its connection with Christianity. (Silver is also the reason that vampires don't show up in photographs -- silver nitrate is used in the emulsion on photographic film. Video tape and digital cameras do not use silver to create an image and therefore are not subject to the same restrictions.)

Another explanation has to do with the Victorian sensibilities toward sex and the dark aspects of one's psyche that Stoker was pointing out in his novel. In the Victorian era sex was something that was not talked about. Even the results of sex were kept hidden -- when a woman's pregnancy began to show, she entered her "confinement" only to emerge again after the child was born. Stoker's Dracula is a very senuous being. He is capable of seducing both women and men for his own ends (in contrast to vampires in Eastern European folklore, which were often called revenants and were smelly, decaying, ravenous creatures -- hardly something you'd invite into your home, much less your bed). But the humans don't want to know this dark side, to see this aspect of themselves. Therefore, Dracula casts no reflection in the mirror.

As for Buffyverse vampires becoming substance addicted: Well, Joss is already using vampirism as a metaphor for addiction, so I'm guessing that any additional substance abuse is just adding fuel to the fire. We've seen Spike get sloppy drunk, but that took at least a fifth of liquor to get him to that state. We've seen Angel temporarily become Angelus after ingesting a "happy drug" that overcame his inhibitions/self-restrictions. So alcohol or drugs just further reduces any inhibitions left in the human shell that the vampiric demon inhabits.

[> This is your vamp on drugs... -- KdS, 04:59:01 08/13/02 Tue

Well, I think that it's only thanks to Standards & Practices rules that this hasn't been addressed before. Can you imagine Spike and Dru not sniffing, smoking and injecting anything they could get their hands on? I must admit, I see Spike as a stimulant kind of personality, but may be wrong...

And in a weird way, junkie Angel's more plausible than you might think. Romantically alienated, self-torturing, self-destructive... Just watch out for temporary um... "lapses" of conscience...

Classic Movie of the Week - August 10th 2002 - *Guilty Pleasures / Buried Treasures Pt. II* -- OnM, 18:32:51 08/11/02 Sun


All rise. The honorable Judge Pseudolus Maximus presiding. (long pause) You may be

Counsel? Call your first witness.

May it please the court-- I hearby call the first witness.


"(This week's Classic Movie) ... is a featherweight comedy balanced between silliness and charm. It is
impossible to dislike
, although how much you like it may depend on your affection for ... (the actress
who plays the lead role). She is so much the star of the movie that the other actors seem less like co-stars
than like partners in an acting workshop, feeding her lines. They percolate, she bubbles."

............ Roger Ebert


Or, maybe not... perhaps it should be 'witless'...

"The plot follows such an obvious arc, the movie feels half-hearted, a lost opportunity."

............ Steve Murray (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

"Soon degenerates into a too-slick silliness that confuses empowerment with cloying cutesiness."

............ David Noh (Film Journal International)

"A featherweight romp that wants to flaunt stereotypes but instead winds up reaffirming them."

............ Eugene Novikov (Ultimate Movies!)

"Traffics heavily in disgustingly cute stupidity and crude cultural stereotypes."

............ Joe McGovern (Matinee Magazine)

"Handicapped by a lame, predictable storyline that calls attention to itself too often."

............ James Berardinelli (James Berardinelli's ReelViews)

"Criminally stupid...has all the charm of fingernails scraping a blackboard for ninety minutes."

............ Frank Swietek (One Guy's Opinion)


Or, on the other hand...

"How can a movie which sets out to argue against Aristotle's saying that "The law is reason free of
passion" be deemed dumb and inconsequential ? As if !"

............ Kevin Laforest (Norm @ The Movies)


Order... order, please... (much gavel banging) Please continue, counsel.

Ah, statistics. You can pretty much prove anything with 'em, so why bother?

Ah, illogical misstatements, you can pretty much diss any ol' objectivity with 'em, so why not do so?

This month, as you probably already know, has been designated by your humble movie man as the 'Guilty
Pleasures / Buried Treasures' portion of the year's cinematic offerings, and since last week I offered up
one of my choices for 'buried treasure', this week it'll be 'guilty pleasure' time. This film actually did
respectively well at the box office, but it was the subject of mixed critical reviews, some of which are
summarized up above.

Mixed? I object!

I know, you are saying to yourself right now that 'they all look pretty extremely negative to me'. What's
with the 'mixed'?

Good question, and the answer is simple. The summaries I've picked out are (nearly) all negative because I
ignored the ones that were positive or even even-handed when I chose them. In fact, the source for these
review excerpts,, gave this film an overall 'fresh'recommendation. The reason
I initially chose to do this selective parsing was to back up my contention that my choice of movie for this
week really could be considered a 'guilty pleasure', at least if you go by what these reviewers felt after they
saw it.

Of course, those reviewers were all wrong, and I happen to be right, and not just because Roger Ebert and
Kevin Laforest are on my side. (Heck, I never even heard of Mr. Laforest before this last week, but hey, he
obviously has good taste, at least this once, right?) I'm right and they're wrong because I understood what
the film's creative crew was trying to achieve, and they clearly did not. I approached this lighthearted,
well-meaning, shiny happy comedy with the idea that I wanted to be entertained for a few hours without
having to overly engage my higher brain functions, and they wanted to turn it into either a political issue or
delve deeply into why it didn't succeed in doing what it never intended to do in the first place.

Sidebar, Your Honor?

Uhh, I realize that I might seem just wee bit self-righteous and arrogant in that last paragraph, but over the
last year as I have delved ever more deeply into the world of film and film criticism, and studied the works
of other esteemed members of the trade, I have become aware of two important things.

First, it is rare to find a film, any film, that is either universally loved, or universally hated. The very best
films still may contain flaws, sometimes even glaring ones. The very worst films almost always have at least
a redeeming feature or two. The emphasis the reviewer/critic places on good or bad aspects is theoretically
based on objective, impartial criteria, but of course that's just as rare as either a totally perfect or totally
worthless movie. Success as a film critic hinges less on whether or not your analytical skills are honed to a
fine edge as to whether or not you find that most of your readers agree with you most of the time.

But there are things more important than 'success' to some critics. If you are a true film fan, you have a
passion for the medium itself that transcends the intellectual pleasures of mere analysis. You have the
courage to admit that sometimes you just like a movie because it speaks to you, strikes a chord, vibrates in
resonance. You recognize that the people who made the film share your passion, and then you tend to
become forgiving of their (really very minor) trespasses and get fully into their overall groove.

So, second, it is one thing to approach film (or TV, or music, or any art) criticism as if it were 'reason free
of passion', and quite another to stand up and say it ain't necessarily so. To do the latter takes at least a
modicum of courage and a willingness to accept that reason and passion aren't opposites, but
complements. Otherwise, it's just two sides pickin' a fight, each one trying to show off how much they
wish they knew.

End sidebar.

I passionately like this film, and when I entered the theater last year to see it, I was unsure if I had made the
right decision, since there was at that point in time only one rational reason propelling me to hand over my
$5.50, and that was the fact that it starred Reese Witherspoon in the lead role. The truth is, I happen to
think Reese is going to become of the truly shining lights of the acting profession over the next 20-30
years. If Ms. Witherspoon was starring in a film where all she did was boil soup and hand up laundry in her
backyard, I'd be there, because she would somehow manage to make those things interesting. Indeed,
when I went to read the details on a few of those negative reviews that I had listed above, one statement
kept coming to the fore over and over again, word up being that 'Reese Witherspoon singlehandedly saves
this movie'.

Now here is where I beg to differ. Yes Legally Blonde would not have been the same
without Reese. She is so talented, so intelligent, so charming, and so delightful to watch that she does
indeed 'carry' the movie. But then, she is playing the lead role. She appears in nearly every single
frame of the movie. The movie is about her character, Elle Woods. The primary purpose of the
other actors is to provide the means by which Elle discovers that she can be more than she currently is,
while still retaining that which makes her unique in all the world. Does it matter if this isn't 'politically
correct', or that it is very unlikely to happen in the 'real world'? Do we watch Buffy because it 'could
happen in the real world'? Of course not, that isn't the point.

Now entering the following into evidence:

One copy of the film Legally Blonde on DVD, with accompanying extensive bonus features,
including two commentary tracks by Reese Witherspoon, director Robert Luketic and several primary
members of the film and production crew.

So entered.

Your honor, the plaintiff freely admits to being a commentary track trollop, gender issues regarding the
word 'trollop' currently being outside of the court's ability to resolve and so not relevant to the case at

So noted. Continue.

Now, the DVD world and all of its many fans may not realize that the concept of the commentary track,
where the director or other persons involved in the creation of a film discuss, analyze or just natter on
aimlessly about said film, did not originate with the DVD medium. No, DVD lovers owe a huge debt to the
laser videodisc medium that came before for instituting this increasingly popular additional feature of film
on video. Commentary tracks on laserdisc began as the result of a fortunate accident that occurred early in
the 1980's, after the Philips company, who invented the laser videodisc, realized that the medium was
simply too far ahead of its time to be successful in mass numbers. Philips looked to sell off the video
technology to someone with more patience, and then chose to mutate it into an audio medium that stored
digital audio on a much smaller disc and market that instead. Thus, laser videodisc begat the digital
compact audio disc, or CD, and after linking up with Sony of Japan in a marketing partnership, badgered
the rest of the world into adopting the Philips/Sony format as the industry standard.

It took CD's over ten years to become well established as the predominate audio medium, but meanwhile,
the Pioneer company of Japan had been slowly building up sales on the original laserdisc format that Philips
had developed and subsequently licensed to them. One of the first changes made to improve the
performance of the laserdisc medium was to equip it with digital audio soundtracks in the same basic
format of the CD. (The video portion remained analog; digital video encoding was way too much of a
bandwidth hog to sustain with the technology of the day). In order to keep compatibility with those early
adopters who actually went out and bought these fairly costly machines, the original analog soundtrcaks
were retained, so there were now now three audio tracks on the newer discs-- two for stereo analog and
one for the digital audio bitstream. This was the 'lucky accident' that later made commentary tracks

By the late 1980's and early 1990's, two significant changes had evolved in the entertainment electronics
marketplace. The first was that VHS videotape was now the 'universal medium' for movies on video.
Videotapes were absolutely everywhere, you could buy 'em, rent 'em, whathaveyou. The second was that
improvements in large-screen video display technology and multichannel ('surround') sound reproduction
systems were creating the concept of high quality 'home theater'.

The people who bought these first-generation 'serious' home theater systems quickly discovered an
unpleasant fact, which was that looking at VHS videotape images on screens larger than about 25-27
inches lead them to the inescapable conclusion that VHS picture quality sucked big time. In addition, the
copy-protection signals being increasingly added to commercially released VHS films was causing further
degradation to the already low-quality picture on many TV sets. There must be a solution to this!
lamented the newly technolgically updated/downcast citizenry.

Uhh, excuse us? said little ol' Pioneer and some friends, sitting over in the corner. We have this
neat laserdisc thingy here. Over twice the video resolution of your tape, digital soundtracks, doesn't wear
out with repeated playings, a disc library of over three thousand discs and growing, why don't you try it
and see?

And they did, and there was much rejoicing among dedicated movie lovers, who discovered that not only
was everything stated about the medium true, but in addition the higher video resolution allowed for
presenting the film in its original widescreen aspect ratio, just like it appeared in real movie theaters. No
more putting up with the visual hacking and slicing of 'pan'n'scan' edits for VHS tape editions. Also, there
was no degradation of the image from copy protection systems, because laser never had them. The legal
arms of the movie studios didn't bother to pursue it because the discs sold (and almost never were rented)
to such a tiny percentage of the overall market that they didn't think it was worthwhile, and also, it wasn't
the 21st Century yet, where you legislate something whether you need to or not, just on principle.

Then, the 'accident' of long ago suddenly paid off, as some bright soul somewhere realized that almost no
one was using the old, legacy analog soundtracks anymore-- all players since the middle 1980's could read
the digital track, so there really wasn't any need to keep duplicating the audio on the analog tracks. Why
not use them for something else that could be more useful? How about having interested filmmakers do a
running commentary on the film, and put that on the analog soundtracks? And so it was done, and the laser
moviephile audience went bonkers with delight. Inside info from the artists themselves, how cool is this?

Counsel? That's all very interesting, but where are you going with it? Is there a point?

Yes, indeed Your Honor. The point is that unlike film critics and reviewers, what you hear on a
commentary track is the thoughts and opinions of the people who made the film. Now call me a cynic,
because I am, but still... why lie on a commentary track? The listener has already bought or rented the film.
You don't need to hype him or her into taking it home, like the marketing people need to do. Unlike a
critic or reviewer, you, the creator of the work, certainly must know what you had in mind when you made
the thing. And if you really didn't like your work, why comment on it at all? It isn't mandatory, in fact it's
cheaper for the studio if you don't do the track.

So, returning to the film at hand, one Legally Blonde. If the jury should hear the two commentary
tracks on this DVD disc, they would be very likely to come to the conclusion that the people who made
this film enjoyed their work and thought the end 'product' was a very good one. Ms. Witherspoon and
director Luketic, for example, obviously do not consider Elle or her friends and aquaintances to be 'crude
cultural stereotypes' or that the writers 'confuse empowerment with cloying cutesiness'. Since they are in a
position to know, it is my position that those reviewers of the film who projected such impressions upon it
are clearly mistaken.

Your Honor! I object! When is he going to review the film, instead of the reviewers?


Just setting up the background, Your Honor. I would also like to cite the case of Whedon vs. The
Season 6 'Grave' Robbers
, the latter party of which maintained that there was intellectual chaos afoot
during the production of the sixth year of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that the writers in
particular had gotten 'sloppy' or 'careless' because Mr. Whedon had not thought his seasonal premise
through sufficiently.

In this example, Mr. Whedon gave convining testimony that, and I paraphrase, "If there were fans who
didn't like where the show took them last season, that is understandable and perfectly all right. There were
some very dark places that we wanted to explore with our characters, and not every viewer will want to go
there with them. But what I object to are those who accuse us of slacking off, of planning poorly, of not
discussing things in detail, of not thinking things through. None of that is remotely true. We may make
mistakes, we're human, but we work damn hard to make this show the very best we can. No one is
'getting lazy'."

Your Honor, I object! This is a courtroom! Counsel can't paraphrase!

*Counsel? I may have to sustain that one. Don't you have the exact transcription available?

Sorry, Your Honor, but my hard drive ate my file, and besides, you're completely fictional, as is the
opposing counsel.

Hey! Whaddaya mean, fiction... (~poof~)

So, now for a little bit about Legally Blonde, if you haven't seen it. If you already have, and
generally liked it, you might pick up the DVD and enjoy it (and the thoughts of the creative team) all over

As the film opens, the apparent overall tone is set in the first few minutes, as we see a series of shots of the
college campus and the interior of the 'Delta Nu' sorority where the title character, Elle Woods, lives with
her 'sisters'. Everything is intensely bright and colorful, far more so than any 'real world' could possibly
be. Elle has just finished four extremely successful years at college, where she majored in fashion, was
president of her sorority, and even managed to appear in a Ricky Martin music video. As the happy, upbeat
soundtrack tune plays out behind the credits, it is openly suggested that this is, for Elle, 'a perfect day'.

Elle is nearing graduation with an excellent grade-point average and the expectation of a marriage proposal
from her preppie boyfriend, one Warner Huntington III (played by Matthew Davis). What she gets,
instead, is serious heartbreak as Warner, who is headed for Harvard Law School, thinks that it would be a
strike against his future political plans to be associated with a 'bubbleheaded California girl'. Warner never
uses exactly those words, but it is clearly what he thinks. He likes Elle (actually, everyone likes Elle, which
she points out to him through the tears, and it's true), they've had good times together, but he reasons (?)
that if he wants to be a U.S. Senator before age 30, he needs the 'proper' kind of wife, and she's not the

This is where the film begins its gradual subversion of our expectations, and rises above the norm. You
know darn well that Elle will somehow triumph over this slander before the film reaches its conclusion, and
you will be right. What you will expect to see happen is that a comedy of errors will unfold where despite
her intellectual limitations, Elle will manage to beat out other, far more clever and 'real' people, and win
Warner back, or at least realize she can do better. What happens instead is that Elle is not only much
smarter than we give her credit for, she is much smarter than she gives herself credit for. After several days
of pining for her lost love and eating quite a bit of chocolate, she decides that she'll prove to Warner that
she can be a lawyer too, and makes plans to follow him to Harvard.

This apparently preposterous idea works because Elle is, above all things, a person who is willing to adapt,
change and move on, and not live in the past, endlessly regretting what 'might have been'. She begins
researching what is required for admission to law school, and after presenting a highly unusual (and
hilarious) admission essay to the school and doing extremely well on her LSAT, she is accepted and packs
up to move to the much less 'colorful' East Coast and the far more 'muted' people who walk the streets
and inhabit the older architecture there. This doesn't stop her from trying to bring quite a bit of the West
Coast with her, including the pet Chihuahua who is always dressed in matching outfits or otherwise
appropriately for the occasion.

Elle's attempt to continue to be herself doesn't go down well with the Harvard students and professors,
who are baffled at her appearance and demeanor. The cinematography has also changed tone radically after
the move to the East, and all the colors are now toned down and earthy. Elle stands out like a sunflower in
a wheat field, and becomes the butt of rude comments and practical jokes. Seeking solace and a small
reminder of home, Elle drives downtown and stops at a beauty parlor to get her nails done, where she
meets a woman who immediately befriends her, and vice versa. This meeting begins a subplot that leads to
Elle getting her first sense that becoming a lawyer might be more than a way to win back her boyfriend.

Elle's statement that 'everybody likes me', as I mentioned earlier, isn't just an idle boast. Over time, both
the professors and the other students begin to understand that behind the fashionable exterior is a warm,
caring, and very clever and resourceful person. Elle wins over her detractors, even the snooty new
girlfriend that Warner has taken up with, and manages to solve some legal cases with observations and
techniques that very few others might have picked up upon or attempted. Is this supposed to imply that
Elle will solve all of her future problems with her innate fashion sense and knowledge of makeup and hair
care? No, of course not, and I find it hard to accept this as a criticism of the film, although some have tried
to make it one. Elle's story isn't about her 'blondness', it's about the preconceptions of others as to what
that means, or what they think it means.

Joss may have loaded his favorite blond with heaps of on-going angst and metaphor, but Luketic and
Witherspoon aren't trying that hard here, and they don't need to. It isn't likely there will be a sequel to this
movie, and if there ever was a TV show made based upon its concept, I wouldn't hold up much hope of it
being continually clever or original.

But then, expectations can be surprisingly exceeded, and that always makes for great delight. Whatever
happens, take the smaller pleasures in life when they are offered to you, and Legally Blond most
assuredly makes that a case for doing just that. This movie may be a 'guilty pleasure' to some, but I think
it's far closer to the 'buried treasure' that for this month, anyway, I hope to make the current fashion.

E. Pluribus Cinema, Unum,



Technically darn well blonde enough:

Legally Blonde is available on DVD, which was also the format for the review copy. The film was
released in 2001 and running time is 1 hour and 36 minutes. The original theatrical aspect ratio is 2.35:1
and this format is preserved on the DVD edition. As mentioned in the body of the review, this disc has a
goodly bunch of bonus material supplied with it, nearly all of which is very enjoyable. The 'trivia' video
overlay option in particular was both interesting and funny, sometimes simultaneously. The two different
commentary tracks were both informative and well presented. People interested in the philosophy of
hairstyles should find endless hours of debate emerging from the information and images on this disc.

Writing credits go to Amanda Brown for the novel, and Karen McCullah Lutz & Kirsten Smith for the
screenplay. The film was produced by Marc E. Platt, Ric Kidney, Christian McLaughlin and David
Nicksay. Cinematography was by Anthony B. Richmond with film editing by Anita Brandt-Burgoyne and
Garth Craven. Production Design was by Melissa Stewart, with art direction by Daniel Bradford, set
decoration by Katherine Lucas and costume design by Sophie Carbonell. Original music was by Rolfe Kent
and Diane Warren. The perky pop tune that opens and closes the film, 'Perfect Day', was by Hoku,
who apparently is Don Ho's daughter. (The things ya learn doing research, gee!) The original theatrical
sound mix was DTS and/or SDDS. The soundtrack mix on the DVD is Dolby Digital.

Cast overview:

Reese Witherspoon .... Elle Woods
Luke Wilson .... Emmett Richmond
Selma Blair .... Vivian Thelma Kensington
Matthew Davis .... Warner Huntington III
Victor Garber .... Professor Callahan
Jennifer Coolidge .... Paulette Bonafonté
Holland Taylor .... Professor Margaret Stromwell
Ali Larter .... Brooke Taylor Windham
Jessica Cauffiel .... Margot Sweeney
Alanna Ubach .... Serena McGuire
Oz Perkins .... David 'Dorky' Kidney
Linda Cardellini .... Chutney Windham
Bruce Thomas .... UPS Guy
Meredith Scott Lynn .... Enid Wexler
Raquel Welch .... Mrs. Windham-Vandermark



Delta Nu, Delta Nu... isn't 'delta' the mathematical symbol used to represent 'change' or 'change in'? So is
Elle changing into something new? Or is that just the nature of fashion?

Some additional info on the very talented Ms. Witherspoon:

Birth name: Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon
Date/place of birth: 22nd of March, 1976 / Nashville, Tennessee

Current filmography:

Sweet Home Alabama (2002) .... Melanie Carmichael
The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) .... Cecily
Legally Blonde (2001) .... Elle Woods
The Trumpet of the Swan (2001) (voice) .... Serena
Little Nicky (2000) .... Holly
American Psycho (2000) .... Evelyn Williams
Best Laid Plans (1999) .... Lissa
Election (1999) .... Tracey Enid Flick
Cruel Intentions (1999) .... Annette Hargrove
Pleasantville (1998) .... Jennifer Wagner/Mary Sue Parker
Overnight Delivery (1998) .... Ivy Miller
Twilight (1998) .... Mel Ames
Freeway (1996) .... Vanessa Lutz
Fear (1996) .... Nicole Walker
S.F.W. (1994) .... Wendy Pfister
Return to Lonesome Dove (1993) (TV Mini-Series) .... Ferris Dunnigan
Jack the Bear (1993) .... Karen Morris
A Far Off Place (1993) .... Nonnie Parker
Desperate Choices: To Save My Child (1992) (TV) .... Cassie Robbins
Wildflower (1991) (TV) .... Ellie Perkins
The Man in the Moon (1991) .... Danielle 'Dani' Trant

Looking for a really bad film? I just found out that Master of Disguise may turn out to be
the lowest rated film ever on's database of movie reviews. Out of over 60 reviews to
date, all are negative except one, yielding it a microscopic 1% rating on The Tomatometer. Check it out


The Question of the Week:

Do you think that during the first season Buffy was on the air, that Sarah Michelle Gellar 'carried' the
show, and that the other characetrs-- Giles, Willow and Xander-- basically acted to 'serve her needs' as the
lead character of the story?

By Season 2, I would say that the secondary characters were far more fleshed out and gradually came into
their own with the passage of time, but in Season 1 this might be debatable. If you think so (i.e., that Sarah
'carried' the show), was this necessary, or an oversight? (Before you answer, remember that early on, Joss
was fairly sure that the show wouldn't be renewed for a second season).

Blonde or not, post 'em if ya got 'em, and see ya next week, when your humble movie man will take a
temporary back seat to a couple of ATPo 'guest host' film reviewers and some of their own most excellent
GP/BT recommendations. Good stuff, coming your way!

Take care!


[> Dark roots -- Cactus Watcher, 08:06:33 08/12/02 Mon

Having been at a loss for a movie to rent for a mixed group a couple of weeks ago, I picked up Legally Blonde. It is a somewhat fortified version of any number of forgetable Disney-esque movies/TV eps. I have to agree with Roger Ebert and OnM. It was entertaining, and if you go into it expecting nothing more than the same-old-same-old you'll be pleasantly surprised. Might not be so hot if you expect something great, but with a title like that, who would? The thing that kept running through my mind while watching it was, wouldn't it have been a hair better still if SMG had played Elle instead of Reese Witherspoon? Granted there's not much to work with here, but I really think SMG is a better actress and I've been hearing a lot of comments on TV about how great RW is.

Re: SMG carrying the show the first season. One of the things that attracted me from the start was that there was some depth to the other characters besides Buffy. Yes, SMG was THE star, and the WB advertised it that way. But, from the very beginning the others had a big influence on the atmosphere of the show. Willow wasn't just the shy girl who got chased by the monster on the odd numbered weeks. She was witty, smart and quite a good friend. Xander wasn't just the sap who got chased by the monster on the even numbered weeks. He was brave, loyal, loved the girl he could never have... After the first episode or two Giles developed from the stuttering library geek, to a complex character with a commitment to what he was doing, and a capability of having an 'outside' life. Part of the reason that episodes like IRYJ, Teacher's Pet seem so weak is that they did nothing to further the secondary characters. The Pack wasn't much good either, but at least we got to see that Nick Brendon could play something besides the occaisionally useful sidekick. I think even the development of Angel was along these lines. Joss has said Angel was originally just supposed to be a bit part, a Whistler, if you please. The more we got to know about Angel, the less hackneyed the heroine begining in love with the mystery guy seemed. And, yes, he still is a tad mysterious.

[> [> Election -- Rahael, 08:40:40 08/12/02 Mon

I first saw RW in Election and she was great - performance that still stands out in my mind.

I loved Legally Blonde. It shall eventually be added to the number of very few films that I actually own, and I'm a big fan of Reese Witherspoon.

Just a minor query OnM, that would settle a long running dispute between myself and dH.

I could swear that in the commentary track, they say that Linda Cardinelli is related to Raquel Welch - that the compliment to her bone structure was especially pleasing to Raquel Welch because of the familial relation. Is this true? Were they pulling my leg? Did I imagine the whole thing?

[> [> [> Re: Linda Cardinelli -- mundusmundi, 09:18:17 08/12/02 Mon

Interesting. The IMDb says nothing about any relation to Welch. They could be wrong, of course. For years I thought that Maura Tierney was related to Gene Tierney. I'm still convinced there's a resemblance, but it's probably all in my head.

[> [> This replies to Mundus not CW! -- Rahael, 08:42:10 08/12/02 Mon

[> [> [> Even getting a reply from you by mistake is a pleasure. Have a good evening! -- CW, 09:03:14 08/12/02 Mon

[> Re: Classic Movie of the Week - August 10th 2002 - *Guilty Pleasures / Buried Treasures Pt. II* -- mundusmundi, 08:12:46 08/12/02 Mon

I liked Legally Blonde. More specifically, I like Reese Witherspoon. She's capable of good dramatic work, being the best thing in Cruel Intentions, and I've heard great things about her little-seen debut, The Man in the Moon. And she's capable of light comedy. I thought her application video was the funniest thing in LB.

Commentary tracks are great fun to listen to. Steven Soderbergh's are always a treat. He usually does them with his screenwriter for each movie, and they often debate very candidly the merits and detriments of the film. And it's especially satisfying when the filmmaker's comments reflect your own reaction. Recently I watched L.A. Confidential on DVD, a movie that garnered high praise but also received a backlash from some critics who thought that the movie was all atmosphere. Listening the director, Curtis Hanson, explain that his intent was to make all the period detail, however impeccable, take a back seat to the characters was gratifying, since it's what I love about the picture. Hanson and Soderbergh are convincing, not because they say so, but because their words are supported by what IMO is visible on the screen.

In the case of S6 Buffy (and I'm going to try really hard to keep this from turning into a summation), I think Whedon's comments are deeply specious. He's trotting out his favorite straw man, claiming that this season's critics didn't like the "dark places" they took us to, when for many of us the problem was the way in which that journey was taken. I'm not talking about B/S or W/T or really anything like that. I'm talking about simple matters of getting characters from Point A to Point B, plugging the plot gaps, making character motivations plausible. Whedon is smart enough to know all this. (I love the guy, but he could use a little of Soderbergh's forthrightness and humility.) I've no doubt that ME worked overtime to make S6 work. For some viewers it didn't. Time for Whedon to move on, to make S7 great, to make fewer statements in interviews and more of them on the screen.

Do you think that during the first season Buffy was on the air, that Sarah Michelle Gellar 'carried' the
show, and that the other characetrs-- Giles, Willow and Xander-- basically acted to 'serve her needs' as the
lead character of the story?

I'd suggest that this is the way it's always been. I've always wanted more of the supporting characters as individuals rather than always serving as backup to the Slayer. Some of the best episodes ("The Zeppo," "Doppelgangland") have addressed this issue head on. Hopefully we'll see more of them.

[> [> Re: Cruel Intentions -- CW, 08:42:51 08/12/02 Mon

It's interesting that you liked Reese Witherspoon (at least comparatively speaking) in Cruel Intentions. Granted I thought it was an awful movie, but I thought, after watching it, that RW couldn't act. Obviously, I know now that isn't true. Thinking back on it, the direction was really wrong in that movie. SMG's character didn't really work, and I just laughed at the whole ending. 'Oh wow, she got embarrased, and cried. That's real payback. Sure.' I didn't find either Ryan Phillippe's character or Reese Witherspoon's the least bit appealing. These people are all better than average actors. I have to think with a better director who cared something about what he was doing, it would have been better all around.

[> [> [> Re: Cruel Intentions -- mundusmundi, 09:23:39 08/12/02 Mon

Aquitaine also gives Reese bonus points, for getting Ryan Philippe to actually fall in love with her.

[> [> [> I disagree about "Cruel Intentions"...(SPOILERS) -- Rob, 11:04:52 08/12/02 Mon

I personally adore that movie. It is among my favorite Guilty Pleasures of all time. In fact, I don't know what it is about it, but I have seen that film well over 30 times, while there are some true movie classics (Gone With the Wind, Godfather, for example) that I have seen far less times. I guess it's the blend of drama with dark comedy, and the extremely cynical, satirical edge. But beyond just being a "guilty pleasure," I think it's a very well-made film. I thought the acting was all excellent, most especially SMG, who just knocked my socks off the first time I saw her in it. I was so not used to seeing her play a villain that at first, I found it disconcerting. By the end of the film, I was rooting for her demise. This film was bold in making its "popular teen bitch" completely unsympathetic; completely unlovable, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I would also like to comment on how finely tuned SMG's comic timing is in this film. Her facial and vocal reactions to some of the goings-on in the film (for example--Selma Blair's suggestion that they have a slumber party; Selma Blair whispering to her about what Ryan Phillipe had done to her the night before)are priceless and brilliant.

Secondly, Reese Witherspoon. The scene in the car when she makes the weird faces at Ryan Phillippe I think is not only the cutest thing a girl has ever done in a movie, but also one of my favorite all-time movie scenes. Another great performance in the film was Christine Baranski, who was a scream as Selma Blair's uptight, rich, racist mother.

Yes, "Cruel Intentions" is trashy. Yes, it's campy. Yes, perhaps it's a tad superficial. But I still think it's incredibly clever, bold, daring, and risky. I will not spoil the ending for those who have missed it, but for those who have seen it, tell me one other "teen" movie that would dare end in such a fashion. The way it ended made me respect the film even more.

And I disagree that the revenge at the end of "Cruel Intentions" wasn't huge. SMG didn't just "get embarassed." You have to put things in perspective--She was the most popular girl in school, the most respected girl on campus, a position that it took her years to attain. In high school, you lose your popularity based on even the smallest thing, and it's gone forever. She lost her standing as the most popular girl in school. Even worse--she became scorned and reviled. And--her parents learned about her drug problem, as did the rest of the school. By the end, she has become a joke to the very people she used to control and manipulate. Basically, she has lost her reason for living and her social status. A fitting revenge, IMO.

The only true problem I have with the film? Joshua Jackson. His performance as the gay friend was not only stereotypical, but downright awful. There is just no way to put it delicately. I truly believe the guy has no acting talent whatsoever. Sure, he was a cute, spunky, precocious little kid in "The Mighty Ducks," but now? Feh!

But back to the good--"Cruel Intentions" is the perfect Saturday night treat, especially if you're in a

[> [> [> [> Continued... -- Rob, 11:07:00 08/12/02 Mon

Oops! Clicked "Approve" before I finished!

Um, where was I?

Oh, yeah...

But back to the good--"Cruel Intentions" is the perfect Saturday night treat, especially if you're in the mood for a dark comedy.


[> [> [> [> [> Re: Continued... -- redcat, 11:42:29 08/12/02 Mon

Haven't seen Cruel Intentions, but wasn't it based on the French novel "Dangerous Liaisons"? I read it a very, very long time
ago and only in translation (can't remember the author), but the public humiliation of the evil woman at the end was so severe
that I always assumed she probably went off and committed suicide. The intensity of her exposure left her nowhere to go but

I've not seen Legally Blonde either (although thanks! OnM, I'll try to catch it now), but the one film in which I have seen
Reese Witherspoon act was called "Freeway," and she was extraordinary in it. It's a strange, post-modern, supposedly "post-
feminist" and very violent take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale. Her role was a complex blend of physical comedy, horror,
drama and satire. Whatever the film's flaws, RW was one of its great strengths.

[> [> [> [> [> [> What a coincidence, redcat...I just posted about "Freeway" farther down on the thread! -- Rob, 12:08:46 08/12/02 Mon

[> What's not to like?? -- AurraSing, 09:01:32 08/12/02 Mon

Hell,I would recommend "Legally Blonde" to just about anyone but then I've been a fan of Reese since her wonderful performance in "Pleasantville".

As one poster put it the other day-"I try not to listen to critics too much-they tend to ruin movies for me". I'll agree that does a great job of one-stop shopping when a person wants to get a large critical impression of a movie (LOL at "Master of Disguise" and it's's still sitting at 1% !!) but I'll be the first to admit that more than a couple of my all time favourite movies would have probably taken a beating if they were reviewed today on this website.

As for the "Question of the Week",I feel that while SMG played a very integral part of season 1,both Allyson and Nick did a superb job of fleshing out their roles.I'll agree that Buffy got most of the airtime,but Willow and Xander served as markers for what a teen in Sunnydale may be going through,acting as sounding boards for the stresses of dealing with both RL and the supernatural.Buffy by herself is not a normal teen and therefore can be hard to relate to sometimes..."Oh,I'm beautiful,dress great and I'm often very clever with the killing comments.I have this tall dark hunk of a guy who follows me around and I can kill monsters....poor,poor me!! On the other hand,I see myself in Willow and even portions of Xander sometimes,which draws me as a viewer into the story and thus the series.

The ensemble nature of the cast is essential,otherwise Buffy as a new Slayer may not have made it past her first month at Sunnydale High and would instead have followed the path of many a Slayer before her in dying real young.I think Willow and Xander were very essential to season 1 to give viewers a chance to see part of themselves in the storyline and not just as hangers-on to the Slayer.

[> [> I agree re: Season One -- Rob, 11:10:40 08/12/02 Mon

Not only were the secondary characters given room to develop their characters, but many of them were showcased in episodes--Xander in "Teacher's Pet" and "The Pack"; Willow in IRYJ; Angel in "Angel"; Cordy in "OOM,OOS". Buffy may have had the most screen-time, but the others were not ignored. They were all fleshed-out a great deal in "Nightmares," as well. Also, little moments, like Willow's tricking Cordy into erasing her work in "The Harvest" and things like that also added great depth to the other characters.


[> Another GREAT Reese Witherspoon performance... -- Rob, 12:03:58 08/12/02 Mon

Her best is probably as Tracy Flick, the overacheiver-from-hell in "Election," but another great, rarely-seen performance of hers is in the indie film, "Freeway." I bought it on DVD a few months back. It was $4.99 in the discount bin and had a crappy cover. Frankly, I thought it would be garbage, but I love Reese and the price was right, so I thought, "What the heck?"

Turns out it was a great, great film, starring Reese and Keifer Sutherland, and with a great supporting performance by the always wacky Amanda Plummer ("Honey Bunny" from "Pulp Fiction"). It is a darkly comedic (a genre that Reese seems to specialize in) update of the "Little Red Riding Hood" fairy tale. Little Red is a trailer trash girl named Vanessa Lutz played by Reese, who escapes from foster care after her mother and stepfather (who had been molesting her) are incarcerated for prostitution and drug dealing. The Wolf is a serial killer named Bob Wolverton who offers Vanessa a ride when her car breaks down. This film is not for the squeamish. There's a great deal of violence and some gore. It is also, however, a brilliant satire of the celebrity and the media surrounding court cases and crime. It has a similar mission statement to "Natural Born Killers," but far more subtler, restrained, and masterfully crafted.

Reese is just brilliant in this film, playing a bad girl that is still likable and sweet underneath her hard veneer (I doubt Reese could ever be completely unlikable on film). I highly recommend it.


[> Re: Classic Movie of the Week - August 10th 2002 - *Guilty Pleasures / Buried Treasures Pt. II* -- Rendyl, 12:39:33 08/12/02 Mon

Ack..almost too many topics to chose from. :)

On season 6 - Nothing annoys me more than to be told I just didn't get the point when I actually got the point quite well. (In reference to statements by Joss) I liked the darker turn the series took this year and I am not sputtering away at the demise of any 'ships. Like mm I felt the writers -did- lose track of parts of the story and did take shortcuts to pull them back together. Did it ruin the season for me? No, it was still a good story and I enjoyed watching it. (well, I hated all but the last scene of AYW but I am coping-grin) I don't "need" Joss to tell me it is okay that I just didn't "get" his vision. His vision was unclear. Why can't he just say "hey, that was season 6, make of it what you will" and move on already.

On Legally Blonde - I like the whole 'you really can be yourself and it is okay' message of the movie. People can be very judgemental about what is and is not okay. I liked that it was okay that she was herself. I work from home and get quite a bit of flack from family and friends about my 'little' jobs and my sending myself willingly back to the dark ages. Elle made certain choices and whether they are considered liberated is not important. All that is important is that she had the right to chose. Oh, and I love the little dog in matching outfits. :)

BTVS season one - I have to say that Xander had some of the best lines in season one. It was short, so I can see where an entire season of episodes would have fleshed the characters out more but I thought everyone had a moment or two to shine.


[> sequel ... Re: Classic Movie of the Week - .... -- vh, 14:33:01 08/12/02 Mon

No such luck. Coming Attractions reports that Reese Witherspoon told MTV that she expects to see a script for a Legally Blonde sequel (April 2002) -- meaning she should have seen it by now. CA also mentions rumors of a possible TV series (which I think I heard of elsewhere as well).

Haven't seen the movie yet, but am looking forward to it ...

[> Just had a thought that many here will think sacrilege, but here goes (sort of OT)... -- Dichotomy, 16:53:15 08/12/02 Mon

There has been much discussion and speculation on what would happen if SMG didn't continue past S7 and Joss decided to continue the Slayer franchise anyway. Could MT fill Buffy's stylish yet affordable boots? (Not yet.) Should it even continue? (Not sure.) But this got me thinking about who else could have been Buffy (that is, if SMG hadn't made the role so totally hers.)

Anyhow, I've read all the above posts and it seems that Reese Witherspoon is generally liked and respected by most who posted. (Especially you Rob!* )

So by now you all probably know where I'm going with this. It just occurred to me that Reese Witherspoon might have made an excellent Buffy. I think she's an excellent actor and one who could have carried that first season. What do you all think?

* BTW, I also loved Legally Blonde and Election and enjoyed Freeway while feeling a little disturbed by it, too. I haven't seen Cruel Intentions in its entirety, but it's funny you mentioned the "faces in the car" scene. I did see that scene and loved it because my sister and I make that same face at each other.

[> [> Replacement Slayer candidates. -- Darby, 06:33:59 08/13/02 Tue

It's too much for my brain to back up seven years and figure out who was the right age then, and when I think about contemporary actresses, I think that several of them could be a Slayer but very few could be the Buffy of Welcome to the Hellmouth.

So I'm hijacking this a bit to ask, if there is a replacement Slayer, canon would say that it will be someone "out there" rather than anyone in Sunnydale. What contemporary actresses could handle the Jossverse? It demands some particular types of chops.

My top vote goes to Julia Whelan, who continually amazed me on Once and Again and who could be a Slayer unlike any we've seen. Lauren Ambrose could do it, too, but it would be a vastly different Slayer. Evan Rachel Wood might be able to do it in more of a Buffy mode but I don't know if she could handle the quippage. Can anyone imagine Alexis Bledel as a vampire ass-kicker? Nah, me either, but Keiko Agena, also from Gilmore Girls, could make a fascinating choice. Amanda Bynes might work, but I really haven't seen enough of her to have an opinion.

Well, I'm tapped. I just don't know that many teen actresses (which, for a geezer like me, is probably a good thing - if I could rattle off 30 under-20 actresses without a problem it would be a little creepy).

Dichotomy, sorry I couldn't follow the rules.


[> [> [> You got my vote for Lauren Ambrose! -- Rob, 07:27:05 08/13/02 Tue

[> [> [> Thirding Lauren Ambrose -- KdS, 08:56:24 08/13/02 Tue

...if that's a verb. ("Six Feet Under" beats even BtVS as far as I'm concerned, although we're only half way through the first series in the UK). RW is a great idea as well.

I'd also suggest Thora Birch ("American Beauty", "Ghost World") and Scarlet Johanson ("Ghost World", "Man Who Wasn't There"). If we're going outside the Anglophone I'd suggest Emilie Dequenne ("Brotherhood of the Wolf") and you really can't miss out Zhang Ziyi ("Crouching Tiger..."). Can't really think of English actresses - I watch very little British TV because of the low average quality. Anastasia Hille (English stage actress) would have been wonderful when I first saw her but she's too old now.

As a "what might have been", I read in a couple of different sources that Katie Holmes was the first choice for Buffy but didn't want to make a long-term commitment. I understand she was in a soap opera called "Dawson's Creek" which I've never seen, but she was very good in "Wonder Boys".

[> [> [> [> Or for a really interesting change, one might consider... -- redcat, 10:11:25 08/13/02 Tue

I have no idea who most of these teen actresses are (I'm with you, Darby, maybe that's a good thing). And I know that we're talking about American television here, but I have recently seen a very young actress do what I thought was an extraordinary acting job. Her name is Camille Winbush, she played the little girl Pearline in "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai," opposite Forrest Whittacker. I don't know about the physical comedy or stunts, but she could certainly pull off the verbal comedy, the quippage AND the deep emotional drama. She also personally seems to be smart, fast and resourceful, and thus the kind of actress who could make a chatacter like a Slayer seem believable. I looked her up on IMDb and it says she was born in 1987, which would make her just about the right age to be called as a Slayer by S8. Just George mentioned in a different thread above that Bianca Lawson (Kendra) was the original casting choice for the role of Cordelia. Perhaps Joss and Co. might just be willing to consider an African-American Slayer this time around. As JG suggested for the earlier case, that would certainly allow for some interesting story lines and character developments, especially in nearly-all-white but still demon-infested Sunnydale.

[> [> [> [> Hate to plug another site, but.. -- Rob, 11:41:09 08/13/02 Tue

KdS, if you're into "Six Feet Under," you can check out my website at Not to toot my own horn or anything, but it's the largest and most comprehensive SFU site on the net. Just thought you'd like to know. ;o)


[> [> [> Re: Replacement Slayer candidates. -- Dochawk, 14:32:28 08/13/02 Tue

I think we will be seeing a new slayer and we already know her, played by Michelle trachtenberg. MT is a marvelous actress, who is playing a whiny part. I thought she was great in Grave and am looking forward to seeing her more. But there is a problem, MT. like many of the actresses below is under 18 therefore she falls under the child actor laws in california. To carry the show the way SMG did would be impossible, since she is limited to 7 hours of shooting/day and I believe she can't shoot 7 days either like SMG sometimes did. If they are going to have a new slayer (when Faith dies either onscreen or off)she will be 18 or older playing 16. But remember Joss doesn't like hiring established actors/actresses. Of all the regulars on all 3 show, only SMG, Charisma and Ron Glass (on Firefly) had significant (non-child show) previous TV/Movie experience. Joss has said he loves to find unknowns (also they are cheaper).

[> Legally Gump -- gds, 21:06:48 08/12/02 Mon

I see a common factor in Legally Blonde and Forrest Gump. Both are about nice, descent people swimming through shark infested waters without losing their souls -or their limbs. Neither are expected to amount to much of anything, yet they accomplish so much they pull up others with them. These movies show the triumph of simple virtues over the big bads without violence or devious stratagems, and boil things down to basic black & white (Legally Blonde more so than Forrest Gump) rather than the confusing shades of gray.

Any thoughts on the unaired pilot?
-- Belladonna, 21:25:56 08/11/02 Sun

I finally saw the unaired pilot the other day, and was wondering how many people here have seen it? I knew it had a different Willow, but I wasn't expecting one *so* totally different from AH. I have to say, I agree with SMG when she said it was a "debacle of epic proportions." So much worse than Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest. But, very interesting to watch.
Any thoughts?

[> Re: Any thoughts on the unaired pilot? -- Robert, 21:48:10 08/11/02 Sun

>>> "Any thoughts?"

Yes! Just how did you come to view the pilot? Is there anyway that I also could view it?

[> [> Re: Any thoughts on the unaired pilot? -- Purple Tulip, 12:35:16 08/12/02 Mon

There's usually mulitple copies up for auction on EBay. I haven't bid on one yet because I wasn't sure if it was a waste of my money or not. I don't think they go for very much---oh, and they are usually on VHS, primitive I know, but it works for those of us who are too poor to buy a DVD player (hey, poor college kid here---I'm allowed to still cling to my VCR as a means of entertainment---when I get a real job after college, then maybe I'll upgrade ;))

[> It wasn't really a pilot... -- Darby, 22:35:52 08/11/02 Sun was more of a demo reel, which is why it looks incredibly cheesy. As I understand it, the suits wanted a bit of a visual on Joss' "take" and how it was different from the movie. It was such a "debacle," though, one wonders how the show got on the air...

I got mine burned on a CD, after several thousand tape transfers, it seems, from a friend of my wife's, but I'm not sure where she got hers.

[> [> Are you willing to share? -- Vickie, 23:02:08 08/11/02 Sun

I'd pay your copying costs and postage and such.

[> [> [> Re: Are you willing to share? -- beekeepr, 02:13:49 08/12/02 Mon

slayrunt has a copy, and generally is happy to share; will check w/him. it is interesting/worth seeing

[> [> [> [> Ahhh . . . a reason to go to Barberton! -- d'Herblay, 06:55:33 08/12/02 Mon

And how often does one have those?

[> [> [> [> [> Have some famous Barberton fried chicken while your there -- Slayrunt, 21:05:26 08/12/02 Mon


[> [> [> Welllll... -- Darby, 07:28:29 08/12/02 Mon

There is a CD burner on this system, but I have no idea how to use it.

My wife's the computer professional (motto: "I hate computers!!!") and if I ask her about something like this, I might actually find out how to make copies somewhere around 2004. I'm still waiting for her to reconfigure my son's hand-me-down laptop so we can get him some birthday software - his birthday was July 19th...

I'm probably not a good source here...

[> [> [> I have a copy I'd be willing to share... -- Rob, 09:27:04 08/12/02 Mon

I have it on my Mac. I'm not sure about compatibility with PCs, though. I could burn the data to a CD-RW, and then you can open it up in your computer, through the disk, or copy it to your hard drive. You can view it in Windows Media Player.

It's a pretty good copy, actually. Not perfect, a little pixely, but definitely watchable. Whether you want to watch it is another story.

Yes, it's pretty bad (seeing Darla kill the boy in the first scene at the darkened school, with no background music, is downright clumsy and laughable), but it is a wonderful curiosity/collector's item type thingy. You get to see the other actress who played Willow--and, apologies to her, but I am soooo glad they used AH instead. Get ready for a much louder, less shy or endearing Willow. Gulp. And a Xander who is actually kind of confident...and has the ability to actually form a whole sentence together upon first meeting Buffy. And a Buffy who's a wee bit ditzier.

So--yup, if you want it, I can arrange that. You can reply here, or e-mail me at


[> [> [> I think you can download it... -- Belladonna, 16:42:42 08/12/02 Mon

A friend of mine downloaded it for me on a disc; I can watch it on Windows Media Player. The picture isn't too bad, either. I'mnot sure where he got it from, but I'm pretty sure you can download it off Morpheus. All this downloading/burning cd stuff baffles me, so I'm not sure...It was definitely interesting to watch, so I'd recommend trying to get a copy.

[> [> [> [> Re: I think you can download it... -- Dead Soul, 04:21:32 08/13/02 Tue

I tried to download it from KaZaA, but only got the audio. But I was probably doing it wrong - I've never used KaZaA before.

Dead Soul

[> Re: Any thoughts on the unaired pilot? -- Cheryl, 11:10:19 08/12/02 Mon

I just picked it up at the Creation Con in Mpls last month. Mine is a DVD with OMWF, Hush, and the unaired pilot. The pilot is pretty fuzzy - but watchable. I agree with the others - AH is a huge improvement over the first Willow. The sets seemed pretty cheesy but it was interesting to see scenes and hear dialogue done differently. Some of the same dialogue was used in the actual pilot, but in different scenes.

After seeing the original movie and then this unaired pilot, it really is a wonder the show ever made it on tv to begin with.


[> Re: Any thoughts on the unaired pilot? -- Freki, 14:11:38 08/12/02 Mon

If you've got a high speed Internet connection, you can try downloading the unaired pilot with Kazaa. It's worth taking a look at, if only to appreciate just how much AH brings to the role of Willow.

I had gotten the impression that the "debacle of epic proportions" comment by SMG referred to the filming process, not the result, since it sounded like it took several days longer to do than originally planned.

[> The "pile of flour" vamps where quite hilarious! -- Dichotomy, 16:06:01 08/12/02 Mon

Also, I'll loudly echo the "thank god for AH!" sentiments already posted.

But I'll also defend it, if not for technical merits (definitely not!), at least for conveying, in 20-ish minutes, the general idea of BtVS. I'm not familiar with other pilots made to give TV execs a taste of what a new program's all about, but I'd assume some of them have the same rough, unfinished quality.

What we do get to see is how Joss intended to turn the old horror standbys on their heads, as when Darla, who appears to be the timid victim in the opening scene turns out to be, well, you know. We also get a small taste of the witty dialogue and great fight sequences we all grew to love. And of course, we see the possibilities of a great ensemble (minus AlternaWillow) and future prime-time star, our SMG.

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