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Structural Shifts in BtVS (general spoilers throughout)
-- Robert, 13:18:48 08/12/02 Mon

I seen a couple suggestions that season 6 is just part 1 of a two-year story ark. I started thinking about how the different seasons tie together. We have seen a gradual shifting in the structure of show throughout. Originally, Joss Whedon ensured, with good reason, that each season would end as if it were the last.

Season 1 ended with the death of the master and closing the hellmouth. Mr. Whedon added a tie to season 2 with the episode When She Was Bad, with the threatened revivification of the master. However, he left no unresolved story threads leading into the first summer vacation. Mr. Whedon had good reason to ensure that season 1 stood alone. He had little expectation that BtVS would become successful.

Season 2 ended with the banishment of Angel to the hell dimension and the closing of Acathla. There is however the added dimension of Buffy skipping town for parts unknown. While this was a cliff-hanger, Angel's banishment was not, because we were given no expectation that he would survive and return the next season. At the end of Becoming, the story thread of Angel appeared to be fully resolved and concluded. The series still could have ended here, as Buffy's running away could be interpreted as beginning a new life away from Sunnydale and old friends. More importantly, the line between good and evil first began to become fuzzy this season. Buffy was vindictive in When She was Bad. Angel became very bad indeed in Innocence. Most importantly, Principal Snyder, Xander and Joyce, each in their own way, violated and betrayed Buffy's trust in Becoming.

Season 3, like the first season, ends with little in the way of unresolved story threads. The mayor was killed, Wesley was removed as Buffy's watcher, and (of course) the gang graduated from high school. Faith represented a small unresolved thread, because she wasn't dead, merely in a coma from which the doctors said she would never return. Yet, we could sense that Faith wasn't yet written out of the show, though I had expected and hoped for more than we got. We can't have everything. This is the first season where we receive serious and interesting premonitions. It turns out that we are warned of events to take place in seasons 5, 6 and possibly 7. While these premonitions represent unresolved story threads, taken out of context they are meaningless to the viewing public, so they aren't properly cliff-hangers.

Season 4 represents a change in the feel of the show. The nature of the college existence is different from high school. The nature of the interrelationships have changed since high school graduation. Also, the nature of the big bad has changed. It is now the federal government (actually a product of the federal government), instead of a strictly mythical menace. We see our first major stress crack in the friendships of the gang, though it lasts for only about one television hour. Again, this season concludes with no major story threads unresolved. Adam is destroyed, the Initiative is shut down, and the government appears not to know about or care about the slayer. Nevertheless, we are provided many more tantalizing premonitions in the wonderful episode Restless.

Season 5 shifts the show yet again. Buffy vs. Dracula is a strange, though fascinating, episode. Dracula is like no other vampire seen before in BtVS. We are presented with a huge old castle in Sunnydale, which no one ever saw before, and likely will never see again. For the first time, Giles contemplates leaving Sunnydale for Britain – no doubt for the weather. Then there is Dawn. I heard that some people complained that the appearance of Dawn was a continuity error. If they thought so, then they weren't paying attention to the episode. Twice in this episode it is stated that Buffy is an only child and, yet, the episode ends with a sister. It was obvious to me that this was no simple continuity error, but a fascinating twist on an old Hollywood cliché.

Season 5 is also the first season where the viewing public is palpably affected by death. We saw Jenny Calendar killed in Passion in season 2. It was a disgusting, sick murder, but we the viewing public weren't nearly so heavily invested into this character as we were in Joyce Summers. Also, it didn't appear to weigh on Giles to way Buffy's loss has hurt her. Thus, season 5 has upped the stakes. More importantly, the season ended with a fairly serious cliff-hanger. Even more fascinating is that Buffy's death wouldn't be a cliff-hanger if the show had been canceled right there. It would have been a natural conclusion to an already long, successfully running show. We do have the additional thread of Willows increasing use of dark magic, with the foreboding of where this might lead.

Next is season 6; the season of great controversy; the season where the good guys are bad and the bad guys are disgusting or incompetent. The stakes are raised even higher for both the gang and the viewing public. Tara was even more beloved than Joyce. The immediate result of her death was much more dangerous and painful. The stakes were raised also by the violence of Buffy and Spike's relationship and the trainwreck of Xander and Anya's relationship. We are left with many threads in need of resolution, such as Dawn's new role with Buffy, Spike's shiny new soul, Anya's new demon membership badge (the pendant), Willow's shattered life and Amber Benson. What will Ms. Benson be doing in season 7? This is also the first season of BtVS which cannot stand alone. The series must not end here and, fortunately, it doesn't.

This brings me back to my first paragraph. Is season 6 part 1 of a two-part story ark? I don't think so, I think it is part 2 of a trilogy. Just to show what an ignoramus I am, the best analogy I can provide is Star Wars. I beg forgiveness as I am but an engineer and don't know any better. Take a look at the structure of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. Star Wars introduced the characters, the setting and the overall story ark. The Empire Strikes Back raised the stakes and left us with unresolved cliff-hangers. The episode was much darker and more desperate than Star Wars. Return of the Jedi was lighter and easier to watch as it resolves the difficulties of our beloved characters and finished the overall story. Seasons 5, 6, and 7 of BtVS would appear to be following much the same structure.

Season 5 resembles Star Wars in that it ends in such a manner as to serve as either a stand-alone episode or the first part of a trilogy. Likewise, season 6 resembles The Empire Strikes Back. It isn't stand-alone. The viewers are treated to a difficult (sometimes unrewarding) experience as we are shown the middle part of the story. Also, it ended on a positive note, thus leading into the final chapter of the trilogy. I think that season 7 will share much of the structural feel of the Return of the Jedi, except for the ewoks ... I hope.

After BtVS has shown us its last episode, whether it be at the end of season 7 or beyond, I believe that season 6 will look better in the context of the complete story. As I have stated before on this board, season 6 is my favorite and I imagine that season 7 will be even better.

[> Good point. I hope you're right -- Sophist, 13:43:40 08/12/02 Mon

[> Excellent analysis! -- HonorH, 14:24:46 08/12/02 Mon

The SW metaphor, btw, strikes me as thoroughly apropos, particularly as we were presented with the darkening character of Anakin Skywalker at about the same time we were presented with the genesis of Darth Rosenberg. My friend Tanja and I had many long chats on just this subject.

I, too, look back on S6 as an amazing season. It turned a lot of the structure of the show on its head, and that's a good thing. After all, what Big Bad could be worse than a demon god? *Life* can be worse, that's what!

Next season, we'll have a lot of loose threads to tie up. Willow is broken, Anya's a demon, Spike's got a soul, Buffy is training Dawn, and Xander both wrecked his own life and saved the world. Wow!

[> Agree with this, on all points. -- shadowkat, 16:25:54 08/12/02 Mon

[> Agree with you too. -- Caesar Augustus, 16:45:48 08/12/02 Mon

Yes, the seasons are like different episodes of a 3-part (or even 7-part) series.

Addressing the people who claim s6 is part of a two-season arc ... sure there will be continuity links. Of course issues raised in s6 will need to be addressed in s7, but that doesn't make it an arc. Plot continuity has always been there between seasons. The question is whether there will be thematic continuity (or similar tone, if you want to put it that way) and it sounds like s7 will be very different to s6. More positive, traditional Big Bad, etc. ... To suggest it's a two-season arc could ignore a complete change in momentum/focus/tone/theme. The fact that s6 ended as a 'cliffhanger' sets up s7, but doesn't mean s7 will be along the same lines!

Just some random rambling.

[> Good post, Robert and reminder... -- aliera, 16:58:46 08/12/02 Mon

that it is important to look at things not simply in isolation but also part of the whole story. Regardless of the individual season's abilities to stand on their own, they are each a chapter in Buffy's story which is not yet finished. Indeed, it could be far from finished.

Other thoughts you reminded me of...the importance of recognizing others opinions...some of the people I most often look for on this board and whose opinions I enjoy and respect have a much different view of the show than I...and their backgrounds vary, often is this variation which can make reading as eye opening a s what it is...I didn't enjoy the season as much as most; it's part of the reason I came to the boards to try to see things through others eyes. I have felt that there is perhaps something lacking in myself as a viewer and was looking to expand on that, not to try to agree with everyone, for I certainly don't; but, to expand my perspective and understanding. It's also not to say that some of the posts haven't opened my eyes to the flaws and the difficulties of producing a really good work. They have.

The seasons can stand alone, even this one. Spike's story was really the cliff hanger. Like any really contiously good series though, the understanding of the story is more complete if you can experience all of the story. It's also part of the joy of a really good continous work to be able to see the connections, the references, the bones under the skin, to glimpse the long range direction. There's that little jolt of recognition and sometimes a feeling of being part of something?

Thanks for the post.

[> Trilogy Analogy (no significant spoilers) -- Robert, 17:47:44 08/12/02 Mon

I must be incredibly arrogant for answering my own message, but I am reminded of something. When "The Empire Strikes Back" was first released during the summer of 1980, I watched it several times on consecutive weekends. I really liked this movie; much more than for "Star Wars". But when I returned to Cal Poly to start my junior year, I heard quite a number of students complaining about how bad "The Empire Strikes Back" was, and I didn't understand why. There was much more angst and character development, than for the first movie.

I later saw the same phenomenon for another trilogy; "Back to the Future". The critics shit on the second movie of the trilogy, but I thought it showed the characters in wonderfully desparate situations.

I've come to a working conclusion that the middle books or movies in a trilogy are more difficult for people to enjoy. They neither introduce the stories nor resolve them. Often the characters are brought to their lowest points; stressed to their limits, but we don't get to see them prevail. For that, we must wait for the third book or movie. In the case of "Return of the Jedi", that took three agonizing years.

Interestingly, I felt that "Return of the Jedi" was somewhat of a letdown, because the issues which the characters were left with at the conclusion of the second movie were quickly resolved in the first half-hour. The rest of the movie was dedicated to ewoks. Don't flame me. I'm know I exaggerate, but it sure felt that way.

[> [> Re: Trilogy Analogy (no significant spoilers) -- aliera, 05:29:37 08/13/02 Tue

No favorite was the first movie though. I remember seeing it several times in the theatre, which even then was unusual for me. Not a big movie buff. And a lot of what I like would qualify as guilty pleasures. I liked Graduation Day and The Gift as natural end points. And I saw the events of Entropy->TTG as that mid-story valley with an intitial upswing (but not final) at Grave. I was really hoping for a season eight. I haven't heard anything recently on this?

[> [> [> Re: Season Eight -- Robert, 01:43:08 08/14/02 Wed

>>> "I was really hoping for a season eight. I haven't heard anything recently on this?"

Aliera, so am I, even if it turns out to be "Dawn the Replacement Vampire Slayer". I'm sure Joss can find some way to make it enjoyable.

[> [> Re: Trilogy Analogy (no significant spoilers) -- Just George, 00:18:37 08/14/02 Wed

Robert: I've come to a working conclusion that the middle books or movies in a trilogy are more difficult for people to enjoy. They neither introduce the stories nor resolve them. Often the characters are brought to their lowest points; stressed to their limits, but we don't get to see them prevail. For that, we must wait for the third book or movie.

I suspect that The Lord of the Rings Trilogy of movies could have a similar problem with the middle movie "The Two Towers", due this Fall. It is hard to have a satisfying ending at what is obvious (to the observer) the middle of the story.

As I remember the (minimal) drama theory I learned:

The first act of a play puts the world out of balance (S5: Buffy dies)
The end of the second act is when "all things look bleak" (S6: Everyone is sad)
The third act is about returning the world to balance (S7: Buffy & Everyone are happy?)

This might (possibly? hopefully?) map to S5, S6, and S7. We will see.

[> Famous trilogies? -- Cactus Watcher, 18:00:52 08/12/02 Mon

Excuse the meandering, but this is headed back on-topic. Both Tolstoy's War and Peace and Dostoevsky's Brother's Karamazov were intended as trilogies. In both cases, the first volume was to present a traumatic period in the life of the main character (Pierre Bezukhov in War and Peace, Alyosha in BK). The second volumes were to show a decent into decadence by that character. The third volumes were to lead to redemption. Tolstoy's vision of War and Peace changed as he was writing it. His world view changed dramatically and the trilogy idea was dropped. Dostoevsky died while he was just beginning to work on the second volume of his trilogy.

Starting from Robert's trilogy idea, it would be easy to postulate a progression similar for the last three years of Buffy, a year of great trauma, a year of decadence and a year leading to something representing redemption. I wonder if it will play out that way. I wonder if Joss' vision has changed in the time since he knew there would be a seventh season.

[> Very well thought-out work. Nice suppositions. -- ZachsMind, 20:44:42 08/12/02 Mon

[> Great analysis, but... -- DickBD, 14:37:20 08/13/02 Tue

I wonder why the writers keep apologizing for S6. Is it simply misleading us when they talk about "getting off track"? I must confess that I was uncomfortable with some of the episodes in S6. (Like Giles, I have come to think of the slayer as a daughter, I guess.) Still, some of the episodes were magnificent. "Normal Again" was one of my favorites. But I am busy watching the reruns of Angel to try to determine how some people think that series is better artistically. (Do you still have me on the list for the old tapes, Dochawk?) But I think you are really on to something when you imply that this was the first season the writers knew, with certainty, that there would be a next season.

[> [> Next up, actually -- Dochawk, 15:44:35 08/13/02 Tue

I am finishing something up for Masq, then I will finish your set. Figure about 2 weeks to shipping. Email me an address.

[> [> Artistic Angel -- Robert, 00:38:31 08/14/02 Wed

>>> "But I am busy watching the reruns of Angel to try to determine how some people think that series is better artistically."

I had not heard this about AtS and, though I've seen nearly every episode, I don't know what these people would mean. I don't think either is more artistic than the other.
I can see why one show would be preferred over the other. They are, after all, very different shows. They have different writing staffs, different directors and producers, different look and feel, and (most importantly) different actors and characters. I prefer BtVS over AtS, but this is strictly a personal preference. When I hear people tossing around comments about which show is "more artistic" than the other, I begin to suspect that they are attempting to rationalize there personal preferences. Such rationalizations are not necessary. We are permitted to make personal choices, without any requirement to justify them.

If AtS had been a close copy of BtVS (which I'm sure would have been the TV network's idea of a "safe" decision), then I would probably have become bored with it and ceased to view it. Joss Whedon is showing us his abilities as a designer in being able to do things differently each time. He is fearless in trying out new things. His work on Fray had been quite exciting (even through the issues are so slow in coming). I wait with great anticipation for "Firefly" and the animated series. I'm sure they will be great!

It's a slow day here in the neighborhood...
-- Darby, 10:32:16 08/13/02 Tue

...and I really should be working, but I'm gonna do this instead.

Something's gnawing at me and I thought I'd throw it up for a vote / discussion.

To sign or not to sign?

I find that, being elderly and slow of mind, that often as I get toward the bottom of one of the longer posts, I've forgotten who wrote it and I have to scan back up. It has been convenient for me when people put their names at the end of the post, which is often in sight when my memory goes.

But I find myself resistant to put my name at the end - a little voice suggests that there's too much ego in it (not something I project on any of the posters who do it, it's just me when I think about it).

Anyway, does anyone think it matters? Would it help anyone other than me if folks got in the habit of putting their names at the bottom as well as having it at the top? Am I having way too many thoughts?

Darby, whose geezerness warns, "Don't get me started on the closing catchphases, though."

[> Re: It's a slow day here in the neighborhood... -- shadowkat, 10:55:33 08/13/02 Tue

Oh what boredom does to us...

i don't sign my posts because it seems redundant. My names
at the top. And on this board you have to hit on the actual title of each individual post to read it. So when you hit mine you can see who I am.

Or are you talking about the ones with no name? Don't you have to attach a name? This one said name required.

sigh. If we are voting - I vote for not to sign.

[> [> Re: It's a slow day here in the neighborhood... -- Dead Soul, 11:39:28 08/13/02 Tue

If I understood Darby correctly - I think he means the longer posts where you scroll past the point where you can still see the poster's name at the top of the screen.

I know that sometimes I find myself during long posts and if I'm reading, say a day's worth of posts at a time, having to check back at the top to remind myself of whose post I'm reading. Although some people's styles are unmistakable ;) (guess who?).

Dead Soul, signing at the bottom of my post although I never post anything longer than a screen's worth, anyway. Just in case I forget who I am.

[> Hey, Darby (completely OT of anything!) -- redcat, 11:17:05 08/13/02 Tue

I, too, am desparately trying to avoid working today (although my job right now is looking for a job, so maybe that's not such a good idea...). Anyway, I was perusing "Meet the Posters," and saw that you had once posted a thread on 'why space aliens should be humanoid.' Can you post the archive date, if you remember it? Thanks!! It sounds like something I'd love to read on this rainy morning in the rain-forest.....

[> [> Re: Hey, Darby (completely OT of anything!) -- Darby, 12:14:38 08/13/02 Tue

Go to

and do a Control-F for "humanoid" and it should come up as the 2nd hit.

There are a lot of assumptions in it that have rationales, but I'm not sure that I explained all of them. Let me know if something makes no sense.

[> [> [> Thanks! -- rc, 12:45:05 08/13/02 Tue

[> Re: It's a slow day here in the neighborhood... -- Rendyl, 12:22:18 08/13/02 Tue

Hmm..if you are really bored I have an extra paint brush. ;)

I put my little name at the end mainly because the post always looks sort of unfinished if I don't. Those who always wrap up their thoughts neatly probably avoid this problem but since my mind and typing are slightly disjointed I like the name at the end to signify "yes, I am done now". (whether it all makes sense or not is another story)

Sigh. I am supposed to be painting but it is just too blasted hot to do much of anything.

Ren - see, now you know I really meant to end it and not just that I wandered off.

[> [> Re: I like that Rendyl... -- aliera, 13:58:27 08/13/02 Tue

And commiserating with the painting...two gallons of french vanilla and another off-white shade have been giving me dirty looks every night for a while...sigh.

[> [> Re: It's a slow day here in the neighborhood... -- Caroline, 14:09:10 08/13/02 Tue

I completely sympathize about the painting Ren. My summer project (one of them) has been to paint my house and I'm already sick of it - not the painting itself but the clearing out the furniture, cleaning and spackling the walls, taping, dustcloths, washing brushes and buckets for re-use - such a tedious process. Although I am loving the results. I just finished painting my bedroom a rather lovely aqua colour and it makes me feel like I'm floating underwater. But I've done the upstairs hallway (accent wall in lucky shamrock), complemented by some saris as wall covering and the spare bedroom (autumn blaze, otherwise known as orange) - now onto the rest of the house!

[> [> [> Re: It's a slow day here in the neighborhood... -- Rendyl, 15:32:23 08/13/02 Tue

Grin. I will never understand why it is called painting when all my time is spent on prep. We have wooden walls and after finishing the kitchen I have decided to buy stock in a spackle company. (glad to meet another 'color on the walls' person.)

Aliera - I am doing all the trim in delicate white (a fancy way of saying 'hey, this is a three-coats-minimum-white and we will raise the price of it everytime you need more').

Today however I was tackling the back porch. Armed with painting supplies and a big can of 'blast 'em from 40 ft' wasp spray I had hoped to get at least one side done but it was just too hot and Darby never showed up to run wasp/spider interference for me.

There is always tomorrow.


[> [> [> [> You don't want me running interference. -- Darby, 16:21:17 08/13/02 Tue

As often as not I try to reason with 'em.

And I'll spend many long minutes staring into the eyes of a jumping spider when I get the chance. Try it - if you get close to one it will turn and look back at you with one pair of huge eyes and one pair of smaller eyes (there are more but your can't see them). They are about the most alien creatures you'll meet who seem to regard you when they make eye contact. I have great respect for cephalopods (I trade semaphore signals with cuttlefish at the aquarium, another pasttime I recommend) but their eyes have a blankness about them that doesn't give the impression that anyone's home in there.

I will kill the occasional wasp when it's them or me, but the long-distance squirters are just too unfair a fight!

--Darby, who let my gecko tank get truly disgusting because it was a cricket nursery.

[> [> [> [> [> Have you ever looked deeply into the eyes of a Hawaiian gecko -- redcat, 19:41:23 08/13/02 Tue

when he's hunting? Their faces are like small dragons, fiercely beaked, with intense stripes and swirls that look like some kind of alien warpaint. Their eyes are an amazing kaleidoscope of sharply-edged planes in brilliant blues, greens, purples and blacks. They have small, sharp teeth and are *very* territorial. They can stare directly into your eyes for ten, sometimes fifteen, minutes without moving a muscle, and you *always* know that someone's home.

They do not sell insurance.

redcat, who once lived in a communal house where the consensus vote, after a four-hour debate on animal rights, was to leave the large hairy cane spider who had taken up residence in one corner of the 2nd-floor shower in peace, and to move all eleven of us to the first-floor shower until she either found other accommodations or died of natural causes.

...but whose favorite slogan when smashing cockroaches who deign to cross her kitchen is still "Evolve, F***er!!"

[> [> [> [> [> [> Geckos and roaches -- matching mole, 20:38:52 08/13/02 Tue

rc - Your post set off a rather bizarre train of thought which sort of wandered round to a scenario that could be related to Buffy.

As you may well know the geckos on Hawaii are recent arrivals having been brought there, either deliberately or inadverdantly, since the arrival of Europeans. Geckos are excellent colonists and only the extreme isolation of the hawaiian archipelago (which had no terrestrial vertebrates except for birds and bats before the arrival of humans) kept them from arriving on their own.

With that thought in my mind your discussion of animal rights lead me to an ethical dilemma I hadn't considered before. What would someone who believes strongly in animal rights do if faced with having to prevent the introduction of a potentially devasting non-native species into a fragile environment. For example there is a fairly concerted effort to keep Brown Tree Snakes from being accidentally transported from Guam to the Hawaiian islands on cargo planes. (side note - brown tree snakes are native to southeast Asia and were accidentally brought to Guam in the 1960s (I think) - they have since basically wiped out all native bird species on the island). What would someone who believed passionately in animal rights do if confronted with such a snake in the back yard of their Hawaiian home? Sort of like the whole Giles/Ben issue. Kill or imprison an (innocent) organism or allow it to go free and potentially wipe out what's left of the native Hawaiian bird fauna.

I'm not being snarky here - I think this is an interesting question.

I don't imagine that you use pesticides on your cockroaches, rc, but if you did then you would see them evolve and bloody fast too.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> snakes and airplanes -- rc, 00:30:22 08/14/02 Wed

Interesting question, not snarky at all. The Brown Tree Snake is HUGE problem here. It's reassuring to know that at least a
few biologists outside of the Pacific understand how dangerous their introduction would be.

Still, since most of the very few snakes that have been found here have been apprehended either on a military plane or a military
airport runway (or the grassy area right next to one), I hope that the scenario you suggest won't come to pass. But I imagine
that if one ever did escape and wound up in the back yard of a staunch believer in animal rights, that person might consider
capturing the snake, instead of killing it, and turning it over to the authorities to ship back to SE-Asia. (Thankfully, it would be
pretty noticeable since there are no other snakes here; tree snakes aren't directly dangerous to humans and I hear they're fairly
slow.) The state or federal authorities, however, would most likely simply kill it (or perhaps dissect and study it?), so the net
result would be the same. This is one of the reasons some A-R activists (along with many other kinds of activists) have
worked so hard to get the military to be more careful about their flights in from the base on Guam. Most of the problem stems
from military cargo flights, which comprise the VAST majority of all flights into Honolulu from Guam. The strict A-R solution
rests in the spirit of addressing the problem *before* the snakes can come here and kill the birds, and thus before the humans
have to kill the snakes. Given humans' propensity for not doing the smart thing, though, and for generally being more sloppy
than is good for them, it's almost inevitable that some Brown Tree Snakes will someday be let loose in Hawai'i. The most
realistic AR solution at that point, it would seem to me, would be to save thousands of birds, including entire species of rare
and endangered birds, by killing the few snakes that make it past the airport defenses.

There is no such thing as a perfect morality. Everything has shades of grey. Guess real life is like the Buffyverse, after all...

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Goats and the Galapagos -- Darby, 05:18:27 08/14/02 Wed

I haven't seen any recent follow-ups, but Equador was planning this past spring to bring sharpshooters into one of the Galapagos Islands recently invaded by goats (across a risen land bridge) and try to kill the many thousand that had literally taken the island over.

It's the same dilemma, but that's a lot of dead minding-their-own-business goats.

And what do you do with that many carcasses that wouldn't itself affect the ecosystem?

[> [> [> [> [> Re: You don't want me running interference. -- Rendyl, 21:33:17 08/13/02 Tue

***I will kill the occasional wasp when it's them or me, but the long-distance squirters are just too unfair a fight!***

Heh heh heh...It is -always- them or me. They can build a nest in an afternoon and around here they run in gangs. (The only reason all the spiders are not toast is they do catch some wasps) I am all for a more live and let live scenario but it is just not possible. I can't have my little girl bitten and stung every day so it is war with the wasps and hoping the spiders stay wayyyy up near the ceiling.

At least the fire ants are not overrunning the house.


[> Your Mouse Needs a Wheel -- neaux, 12:29:53 08/13/02 Tue

I find that the wheely thing on the newer mouses make scrolling a lot less cumbersome and kinda fun.

causes less arthitic pain in my hands too.

(zzzzzippppps up and down the scroll)

Comics as "Literature" and Mainstream Acceptance (OT)
-- Dochawk, 14:36:11 08/13/02 Tue

There was a long thread, just archived about Comics and mainstream acceptance. Today's New york Times had a long article about "A Comic Gets Serious on Gay issues". Besides an article in the NYT (can you get more mainstream than that?) about comics on a serious topic, this article could have been written about Buffy a year ago.

You have to register, but its free.

[> I read the article. The Green Lantern team is doing something admirable with this plotline... -- cjl, 19:37:48 08/13/02 Tue

And yet, I still get a faint whiff of condescension here. The entire tone of the article practically screams to the reading public that for a kiddie book like Green Lantern to tackle an issue like gay bashing in a mature, unflinching fashion is truly extraordinary. "Look, folks--a fish is riding a bicycle. Isn't that amazing?"

We did indeed do an entire sub-thread on this board, devoted to comics like From Hell, Watchmen, Maus, Ghost World, Raw, Cerebus, Sandman, Transmetropolitan, 100 Bullets, and many, MANY others which tackle(d) real world issues in far more interesting and complex ways. If you want a comic book to describe gay life in America, grab a collection of Dykes to Watch Out For or Howard Cruse's graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby.

The fact that the Times hasn't printed word 1 about any of these books (with the exception of Maus) confirms the status of comics in the U.S. as a literary stepchild. (Maybe I could move to Japan, where manga gets a little respect.)

OK, end of rant. I shouldn't complain too loudly about this, though. The idea of a readily identifiable, "everyday kind of guy" gay character in superhero land is probably a good thing. And this looks it'll be a lot more grounded and emotionally resonant than that melodramatic plotline in Alpha Flight. (To comics virgins--don't ask.)

has Joss visited his local sidewalk lately?
-- can I be Anne?, 16:02:25 08/13/02 Tue

I wish to start this new thread in response to certain comments made by redcat in "OK, mundus, I'll bite..." down below. My post is off topic from the subject of that thread.

"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. "

redcat, these lines practically beg me to picture a bucolic homestead where the lily-white missus is placing a cherry pie on the windowsill to cool. However I'm going to snap out of my Pat Buchannan dream and wonder where the hell do you live? I am a South Asian-American in North Carolina in a community with sizable populations of practically every race. I'm trying to picture other places I've been to in N. America. Hmm..Montreal...NYC...New Orleans...LasVegas...Atlanta...Florida...Texas...Michigan...Toronto..Maine..D.C....Chicago... Is that good enough? All of these places have sizable, visible Black, Latino, Asian and Arab American demographics. I actually can't think of where outside of a country club in South Carolina and television have I seen such a whitewash. Furthermore, I haven't been to Southern California personally but I do not believe for a moment that there are no Latinos(just to note one glaring omission) I mean, come on, has Joss visited his local sidewalk lately?
Hollywood directors and writers are overwhelmingly white and male(this occurs through no fault of their own and many are truly talented) They get to tell their stories and choose the actors that portray them on screen. I am going to go out on a limb here and suppose that many of these directors automatically cast white actors unless the role is specifically for a sassy black sidekick, exotic asian sex object, etc*. That is the world they know and/or the world they saw on TV, growing up in America. What I would like to see more of is for these purveyers and documentors of culture to realize the social responsibility that comes with the privelege of their soapbox. Specifically I would like them to catch up to the curve and cast different races, normal sized women, disabled people, gays, poor people and others who don't see themselves reflected in the media enough. This can actually be done often without altering the story(I don't mean to suggest that they should ever constrain themselves creatively) While the demographics of BTVS may reflct the reality of certain semi-isolated viewers, I allege that BTVS and TV as a whole could stand to alienate less people by being more reflective of most of America.
As an adjunct, redcat, I want to say that your post was concise and it made me think. I thought you made some great arguments, although I wasn't able to read the essay in question so I can't form much of an opinion on the rest of what you wrote. I mean this all in the spirit of discussion and I hope you aren't insulted by any of it.

*I am aware of Gunn and other non streotypical characters. I think it's great that they exist and that there should be more of them, in acccordance with real world standards.


[> Butting in (and hoping to tread lightly; is that oxymoronic?) -- Sophist, 16:22:42 08/13/02 Tue

I think you may have misunderstood redcat's post. I don't believe she was arguing that the show should not be more diverse. I think she was merely commenting that the ethnicity of the principal characters probably reflected the experience of white Americans.

I would also add that age is important in discussing this question. I'm 48. I went to segregated schools until I was in 5th grade, and majority white ones all my life. That is not the case at all for my daughters (14 and 19). I have to think their impression of what is "realistic" in high school would be quite different than would that of someone my age who reflected only on his/her own experience.

[> [> Re: Butting in (and hoping to tread lightly; is that oxymoronic?) -- can I be Anne?, 17:01:30 08/13/02 Tue

Thank you for pointing out the age/exposure factor. It's something I had not considered, probably because I'm 19.
Apropos your other comment, perhaps. I reread her post and I see your point, but I want to point out that it's a priveleged position of White Americans that they can assume they are the targeted audience. They are. I know that race isn't the only way one may be mirrored on television. I grew up in poverty and didn't see anything like my family. Maybe that's why I still don't watch a lot of tv.

[> [> [> Re: Butting in (and hoping to tread lightly; is that oxymoronic?) -- shadowkat, 07:19:13 08/14/02 Wed

Agreeing with Sophist. But it has less to do with age I think and possibly more to do with other factors.

I've lived numerous places. When I was young I lived in Chester County in rural area of Pennsylvania. While we were not rich or well-off, we weren't poor either. I had not seen someone of another (non-white) race until I reached 6 grade and was bused an hour and a half away to a new school.
This happened in the 70s. Later when we moved to Johnson
County (a wealthy suburb in Kansas - not far from Kansas City Missouri, although there were people who were quite
poor living in this suburb) - there were a total of two asian-americans and I think a few people from foreign lands.
No african-americans or latinos - at least in the 1980s.
This is in the middle of the country.

It wasn't until college that I met and knew people of diverse backgrounds.

If you travel across sections of the US - you'll see that it is still quite segregated. NYC is highly so, by choice.
I live in an Italian neighborhood (I'm not Italian but the majority of the people around me are), walk six block?
It becomes Middle Eastern - the language even changes.
Another block? African, Jamacian, Carribean. Yes we are diverse, but the diversity is still broken into sections.

As I said on the thread below - the further we come?
the further we need to go. We have come a long way on race
relations, xenophobia, racism, gender relations, sexual
tolerance, etc - when you compare to where we were just a decade ago. But we have a lonnng way to go. And asking questions of what we watch, creating our own art, and
discussing these views - will help us to continue to move down that road. Where it goes? Is anyone's guess. I'm hoping for more tolerance and diversity.

Thanks for the post can I be Anne.


[> [> [> What I find remarkable about Buffy -- Sophist, 08:54:22 08/14/02 Wed

(and thanks to Rah for pointing this out to me) is how strongly the show appeals to a sense of "other", notwithstanding the criticisms of, say, the lack of ethnic diversity or its handling of W/T. It's important that we keep that in mind, and not get too focused on, say, the sexual preferences of the characters on the show. He said self-reflectively.

Redcat's post below and shadowkat's above inspired a few thoughts of my own about location and diversity. I lived in Palo Alto from 3-10. My elementary school classes had 2 ethnically Asian students (one of Japanese ancestry, the other of Chinese). That was the extent of the diversity.

We moved to Riverside when I was 10. Although Riverside integrated its schools the next year, I never saw a non-white student in elementary school. Junior high, however, was a very different story. The largest minority group then, as now, was Hispanic, though there was a moderate African-American population as well. Junior high was quite diverse, though hardly peaceful; ethnic tensions and hormones don't mix well.

I can contrast this with the experience of my daughters growing up in Los Angeles. The neighborhood school was mixed Asian and white. Very few blacks or Hispanics (consistent to this extent with s'kat's comment about isolated neighborhoods). On the other hand, my younger daughter played soccer on teams that had a large number of African-American and Hispanic players. They lived close enough for that, but not for school. Interesting -- I suspect that sports continues to provide the largest forum for exposure to other ethnicities.

S'kat commented on how far we have to go. Perhaps my age is showing, but I'm regularly amazed at how far we've come. I saw the midwest and south in the 60s. The contrast to Los Angeles today is staggering. I hope that's grounds for optimism.

[> [> [> [> Re: What I find remarkable about Buffy -- aliera, 17:24:05 08/14/02 Wed

And I think you alluded to something similar in the other thread which currently resides in Archive 2, that it is *because* of where we're at that we able to recognize how far we've come and how far we have to go. I'm 41, my son is fourteen, but because of our current locale, I find his experiences uncannily similar to my own growing up, not just in areas of race; but sex, and wealth (or lack thereof). So I would agree with both points. Also, change seems to have come relatively quickly to me from a historical POV. Barriers coming down, change at ever increasing speeds sometimes leading to rebalancing or feelings of disorientation or fear and resistance; we live in interesting times. But, I am grateful that I live in these times and not the past. ;-)

[> Re: has Joss visited his local sidewalk lately? (Spoiler S7) -- Dochawk, 16:44:35 08/13/02 Tue

As I wrote on the thread below. This thread hopefully will be mute for S7 with the addition of a black high school principal and a Latino student. Both are significant recurring characters who Joss usually fleshes out pretty well.

[> [> Re: has Joss visited his local sidewalk lately? (Spoiler S7) -- Masq, 16:47:53 08/13/02 Tue

There have been what I would categorize as recognizably Latino students in the background of Sunnydale High scenes from at least season 2. They were not in the numbers I experienced even in my lily white Orange County high school in the 70's (I saw more Latinos and Asians in my high school than I see on btvs), but they are not non-existent as extras on the show.

[> [> Re: has Joss visited his local sidewalk lately? (Spoiler S7) -- Just George, 23:54:06 08/13/02 Tue

One other note. ME originally cast Bianca Lawson (who played Kendra) as Cordelia. The actress turned the part down to play a role in another series. I speculate below in "Re: Might have beens..." that casting a person of color in a central role might have led ME to more diversity in casting peripheral roles (such as Cordelia's boyfriends and the Cordettes.)

[> [> [> Bianca Lawson as Cordelia -- Darby, 05:40:31 08/14/02 Wed

Does anyone know the source of this story? I wonder if it's true...

First, SMG was cast as Cordelia. That I've heard her say directly in interviews.

Second, the girl who in the script appeared to be the byatch and the heroine's nemesis - would Joss or the network have thought that a minority actress in that part wouldn't bring them a lot of flack? It just doesn't make sense to me.

Third, does anyone believe Bianca Lawson could handle the part? She's got a fairly deep resume, but I don't recall ever seeing her in anything else, which is not the forceful presence needed for Cordelia.

And fourth, what other role did she go to? BtVS is her only entry on the Internet Movie Database for 1997. She was in Primary Colors (it couldn't have been much of a part, though), and that might be it.

This strikes me as one of those rumors that become "common knowledge" with no basis in fact.

[> [> [> [> Season 5 DVDs -- Dochawk, 12:26:24 08/14/02 Wed

Hopefully these questions will be answered on the Season 5 DVDs which are supposed to contain a feature n the casting of all the original parts. It was also my understanding that SMG was given the part of Cordy but lobbied for Buffy. When Joss didn't find a Buffy he let her retest and gave her the part. CC was then hired within a week. Hopefully we'll get the official story when the DVD comes out in October (well they come out in Britain and Australia in October).

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Season 5 DVDs -- Just George, 16:07:17 08/14/02 Wed

The story, true or not, is widely repported on the internet. For example:

Despite that, she (Charisma Carpenter) got the role (reportedly after Bianca Lawson, who later appeared as Kendra, turned it down).


Believe it or not, before Bianca became the new slayer she was once cast as Cordelia Chase now played by actress Charisma Carpenter but, she had to give up that role because she was commited to the "Goode Behavior."

[> [> [> [> Here's another account. -- A8, 21:18:53 08/14/02 Wed

From various sources (I've even seen it projected as a pre-movie trivia question while waiting to watch the previews before LOTR), I've read that Katie Holmes was originally offered the part of Buffy, but turned it down because she did not want to leave high school in Ohio at that time.

SMG auditioned and was cast as Cordelia by ME, but as Joss recounts in his comments on the WTTH/Harvest VHS interview, the WB execs lobbied him heavily to cast SMG as Buffy.

I'll trust you guys as to what happened with the casting of Cordelia from that point on.

[> [> [> [> Follow-up -- Darby, 08:39:18 08/15/02 Thu

Like Just George, I did a search for some background, and this definitely has the feel of a single-source rumor where the source is never even hinted at. It's even the only "note" on Bianca Lawson's Internet Movie Database entry, but we all know how reliable the IMDb isn't. And everything on the web, even the non-English mentions, have that sameness of phrasing that indicates a single source.

It sort of has the feel of something an actor or agent might say off the record - "Y'know, they offered me that pretty juicy part but I couldn't take it - other obligations, darling."

I stand by my assertion that BL would not have been a proper Cordy - I'm amazed at how many things she's been in that I've seen but never noticed her in, and I'm good at noticing actors I'm familiar with. And she's pretty distinctive.

- Darby, who will eventually do a website on "common knowledge" but completely wrong science-type items.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Follow-up -- d'Herblay, 10:29:46 08/15/02 Thu

I have no real knowledge of what went into the casting of Buffy; however, I have heard that a great variety of people "had" or "were up for" this or that role. For example, Julie Benz has been mentioned as being seriously considered for the role of Buffy, and that was the role that Charisma Carpenter originally read for. I don't know whether or not there was a time that Bianca Lawson was cast as Cordelia. I do wonder however if people have conflated her auditioning for the part with her having the part.

[> On the Street Where I Live -- Arethusa, 16:56:51 08/13/02 Tue

I live in Houston, Texas. According to the US Census bureau, it is approx. 30% White Non-Hispanic, 40% Hispanic, 12% African-American, and 3% Asian. There is a sizable (east)Indian population, and also mixed race population. The different minority groups tend to create and remain in their own communities, partially becaue we have so many immigrants who depend on their communities for assistance with their unique needs. Houston is also virtually the only major city in the South that voluntarily and peacefully desegregated. Houston is incredibly diverse, and proud of it.

But you can grow up here and virtually never see anyone of a different race, if you want to live that way. The largest public school district is 10% White Non-Hispanic. Most white students go to nearly all-white suburban school districts, private schools, or carefully zoned white schools in wealthy urban neighborhoods. The middle-class whites mostly live in suburban white neighborhoods. Rich whites live in suburban or very wealthy neighborhoods near downtown. There are wealthy minorities, and they live wherever they want, but their percentage is small. One could easily live here and have little meaningful contact with a person of a different race.

I have also lived in Raleigh, NC, Seattle, WA, San Diego, CA, Ft. Walton Beach FL, Austin, TX, Mountain View, CA, and several other places. The same could be said for those places, at least when I lived there in the 60s and 70s.

There's no excuse for someone of Wedon's clout to not have more diverse actors except one-the network has a lot to say about who gets hired, and they are only interested in demographics for selling products. It's all about the fast food, the mascara, the CDs. Everthing else is gravy.

Hoping, but not expecting, that I haven't managed to offend anyone or be academically insufficent.

[> What would be really cool... -- neaux, 17:04:22 08/13/02 Tue

I would love to see Buffy branch out with its Directors.

Who wouldnt want to see an episode of Buffy directed by such talented Big Time Directors as Ang Lee, Robert Rodriguez, and Quinten Tarrenteno.

What is wonderful about these directors is how they cast their characters of all ethnicities.

an episode of Buffy done by Robert Rodriguez would make me Die of excitement.. his work is unbelievable!

[> [> Re: What would be really cool... -- Arethusa, 18:36:36 08/13/02 Tue

I wonder what a Tarentino BtVS would be like. Probably lots of vampire gore and the odd evisceration or two.

Other suggestions, matching who'd I would have like to seen direct, and the episode:

Frank Capra: The Wish

George Cukor: Family

Roger Corman: Buffy vs. Dracula

Jean-Luc Godard: Restless

James Cameron: I Robot, You Jane

John Carpenter: Halloween (of course!)

Billy Wilder: Something Blue

Stanley Donen: Once More, With Feeling

Howard Hawks: As You Were

[> Re: has Joss visited his local sidewalk lately? -- redcat, 23:43:58 08/13/02 Tue

Aloha e can I be Anne?,
Thank you for starting what promises to be an interesting thread. I actually think it is exactly on-topic of the thread below
from which you quote me, but it's sometimes good to start new threads, too, and this one has already generated some
intriguing comments.

However, you have, as Sophist tried to point out to you, terribly mis-read the section of my post you quoted. Your questions
to me make me think you may well have also mis-read the majority of my review of Lynne Edwards' article. However, what
each poster takes from any one post is up to them and I probably cannot restate my review of that article in language that's any
less confusing. I apologize for that. The review was improperly posted to this forum in the first place, since it is written with
a purpose and in a particular academic style more suited to a graduate seminar than a public fan forum.

What I can and must do, never-the-less, is to contest your quite creative but unfortunately inaccurate notion that the quote
above means that I am suggesting either 1) that BtVS should be as white or whiter than it already is, since in fact my feelings,
as clearly expressed in other posts on this board and which are central to my critique of both Edwards' and Whedon's work,
are exactly the opposite; or 2) that I was or have ever suggested that because white Americans can assume they are the target
audience, and because white producers and directors can assume they only have to write for a white audience, that their doing
so is a good thing, because, again, as I think I have made quite clear in both the named post and in other work I've done on this
board, I do *not* think racism is a good thing.

What I *was* saying, as Sophist rightly noted, is that the all-white cast of BtVS main characters seems to me, from my very
limited experience of living around white Americans on the continental US mainland, to mirror what I saw of the usually very
limited experiences that most white people living in those mainly white communities I was in seemed to have with people of
different races and ethnicities. I would add here that racially self-segregated communities were not what I experienced during
the few months that I lived in a large continental-US city in 2001, nor have they been my experience in traveling around the
continental US via major cities. But they were very much in evidence when I rode my motorcycle across 10 western and
northern states during a six-week period in the summer of 1994, taking only back roads and "blue line" roads between
campgrounds, small towns and back-country areas. And to be very clear, I should add that my experience of living in white (or
even mainstream) America has been limited to a period of about seven years living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, while I was in
graduate school there, and another 18 months living in a small, nearly-all-white town in eastern Pennsylvania, while I taught
college there. It is good to see that many other posters, you included, live in a more integrated America. But I do have to say
that coming from a world where white people are not the norm, when I moved to the American mid-west in 1990, I was
incredibly, deeply and continually shocked at the casual racism commonly in evidence, even from well-educated and "liberal"
white Americans, and I continued to be extremely uncomfortable in white American culture for the entire time I lived in it
*primarily* because of the levels of both overt and socially-structured racism that seemed to me to be so evident in it.

As to your "where in the hell do I live?" question, well, I live in what is probably the single most ethnically diverse place on
earth. But if you saw me, you would probably think that I am white, even though a big chunk of my family's history and a
certain poignant sharp edge in our internal traumas - come from the fact that my dad's mother is half-Cherokee. She grew up
with an Indian mother who spoke little English, but who could read and write in the Cherokee syllabary. My grandmother's
father was an illiterate 6' 7" red-haired Irish immigrant who beat his wife every time she birthed a no-good girl baby, got drunk
every time she birthed a boy (she had 10 kids, five of each), and beat her and his children if he caught them speaking "that
damn Injun" in the house. My aunt remembers her mother and sisters shifting easily from Cherokee to English in mid-sentence
when they heard his bootstep on the porch. My father grew up being beaten, and was once knifed in the play yard of his west
Texas school, for looking "too Injun to be so smart."

My dad left his grandparent's Texas farm as soon as he could and I grew up in a small agricultural town on an island in the
middle of the Pacific where people who look like me only comprised about 8% of the population when I was a kid, back in the
50s. I've recently moved back home after living for most of a decade on the North American continent. The white population
here is up to 22% now, and sometimes I feel a bit invaded. Here at home, though, I'm not really "white." I'm something called
"haole," "local haole" to be exact. That means that I look like the 6 million American, European and Canadian tourists who
flood here every year (that's six "visitors" for each of us who call this paradise home, six people who never seem to know how
to conserve water -- a critically important act when one lives on an island -- and who generally treat the local people like
servants because they have money and we don't). But I'm not actually the same as them and other local folks understand that.
For one thing, I speak local pidgen in five different dialects, even, and I can flip between any of them and "good English" as
easily as my grandmother could between her mother-tongue and her father's. More importantly, I understand deep in my
bones the subtle local customs that separate those who belong here from those who don't, the local ways of thinking and being,
of knowing and relating respectfully to each other and the 'aina, the land, that are not part of Hollywood's depictions of our
sunny beaches or its versions of our Native people as sexy and always- welcoming. As far as I can tell, most of our ways have
no place in white American culture at all.

But even though white people are now up to almost 1/4 of the population here, and even though American culture sometimes
seems all pervasive, racial issues of black and white simply don't exist as part of the local social and cultural world. After all,
less than 12 of one percent of the population is African-American, and a goodly chunk of the white folks aren't really "white,"
they're local haole, like me, people with long histories here, families on multiple islands, roots that go deep into the lava, and
dreams that stretch far into our shared island-centered future.

No, our local racial and ethnic issues here are far more complex, far more interwoven, than those suggested by simple debates
over whether or not most white Americans live in ethnically diverse or racially self-segregated communities. Nearly 24% of
our state's population are descended from the indigenous Natives, whose constitutional monarchy and beloved Queen were
illegally overthrown a century ago by an armed cabal of white American businessmen and two companies of very heavily armed
US Marines and Navy Bluejackets from the American warship, the USS Boston. Now the Americans' President wants to take
away what little is left of those Natives' land resources and economic base, on the grounds that protecting them is "racial
preference." They comprise more than 40% of our prison population, die 12 years earlier on the average than their non-Native
neighbors, and earn less than 2% of our state university's post-graduate degrees even though that university sits on stolen
land that once belonged to their Queen. More than 15% of them are homeless in their own land, and the child poverty rate for
them is almost double that for any other group.

Another 25% of our population have ancestors who came from a small set of islands on the other side of the ocean from us.
They used to be an oppressed minority ethnicity here, but now, people with sur-names from that group control about 70% of
the 17% of the total land base here that is not already owned either by the government or one of 7 large white-American-
controlled private estates. Members of this group also own more than half of all local businesses. On some islands, they
control as much as 90% of the local government, and state-wide, hold more than 60% of all government jobs, so perhaps it's
not so odd that they account for less than 10% of our prison population.

That leaves just under 30% of the population to be divided between the other eleven major and nineteen minor ethnic groups
that the state bureaucrats count each year, only one of which is Black and none of which originated in either white Europe or
white America. And add into the mix the fact that we are a highly inter-marrying bunch. By the 1990 census, one out of every
five children under the age of six had ancestors from at least three different major ethnic groups (which suggests two or more
generations of ethnic inter-marriage), and one in ten had at least five different ethnic heritages. The compilation isn't quite done
yet on the 2000 census, but state demographers are already noting the upswing in inter-ethnic and inter-racial marriage here by
a factor of at least two.

None of which means that racism and ethnic prejudice aren't part of our everyday experience. It's just more subtle, harder to
see from the outside, perhaps. My best friend in elementary school (I was the only haole kid in my class, BTW) was half-
Okinawan and half-Japanese. Her Japanese grandfather made her Okinawan mother and the Japanese son who had "disgraced"
the family by marrying her live in the worst house of any of his five sons, and I spent many an afternoon with her helping her
mom do the laundry for all six men, who worked as laborers in the cane fields (as did the parents or grandparents of many of
my friends). Those red-dirt-encrusted shirts and pants were her mother's eternal punishment for having had the gall to marry
"above her station." They might have been a poor family, but they still had a wealth of prejudice.

And my ex-partner, who's been a friend since we were in kindergarten together, is Korean-American. When her father died a
few years ago, a Chinese-American co-worker made a racist comment about her Korean heritage and her Palauan-American
boss laughed and told her she only thought it wasn't funny because it was true, all Koreans *were* like the joke. She quit the
job the day of her father's funeral. I once had the part-Hawaiian manager of a small health food store where I worked tell me
he wouldn't hire a fully-qualified Filipina bookkeeper because of her race. Personally, I've been beaten up, spit on, had a coke
thrown down my back, had my car run off the road, had a haku lei (that had been hand-made for me by a dear elderly Native
friend) torn off my head, not been given jobs I was qualified for, been turned down for houses and apartments, been asked to
leave stores, and have been called many, many derogatory names, most of them starting with the F-word, all because I look like
the kind of people that many locals here see as their enemy. I once overheard a friend of mine say to a friend of his, "she's OK,
she only looks like that (meaning white)," before that friend would let me in his house.

And being a realist, I'm glad that my nieces, the humans I love the most in all the world now, will have it somewhat easier than
my siblings or I did. Their skin is a wonderful, rich chocolate brown, their black eyes are gracefully almond-shaped, and the
red curl in their hair is an accent, not a blazon. They won't ever have to prove they belong by knowing how to speak or when
to be silent, and if they do ever act badly, it won't be sneeringly thrown in their faces that such behavior is the best that can be
expected from someone as greedy, uncultured, unsophisticated, rude, insensitive, loud, clumsy (shall I go on?) as white people
all are.

So, where the hell do I live? I live in world where black and white are not at issue, but where racism is alive and well. I live in
a world where I have to dance across cracks in the lava as the social and cultural realities of identity shift beneath my feet in a
time of changing global priorities. I live in a world where people may assume I am one thing because of what I look like or
how I speak, or may assume I am something else entirely based on the same criteria, and I have no control over any of it. I live
in Nu'uanu in the ahupua'a of Honolulu on the island of O'ahu in the nation of Hawai'i that your American government still
calls one of its states. I live in a colonized nation, am the daughter of one of its colonizers, and am the great-granddaughter of
a man who beat his wife because of the color of her skin. I've worked for Native Hawaiian sovereignty and to rid our islands
and this planet of nuclear weapons for many, many years. When I'm allowed to, I teach college courses that hopefully help
people your age find ways to change their world into one less racist, less sexist, less colonialist and more fair. It's good work,
ethical work, and I do it with care and compassion and faith in the future.

But it seems, no matter how careful I am, that I have little control over how people interpret my writing on this board. I wrote
a sentence that was intended as a subtle critique of both the racial politics of BtVS and America at large. For it, I get accused
of being a racist. Ah well, perhaps it's time I took a break from the board, after all. But I'm grateful, CIBA, that you at least
read my original post. I just wish you'd understood what I was saying.

Malama pono a hui hou,

[> [> Re: Why no average-looking or fat people? -- Liam, 06:19:31 08/14/02 Wed

I'm very interested in the discussion about the lack of ethnic diversity in terms of the actors playing human Buffyverse characters; and I was, redcat, very interested in what you said about racism, you showing that it is not confined to just something whites do to non-whites.

There is, however, another problem I feel we should also be talking about: why do we not see more average-looking or fat actors portraying characters in 'Buffy', or indeed in any other non-comedy movie or TV show? Even when we get characters portrayed by non-whites, they are still good-looking and skinny.

One of the reasons why I liked Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) and Amber Benson (Tara) was because they looked (by Hollywood standards) more 'normal', compared to SMG (from season 4 on) and AH.

If people feel (something I agree with) that actors seen should, in ethnic terms, be more reflective of the US population as a whole, the same should be true regarding looks and physique.

[> [> [> The "Great" Amber Benson debacle <<Shudder>> (Well Prior to dying it was for some reason a debate) -- Dochawk, 13:01:00 08/14/02 Wed

When Amber Benson first joined Buffy as a recurring character she used to go the Bronze like the writers. But suddenly she was faced with a great debate over whether she was fat and whethter she should even be on television. It was vicious. Amber is 5'4", 118 pounds and viewers had the warped impression she was fat. And Charisma is less than appropriate weight (we won't talk about SMG/AH/AA/ED/MT/EC all of whom are very thin). Thin sells, fat doesn't. Can you think of a young woman (under 30) on a major tv series who represents the average american woman? Nope, won't sell. Men want to see their fantasies on TV and Madison Avenue has sold them a bill of goods regarding weight. A black character will look more like Halle Berry than Oprah. Its truly a problem as we are teaching a generation of american girls that you can't be too thin.

[> [> [> [> SMG too skinny -- Rook, 14:10:00 08/14/02 Wed

Is it just me, or was SMG 10x more cute during season 1, when she was a little bit chubby? (Chubby for TV, at least).

IMO, season 1 SMG was a bombshell...since about the middle of season 4 she's just wasted away, to the point now that I don't even find her attractive.

I only started watching after getting the Season 1 DvDs, and since I wanted to watch everything in order, I didn't manage to watch the rest until the beginning of this Summer. I did watch part (about 5 minutes) of DMP before I'd seen any of the rest of season 6, and I honestly believed that they'd replaced SMG with a different actress, because the person they were calling Buffy did not look at all like any picture of SMG I'd ever seen.

To steal a line from Spike: She looks like a living skeleton. Like famine pictures from those dusty countries, only not half as funny.

[> [> [> [> [> I don't think it's appropriate to make personal comments about the actors -- Sophist, 16:44:53 08/14/02 Wed

It's fine to discuss the issue of weight in general terms (like Arethusa does below). Comments about SMG's personal appearance are just the flip side of the behavior towards Amber Benson that Doc criticized.

FWIW, I think SMG was beautiful in S1 and remains so now. I also think that a little perspective is in order in discussions about weight. SMG is listed at 5'2", and at that she must have been measured on a tall day. Her weight is given as 100lbs. For comparison, my daughter is 5'1" and 98lbs. I assure you that my daughter is not "emaciated". She is an athlete in outstanding physical condition.

Actors do watch what they eat, and they have money for personal trainers, etc. There undoubtedly are cases of actors trying to maintain unrealistic weights, but I see no reason to believe that SMG is one of them.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Yes, she is very beautiful -- Raccoon, 17:09:09 08/14/02 Wed

but I do find it painful to watch how her weight is continually decreasing from year to year. It's actually quite obvious that SMG weighs more at the beginning of each season and then loses weight throughout - I think it's more of a testament of how hard she works than of a possible eating disorder. I do however think that she, as other actresses, adheres to a strict diet and workout program.

That said, I think it's important to address Hollywood's ideal of physical perfection, which is impossible to attain except for the lucky few. I've suffered from and counselled kids with eating disorders, and it's both illuminating and frightening to see how much import kids today put on celebrities' physical appearances; much more so than back in my day. I've had girls crying because this-and-this celebrity says "that [these actresses] eat burgers all the time, so why can't I without gaining weight?" Teaching these kids that they are beautiful no matter what is very hard.

I don't know how old your daughter is, but I do know that age is a crucial factor when it comes to body weight and body fat. Once you reach your twenties, a girl's metabolism starts changing. Most Hollywood stars are not naturally that skinny. Also, the camera does pack on pounds, so as a general rule they are much thinner in person than on screen. I suffered from anorexia as a teen. I'm 5'9 and of a slight build. I look at photos taken then and see that I *do* look like today's model ideal. I also remember that I was too weak to walk the stairs without assistance.

I don't mean to criticize anybody; some people are indeed naturally fit and skinny. My problem occurs when I see that many young girls are not, yet they torture themselves to fit the norm. I'm glad that your daughter is fit and happy with her body. It's impossibly painful for a parent to have a child who is not.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Yes, she is very beautiful -- shadowkat, 18:44:55 08/14/02 Wed

Weight is a tough topic. We forget that the actors work 18 hour days. They get to the set at 4 am and may be shooting until 10 or 12 midnight. SMG in interviews has said she is a work-aholic (which for the life of me I can't seem to spell). This season she was filming Scooby Doo, Buffy and getting married and dealing with press junkets. That is a lot of stress. And not much time to eat.

My brother is 6'5 and weighs maybe 175 pounds. He is not aneorxic nor on a diet. He just has a fast metabolism. I on the other hand have always struggled with my weight and
have always been above the wieght I wanted to be. But most of my weight is in my bones - I'm big boned. My brother is small boned.

While I felt the actresses with the exception of AB and MT had all lost way too much weight and were beginning look like skeletons this year - I reminded myself of how hard these people work and how part of this is due to work habits and long hours. Also we have no idea how much of it was also due to character? Buffy was supposed to have just climbed out of a grave and was hardly in a eating mood.
Being very thin fit her character. Just as JM has gone on record stating that he purposely lost weight in order to better portray a vampire - as a metaphor for hunger. He needs to look hungry.

So agreeing with Sophist - we need to be careful on how we discuss the actors weights. And I agree with Racoon - we need to be careful in our attempts to emulate the actors weights ourselves. For the same reasons I should not go out and die my hair and get plastic surgery to look like an actress on BTVS, I should similarily not attempt to lose weight to fit the physique of a small boned woman who is 5'2 while I'm a big boned 6ft. Our differences are what makes us attractive and unique. If we all looked alike?
Same weight. Same skin. Same body type. It would be a horribly plastic boring world.


[> [> [> [> [> [> Keep in mind though the old maxim that the television adds 10 pounds. -- A8, 21:28:15 08/14/02 Wed

Which means that SMG and AH (and I suppose JM, for that matter) are mere wisps, while AB probably is probably a perfectly healthy weight for her height. The discussion, I suppose, is fairly pointless unless any of these characters get so thin that they are unwatchable or their appearance distracts the viewers from following the storyline. That doesn't seem too likely to me.

That reminds me of the joke on "Friends" where they are watching old home movies in which Courteney Cox's character, at the time of the high school prom, was overweight. She explains that "the camera adds 10 pounds" and one of the other characters asks her "how many cameras were on you?"

[> [> [> [> Dying to be thin -- Arethusa, 14:59:27 08/14/02 Wed

When I was much younger, a photographer recomended me to a local modeling agency. The agent told me I wasn't pretty enough for print work, but I might get runway work if I lost weight. For my height of 5'9'', he said I should weigh about 115 pounds. I would have had to literally starve myself down to skin and bones to do that. It's criminally insane to present these tiny emaciated women as the ideal female form.

[> [> [> And to add insult to injury... -- Raccoon, 16:23:20 08/14/02 Wed

JW originally hesitated to hire Amber Benson, according to the S4 DVD commentary, because he thought her body too "womanly". It took Marti Noxon to convince him that AB was the only actress for the job.

This took my admiration for JW down a few notches and upped my regard for MN. Which was probably a good thing.

[> [> [> [> Interesting thing about media's perception and reality -- shadowkat, 19:12:22 08/14/02 Wed

What I find interesting about this whole subject, particularly the one regarding Amber is the majority of men I've spoken with on the boards and off consider Amber Benson to be the most attractive woman on Btvs. More than one guy has told me that they actually prefer Amber.

One guy told me that all you have to do is go into an adult mag store to see what men really prefer. And it isn't stick thin shapeless women. They want shape.

So maybe the media has it wrong? I've begun to wonder if the people who create our entertainment understand those who watch, read, or listen to it. JW readily admits he creates TV doesn't watch it, hasn't seen the other shows. You create or you watch he says. Hmmm reminds me of John Maxim who writes fiction novels but refuses to read them because he's afraid of stealing ideas. (My creative writing teachers told me to read as much as possible - that's how you get better. )If everyone who creates Television doesn't watch it - Maybe this explains why the Emmy nominations make no sense? Or why we have so little worth watching half the time? Shouldn't you view the medium that you are working in? Learn from watching others art? See the best and the worst of it? Learn from others mistakes? Instead of creating yours in a vaccum. Could that be the cause of cliches? The cause of not understanding that maybe just maybe your audience has different tastes than you think?
That you are out of sync with them on some major level? Or that your art isn't as innovative as you think? (I'm not saying BTVS is any of these things! Of course I think it's innovative and wonderful or I wouldn't be spending time on a posting board writing about it. Just asking questions.)

I don't know. But I have been wondering about this. Maybe I'm just generalising. As I said in an early post on this topic - it's such a hard issue to discuss without offending someone.

I know I've struggled with my image most of my life. I'm 6ft and over 180 pds.
No way I could ever hope to be 120 or below. My bones weigh 120. Yet - I've seen descriptions of characters and models
who are six foot and 135 or 145. And on the internet dating
personels? People ask for a person who is no heavier than 150.


[> [> [> [> [> Re: Interesting thing about media's perception and reality -- Rook, 20:33:41 08/14/02 Wed

As far as Amber goes, she's definitely attractive...I find AH prettier, though, even though she may not be the TV exec's idea of beauty. I think Amber was intentionally "unprettied" though, in terms of costume, makeup and hairstyle, just to fit the character, so we never saw her at her best. On the season 1 DVD Joss talks about wanting to do this with Willow, but the execs made him dress her more attractively than he wanted to. Speaking of Willow, I find it hard to believe that he'd balk at casting someone overweight, since the first girl cast as Willow was not thin (She also played the part much more flat and depressed than AH, if you've ever seen the unaired pilot), and Joss indicates that the casting decision wasn't entirely his in the end, that he compromised with the studio on AH...not that he's being negative about AH, just that she wasn't his forst choice.

As far as watching TV goes...I don't think it makes much of a difference...if you can get a show like Buffy from someone who doesn't watch it, then it doesn't strike me that it should be a requirement for making it.

[> [> [> [> "Wild at Heart" didn't give a good message, though... -- KdS, 00:57:06 08/16/02 Fri

The relatively voluptuous, diet-denouncing Veruca turned out to be an appetite-driven psychopath. Just beware, girls, it may start with full-fat vinaigrette, but before you know it you'll be eating your lust object's girlfriend... (and not in the good way)

On a more serious note, just after reading this topic yesterday I listened to the radio and heard of a distinctly scary survey over here in Britain. Apparently, just over a quarter of fifteen-year-old girls considered of appropriate weight are consciously dieting and around a tenth of those considered underweight. Ecch.

[> [> Thank you for a wonderful post, redcat. -- ponygirl, 06:39:56 08/14/02 Wed

[> [> Re: has Joss visited his local sidewalk lately? -- can I be Anne?, 09:55:00 08/14/02 Wed

Thank you for a very enlightening response, redcat. I want to say, though, that I absolutely did not think that you or your statements were racist. I'm sorry I came across that way. I know it's a terrible thing to hear. I did make some unfair assumptions about your background, so thanks for the education.
Much of my post(I realize now that it wasn't made clear) was not a response to your statement at all. I started with a snarky response, then realized what you said just reminded me of the really important issue. I think this quote sums up what I went on to say:

"While the demographics of BTVS may reflct the reality of certain semi-isolated viewers, I allege that BTVS and TV as a whole could stand to alienate less people by being more reflective of most of America."

Again, I know I didn't make it clear that when I started griping about the lack of diversity on television, I was bringing up another issue that I wanted to see a dialogue on. I don't hold you responsible for the problem.

"Your questions to me make me think you may well have also mis-read the majority of my review of Lynne Edwards' article. "
This statement confuses me. I'll quote myself again:

"I thought you made some great arguments, although I wasn't able to read the essay in question so I can't form much of an opinion on the rest of what you wrote. "

I really don't know what else to say. I can't judge your criticism of a work I'm not familiar with.
Ultimately, I hope we can be at more of an understanding, now. I have a lot of respect for your writing on this board and I really hope this experience hasn't burned you out. Thanks for hearing me out.


[> [> Re: has Joss visited his local sidewalk lately? -- Elenphant, 22:20:14 08/14/02 Wed

I understand exactly why you are upset right here. But I'd like to point out to you that you jumped down my throat in an earlier thread the same way you feel some posters replying to you have done. Just to share with you, I'm from Bangladesh, and grew up in a homogeneously white northeastern town in the US. What I said earlier was said from a similar perspective as the comment of yours this thread originally refers to. In my experience, there is indeed a great portion of this country which has not had much interaction with diverse populations. Sad to say, and frustrating for me personally to grow up within, but true.


[> [> [> Re: has Joss visited his local sidewalk lately? -- Rahael, 04:39:18 08/15/02 Thu

I am sorry you felt we 'jumped down your throat'.

There's no need to pick on redcat alone here.

After all, she wrote an essay in response to a question by another poster, an attempt to discuss a critique of BtVS. She was then criticised for the manner in which she wrote it and what she wrote. She was made to be the reprentative of that critique. Her original post was a subtle, and sophisticated critique of a critique, and a complex discussion of race in BtVS.

And, to speak more generally.

I'm very sorry that this has happened because I prefer to see complex posts on this subject, which usually only gets soap box rants and inflammatory discussions.

There are more stances on the race debate than the neat categories of 'nazi' or 'apologist' or 'colourblind'. I thought redcat, that your response to CIBA was a beautifully written post. It illustrated the complex phenomenon of race and self identity.

And this was going to be my doorway into a look at how BtVS might still provide food for thought for people like me. Because BtVS, while it doesn't tackle the subject of race, and does tend to fall into the 'white is a default normality' mould, it still makes a striking point, which is very welcome to me.

It tackles what a complex phenomenon it is to be 'human'. What it constitutes to be a 'man' 'woman' 'demon' 'a ball of green light'. Is Dawn really a young white woman? Isn't she really a ball of green light, struggling to find out what it means to be human? Is Buffy really just a white Californian girl? or is the Slayer as Black as the first Slayer? Or as Chinese as the Chinese Slayer? As black as Nicky? Who is Buffy? Isn't she all of those things?

BtVS consistently unpicks the idea that 'self identity' is an unchanging, static thing that we can be sure of.

It portrays it as fundamentally unstable, and this is valuable contribution at a time when we hesitate to ascribe humanity itself as a quality to those groups we despise.

[> [> [> Some thoughts on emotion and reason -- redcat, 06:06:49 08/15/02 Thu

Aloha e Elenphant,
I'm glad that you are still engaged on the board and, like Rahael, I'm sorry that you feel anyone
on this board "jumped down your throat." However, I have to contest that characterization of
my original post to you, currently in archive #3 (8/08/02), and would like to ask if you have
gone back and read the three responses to your post to Darby, Rahael and myself of 8/12/02,
currently posted in archive #2. Having now re-read, for the third time, the complete original
exchange and all four later response posts, I can certainly understand that you felt criticized for
comments you made in your original post. But I re-iterate that I was not attacking you
personally nor jumping down anyone's bodily orifices, virtual or not. What I did do was write a
reasoned, informed response to an argument that you had made about the linearity of human
moral progress.

Here is your paragraph to which I was primarily responding:

"Also, one should keep in mind that she [Anya] was human during a time when there were
fewer shades of grey. Ancient traditions and thought was much more primal and absolute in its
view of things. It isn't that the grey wasn't there - it wasn't acknowledged or taken into
consideration in things like law (I sort of think of a vengeance demon as a lawyer - one who is
called upon to exact revenge - for often that's what suits really are at their base). The modern
consideration for the grey in things comes from, I think, a way of thinking that was started by
the Athenian philosophers (then later by the European Enlightenment), etc."

And here is the last sentence in my original response post's fourth paragraph, which opens my
critique of that view, and the first sentence in my closing paragraph of that critique:

"Now, I hate to welcome a new poster by disagreeing with an off-topic point in an otherwise
interesting and on-topic thread, but neither of these assumptions seem valid to me." [and]
"Now I''m sure you didn't mean any of this by your off-hand musings, and my disagreements
with you on these minor points do not detract from my enjoyment of you posts in general."

Neither of these two sentences, **nor any of the others in my post**, it seems to me, can be
interpreted as my either intending to assault you, or actually doing so. In fact, I believe (even
on re-reading) that interpreting ANYTHING I wrote in my post as a personal attack on you is an
over-reaction. I understand your emotional response to having three posters disagree with
you. All three of us, however, wrote responses to your "sorry to have offended" post that were
intended to reach out to you and help heal any bridges that had been broken in the process of
us having an intellectual disagreement with you. I firmly believe each of those posts was
sincere and meant in the spirit of building community on this board. I hope that you can take
them in that spirit. And although I am sad for you that you felt hurt, I do not apologize for that
intellectual disagreement.

Further, I fail to see how your original post on ancient notions of moral grey has much of
anything to do with my critique of the experience of contemporary white Americans who live in
racially self-segregated communities although now that I write that sentence, I begin to see
all kinds of connections, so maybe you're right about this and I just need to expand my
exegetical boundaries....

And finally, I personally do not feel that "some posters" "jumped down [my] throat." Anom
(rightly, I believe) critiqued what she saw as my posting an overly-academic review of an
academic article on a non-academic posting board. Shadowkat made general comments
about the use of distancing or overly-complex academic language in multiple posts on the
board, in which I recognized some of my own writing-craft patterns. I apologized to each of
them in turn as I recognized the validity of their critiques.

I passionately refuted what I read as CIBA's accusation that I was being racist and writing from
the position of assumed white privilege in my review of Edwards' article. I also made it clear in
my response that she had mis-read the particular sentence of mine with which she began her
post (above). In response to that, CIBA has apologized for what I, and others, had read as
that accusation of racism, explaining that she had not made clear in her post that she was
*primarily* commenting on the racial politics of American media, just as I originally was, and
not on my review essay. I'm still trying to decide if I owe her an apology for not having given
her the benefit of the doubt about what seemed to me to be her accusatory response to my

It is quite interesting to me that the discussion of a review of an academic article which argues
that BtVS may have unsophisticatedly re-inscribed a common racist trope of American
literature and film has generated discussions about the difference between being a fan
and being a professional academic critic, language use and writing craft, the nature of this
board community, and what constitutes an intellectual disagreement versus what constitutes a
personal attack, as well as the beginnings of what promises to be a fascinating and wide-
ranging discussion of American (perhaps global) racial politics, notions of racial, ethnic and
national self-identification, and how well or how poorly BtVS incorporates race in its
discussions of "otherness," along with a fresne's amazingly rich and poetic rumination on the
idea of Slayers as the "mulatta" incarnate.

So no matter how upset I may get at someone's mis-reading of my posts, or how many times I
have to apologize for writing posts that are apparently so easy to mis-read or just too difficult to
read at all, I keep coming back here. And I hope you do, too. There is more here than meets
the skimming eye.

malama pono,

[> [> [> [> Re: Some thoughts on emotion and reason -- Caroline, 06:44:32 08/15/02 Thu

There are several points I would like to make.


Please don't stop posting your wonderful posts. This board has many people with a wide diversity of backgrounds and interests and I learn from and am enriched by all of you. Some of your stuff does contain jargon from a particular discipline that many of us may not be familiar with but we can click on google and do research! If people want explanation they can make a request for more. I know how wonderful it is for someone to ask for another poster's ideas on the subject and I hope that we don't start to censor form or substance because that would truly be a loss for this board. And if there are some discussions like the one on evolutionary biology that I'm not qualified to really take part in - that's okay because we are not all coming from the same place and that's a good thing.

However, I think that it's a good idea when communicating in this medium for all of us to remember that we communicate here without the benefit of intonation, body language, etc and that puts a huge onus on our written words to communicate the subtleties of our intent. I've often seen sarcasm or irony misinterpreted and that's because it can be difficult for others to get on the same wavelength without all the supporting evidence that face-to-face contact provides. Therefore as a matter of policy, I assume that people here are not deliberately trying to offend me and if I do feel slighted in some way, I seek clarification from the poster in a 'Do you mean this?' type of post. It creates some perspective and let's the other person think more deeply about how they've expressed something. (Only on one occasion have I actually seen someone come in here an behave like a bull in a china shop.) There are many people on this board with whom I have disagreed yet still maintain cordial relations. I may be a bit perverse but I actually like engaging with the people who disagree with me because I learn a lot from them. But my policy also serves to keep my emotional barometer at an even keel (how's that for a good mixing of metaphors?).

[> [> [> [> [> Sounds like a good policy. -- rc, 07:15:04 08/15/02 Thu

I'll try to adopt it in the future. Thanks for your POV.

[> [> a big mess -- matchng mole, 10:23:41 08/15/02 Thu

I've resisted posting on this thread and several others for quite some time, being kind of busy with the imminent onset of the fall semester and all. But this discussion dovetails too well with several others in the last week or so. Discussions of cliches, stereotypes, tropes, race, weight and self image, television, and the Hawaiian islands (I hope redcat will forgive me if I don't include all the apostrophes that I should). I may even relate some of this to BtVS and AtS.

I'll start by talking a little bit about the Hawaiian islands from a different perspective than that of rc, that of an evolutionary biologist. I should begin by saying that my direct experience of the archipelago is limited to a week in 1991 spent on Hawaii (the big island). But it was a memorable week and I've read quite a bit and listened to quite a few people talk about Hawaiian biology. The Hawaiian islands are the most isolated archipelago on earth. It is very difficult for plants and animals to get to them from elsewhere. Before the arrival of humans, immigrants from elsewhere were rare. As a result the native fauna and flora of the islands began with very few species. In the isolated, mountainous, and ever changing terrain more and more species evolved from the few hardy ancestors that made it across the ocean. Among the most spectacular and obvious to humans are/were the Hawaiian honeycreepers, a group of forest living birds. The honeycreepers include birds that resemble warblers and sparrows as well as more exotic looking species such as the I'iwi and the Akiapola'au which have long, highly curved bills. Even more spectacular in terms of number of species although less obvious to most people are the Hawaiian 'fruit' flies in the genus Drosophila. Drosophila includes the common supermarket species which are also used widely be geneticists. The group as a whole consists of between 500 and 1,000 species worldwide of which approximately half are found only in the Hawaiian islands. They include 'giant' species that are many times the size of normal fruit flies including some with ornamented wings and one species with a hammer shaped head (like the sharks). There are numerous other examples of insects, spiders, and plants in which colonists have evolved numerous species unique to the Hawaiian islands.

What's the point of all this? Several. First is that this diversity can be all around you and yet you can be blind to it. Of the six million tourists that redcat mentions I'll bet only a tiny fraction are aware of the biological uniqueness of the place they're visiting. I think that the racial blandness of a lot of TV reflects a similar phenomenon. The sidewalk may have a lot more different kinds of people on it than it used to but that may not have a very significant impact on a lot of people. I live in a community of about 100,000 people in the rural midwest of the U.S. It has a large university with over 30,000 students in the middle of it. I was quite pleasantly surprised to see how racially diverse my new home was when I arrived here. Even outside of the university community we have substantial African American and Asian populations and a small but growing Latino population. But the fact of the matter is that my day to day interactions are largely with members of my 'own race'. This isn't something that I sought out, in fact I am somewhat ashamed that I don't do more involve myself in my community. But it is a fact and I suspect that this is a very common situation among white North Americans and the vision of America that we see on television reflects that. Seeing people of other races and from other cultures at the mall or on the street is not the same as actually knowing them.

My second point is that diversity is fragile. Most of the species of Hawaiian honeycreepers are endangered or extinct. This process began with the arrival of the Polynesians (and their pigs and rats), continued with arrival of Europeans and was greatly accelerated by the deliberate and malicious introduction of malaria to the islands. The native birds had no resistance to malaria and were completely exterminated from lower elevations throughout the islands. Higher up it was too cold for mosquitoes and some of the species survived. Today the coastal areas of the Hawaiian islands (at least the wet parts) are lush and green and home to a wide variety of plants and animals. Geckos, mynahs, toads, mongeese (mongooses?), and so on. These organisms were brought here by humans, either deliberately or by accident from all over the tropics. It is an inviting and appealing place but in comparison to the remaining patches of native habitat in the mountains it is completely undistinctive. Television seems to promote the same sort of lack of distinctiveness. American television seems to overwhelmingly concentrate on white, middle class to upper middle class folks from southern California, New York and a handful of other places. The economic decision seems to be to target the portion of the audience that has the most money to spend. And the artistic decision seems to be that people want to see stories about other people that are, in some sense, idealized versions of themselves.

Maybe I'm a freak or something but what I want, from TV (and any other kind of art) is in part, a window to the world. If I travel to some remote part of the world I'm not doing it to convince myself that people are the same all over. I'm doing it largely because things (animals, plants, people, landscape) are going to be different where I'm going. Similarly an important motivation for my choosing my career as a biologist and for reading fiction is to increase my knowledge of and my appreciation for the diversity of life, human and non-human on the planet. I want to experience as much of Darwin's 'Tangled Bank' as I can. As Rahael has said, the sense of otherness in BtVS is a powerful part of its appeal. The hidden world of the Hellmouth and the fact that only a few are aware of it seems like a powerful metaphor for what I'm talking about. I think that one of my problems with season six (which I would say is my problem and not season six's) is that the internalization of the demon theme goes against my particular biases and tendency to romanticize diversity.

So how do cliches and symbols fit into all this? Well they are information directed at us, telling us how to think and to feel about events in a story or a painting or a real life situation. They are powerful and their power makes them hazardous (there's a cliche right there). In an earlier thread I mentioned the Brown Tree Snake as a species that could easily be transported to Hawaii and wreak havoc on the remaining native bird species. This is potent symbolism. Most people like birds and a lot of people don't like snakes. And speaking as someone who finds snakes in general quite beautiful I have to say that Brown Tree Snakes are not very attractive. So it is easy to think of them as evil. But the fact is that an individual BTS is just doing what most other organisms on earth are doing - trying to survive and reproduce. Its actions aren't evil but in the context of pacific islands they have very unfortunate consequences. The demons in BtVS don't have that complication. They are fictional creations which can take any form the writers want.

But in the real world and in the Whedonverse actions have consequences and words can mean more than they say. When most people think of racism they think of segregation, arpatheid, lynching, cross burning, other hate crimes. These are clearly immoral acts. Failing to think very much about people different from yourself is not a clearly immoral act but in the grand scheme of things it is probably more damaging because far more people do it. People think in cliches/symbols a lot of the time and getting past that is the most difficult thing in the world. Both the intent and the consequences of an action are important and I think in reacting both should be kept in mind.

Finally (huge sigh of relief from any audience that may be left) - There may be no right answers. With issues of race of personal self image and other things I think a lot of people really long to find a pc attitude that will satisfy everyone. They want a right answer. Often there are no right answers. Back on Hawaii conservationists are at times in conflict with elements in the native Hawaiian population (feel fre to correct any inaccuracies redcat). Pig hunting is apparently an important part of Hawaiian culture and for pig hunting you need tracts of forest with pigs in them. However the pigs do a great deal of damage to native vegetation and conservationists go to a fair amount of effort to keep pigs out of preserves and remove any pigs that get in. Both sides have laudable goals that happen to be in conflict with one another. Similarly inmy native country there has been a long standing debate about the role of one province, Quebec. The province seeks to expand its powers to protect the French language and culture. Many others feel that these powers infringe on the rights of individuals (and of other governments in Canada) to do what they think best. Despite the rhetoric I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. Just two conflicting visions.

Several months ago during a discussion of postmodernism on the board I asked why (as had been postulated) the anonymity of the internet might yield better dialogues about important issues. This seemed (and still seems) completely wrong to me but now I understand the other point of view. And I really appreciate the commentary of people like Rahael and redcat who intermingle their personal histories with their thoughts and ideas.

This is probably a huge mess but I don't have time to do anything about it. Also note that this is not a reply to any particular post but to the entire thread.

matching mole sitting in a tangled bank of his own creation

[> [> [> Re: -- aliera, 10:45:53 08/15/02 Thu

Actually I was wishing it were longer ;-)

[> [> [> [> Me too!! -- Rahael, 12:25:12 08/15/02 Thu

[> [> [> Not a mess, but a bank of tangled wonder.. -- redcat, 12:43:29 08/15/02 Thu

Great post, mm!! As usual, your intellectual clarity helps me sort out some of the tangle I seem
to have been helping to create lately. Thanks!

And BTW, you get an almost perfect "A-" for using Hawaiian diacritical markers correctly. The
"okina," the backwards apostrophe (that Voy systems apparently will not let me ever use,
leaving me to use the incorrect but still feasible regular apostrophe) represents a glottal
stop and is placed before and between vowels in certain words in which the Hawaiian dialect
of proto-Polynesian eclipses an internal vowel. Voy also won't let me post anything using the
"kahako," which is normally printed as a horizontal line over certain vowels, indicating that they
should be pronounced as "long" vowels. Not using the diacritical marks can dramatically
change the meaning of words, but all 19thC printed Hawaiian and most 20thC printed
Hawaiian up until the late 1970s did not print the diacritics, which makes translating century-old
political newspapers and chant lyrics a wonderful exercise in humility, as well as forcing those
of us who use the language to adopt a certain flexibility of style. :)

The okina is used in the word Hawai'i, for example, because the original proto-Polynesian word
was probably Hawai-iki or possibly Kawai-iki, which is the name in Marquesian Polynesian for a
mythical group of inhabitable islands somewhere to the far north of Nu'uhiwa (the Marquesas
Islands), about where Hawai'i actually is. The word "Hawaiian" uses no such okina because it
is not a Hawaiian word. It's an English one, just as "French," "Japanese" and "German" are.
The equivalent in the Hawaiian language is "Ka 'olelo makuahine o na po'e e Hawai'i nei," or
sometimes one see it as "Ka 'olelo makuahine o na po'e e keia moku," either of which takes a
lot longer to type than simply removing the okina and adding two letters to the name of the
chain (which, as you probably already know, is not really the Hawaiian name of the island
chain at all, but just the name of the first island on which a European, Captain Cook, landed.
When he asked what the name of the place was, the local fishermen said "Hawai'i," probably
meaning to distinguish it from Maui, which can be seen from the Kona coast on a clear day. I
just thank the goddess Pele they didn't say Kealakekua, which was the name of the bay in
which Cook's ship was anchored, or we'd probably have been renamed something like
Cooksland in pretty short order).

And I want to thank you for what you said about the fragility of the Hawaiian eco-system and
its extremely rare and terribly endangered indigenous and native bird, insect and plant species.
In the 37 (out of a total of 48) years that I've lived here, I've seen exactly one I'iwi
honeycreeper and never an 'Akiapola'au, even though I lived near their habitation in the
Volcano rainforest area of the Big Island for many years and often sought them out. But one
day many years ago, while I was sitting quietly in that forest chanting softly under my breath
and moving into a deep meditation, a single bird hovered over a flower growing in a tree about
30 feet from where I sat. I don't know why I opened my eyes just then, or why I looked at that
part of that particular tree, but the I'iwi's flashing red wings and elegant long curved beak
literally took my breath away. As tears began to roll down my cheeks, I shifted my chant to a
soft prayer for their survival. The Brown Tree Snakes are not their major threat, we humans
are, as we have always been. I'm very grateful that people from your country are helping
people from mine learn how to take better care of our forests.

The Native Hawaiian pig hunters and the (mostly local haole and local Hawai'i-Japanese)
environmentalists have worked out many of their difficulties since you were here in the early
1990s. Tensions still exist, of course, but both groups have realized they share similar goals
and have protection of the same precious islands and culture at stake. They are less enemies
now than colleagues, and groups from both sides often present testimony together in state and
federal land-use and zoning hearings, attempting to stop the encroachment of hotels, resorts
and golf courses into those wilderness areas that remain.

And finally, matching mole, if you and your family ever get a chance to return here, I'd love to
help host that visit. One place I'd like to take you and your wife that I think you'd really enjoy is
a remote area of O'ahu's northwest shore. Recently, state officials, Hawaiian activists and
environmentalists have joined together to protect that area of coastline because a small
number of native and indigenous plant and insect species have, against all odds, continued to
flourish there. A four-mile hiking trail through the area both restricts the potential for human
damage to those plants and allows hikers to see, even if not to touch, these rare and
endangered species. The state helped by closing off the road that used to run through the
area or rather, they simply decided not to re-build the road after it had, once again, been
washed out by a fierce ocean's winter storm. Hawaiian activists and youth groups provide the
labor to keep the area free of infestations from non-indigenous species, and trained
environmentalists help by educating the public and those Native youth groups about the plants
and the importance of protecting them. As one of the tiny fraction of visitors who actually DO
want to learn something about this place, rather than the millions who just treat it as an
expensive get-away from their regular lives, I'd love to show you and your family "my" Hawai'i,
a place of dazzling beauty and tragic loss, amazing diversity and colonialist hegemony. If you
want to immerse yourself in a tangled bank, this is surely the place to do it.

Aloha E Komo Mai Hoalauna Welcome, my friend. We have much to learn from each other.

[> [> [> [> Thanks redcat, Aliera, and Rahael -- matching mole, 14:07:06 08/15/02 Thu

for your kind words. The mess was mostly not finishing off a lot of my ideas or discussing things more in relation to Buffy/Angel.

And thanks redcat for your invitation to return to the Hawai'ian islands. We have talked about going back sometime. My wife went back for a workshop a couple of years later, developing a conservation plan for the Hawai'ian Crow (sorry I don't know its Hawai'ian name) which is where she heard about the pig hunting issue. She actually saw an 'Akiapola'au on that trip on the one day she wasn't confined to the hotel running population viabilility analyses. On our original 1991 trip we were attending a conference in Hilo and went on a couple of excursions into native forests sponsered by the meeting. I saw a couple of I'iwi but nothing quite like the experience you describe. The spot you describe sounds wonderful.

I do have a completely off topic Hawai'ian question for you. One thing that astounded me when I was getting ready for the trip was my discovery that there was no ferry service between the islands (e.g. a Maui to Hawai'i ferry). I mentioned this to someone who went there regularly to do research and she seemed equally astounded in the opposite direction (why take a boat when you can fly). It seems like a good idea to me for at least three reasons: 1) fun - I like travelling by boat a lot more than by plane, 2) cost - presumably would be cheaper allowing the economically disadvantaged more mobility, and 3) convenience - would allow you to take your car with you when travelling between islands.

Has there ever been any discussion of this?

[> [> [> [> [> of birds and barges...(but where, oh, where is Buffy?) -- redcat, 15:09:04 08/15/02 Thu

I'm so jealous, you've seen multiple I'iwi and your wife an 'Akiapola'au!! You're very lucky. The crow is probably the 'Alala.

There is a cargo barge service between the islands, but it's actually very expensive and one usually uses it only when moving from one island to another and the car is part of a load of household goods. A single car might cost between $300-$500 to move between Maui and Hawai'i Island. Cars more generally move between the islands when an O'ahu car dealer ships a bunch of cars and trucks to an outer island. This happens only once a year for the people at Kalaupapa, Moloka'i, for example. They call it "Boat Day" since *everything* they get from the outside world comes on that one barge. They throw a huge lu'au at the dock and everyone from the valley helps unload, then feasts on pig, poi and beer fresh off the boat. From Honolulu to Kaua'i, Maui, Kona or Hilo, car/truck cargo barges usually come only 3-4 times a year, although there are weekly or bi-weekly cargo barges for the smaller stuff. There are always great sales at the dealerships the week before the "car-barge" comes! [Completely off-topic side note: You should SEE the lines of folks waiting for the off-loading of the one -- and only one -- shipload of Christmas trees that come in early December every year. Families put their orders in months in advance, 'cause when the trees are gone, they're gone. Living on islands is very different than living on continents.]

And a commuter hydrofoil ferry service was attempted once (I think about ten years ago, but it might have been in the late-80's?) between O'ahu and Maui, the two most populous islands. The problem is that the route from Lahaina to Honolulu must traverse either the conjunction where the Pailolo and the 'Au'au Channels smash into one another, which is **extremely** rough water, OR go south around Lana'i Island and cross sideways to the current of the Keala I Kahiki Channel, after which you immediately get dumped out right into the worst part of the currents of the outside half of the Kaiwi Channel before you can come into Honolulu or Pearl Harbors. The ride was so rough that the hydrafoil company lost a HUGE amount of money. Word of mouth spread pretty rapidly that the trip, which, depending on ocean conditions, could take up to an hour and a half, was likely to require large amounts of Dramamine. A plane takes about 27 minutes and there are about 40 flights a day between the two local airlines. Even the inter-island barge service tacks on an extra charge for dealing with the rough water between Maui and the Big Island. The 'Alenuihaha Channel between those islands is the deepest channel between any two inhabited islands in the world (I think it goes down about 14 miles) and the water leaving and entering it is exceptionally rough. Takes the barge about 4 days to traverse Honolulu to Lahaina or Lihu'e, maybe 5 or 6 to Kona, and a week to Hilo.

And to think, Native Hawaiians, both men and women, used to regularly SURF between the islands -- sometimes a distance of over a hundred miles of open, rough water -- just to visit friends and family. And they did it on hardwood surfboards that weighed about 60 pounds and didn't have nylon leashes...

BTW, apropos of a different thread, "Blue Crush" was filmed mostly on O'ahu's North Shore. The filming crew caused an even bigger tie-up in the traffic than is usual out there during big surf, but the local "vibe" was that they had actually been pretty polite and shared waves with the local surfers, and were respectful of the 'aina and the people. It may not be the most "feminist" film out there, but at least they acted better towards the place they were filming than most movie crews do here.

[[PS - "Hawaiian" doesn't need the okina, only "Hawai'i" does. Sorry my post was so confusing on this issue!]]

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: of birds and barges...(but where, oh, where is Buffy?) -- Cleanthes, 22:24:40 08/15/02 Thu

The 'Alenuihaha Channel between those islands is the deepest channel between any two inhabited islands in the world (I think it goes down about 14 miles) and the water leaving and entering it is exceptionally rough.

I'm guessing this "14 miles" down is hyperbole? The Mariana Trench (near Guam) is the deepest water on earth and is 35,799 feet (10,991 m) deep. That's a bit less than 6.8 miles deep.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Like Joss, I suck at real math (but I'm good at demography & dates, do they count?) -- rc, 05:40:00 08/16/02 Fri

You're absolutely right, of course. Don't know why that 14 mile figure got stuck in my brain, but it's been summarily booted now, thanks. The Alenuihaha Channel is 6810 feet/2076 meters or about 1.3 miles deep (yeah, goggle!). Doesn't make it any smoother to cross, which I've done on small boats twice, but will (please, dear goddess, please) never do again.

[> [> [> Thank you, redcat and matching mole, for your wonderful posts.. -- Raccoon, 17:11:20 08/15/02 Thu

[> Re: has Joss visited his local sidewalk lately? -- skpe, 07:01:59 08/14/02 Wed

I would like to respectfully offer a contrary view. I think that as a 'white' man the only cast that joss would be allowed to tell his stories the way he wants to tell them
is an all 'white' one. Were he to treat a member of a 'significant minority' the way the characters in S6 have been treated would bring howls of 'racial insensitivity' and ' cultural stereotyping'. just look at the W/T controversy and tell me I am wrong.

[> [> W/T and politics of representation -- can I be Anne?, 14:06:17 08/14/02 Wed

Consider if Warren were played by a black actor. He would be the only black person on BTVS at that moment. He would also reflect the nasty stereotype of the lustful and predatory black man who preys on white women. I think many fans would be up in arms. As it is, we aren't because white guys on tv outnumber black guys on tv by about 75 to 1 and Warrens behavior this past season reflects on nobody but himself. He doesn't have a responsibility to his group like he would if he were the only one on the show or one of a few in all of television.
Likewise Willow and Tara were the only lesbian couple represented on television. If there were other lesbians on the showand other minorities, each one they give us wouldn't be saddled with the responsibility of representation. As it is, they can have minorities who are not cardboard cliches(Forrest from S4 or Carla from Scrubs) There is no controversy and the fans are happy.

[> [> Re: has Joss visited his local sidewalk lately? -- yabyumpan, 14:54:41 08/14/02 Wed

I'm not going to join in the discussion, living in the UK I don't think I can comment on racial issues in the US but I recomend this very funny piece of fiction. It's a parody of how black men are portrayed in popular TV shows, including Gunn.

OT Question w/ Xena Spoiler. Warning: Rob- Do Not Read!! -- Wisewoman, 16:45:05 08/13/02 Tue

I so do not want to get into the dead-evil-lesbian cliche thing again but I have a question and hopefully someone will be able to answer it quickly and we won't drive Rob insane!

I never watched Xena, Warrior Princess, but I have read that the implication was that she was involved in a lesbian relationship with another character (Gabrielle?). Then I heard the when the series ended Xena was decapitated and died (doh! well of course she died!).

So, this is my question: did the writers/directors/producers of Xena face the same kind of audience backlash that Joss and ME did when they killed off a lesbian character? If not, why not?

;o) Wisewoman--Hi Darby! I'm old, I forget too...

[> Oh, believe me, yes. -- HonorH, 17:34:43 08/13/02 Tue

Actually, they were reamed to shreds. Gabrielle and Xena's relationship was never "official" in its sexuality, but the subtext ran thick. When they killed Xena off, the fan backlash was furious. But then, many Xena fans had been in hate with the producers since mid-third season, so one wonders if TPTB-Xena could have done anything to remedy the situation. All I know is, they only managed to make it worse.

[> [> Thanks, Honor! ;o) -- dubdub, 19:55:13 08/13/02 Tue

[> [> Re: Oh, believe me, yes. -- Robert, 00:54:15 08/14/02 Wed

>> "But then, many Xena fans had been in hate with the producers since mid-third season, ..."

HonorH, can you tell me why? I fell away from watching Xena at about this point, but I am most curious why the fans would hate the producers.

[> [> [> Re: Oh, believe me, yes. -- HonorH, 17:56:27 08/14/02 Wed

A lot of fans felt that the "Rift" arc was handled poorly and didn't take well to Xena's physical abuse of Gabrielle in "The Bitter Suite." They also felt that the producers were trying to have it every way--string along the lesbian fans with the occasional subtext while never committing to a romantic relationship between the two leads. I watched until the fifth season, when I felt the show had really gone astray--for instance, Xena's mysterious pregnancy and equally mysterious child were treated as automatically good, with no mention being made of Gabrielle's mystery pregnancy/child. Continuity pretty much went out the window, too. It was too distracting, so I quit watching.

[> [> [> [> Re: Oh, believe me, yes. -- Rob, 22:21:02 08/14/02 Wed

That's something I always disagreed with. My favorite season is the third, and my favorite part was the Rift, which I thought was the first time the characters were really developed to their highest potential. And I've had thousands of arguments with people at "Xena" sites over this, so I really don't want to get into that...but the abuse of Gab at the beginning of "Bitter Suite" was shocking. But that was the point. Gabrielle, Xena's best friend, the person who keeps her sane, betrayed her, resulting in the death of Xena's son. Xena basically flipped out and returned to her old, former evil ways...for a short time that is. And that was why she treated Gabrielle that way. And while the abuse wasn't warranted, one could argue that Xena's reasoning behind it was. Gabrielle did lie to her; that lie did lead Xena's son, Solon, to be killed. If I remember correctly, Gabrielle even left Hope (her demon daughter) with Solon in the first place; moments later Hope killed him. So, to make a long story short, or long argument short, or whatever...I always became annoyed with the fans who trashed the show every time Xena and Gab's relationship didn't go their way. The fact was that these were two very different women from very different backgrounds with very different idealogies...this Rift basically had to happen, or a whole mess of unspoken emotion would have continued on and possibly caused trouble later. I don't think Xena and Gab have to be always lovey-dovey. I'm glad the writers put in the Rift, and I'm also glad that it lasted for the majority of the season (and its effects were seen even years later). It wasn't a one-episode argument where everything's better at the end. It took months for full healing, much like Buffy's depression this year.


[> [> I wonder why all the fuss. -- Cactus Watcher, 06:18:20 08/14/02 Wed

I only watched Xena the first few years, because it got to be repetitive, but it seemed pretty clear that Xena was going to end badly. Like Angel, Xena was atoning for bad things she'd done earlier in life. While she was anything but suicidal, it seemed clear that eventually part of the atonement was to die as she'd killed others while she was young. There were all kinds of references to the fact that people in that 'profession' did live very long. Xena herself was killed or nearly so several times. Xena (and Gabby if I remember correctly) had male lovers killed off. Xena's and Gabby's and children were killed off. So were people really mad that the lesbian affair ended in death or just that a show with lesbian overtones was ending?.

[> [> [> Oops. make that 'people in that profession didn't live very long' -- CW, 06:29:09 08/14/02 Wed

[> Thread hijack: "The Bitter Suite" versus "Once More with Feeling" -- cjl, 21:03:34 08/13/02 Tue

Sorry about this Wisewoman, but I saw a Xena thread and this topic just popped into my head.

Okay, Xena and Buffy fans, who did it--uh, the musical episode, that is--better? Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and their cast of merry warriors or Joss and the Scooby Gang?

My own opinion:

Singing - Can't beat Tony Head, Amber Benson, James Marsters and Emma Caulfield for pure singing pleasure. Gotta admit, though, the late Kevin Smith (as Ares) was amazing. The leads (Lucy Lawless and Sarah Michelle Gellar) cancel each other out.

Edge: Buffy

Songs: Not bad for the Xena side, but I was never tempted to buy the Bitter Suite album. I'm ordering the Once More with Feeling Album from Rounder. Joss showed remarkable versatility with Xander and Anya's little 1930s song and dance number, Spike's rock dirge and Tara's love ballad; they could transfer the whole score to Broadway and rack up the Tonys.

Edge: Buffy

Dramatic Impact - "The Bitter Suite" was, in a way, the climactic episode of Xena. The conflict between Xena and Gabrielle reached a boiling point in the first ten minutes and was resolved in the context of the musical. I don't think the series ever achieved that level of dramatic tension again. "Once More with Feeling" was THE critical episode of Season 6, setting up the conflicts for the rest of the year.

Edge: Xena. Did I mention the first ten minutes of "The Bitter Suite"? Xena, outraged over the death of her son, rides into the Amazon camp, determined to kill Gabrielle. Joxer (for non-Xenaphiles, think Xander in knockoff armor) steps in betwen them, and Xena nearly takes his head off. She ties Gabrielle to the back of her horse, and--just for laughs--drags her for a few miles. Gabrielle and Xena square off, face to face, practically spit in each other's eye, then tumble off a cliff into a river. THEN the musical starts....

The Look: The Xena folks put a ton of effort into designing the surreal dream world of the musical and it showed. Joss, surehanded as usual in the director's chair, made due mostly with his regular sets and an extraordinary feel for lighting.

Edge: Xena

OVERALL: Once More with Feeling had better singers, better songs, and a more light-hearted feel than The Bitter Suite, which--despite an extraordinary effort from the cast and crew, almost sank under the weight of Xena and Gabrielle's emotional baggage. On the other hand, OMWF did have the problematic ending with Xander, and the first ten minutes of The Bitter Suite remain burned into my mind to this day.

FINAL VERDICT: Once More with Feeling, by an eighth note.

[> [> S'okay with me, hijack away! ;o) -- dubdub, 22:44:34 08/13/02 Tue

[> [> Kewl! -- HonorH, 23:06:42 08/13/02 Tue

Have to agree on all accounts. I also have to give props to the Buffy people for all doing their own singing. SMG yet again proved what a workhorse she is by not going in for an offered voice double but doing her own vocal work, in spite of inexperience. Nick Brendan's obviously no expert in either singing or dancing, but he threw himself into it heart and soul. Michelle T. has a tiny little voice, but can sure dance up a storm, and she did a great job of not being intimidated by sharing a song with a professional like Hinton Battle. The man's a friggin' multiple-Tony winner, fer cryin' out loud!

As for ASH, Amber Benson, Emma Caulfield, and James Marsters--they're just awesome! I always thought AB would have a beautiful singing voice, and I was not disappointed at all. JM nailed that song to the floor. Emma C. was the biggest surprise. That girl could do Broadway! As for ASH . . . he simply makes me swoon. Giles tinglies!

And regarding Aly Hannigan, well, as a singer, she's an extremely gifted actress. There's only so much you can do.

Hey! Forgot to mention The Fury and Marti Noxon! They rule!

One last thing: it is so sad about Kevin Smith. A very talented and, by all accounts, a very nice man. Sexy as hell, too. He's missed.

[> [> Re: Joxer -- CW, 06:25:21 08/14/02 Wed

I think a better comparison is with early Wesley. Xander is average. Joxer is distinctly below average.

[> [> [> Joxer was definitely below average, but the guy had Xander's heart... -- cjl, 06:42:02 08/14/02 Wed

He was as fiercely devoted to Gabrielle (and in many ways, Xena) as Xander is to Willow and Buffy.

Let's go back to those fateful first ten minutes of "The Bitter Suite." When Joxer stepped in between Xena and Gabrielle, he was both protecting Gaby and trying to stop Xena from doing something she'd regret. I had two reactions:

1) "Wow, this guy may be a moron, but he's got guts."
2) "Joxer, you simpleton, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! This isn't tortured, nice guy warrior Xena, this is pissed-off, brutal Xena, and SHE'S GOING TO SHISHKEBOB YOU!"

Fortunately, Joxer survived that ep. (Only to die pointlessly in a later one. Sigh.)

[> [> [> [> I have to agree with that part -- CW, 06:48:19 08/14/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> Re: Joxer was definitely below average, but the guy had Xander's heart... -- DEN, 08:23:29 08/14/02 Wed

Not a pointless death, cjl. Joxer died the way he always wanted to: on his feet, as a warrior, fighting to save the woman he loved. There are a lot worse ways to go out.

[> [> [> [> [> First meeting of the Ted Raimi Appreciation Society -- cjl, 09:11:03 08/14/02 Wed

(Or: When Nepotism in Hollywood is a Good Thing.)

Yeah, I suppose you're right, DEN. But I MISSED the guy. Joxer grounded the series, and when he died, the man-in-the-street (or, in this case, man-in-the-dirt-road) outlook in the series died with him. His exit didn't cripple the series, but the series wasn't as strong.

That's why I had a big smile on my face when Ted Raimi walked into J. Jonah Jameson's office in Spider-Man. Big Brother Sam is still looking out for him. Warms my heart.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Let's all sing "Joxer the Mighty!" -- CW, 09:28:48 08/14/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Aw heck. Now I'm going to be humming that stupid little ditty all day.... -- cjl, 09:48:34 08/14/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Aw heck. Now I'm going to be humming that stupid little ditty all day.... -- Rob, 11:51:50 08/14/02 Wed

Joxer the Mighty
He roams through the countryside
He doesn't need a place to hide
With Gabby as his sidekick,
Fighting with her little stick,
Righting wrongs and singing songs,
Being mighty all day long...
He's Joxer, Joxer the Mighty.

Joxer the Mighty,
He's very tidy.
Everyone admires him.
He's so handsome, it's a sin.
When things get grim,
He'll take it on the chin.
If you're in jeopardy
Caused by the enemy,
Don't call the cavalry.
There's a better guarantee,
Although he doesn't work for free.

He's every man's trustee,
He's every woman's fantasy.
Plus he's goo-ood company.
Look out, golly gee!
He's Joxer, Joxer the Mighty.
Joxer, Joxer the Mighty!

Alternate Bitter Suite version:

I'm Joxer The Mighty,
Master of geography.
Here to guide you on your way.
Stick with me, you'll never stray.

If you're in a land that's new,
I'm the one who'll get you through.
Even when your slightly nude.
I'm Joxer, I'm Joxer The Mighty!


p.s. and that's all from memory!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Rob the mighty! -- MaeveRigan (Joxer fan in spite of herself), 12:56:47 08/14/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Heh heh...Why, thank you! I even have the stupid helmet/hat to prove it. ;o) -- Rob, 07:58:30 08/15/02 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> I met Ted at the first NY Xena Convention... -- Rob, 09:34:41 08/14/02 Wed

He is a really, really great guy in person, too. Got an autograph and talked to him for a few minutes. Really funny, very nice Jewish boy, as my mom would say.


[> [> Re: Thread hijack: "The Bitter Suite" versus "Once More with Feeling" -- ponygirl, 06:30:29 08/14/02 Wed

Have to agree that OMWF has the edge over Bitter Suite. Still Xena deserves a lot of credit for going there first and it definitely seems to be an influence on OMWF. Was Bitter Suite the first musical episode of a tv show to actually advance the plot arc? It's interesting too that the idea of truths that can only be expressed in song are present in both eps.

[> [> [> It's not that "Bitter Suite" was the first musical ep EVER... -- cjl, 06:52:42 08/14/02 Wed

It's just that it was the first time a genre show (fantasy/science fiction) tried something so audacious. (Imagine the head-scratching if, in 1967, Gene Roddenberry announced there would be an all-singing, all-dancing Star Trek ep...)

And Joss did tip his hat to Xena and Co. in OMWF. When Xander cried out "Merciful Zeus!" he could have been a member of Xena's Greek chorus.

[> [> Pitting my fave ep of "Xena" against my fave ep of "Buffy"... -- Rob, 07:50:14 08/14/02 Wed

Too hard for me to judge. Unlike you, cjl, I did adore the Bitter Suite music. In fact, when the ep first aired, I watched it at least 30 times (much like I did with OMWF, recorded it off TV onto a tape recorder!!!...and then finally bought the CD, when it came out. A huge improvement in sound quality, to say the least! ;o)

Anyway, "The Bitter Suite" was definitely Xena's finest hour. The episode was absolutely brilliant, including some awesome Tarot symbolism. In the Land of Illusia, each character was a different symbol from a Tarot card. In fact, a great deal has been written about the many layers of this episode. It is, perhaps, the only Xena ep that can be analyzed on the same level as a "Buffy" ep.

I thought hard about this, and I find it impossible to compare them, because they are complete polar opposites, but in a very interesting way. The purpose of "The Bitter Suite" was to make everything better again in Xena and Gabrielle's relationship. The major plot arc of the third season was a rift between these two women, based on conflicting idealogies and backgrounds. Gabrielle was impreganated by a demon, Dahak, hell-bent on taking over the world through the use of this baby, which Xena believed (and was right) was a vessel of evil. Gabby, though, would not kill the baby, believing that she could be raised differently. She lies to Xena and sets the baby adrift in a basket a la Moses. Only a few months later, the baby looks about 6 years old and yup is all evil. Her reign of terror includes slaughtering Xena's only son. Xena blames Gabrielle, for lying to her. She attempts to murder Gabrielle. In "The Bitter Suite" they are sent to a fantasy world, however, where they can work out their problems and reunite. And that is what happens. By the end of the episode, they are friends again, and, while not everything was perfect (in later eps, there was still uneasiness now and then between the two of them) the first steps were made to making the main characters closer friends.

OMWF basically did the opposite. It took little problems that had been building up all season, and made them worse! "Bitter Suite" solved X&G's problems. OMWF made life worse for the Scoobies.

That's why I find it hard to compare them. It's also though very interesting to see that at face value they seem similar. They are both episodes of TV shows that are full musicals, and they both furthered the seasonal arcs in major ways. The characters in both episodes were, at first, surprised to be singing. There was a great deal in common. But the goals were different. One made life easier, resolved problems; the other created whole new cans of worms.

I will say that, visually, I think "Bitter Suite" has to win. The costumes and the colors and the sets were just amazing. Musically, OMWF would win, but there are some beautiful pieces in "Bitter Suite," especially Xena's final number, "The Love of Your Love." Lucy Lawless has a damn good singing voice, and she puts it to good use there. (I also saw her on Broadway as Rizzo in "Grease"...Possibly best version of "Worse Things I Could Do" I ever heard anyone sing...too bad it was never released on CD...)The song itself is also beautiful. The styles of music are heard to compare though...OMWF leans more towards rock opera/pop musical, on the whole, while "Bitter Suite" is more old-fashioned operetta and (closer to the end) Grand Opera.

In OMWF, though, everyone used their own voices which is great. Bitter Suite didn't, but, to be fair, Renee O'Connor (Gabrielle) has a worse singing voice than Allyson Hannigan (which she displayed in the later Xena musical, "Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire," in which they basically just burst into songs from the 60s and 70s), so it's probably better they got someone else to do it.

But all in all, I can't rate one higher than the other...

I would refute, though, that "The Bitter Suite" was the last time Xena reached a high point of dramatic tension. That year's season finale, "Sacrifice II," the fourth season finale, "The Ides of March," the fifth season premiere "Fallen Angel," and the sixth season's "When Fates Collide" were all later high points that made me go..."That's why I watch this show!" I will admit that the last two seasons were majorly flawed, the fourth season less so. The best year of "Xena" though was definitely the third season...had the strongest arc, character development, and had the meatiest story.


[> [> [> Buffy/Xena Parallels -- cjl, 08:16:01 08/14/02 Wed

This is swerving ever-so-slightly from my original point (jeez, I'm hijacking my own sub-thread), but I found the comparison between the musical episodes easy, because the premises and the characters in both series parallel each other so closely. Let's run down XENA and BtVS, side by side:

Settings: Sunnydale (fictionalized/mythologized version of modern-day California = Ancient Greece (fictionalized/mythologized)

Buffy = Xena
Willow = Gabrielle
Xander = Joxer
Cordelia = Aphrodite
Angel = Hercules
Spike = Ares
Faith = Callisto Mark I (psycho warrior babe/Xena Shadow Self)
Glory = Callisto Mark II (unstoppable psycho demi-goddess)
Dawn = Eve/Livia (Xena's daughter)

The parallels aren't exact. Xena is actually Buffy as she would be in, say, BtVS Season 9, an experienced champion who can impart her wisdom to younger warriors. She also had Angel's quest for redemption going before Angel did. The rest, I think, work pretty well.

And Rob, by no means do I want to short shrift Rob Tapert's script and the intricate symbology of "The Bitter Suite," and the effort of the Xena production team on the Illusia sets. I just didn't find the score as strong as OMWF. Maybe I just don't have a taste for grand opera. JMO.

[> [> Re: Thread hijack: "The Bitter Suite" versus "Once More with Feeling" -- Sofdog, 09:45:08 08/14/02 Wed

I would never bother to compare the two because each musical serves a separate universe. Cjl is entirely right about "The Bitter Suite" being the head of Xena/Gab's 'rift saga'. Xena was the hero, but the show was as much about Gabrielle's journey and their relationship right to the end. It was fascinating for them to get all that rage and resentment off their chests. They both felt so betrayed throughout Season 3.

"Once More, With Feeling" is delicious on a whole different level. It's less about conflict, and too premature to resolve Buffy's resurrection issues. And let's face it, it was nothing short of fabulous the way each piece so perfectly suited the entire cast. Xena's singing cast was limited to a very few, since it focused on the girls mostly. Buffy's was a break from/spin on the weekly demon-fighting storyline. It was like a fabulous vacation.

On topic: all that hubbub about Xena's death was, as I understand it, outrage that the hero's final story left her dead. A lot of us wanted the girls to walk off into the sunset together. In a way they did. Just not how we expected. And frankly, from day one it was always about Xena's quest for redemption. The tab was waaaaay too high for her to ever really achieve it. Sacrificing herself for the lost Higuchi souls was a perfect ending.

[> [> Please help! -- Caroline, 11:52:19 08/14/02 Wed

Only in participating in the group life of this board and particularly in reading this sub-thread do I realize that I actually ***don't watch enough television!!!*** This discussion has really whetted my appetite for Xena. Is there anywhere on the tube that I can catch up with Xena? I gave in last year and got digital cable (for fx and hbo of course) so if Xena is in reruns or syndication anywhere please tell me. My pop\tv culture education is in definite need of boosting.

[> [> [> Right now it's only on the cable channel, Oxygen, which I don't get... -- Rob, 12:30:09 08/14/02 Wed

You can buy every episode from, though, on VHS. They have a boxed set for every season. It's kinda costly, with each being 100, but then again, there are 12 videos in each set. I own all of those. The best way to watch "Xena" is in order, at least once you get to the third season, when it got very serialized, so that's why I like these sets. The best seasons were 2-4. 1 was good, but the show was still getting into the groove of things, finding its voice, etc. 5 had some good moments, but the yearlong story arc was on the weak side. The sixth also had some scattered good moment, but was a very weak last season, with no story arc whatsoever.

If you really get hooked on "Xena," you should also get the "Hercules: The Xena Trilogy" boxed set, including the trilogy of episodes in which Xena debuted on "Hercules," before she was spun off into a far better show! You get to see her all evil, and her turn to good. Like rewatching "Buffy" episodes to notice little details, there is actually even added significance in watching these episodes after knowing what happens in the second season of "Xena." "Xena" actually had great continuity until the sixth season, when the writers just seemed to stop caring all together.

Anyway, my suggestion...Get the first season set. Watch the first episode. Skip the second (not the worst ep ever, but very weak and will not get ya hooked), and go directly to the third, "Dreamweaver," which is still one of the best episodes, and is one of the show's more cereberal. The thing about "Xena" is, yes, it was campy and cheesy (much more so than "Buffy") but the characters were still very well-drawn and that is what got people so hooked on the show. Xena and Gabrielle over the six years became completely three dimensional, real characters, so much that the viewers got totally hooked on the serialized, almost operatic nature of the show at its high dramatic points, and demented silliness at its comedic points.

Xena was a very experimental show--they did futuristic eps, an episode composed of out-of-order flashbacks that was almost stream-of-consciousness, musicals, time travel, historical rewrites, fairy tale episodes, gross-out comedies a la "Something about Mary", dream eps, horror eps...and on and on. Despite what many people will tell was a truly excellent show, although kind of off-kilter. I would not classify it as "great," although it did have moments of brilliance, because it was not consistently brilliant. Still, on its best episodes, it was one of the best things ever on television.


[> [> [> [> Typo...$100, that should be. -- Rob, 12:31:27 08/14/02 Wed

[> [> [> Re: Please help! -- matching mole, 12:34:13 08/14/02 Wed

Xena is on Oxygen - don't remember when - with little annotations at the bottom telling you stuff about the actors and the filming of the scenes and what not. Kind of distracting.

I always enjoyed Xena but never watched it regularly. I've never really liked heroes who seem to walk around with a chip on their shoulder all the time. They push the wrong buttons in me I guess. However Xena never bugged me as much as say, Wolverine, who I always wanted to send off to therapy so he could at least enjoy life and stop aggravating everyone else while he went about his super-heroely business. The trouble is that as the series progressed I became less and less able to understand what was going on. The same would be true of BtVS I guess If I only watched a handful of epsisodes each season.

[> [> [> [> Thanks Rob and matching mole... -- Caroline, 12:59:56 08/14/02 Wed

Just checked Oxygen's website and apparently it's one of the many vable channels I don't get despite paying an exorbitant monthly fee...but that's the price one pays for living in the nation's capital - northern charm and southern efficiency! (look at monumental screw-up our mayor just made of his re-election campaign - we need UN election observers, stat!).

[> [> [> Caroline wants to watch MORE teevee? Oh dear lord--what have we done? -- cjl, 12:44:37 08/14/02 Wed

[> [> [> [> You've created a monster! -- Caroline, 13:21:52 08/14/02 Wed

[> [> Having seen Bitter Suite on Oxygen again tonight... -- shadowkat, 18:27:51 08/14/02 Wed

I got home, flipped to Oxygen and guess what was playing?
Bitter Suite! And just after I'd spent thirty minutes reading this thread today at work.

Good thing too - because I hesitated to respond to this cool thread about two of my favorite musical television episodes due to my faulty memory of Bitter Suite.

Having re-seen it? Have to say Rob is right on the one hand - it's a little hard to pit one against the other.
It's like comparing Into the Woods with Les Miserables.

Whedon bases his musical stylings and lyrics on Stephen Sondheim, a writer I happen to adore. Sondheim is all about words. And metaphors within words. He's a Broadway stylist.
Show tunes, with different stylings, each fitting a character and showing an aspect of each character.

Tapert bases his musical stylings on well Les Miserables (and yes, I know it's not an Andrew Lloyd Webber, can't remember who did Les Mis outside of Cameron Mackintosh - but close enough) and partially Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber (musicals I've also watched a ton of) - these are rock operas. They are structured differently and the music tends to be all one style - with one general composition.
(I swear when I was watching Bitter Suite tonight - the music sounded so much like the music in Les Mis.)

Joss' has lighter tones and dramatic tones.
Taper has mostly dramatic like Les Mis.

The one you like? Well who do you prefer Andrew Lloyd Webber or Stephen Sondheim?

I loved them both. But preferred Whedon's for the cleverness. Whedon does something Tapert and Rami don't. He breaks down the fourth wall - the audience becomes a participant. Xander and Anya in their scene literally motion at us to move along. The characters in Whedon's world are annoyed at singing - they make fun of the concept of suddenly bursting out in song for no reason. In BTVS the metaphors are more real - its about the horror of suddenly finding yourself singing your thoughts aloud and having an audience watching.

In Bitter Suite - the characters are brought to a make-believe world of illusion. A world where feelings are also best expressed in song. But the world isn't real. It's dream like. And they, Gabrielle and Xenia are the only ones experiencing it. The audience is never acknowledged. The fourth wall does not come down. We still have that comfortable viel between us and them.

While i loved Bitter Suite - the songs moved me. I found OMWF far more satisfying artistically and structurally.
OMWF also felt more like a classic, something groundbreaking and new.

I have seen the experimental episode before - Moonlighting did it a lot. But i'm not sure if any genre really did a musical episode before Xenia - so yes, in that way at least Xenia was ground-breaking. But it didn't blow me away and most non-Xenia fans I knew made fun of it. OMWF brought in new fans. It was the first major episode of Buffy my mother watched and she appreciated the show for the first time. What was different and inovative about OMWF ? Well my mother said they were making fun of themselves and the musical form as a whole. In some ways it was almost satirical. Xenia didn't make fun of itself - it was serious. So for those reasons? I think of the two, I'm probably more likely to buy OMWF CD and more likely to remember OMWF.

Not sure if that made sense. So much of this type of thing is subjective.


[> [> [> I like the Sondheim/ALWebber comparison, and that might explain... -- cjl, 06:50:58 08/15/02 Thu

...why I don't hold "The Bitter Suite" in quite the same high regard as I do (the first 55 minutes of) OMWF. I was a reluctant tag-along to both "Cats" and "Phantom of the Opera" in NYC, and for the most part, they were both excrutiating experiences. I don't want to slag Sir Andrew TOO hard, because there were flashes of wit in both musicals (I liked some of the 19th century opera motifs Webber scattered through the score of "Phantom"--but not nearly enough to warrant a night at the theater. ("Cats"? Maybe in a 200-seat theater, with sprightlier music, an adaptation of T.S. Eliot's whimsical little book might have been entertaining. But the score was so leaden, the production so overblown, I felt I was watching "Elephants.")

It's been awhile since I've seen "Bitter Suite," but I remember that once Ted Raimi and Kevin Smith's humorous and clever numbers were out of the way, we were left with Xena and Gabrielle, and Tapert piled on the ALW grand operetta emotion--as 'kat so aptly put it, all in one style with one general type of composition. He hammered us with show stoppers, and by the time the final number rolled around, I didn't feel exhilarated by Xena and Gabby's reconciliation--I felt bludgeoned into submission. It's JMO, but the TV screen is far too intimate a venue for the ALW treatment; you need the lighter, wittier approach Whedon employed for OMWF.

This does not take away from all the things I loved about "The Bitter Suite"; if they offered it on DVD, I would buy it in a shot. (And BTW, referring to the sub-thread above, I agree with Rob completely: I thought the "Rift" plotline in Xena S3 was brilliant.)

[> [> [> Both Grr and Argh -- fresne, 07:34:40 08/15/02 Thu

Curses foiled again. You know I really should be paying attention to their schedule. The Bitter Suite is one of my favorite Xena episodes.

Rob is correct it does have an edge on the costuming front. Did you catch the comment at the end of the credits (every episode has one). Something like, no costumers were injured in the filming of this episode. And I can see why they'd have that warning. The Tarot imagery/symbolism is quite nice. I really like Callisto's Fool outfit.

However, in as much as my favorite Bitter Suite (I refuse to type BS) songs are sung by Ares (wonderful Tango) and Joxer, while OMwF, well, I'm sort of listening to it right now, and they're all favorites. I mean really, my housemate has the soundtrack (off the internet) in her Alarm clock and it's how she wakes up in the morning.

But yeah, Sondheim versus Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Pleasurable for completely different reasons.

[> [> [> [> Re: Both Grr and Argh -- aliera, 13:47:51 08/15/02 Thu

I haven't seen...can you tell about the tarot references?

Bytheway, another nice post in the Faith thread, sex, Jung, internal heroes journeys and set up for Angel's series, links to Faith's redemption, Buffys later trevails (Perils of Pauline) and all sorts of other things, it just me or it doesn't get much better than this? 'course, Season Seven yet to go.

[> [> [> [> [> Re:Tarot and ohhh great posts fresne -- shadowkat, 17:44:08 08/15/02 Thu

Agree with aliera here. Great posts fresne on the Kendra
thread and the Buffy/Faith threads. Amazing.

Tarot card references.

When they enter Illusia a mythical world where you can really only express yourself in song - although they appear to talk in it, but whatever, Xenia's nemesis Callisto shows up in the Fool's Custom - this is one of the Lower Arcana of the Tarot. The Fool is often picked as your guide card.
It's been a long time since I've done this so anyone who's done it recently - speak up. (Last time I looked at Tarot was 15 years ago). Callisto pulls out a wheel of fortune - next card in the arcana - this is usually the card that points to your past and guides your future. She spins the wheel of fortune.

Xenia meets Ares who looks well is dressed as the Devil.
Joxer is dressed as the hanged man.

We have the Death card - floating death - and this is the man Xenia killed and lied to Gabriel about.

I can't remember who Xenia and Gabrielle represent.

But fresne is right the tarot references in Xenia were quite clever as was the way they broke the episode into musical acts and couplets. We start with the introductory number. A duet. another solo. a group sing. the musical starts light then slowly darkness. If you've seen any Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals - best comparisons are
Phantom of the Opera and Jesus Christ Superstar or seen
Les Miserables - it was patterned like those. If you hate that stuff (like several of my friends do) you would not have liked this episode. If you love it like I do - you would have loved the episode. Personally it remains a favorite of mine along with the time loop episode. I stopped watching Xenia about three episodes after can't comment on the last year.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Thanks, SK -- aliera, 18:18:23 08/15/02 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> Tarot and Tales of the Slayer -- fresne, 20:13:50 08/15/02 Thu

Well, to everyone who has so kindly commented. Thank you.

Re: the Kendra thread and some of the subsequent comments, from the graphic novel, Tales of the Slayer, first story about the First Slayer. After the First Slayer has killed her village?s demons, they ask her to leave because she is part demon. The young woman who brings the Slayer food says,

?They say that when you die, there will be another girl chosen. And then another. For always. And you will be in them And they in each other and you never die.?

While I don?t know if I should take the stories in the graphic novel and the stories in the novel as cannon, there is some very interesting connections in the stories between ethnicity, belonging, rejection, straddling disparate worlds (particularly in the Hispanic/First Nations oriented The Glittering World), that could do with some analysis. However, since this weekend I?m doing the opposite of alone, going to a wedding, if anyone wants to take that up?

To supplement shadowcat?s explanation, there are a number of articles about the tarot symbolism of the Bitter Suite, including since Whoosh has been mentioned:
Xena?s Redemption and Tarot Symbolism in the Bitter Suite,
Xena?s Personal Tarot Reading,
The Tarot Symbolism of the Bitter Suite,

And that was just one issue.

Someone obviously put a lot of thought into the significance and symbolism of each outfit in context with the series, the episode and the scene.

Oh, and for those who aren?t up on their Tarot or are bored and want to look at pretty pictures, the Aeclectic Tarot has reviews and links to several hundred Tarot decks.

And at some point in the past, one of the list members started a Buffy Tarot deck. Link anyone?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yup ! -- Ete, 02:36:51 08/16/02 Fri

A Buffy Tarot

Always welcoming comments :)

[> Yup, I read it...Damn my curiosity! -- Rob, 07:26:14 08/14/02 Wed

I was actually a very vocal member of the Xena internet community in my former internet life...and I was right in the middle of the huge backlash, and it was huge. But IMO, the fan anger was totally deserved. After years of hinting that the two characters were lesbians, they never followed through with an explanation. Then, the last episode, they allow the two characters to share a kiss...ONLY after Xena has been killed and is a spirit. Further, Xena was not only killed but mutilated by an army. She was shot by dozens of arrows, and then decapitated. Worse, the reason for the death was not just. Xena had to stay dead in order to keep the people she had killed in her former life in a state of grace...but since when does grace and revenge go hand in hand? If the spirits are in a state of grace, there's no reason Xena had to die...but that's neither here nor there. What is there is that they would only allow these two characters to be lesbians if one of them was dead. The show ends with Xena's spirit travelling alongside Gabrielle. Frankly, I found the whole thing insulting.


[> [> Further... -- Rob, 08:03:36 08/14/02 Wed

On "Buffy"...(a) the lesbian relationship was not the major focus of the whole series and (b) there was an arguably valid reason, storywise...whether one agrees with the exact way in which it was carried out or not.

Neither was true on "Xena." Although the producers claimed that Xena had to be avenged for all the deaths she had caused in the past, excuse my language, that is bullshit. The series' mission statement, from earlier on, was about atonement. Xena not only completely reformed from her evil ways, she became the greatest hero the world had ever known and had saved more people than she had ever harmed. The message of the show was similar to "Angel"...turning your life around, like a recovering alcoholic, etc...What kind of message is sent by the way it ended though? If you are a bad person and you decide to reform, no matter how hard you try or how much good you do for the world, you will never be forgiven. The main point of the series before that was an optimistic one, but with a dark undertone. The whole world had forgiven Xena's past misdeeds, because she had proven herself a noble person. But Xena never forgave herself and never considered herself worthy of true forgiveness, so she struggled harder and harder every day to be better and better. And what's she get for it? Decapitated!

Even more further (lol), the entire episode Xena was told that she could be brought back to life at the end. In fact, she allowed herself to be killed so that she could fight an evil spirit, which she could only fight if she were a spirit herself, but fully intending to come back to life. Last minute, though, nuh-uh! She had been tricked. She could not be brought back to life. Ending like that was manipulative and mean.

Why did everyone hate the producers of the show? Basically because they went out of their way to outwardly disrespect the fans of the show. Rob Tapert, the exec producer, on many occassions became very annoyed with the internet lesbian fan fiction about Xena and Gabrielle. When letters flooded in to ask him to have them come out, he became more and more angry about it over the years. By the end, it seemed like he killed her and then allowed them to kiss afterwards just to give a raspberry to Xena's lesbian fans. You want them to be gay? Fine. But one of them will have to be dead first.


[> [> [> Oh boy-*definitely* what he said! -- AurraSing, 08:15:09 08/14/02 Wed

I posted my reply to the question before I read through all the responses but Rob has done a great job of summing up what many loyal fans felt.......cheated and pissed on!

[> [> [> We've disagreed about a number of things. But, I really have to call you on this one. -- CW, 08:46:34 08/14/02 Wed

You can hate the way Xena ended. That's certainly valid. But, if you didn't see that in the end Xena's death was going to have to be as senseless as the murders she committed while she was young, you missed a lot of what was being said all along in the series. You know from watching the series that Xena's spirit would live on, be reborn many times, and indeed be in love with Gabby again in future lives. So what if the folks at Xena weren't as brave about showing lesbian love as openly ME was. If you watch the first season again its clear that once lesbians began writing in and suggesting that there was something between Xena and Gabby, the writers obliged by putting in more and more to indicate that it was true. It's unfair to say that the fans had the right to dictate how the last episode turned out.

And about Xena having paid for her sins already, how many times have you seen on Buffy that just one accident in using slayer powers drives her into depression? Three at least (counting Faith's staking of the mayor's aide). It's not about numbers. It's never about keeping score in Buffy or Xena. Atonement for Xena had its own logic beyond her good deeds. She had to sacrifice herself, and as I said before the story all along said it had to look pointless.

[> [> [> [> Re: We've disagreed about a number of things. But, I really have to call you on this one. -- Rob, 10:10:34 08/14/02 Wed

I was not upset about the sacrifice, per se. What upset me was the fact that she HAD to sacrifice herself so that the souls of the people she killed could be in a state of GRACE. If she came back to life, the souls wouldn't be avenged, and therefore couldn't be in a state of GRACE. There is absolutely no logic behind that.

The definition of "grace," according to is "a disposition to kindness and compassion; benign good will." "Grace" implies unconditional compassion. For these souls to truly be in a state of grace they would have allowed her to live, out of the kindness of their hearts (in a manner of speaking).

Also, I do think that having Xena die thusly not only sent a bad message, but was a quite uninspired way to end the show. Xena had died (or come very close to death) numerous times on the show. Here are a handful of examples: "The Greater Good," "Destiny," "The Bitter Suite," "Adventures in the Sin Trade, Parts I and II," "The Ides of March," "Them Bones, Them Bones," "Looking Death in the Eye," "When Fates Collide," etc. etc. So what makes this last death so special? Basically, because it's the last episode. This easily could have been any season finale. It's been done (pun intended) to death. I found this an extremely unoriginal way to cap off the show.

And regarding what you said about "keeping score," I disagree. Xena's past deeds come back to bite her in the ass over and over and over again, from the first episode to "Callisto" all the way to "Locked Up and Tied Down" in the fourth season, and beyond. At the end of each of these episodes, it was decided that Xena does more good for the world alive than dead. Her good deeds far outweigh her misdeeds. Again, by having her be punished for what she had already been forgiven for is again due to a rash of unoriginal, sloppy, and repetitive writing that plagued the final season of the series (see my article at Whoosh on it here), and as I said before, goes against the mission statement of the show--"redemption through love." Gabrielle's love should have been enough to allow Xena to return to life. In episode after episode, Xena was convinced that she should not have to die for her sins. She could start a new life. That was in fact the entire plot of the first episode! This is what made Xena as a character so inspiring. But in the end, the last episode tells us, no matter how much atonement you do, it doesn't matter. I'm sorry. I think that's wrong.

Regarding the fans dictating the outcome of the final episode, I never wanted to dictate the outcome. I just didn't want her to die. Because that's no ending. There are fan-penned "Season 7" scripts online now in which Xena is resurrected and Xena and Gab continue on with their lives. Because on Xena, death was never an end. So why should that be a good wrap-up for the last episode?

Further, the people that she had to be avenged for in this episode were killed by accident. She had knowingly slaughtered thousands of people, but in the end, she's not punished for that, but for these people that she unwillingly, accidentally killed. Further, it was partly the people's fault that they were killed. Xena was not fully to blame. She was drunk and wanted desperately to bury her friend in the town, but they would not allow her to, believing it would call forth an evil spirit. Despite her pleas, they kicked her out and she accidentally knocked over something that started a fire that killed everybody.

And if Xena is avenged here for these accidental deaths, it makes it totally separate from her true evil misdeeds in the past. Then is the message, "All the evil you did is forgiven, but ha-ha that accident you did has come to get you!"

I just don't buy it. I thought the last episode again, was insulting to the viewers both in its repetitiveness and in its utter lack of logic. It ignored its own mythology, made up new backstory as it went along (oh, yeah, I'm not going to even get into all the details that these murders in Japan couldn't have even happened according to the chronology of Xena's backstory--see my article that I linked to above for full details). It was just badly written, as was much of the final two seasons of "Xena". The acting on the other hand was excellent, but that's another story all together...


[> [> [> [> [> I can't speak about the quality of the last two seasons. -- CW, 12:38:18 08/14/02 Wed

I wasn't watching for the reason stated elsewhere in the thread. But, I would like to point out that each time it was decided that Xena should be forgiven because of what she was doing, it was Gabby's opinion, not how Xena felt. How many times did they discuss that very issue, with Xena eventually embracing Gabby for her support, only to have Xena make a face behind her friend's back that said 'Gabby, you just don't understand.'? Just because Gabby forgave Xena, didn't mean fate had to. I don't know the final tally, but Xena was crucified at least twice to the point of death. You are certainly within your rights to say, 'Hey, she's suffered enough.' But, you have to figure if Xena still felt guilty after all that, the writers were never going to let her off. It wasn't like Angel where they've given him a carrot, 'Be good and you'll be human again.' Xena was never promised a hero's death and she said during the run of the show she didn't expect one.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I can't speak about the quality of the last two seasons. -- Cleanthes, 15:50:00 08/14/02 Wed

I'm with you, CW, on Xena's feelings about sufficient atonement. As a huge Xena fan, I just have to comment on this thread; I also find Rob's points valid to the point of what the producers were thinking at the end, although I refuse to impute malign motives to them. Rather, I think they thought, "these are our characters and we're going to do what we want". They had received nothing but castigation from their point of view from those Lucy Lawless once termed "pernicious fans". By the time of the final episode, the death threats were commonplace and home invaders had already caused Lawless & Tapert considerable expense in bodyguard pay.

I believe the "required" grace death of the final Xena episode was poorly presented. The director's cut in the DVD addresses many, though not all, of these concerns. Have you seen it, Rob?

As a free man rather than a slave, I let myself imagine `When Fates Collide` as the final episode, even though it didn't come last. Heck, as an illustration of the power of the existential insight and the nature of Fate, that episode works better as the series finale BECAUSE it didn't come last...

Xena really couldn't forgive herself, mass-murderer that she was, and remain heroic. Nor can Angel, even though he has the excuse that his demon made him Angelus.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> I agree re: When Fates Collide... -- Rob, 20:46:13 08/14/02 Wed

That was arguably the last episode in the last two seasons, totally reaffirmed and underlined every major story arc of the series. It should have ended that way. And since it undid a timeline, it could be the last episode, even leaving "Friend in Need" (the real last episode) the way it is.

Re: The DVD...I bought it, as a Xena collector, but have not seen it. I will definitely check it out this week, though, and come back with my comments.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Grr aargh! Should be "arguably the best", not "arguably the last"! -- Rob, 09:36:44 08/15/02 Thu

[> [> [> [> "How to build an avid fanbase 101" -- AurraSing, 12:36:05 08/14/02 Wed

Create characters that are both strong and appealing.Put them in larger than life situations and make sure they go through a wide range of emotions,therebye appealing to a wide segment of the population that craves both adventure and passion in their lives.
Give them interesting love lives and complex life crises to work through.There is nothing worse than a shallow heroine/hero.A sidekick can be shallow but should also have a good heart so that those who can never dream to be the hero can see themselves in their place.

Take it all away by having the heroine/hero have to give up everything in the end,usually in a manner most baffling to most of the viewers.I think that the concept of placating the fans by inferring that the souls of Xena and Gabrielle would always be together in one form or another was just alternative future histories written to kill some time on the series-goodness knows that most X-Files fans had the good sense to write off "The Field Where I Died" as pure entertainment,since it becomes increasingly clear as the series rolls on that Scully and Mulder were indeed the soul mates.....

I am not saying that Xena and Gabby should have ridden into the sunset as a happy lesbian couple,off to fight crime.But in dying THAT particular death,"Xena:The Series" lost an incredible amount of credibility in it's fans eyes. Compared to Buffy's sacrifice at the end of "The Gift",Xena's death seemed to be the ultimate slap in the face of the hero and thus to the fans in general.Don't forget-we invest a portion of ourselves when we become a true fan of something and when we have that love or dedication thrown back in our faces,it's hard not to feel used and abused.
Xena could have gone down in tv history as a class act;instead it went down in a fury and a chorus of wails. We were such fools to trust in the producers!

[> Oh my yes....... -- AurraSing, 07:42:07 08/14/02 Wed

Xena's death was horrible for many fans because there were many outs they could have taken rather than the gruesome death they chose.No one wants to see "their hero" tortured and beheaded,plus how come Hercules gets to walk off into the sunset and Xena still has to pay despite her many years of helping others??

I had grown to be a big fan of Kevin Smith (Ares),rest his soul and watched the series up until the finale,then have never watched another episode again in re-runs.My ten year old son asked me why I never watched Xena anymore and I told him it was because I didn't want to watch the futility of her attempt at redemption ever far as I am concerned,Rob and crew went out of their way to spit on the character's grave and make sure she died in such a fashion to ensure the fanbase was shocked and dismayed.Was it brave? Perhaps,but it certainly created a lot of animosity in the their loyal viewers and I, for one,would never support another production out of their studios again.

[> Yet Another Thread Hijack! mwahahahahahahaha!!! -- Rob, 08:28:34 08/14/02 Wed

Never posted this here just because...but since I've come out as a Xena fan, I might as well show you guys an article I wrote last year for "Whoosh!: The On-line International Journal for Xena Studies." It is a review of the sixth and final season and riddled with spoilers. But I thought Xena fans here might have been interested in my opinion about the final year of the show.

I would like to make one thing more clear though. In this article, I said that I liked the last episode, "Friend in Need," and that is not true. I did so for a few reasons: (1) technically, it was well-done (2) although it did kill the main character and split up the two characters, it did have some good points--the love between X&G was in the forefront (albeit after Xena's death; some great acting on Renee O'Connor's part (3) I usually tend to side with the people who make the show in fan disputes (like I had to tell you people! lol), and for a while I tried to convince myself that this was a better episode than it really was. Having revisited it a few times since then, I decided that this episode was a travesty. But I hadn't at the time. Thus the discrepancy there.

Anyway, click here and enjoy!


[> [> You are *that* Rob???? -- AurraSing, 08:41:03 08/14/02 Wed

LOL,I used to read WHOOSH all the time!! What a small world it is......

[> [> [> Wow! Cool! Actually, I think I'm the only Rob. heh heh. -- Rob, 09:35:51 08/14/02 Wed

[> [> Another disclaimer... -- Rob, 11:05:39 08/14/02 Wed

Whoosh on the whole prints articles that gush about "Xena" only. I wrote in the article that "I had never seen characters on a genre show reach a true epiphany, except for 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer,'" but they edited that out. Now it says, "I have never seen characters on any other genre show reach a true epiphany..." So, don't think I was ignoring "Buffy" at all there or dissing it . "Buffy" was, is, and always will be my #1 TV love.


[> [> [> Re: Another disclaimer... -- Cleanthes, 16:02:12 08/14/02 Wed

Whoosh on the whole prints articles that gush about "Xena" only.

Have to disagree with you here. In fact, if anything, I'd say the bias in the last few years has been toward negative articles.

Not a single word other than bemoaning in the most recent issue, for example.

[> [> Whoosh! citations -- Cleanthes, 15:59:03 08/14/02 Wed

I quite enjoyed your article; I'm sorry you've had a change of heart. I'm still convinced by your original reasoning.

While we're giving Whoosh citations:

[> On ancient sexuality... -- KKC, 12:24:36 08/14/02 Wed

About the lesbian subtext in Xena... Correct me if I'm wrong, but was homosexuality really the taboo in Xena's time that it is today? Let's cheerfully gloss over the fact that Xena appeared to leap to and from historical periods with no real consistency (is she a contemporary of the biblical David or of Julius Caesar?) Whenever in the 1,600 year period of western history Xena is supposed to have existed, people of the same sex jumping in the sack together wasn't uncommon. Just as one prominent example, Alexander the Great was known to have male and female lovers (and was also a forward-thinking conquerer who treated women as equals, even enemy queens and female prisoners. Go figure.) There's piles of this kind of information in the history texts, of varying degrees of credibility depending on the politics of the author.

I'm not making any judgement over the moral or legal implications of these observations. I'm also not saying that everybody in the world before 600 CE swung a bat for both teams either. But given what we know of those ancient times, to me a lesbian subtext in Xena's story is historically accurate but factually insignificant. Therefore, it shouldn't carry the weight of taboo that a lot of fans assign to it for whatever reason. It's like being down on the Hapsburgs or the Egyptian Pharoahs for incest and intergenerational marriage; we wouldn't do it ourselves, but who are we to judge what was right or wrong in their time?

-KKC, yes yes, Xena isn't historical either. Neither were Robin Hood or Zorro, and look how far their stories have carried on...

[> Favorite Xena lines -- cjl, 11:21:35 08/15/02 Thu

"You are SO not like your mother."

- Ares to Hope, Gabrielle's eeeeeevil look-alike daughter, just before know..."do the wacky"

[> [> My all-time fave is... -- Rob, 17:55:42 08/15/02 Thu

...from the third season's "Warrior...Priestess...Tramp," in which Lucy Lawless played Xena and two Xena lookalikes. One was Meg, a prostitute, and the other was the High Priestess of Hestia, Leah. Leah was in danger, and so Xena had she and Meg trade places.

The chaste and virginal Leah was dressed as Meg, and hidden in the whore house. She started peering into a few rooms. In one, she heard sounds of people having sex. She moved down the hall, horrified. In another room, she heard a woman moaning, and then the sound of a sheep bleating. She put her fingers in her ears, tears streaming down her face, and said...

"Please let it be a petting zoo! Please let it be a petting zoo!"


[> [> [> Crossover actors & directors -- Cleanthes, 21:42:12 08/15/02 Thu

While this thread is up, maybe I can inquire of all ye so very knowledgeable.

Jennifer Skye played Amarice on multiple Xena episodes and Heidi, one of the Hyena-humans on BtVS first season `The Pack`.

Jeremy Roberts played Thersites in Xena's season one episode `Fistful of Dinars` and the Peace-loving false guru Aiden on the 4th season episode `Paradise Found`; on Buffy, he played Kakistos in the third season episode `Faith, Hope & Trick`.

Have any other actors played roles on both Xena and Buffy?

Quite a few directors have done both shows. John Kretchmer and Bruce Seth Green, to name two.

Xander: a lot less ordinary. --
Luvthistle1, 19:15:44 08/13/02 Tue

There was something I was wondering about Xander in season 2, "When she was bad". Angel and Buffy were at the Bronze, when Absalom and his gang attack the scoobies. They took Willow,Cordy, Giles and Jenny. I know Xander wasn't needed for the ritual , but I was just wondering When they took the others, why didn't they try to kill ,Xander, or sire him?

At the end of season 6 graves, Xander was hit by a powerful blast, that should have killed any normal person, but at the end he was still standing.

In the "body," Xander punch a hole in the wall, because he was upset over Joyce's death. He stated it was poor workmanship, But it didn't seem to hurt him at all, until after someone mention it. Doesn't that reminds you of Riley, when he was be fed those drugs by Dr. Walsh. also,Didn't Xander dream about the The Initiative studying him , in "Restless". Could Xander have a connection to "The Initiative" or Could there be something about Xander the we are yet to discover?

I notice that most of the people that Buffy trusted , had betrayed her, at one time or another, Angel/Angelus, Giles-"Helpless", Willow-"2 to go". I can't help but wonder will Xander be nexts?


Xander "remembered" all the soilder things from Halloween. I don't recall Buffy or Willow remembering any of the stuff they learned.

[> Xander: wonderfully ordinary -- HonorH, 20:01:22 08/13/02 Tue

Sorry to disagree with you so quickly, but the point of Xander, to me, is that he *is* ordinary. He has no extraordinary abilities, just a good heart and a set of hands and the will to do what needs doing.

For the finale, what Willow was channeling was the life-force of the Earth. There's no reason it should've hurt Xander when he placed his body in front of it. In "The Body," he grimaces several times while Willow and Anya help him pull his hand free of the wall. Besides, the scene was about mental pain--the physical pain was just a tiny respite, as he mentioned to Willow. As for the others--well, Plot Device. Xander is just a guy, the Everyman of the series, and that's all he needs to be.

[> [> Re: Xander: wonderfully ordinary -- Sophist, 21:49:23 08/13/02 Tue

While I agree with you about Xander having no extraordinary abilities, the shooting script (Psyche) makes it clear that Xander was hurt when he stepped in front of Willow in Grave:

She gestures. He's suddenly THROWN BACK, slamming painfully against the base of the statue, with bone CRACKING force.


XANDER, on the ground, stirs, holding his chest, as he's no-doubt cracked a couple of ribs.

But he rises, breaking the connection between Willow and the effigy once again.

[> [> [> Re: Xander: wonderfully ordinary -- HonorH, 22:58:10 08/13/02 Tue

That was a different thing than what I was talking about, actually. I was talking about when Xander steps in the way of the energy Willow was channeling into the effigy. The scene you're describing is when she uses her Sith lightning (sorry!) to hurt him on purpose. The green life-energy she was channeling didn't seem to hurt him; I won't argue that the Sith lightning certainly did.

[> Regarding Halloween: beg to differ -- Vickie, 21:31:30 08/13/02 Tue

Buffy and Willow didn't learn factual things in Halloween. They learned what it was like to live in a different way.

Buffy learned what it was like to be a helpless, uneducated, 18th century noblewoman. Given the last scene in the episode, I think she learned a lot about what it means to be a "real girl" and about holding a man's interest. She probably also learned to value the relative emancipation she enjoys in the 20th-21st centuries.

Willow learned that she could expose her beautiful side, her sexy side, and her leadership side and that she could cope. The fact that she dumped the ghost coverup/costume in the garbage upon awakening is evidence enough of that for me.

Why do you think that Buffy and Willow didn't remember these lessons?

[> Re: Xander: a lot less ordinary. -- Robert, 01:29:22 08/14/02 Wed

Luvthistle1, thank you for starting an interesting topic.

>>> "... why didn't they try to kill ,Xander, or sire him?"

I suppose this is one of those times when events served the plot. Losing Xander at this point would have been an unfortunate badness.

>>>"Xander was hit by a powerful blast, that should have killed any normal person, ..."

Well, he was certainly hit with some kind of blasts, though we don't know that they would have killed a normal person, as no one was killed by them. My take on this scene is that dark evil Willow was still unable to kill her first and best friend.

>>> "In the "body," Xander punch a hole in the wall, because he was upset over Joyce's death."

This is easy to do with your regular sheet rock. In my years of agonizing puberty, I had discovered that neither sheet rock nor hollow-core doors hurt very much. The painful part is repairing the damage. I'm sure glad that I'll never have to experience puberty again.

>>> "I notice that most of the people that Buffy trusted , had betrayed her, at one time or another, ..."

Xander most certainly has committed betrayal. In "Becoming", he failed to tell Buffy that Willow (while in the hospital) was again working on the soul restoration spell for Angel. I see two reasons for this betrayal. First, he always either distrusted Angel or outright hated him. At least some of this was due to jealousy for Buffy's attentions. Second, he was very angry with Buffy over the death of Ms Calendar and Kendra, and the wounding of Willow. Either way, he omission was an act of betrayal to Buffy, Willow and Angel; and Xander knew it was betrayal.

Xander betrayed Cordelia in "Lover's Walk" when he flirted and made out with Willow. The fact that Willow was party to this betrayal does not diminish his role. Finally, Xander committed a whopping betrayal against Anya, by leaving her at the altar.

Regardless, none of these acts reduces the affection I have for Xander. His issues and problems feel very real and personal. The key here is that Xander feels very like an ordinary person. Much of his insecurity stems from his lack of power or greatness.

>>> "Xander "remembered" all the soilder things from Halloween. I don't recall Buffy or Willow remembering any of the stuff they learned.?"

Yes ... on the other hand, what about being a ghost or an incapable 18th century southern bell is there to remember? I do believe that Buffy expressed afterwards that she remembered the feeling of helplessness while she was trapped in the southern bell persona.

O/T-Summer music recommendation 2002 (Fairly long)
-- A8, 22:07:29 08/13/02 Tue

Hey kiddies! This is 99.99% O/T, but every year I come across a CD (in the olden days it was actually a "record") or two that are so absolutely addictive that I feel compelled to inflict my recommendation to buy said music on persons I consider friends (friends are generally more forgiving if my musical rec ends up making their ears bleed). Last summer, almost exactly to the week, I recommended Michelle Branch's "The Spirit Room," said rec, in hindsight, having turned out to be a major no brainer (3 million plus CD's sold and 2 hit singles "Everywhere" and "All You Wanted"). Hey, I've never claimed to be on the cutting edge of the music avante [sp?]. I like everything in the musical spectrum from classical and jazz to punk and techno, but, when it really comes down to it, I simply love a great straightforward rock or pop album.

The Michelle Branch pick was somewhat fortuitous since I picked up the album the first day of release, well before it hit the charts and without advance knowledge at the time that MB would appear in "Tabula Rasa" a month and a half later (okay there's 95% of the .01% BTVS related content). Also, I probably wouldn't have bought that CD had I waited until she reached her point of maximum media saturation in the months to come. I prefer to pick up on something and enjoy it before it gets played to death on the public airwaves, especially, as is typically the case, when the only songs worth listening to are the songs that get airplay. I don't think such was the case for "The Spirit Room," since IMHO the best songs on that album ("Sweet Misery" , "I'd Rather Be In Love" and "You Set Me Free") weren't promoted as singles. As such the album still sounds as fresh today as it did one year ago. Also, there was a certain comforting bittersweet optimism that, before 9/11, had a typical Summer fading into Autumn feel. After 9/11, the CD was always a great place to return to center myself in certain basic notions (one-sided love, innocent infatuation, you know--those things that just sound nice coming from the heart of an 18 year old girl not yet jaded by fame and business).

In my experience, a major characteristic of these addictive treasures (past titles in my life include Roxy Music's "Flesh and Blood," Kate Bush's "The Dreaming" and Benjamin Orr's "The Lace") is that I was exposed and subsequently drawn to buy them by some random chance event. In the case of "The Spirit Room," it was waking up in a "forgot to turn off the TV grog" mid-song during MB's first appearance on "The Conan O'Brien" show a good month before her CD was released. Her live sound was nervous and unpolished, but the song was good so I thought I'd give it a chance. Only having a lyric to go by, I put out a Net search and her name came up, and I waited in anticipation for the CD release date. Sometimes, I'll hear part of a tune leaking from some window or on some local indy-type college station or find some interesting album art that catches my eye, and after conducting the necessary detective work to determine the title, take the plunge. The important thing they represent something discovered unexpectedly, even if it turns out that millions of other people eventually discover it as well.

Another characteristic is timelessness. Not to say that the music can't evoke a particular time in one's life. "The Spirit Room" will always definitely be a calendar marker for the Summer/Fall of 2001. Ten years from now, though, no embarrassment should accompany my playing of this CD (you know the kind--I had THAT haircut? THOSE shoes? I really listened to THAT? Yikes!).

Okay, if you're still reading, you are either extremely bored, kind or both. At any rate, I appreciate your indulgence.

So how did I come across the title I'm about to recommend? Well, it's Summer. I've watched so much Buffy that I'm sure, with a little concentration, I could close my eyes and conjure up any episode by title from beginning to end using only the power of my memory. Frankly, I've run out of BTVS topics to discuss, am not involved in this year's fanfic (DA was fun last Summer though), and it's still quite a while until S7, so spoilage is worthless to me at this point. I've even taped all the syndicated reruns so there's no need to reserve the VCR for Saturday night tapings.

Cable? Don't have it. Not interested. Network TV? Please--Big Brother 3 and it's summertime viewing ilk are a disgrace to humankind and an insult to any lifeform with a brainstem. Hmmm...where to go (sorry, haven't had much of a "real" life on weekends for quite a while)? Well, I've been watching--correction--been hooked on Japanese "Dorama" on Channel 26 here in SF (I highly recommend the currently running "Churasan" airing Saturday nights at 8pm--very quirky and fun with an old fashioned fairy tale quality). In the course of these viewings, a commercial for a local Japanese music store contained a snippet of a music video that caught my eyes and ears. That following Sunday, the artist from the video was on the American Bandstand-like "Hey Hey Hey Music Champ!" weekly J-Pop music show.

One Net search, one week, a trip to Mikado Music in the Japan Center, and 2 CD's later...

I'm addicted to, and consequently am compelled to recommend unapologetically, "Deep River," the most recent release from the current queen of J-Pop, Utada Hikaru. Like Michelle Branch, Hikki as she is known to her fans, is very young--all of 19 years old. Unlike MB, UH is a seasoned veteran with 3 albums and numerous singles under her belt already. "Deep River" is simply a great pop/dance album. The centerpiece of the CD is the dance tune "Traveling" (that was the video which caught my eye), but there's some rock, house, hip-hop, r & b, and a couple of hypnotic ballads, as well as a trippy musical interlude to satisfy the palate. While the mostly Japanese lyrics are pretty sounding in and of themselves, they translate well into English. The lyrics to "Traveling," in particular, have, strangely enough, a quality that brings to mind Kraftwerk's "Autobahn." When you listen to this song, you can close your eyes and visualize some kind of rollercoaster-ride bullet train trip through a neon Tokyo. It's the kind of pop music that, if you give yourself the chance to slide just a little beneath the immaculate Steely Danesque production veneer, will transport you to another place. Investing in "Deep River" plus "Distance," Utada's previous CD, gives you IMO a very different kind of musical experience. The CDs look, sound and feel like they should have been a 2 disc set (they even contain a pop-dance and ballad version of the same song, "Distance" and "Final Distance," respectively, to support my opinion).

The bad news. These CD's are only available outside Asia as imports (on the Toshiba-EMI label) and, consequently, cost about twice as much as a domestic CD. Just as unfortunately, the DVD video collections are only available as region 2 discs so, if you're in the U.S., you won't be able to see her unless you have an all region player (or watch "Hey Hey Hey..." regularly). Despite the fact that UH is American born with dual citizenship (and a part-time Columbia University student), she couldn't get arrested over here. Ten million plus units sold in Asia, relative anonymity in the country of her birth. The fact that she has signed a deal to make English-only records is encouraging, but disappointing simply because the music sounds just fine as it is thank you. Oh well. If you're still reading and are interested in Utada Hikaru's background there's a good Time magazine article about her here:

I you want to sample a taste of her music, you can download quite a number of excerpts from her various releases, including video, at her official site:

I should point out though that the realaudio samples (download these--the Windows Media samples are only about half as long) sound like crap so they don't do any real justice to the CD's. I wouldn't want the crappy sound quality of the web site samples to give anyone the wrong impression, but what can you do? Okay, only slightly on-topic BTVS reference #2--IMO either "Deep River" or "Sakura Drops" would make a great Bronze live performance background ballad. I don't think that 'll ever happen, though (the MB appearance was a weird coincidence). If any of you are already familiar with these tunes, what do you think?

Well friends, I hope I've enticed you just enough to give this music a try, if you aren't already familiar with it. Even if you don't pop for the albums, I would encourage you to get a copy of the singles "Traveling" and "Addicted to You". If you put in a search, there are a lot of places from which you can order this music on the Net, including the usual suspects such as Tower. There's always Mikado in SF's Japan Center ( Or, if you live near a store that sells imports or specializes in Asian titles, she's sure to be available. I hope you take the chance and find this music as enjoyable and addictive as I do.



By the way, here are the lyrics to UH's current hit off the "Deep River" CD, (followed by the English translation):

by Utada Hikaru (Toshiba/EMI)

Shigoto ni mo sei ga deru
Kin'y no gogo
Takush mo sugu tsukamaru, tobinoru
Mezasu wa kimi
"Dochira made ikaremasu?"
Chotto soko made
Fukeiki de komarimasu (shimemasu)
"Doa ni chi"
Kaze ni matagi, tsuki e nobori
Boku no seki wa kimi no tonari
Fui ni ware ni kaeri kurari
Haru no yoru no yume no gotoshi

Traveling, kimi wo
Traveling, nosete
Asufaruto wo terasu yo
Traveling, doko e
Traveling, iku no?
Tooku nara doko e de mo
Traveling, motto
Traveling, yurase
Kowashitaku naru shd
Traveling, motto
Traveling, tobase
Isogu koto wa nai kedo

Kikasetai uta ga aru
Endoresu ripto
Kimochi ni hakusha kakaru
Nami to hashagi, kumo wo sasoi
Tsui ni boku wa kimi ni deai
Wakasa yue ni sugu ni chirari
Kaze no mae no chiri ni onaji

Traveling, mune wo
Traveling, yosete
Itsumo yori medaccha
Traveling, koko wa
Traveling, iya yo
Mokutekichi wa mada da yo
Traveling, mado wo
Traveling, sagete
Nani mo kowakunai mdo
Traveling, koko de
Traveling, ii yo
Subete wa kibun jidai

Minna odoridasu jikan da
Machi kirezu konya
Kakureteta negai ga uzukimasu
Minna moriagaru jikan da
Dshite dar ka
Sukoshi dake fuan ga nokorimasu

Traveling, kimi wo
Traveling, nosete
Asufaruto wo terasu yo
Traveling, doko ni
Traveling, iru no?
Kore kara ga ii tokoro
Traveling, motto
Traveling, yurase
Kowashitaku naru shd
Traveling, motto
Traveling, tobase
Tomaru no ga kowai, chotto

As translated by Sekicho Jojiro

In English:

To my work I give a lot of myself
One Friday afternoon
Take a taxi right away from my job, jumping on in
My eye is on you
Driver turns to me, he's sayin' "Where to?"
Just kinda over there
"This depression's really pissing me off"
"Be careful of the door!"
On the wind, I'm riding, to the moon, I'm climbing
And my seat is right here, and your seat is right there
Suddenly, I'm back here, coming back, I'm back here
Like a dream I had once on a night in the spring

Traveling, you're here, I'll
Traveling, let you ride
Now we're streaking brightly down the asphalt
Traveling, to where are
Traveling, you going
Far or not, wherever you want to go
Traveling, oh shake it
Traveling, some more now
Shake the impulse to give up and down
Traveling, let's fly now
Traveling, some more now
There's no rush, but let's go anyway

There's this song, I want to sing it to you
Endless repeat
Spur my feelings on so that they won't stop
There goes the target
With the waves, I'm running, to the clouds, you're welcome
'Cause just now, this minute, I was here, so were you
Being young, at this time, just by chance, being here
Nothing more than the dust blowing there in the wind

Traveling, throw out your
Traveling, conceptions
Now and ever, let's be standing out
Traveling, this place is
Traveling, so awful
But our destination's still down the road
Traveling, roll down your
Traveling, window cause
Nothing left is gonna scare us now
Traveling, this place is
Traveling, so awesome
Everything we've got is from our hearts

Everyone, this is the time to have some fun!
Don't hold it back tonight
'Cuz the hidden wishes in your heart are gonna hurt you
Everyone, now put up your hands and have some fun!
And why should this be, just
Because your anxieties are still inside you

Traveling... Traveling, you're here, I'll
Traveling, let you ride
Now we're streaking brightly down the asphalt
Traveling, to where are
Traveling, you going
Far or not, wherever you want to go
Traveling, oh shake it
Traveling, some more now
Shake the impulse to give up and down
Traveling, let's fly now
Traveling, some more now
There's no rush, but let's go anyway

[> Sorry You are so slow to catch on!! but I've raved about Utada all summer in Chat -- neaux, 04:50:10 08/14/02 Wed

I too turned into a big J-pop fan over the last 6 months, its basically all I listen to on internet radio.

Utada Hikaru will BE the Next Big star in the U.S. but it might take a year or two.

Her newest Album Deep River is wonderful... I think it even trumps her last album which was more R&B.

What U.S. fans can look forward to is Utada Hikaru's last song on Deep River, "Hikari" will be the theme of Squaresoft's epic Disney Adventure RPG entitled Kingdom Hearts. This should peek the interest of the gaming community enough to give her more of a listen.

if that's not enough, Utada Hikaru has already signed a U.S. record Deal with Island records, I believe, lets just hope she doesnt record entirely in english or I might cringe.

More Highlights: Check out her Unplugged CD and hear her rendition of "With or Without You" by U2.. it is so good that even my wife (who is Korean and hates my obsession with Asian culture) likes that song too.

Websites for those interested: nanokiero has a great internet radio list
live365 and search for J-pop your source for all things great

Other Amazing J-pop artists: If you like TLC you will love Heartsdale, their americanized Rap is quite humorous and catchy

the Biggest Rave in America right now is Puffy AmiYumi, Not to be confused with Puffy P Diddy Combs. Puffy AmiYumi is huge in japan and yet in America they are considered "indie". Go figure. Anway.. Puffy already has an American release. Their album is crazy.. the way Beck is crazy, their style is eclectic with songs ranging from 70's groove to dance fever to 80's rock to disco to latino.

The Biggest Album out besides Deep River is Ayumi Hamasaki's H which has just been released in Asia. (while I like her music I prefer her techno remixes)

and now that I have given away almost all my secrets.. I have one last rave..

go to and buy a copy of Shaolin Soccer on DVD. Its the best movie of 2001 and you can own it before in comes stateside in 2003. So you can say that you've Seen it First.

[> [> As long as we're OT, saving Internet radio ... -- verdantheart, 06:36:30 08/14/02 Wed

... more and more it's getting to be where I hear the music I want to hear. I don't want to find Internet radio controlled by the same people who run Clear Channel and the other over-programmed beat-the-dead-horse stations! Send a fax to congress to save small Internet webcasters. It's one thing to see that artists are compensated, but it doesn't help them if there's no place for their music to be heard! I'd never have heard Songs: Ohia, The Satyrs, Kilowatthours, so many others without my favorite webcaster, (underground radio).

Sorry, couldn't resist. Love music, don't want to lose it ...


[> [> Hey Neaux, I'm really sorry I missed this discussion in chat. Thanks for the other recs! -- A8, 11:33:01 08/14/02 Wed

Like I said, I would never claim to be on the cutting edge of new music. Since I have such a bad line connection, Internet radio would never be an option for me, so it was just by this chance interest in Japanese television that I came upon UH.

I have my doubts as to whether Utada can hit it big here in the U.S. The cynic in me says that she lacks the external "packaging" necessary to sell the music here. Let's face it, Shakira and Kylie Minogue are not selling music, they're selling sex. And the Britney's and Christina's already on the charts here are essentially not more than glorified lip synching pole dancers IMHO.

UH just seems to be in a class of her own. It's just too bad that anything that will be played over here will have to be in English. The Japanese just sounds so much more beautiful. Listening to J-Pop and watching the J-Doramas on my local international station has even stoked my interest enough to start learning Japanese in order to understand the lyrics and dialogue better. By the way, I love the r & b emphasis of the "Distance" LP. It has that smokey Sade-esque quality with a more upbeat feel. "Deep River," on the other hand, just seems so incredibly mature and diverse. Not typical for such a young artist. Unfortunately though, I don't think the ecelectic sound on that LP would fly well in the States-everything here has to be pigeon-holed in order to be promoted "properly." Sadly, for the most part, the road to major success in the U.S. still has to go through radio play and the traditional means of promotion through the big record companies. We can only wait and see.

By the way, how about weighing in on my Buffy question re the UH ballads and a fantasy appearance on BTVS (mentioned in my post, above)?

[> [> [> Actually I'm jealous that you get to see her on TV!!! -- neaux, 12:17:40 08/14/02 Wed

I was lucky to catch her video for Automatic on MTV2 about a year ago. but that is the only video I've seen. I need to look for them online I guess.

She is such a great artist, and the fact she is so young, She WILL be a huge STAR in America. The main reason is there has yet to be a big Asian Pop star to break in the U.S. So she has the potential to be the first.

She has already had some U. S. exposure. She did a duet with Foxy Brown on the Rush Hour 2 soundtrack last year, but I dont think anyone realized who she was. The song (while although explicit) is a great song in itself.

to be honest If she had a song on BTVS it would have to be in english or I dont think anyone would get it.. Final Distance might work. I read that the lyrics were redone for the new album because of a trajedy that occured in Japan.

but like I said about PUffy Amiyumi. Puffy could easily be a band booked by the Bronze.. they are so kooky it would work.

[> [> [> [> Check your local listings for "Hey Hey Hey Music Champ." -- A8, 12:58:07 08/14/02 Wed

It's an hour long weekly (generally 11pm Sunday nights) J-Pop music show that is broadcast on quite a few stations that cater to international communities across the US.
It's probably on cable as well. It is broadcast in San Francisco on Channel 26 (which show 4 hours of Japanese TV on Saturday and Sunday nights). It's hosted by a celebrity duo known as "Downtown." It's really entertaining to watch even though there are no subtitles.

UH was on "Hey Hey Hey" the last two weeks in a row, performing "Sakura Drops" and "Letters." They played snippets from a couple of her videos. Additionally, in each show they had a prolonged interview with her and a little pictionary type game segment in which she participated. She was very low key in these apearances, but that may have been due to the fact that she just recently recovered from major surgery for some ovarian problem (according to a couple of the more informative J-Pop sites on the Net).

She has a region 2 DVD video collection called UH3 scheduled for release on 9/30, but it may also be available on VHS (check E-Bay if you are really interested-there's quite a bit of taped stuff available there). I know the wild video for "Traveling" is on the new collection along with about a 9 other vids.

Even when she's not a guest, her name pops up frequently on the show since they do a weekly rundown of the Japanese music charts and other performers often refer to her.

[> Re: O/T-Summer music recommendation -- ponygirl, 09:39:21 08/14/02 Wed

Thanks for the rec A8! In the spirit of OTness I'd like to share my summer discovery, the British band Cousteau. Very dreamy, swoony pop. I've been playing both their self-titled CD and their new one Sirena for a month now, definitely my soundtrack for summer '02. They have a website at

[> [> Cool! I'm really glad I posted the thread. Here's a couple more recs. -- A8, 11:57:21 08/14/02 Wed

With the exception of my first additional recommendation, these suggestions are neither new nor on the experimental tip. Nonetheless, in addition to sharing time in my CD changer with UH they bear up very well upon repeat (and repeat and repeat) playing.

First off, "Emotion" by Papa Wemba on Peter Gabriel's Real World label. This is from a few years back (his country of origin is listed as Zaire), but from the first song "Yolele" I promise you'll be hooked and dancing in your room.

Next, a fairly old one--George Harrison's "33 and a 3rd." If any of you have been listening to Remy Shand and love that mid-70s vintage Fender Rhodes keyboard sound you'll really get into this underrated disc by one of the fab four. There's some soulful r&b, unique slide guitar, a rocked up version of Cole Porter's "True Love," and a cameo by Monty Python's Eric Idle and Terry Jones.

Finally, three no-brainers that really don't need much explanation: Weezer's newest "Maladroit," Wilco's newest "yankeehotelfoxtrot", and Pete Yorn's "Songs for the Morning After."

One post-script: if you plan on taking a road trip through some open country, pop Pat Metheny's CD's "As Wichita Falls, So Falls Wichita Falls" and "Still Life, Talking." These will truly enhancing your travelling experience.


[> [> [> 33&1/3 and even more recs -- matching mole, 20:33:22 08/14/02 Wed

Ah nostalgia. The Harrison LP was released shortly after I got into the Beatles. I never bought it but I remember Crackerbox Palace and Faster very well.

Thanks for the recommendations A8 and everyone else. My current 'new discoveries' are a couple of Welsh bands that hold up the long standing British tradition of melodic eccentricity. The are Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and Super Furry Animals. In one of his books Douglas Adams described a race of aliens who lived in complete isolation from the rest of the universe who valued song, sport, and the extermination of all other life in the universe. Throughout the book the aliens are described at various points as singing songs which if Paul McCartney had written them would allow him to buy ever increasingly substantial pieces of real estate. That's how I feel about the songs by these two bands. They are often so beautiful I can't imagine them not making someone rish. GZM are sweeter and a bit sad while SFA are spacier and a bit angry. Both are sublime. I'd particularly recommend GZM's Spanish Dance Troupe (1999) as being a bit more varied than their two more recent releases Blue Trees and How I Long to Feel that Summer in my Heart. Their earlier material is only available as imports in North America if you can find it at all. Both of the SFA albums I have, Fuzzy Logic and Rings Around the World seem equally impressive.

Another find was Nova Scotian band Cuillin which plays traditionally flavoured folk. Fans of sea shantys take note!

And on a completely different note I'd like to mention 'Petting Zoo' by The Residents a collection of 'ear friendly music' released for their 30th anniversary (!!) as a band. If you like music on the odd side this is a relatively accessible introduction to a band that has managed to release 34 albums since 1974 and still remain almost completely unknown to the general public.

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