July 2002 posts

Previous July 2002  

More July 2002

End of the World Get-Together -- Dedalus, 12:07:34 07/25/02 Thu

Okay, I'm sure most of us have heard the news about that British astronomer guy that located a mile and a half asteroid that seems to be on a collision course with earth. It's set to hit a few days before my 43rd birthday, on February 1, 2019. Scientists say they need some thirty years to get together something that could sufficiently deflect it, but we've only got seventeen years to spare.

Okay, so there's always some doomsday scenario on the horizon, and chances are the calculations are not in any way correct, but just for the sake of argument ...

I mean, come on! If we're going out, we may as well have some fun with it. Yeah, the world may be ending, but hey, I still wanna hang. So I'm proposing the Ultimate Existential Scooby Get Together on January 31, 2019. If there's going to be an asteroid streaking through the atmosphere that will eventually land and bring to an end human civilization as we know it, I at least want a good seat, so I'm suggesting our bash should be on top of Stone Mountain. You know, to give it that Front Row Seat kinda feel.

One of the big advantages of this is there's simply not a lot of room for excuses. A lot of people might whine and say, "Well, I really haven't got the money," or "I just can't take off from school/work then." Screw that! It's the end of the world! What else have you got to do? I mean, honestly, I see this as the best opportunity for all of us to get together, and give the world-before-its-reduced-to-a- fiery-nightmarish-post-apocalyptic-ash-heap a big Existential Scooby send off. We'll talk philosophy, read poetry, sing songs, eat pop corn, poll favorite Buffy and Angel episodes, and what the hell, maybe even work in an orgy. If these board romances continue, half the board will probably be married by that time anyway.

What do you think? Can I get a "Whoa Existential Scooby End of the World Get Together!"?

[> Re: So next year is a no go, huh? :-) -- LittleBit, 12:21:48 07/25/02 Thu

[> [> I knew Ded could find another excuse to postpone if he only looked..:-D -- zargon, 12:23:48 07/25/02 Thu

[> Count me in... ;o) -- dubdub, 14:30:51 07/25/02 Thu

...should I live that long!


[> I'll come if we can make snow angels. And drink beer in our pj's. -- Dichotomy, 15:03:20 07/25/02 Thu

I figure we can fit those activities in before the orgy. Whaddya think?

[> Sure, what do I have to lose? -- Earl Allison, 17:40:26 07/25/02 Thu

Maybe it's a GOOD thing, this way, I'll never see 50 :)

Take it and run.

[> Hey, we might even get Joss and the rest of ME to come! -- Dedalus :-P, 18:07:32 07/25/02 Thu

[> I'm in...I'll need another vacation by then anyways. -- LadyStarlight, 19:05:12 07/25/02 Thu

[> got nothing else better to do that day.... -- Liq, 19:47:26 07/25/02 Thu

[> Hummm... wonder what the Classic Movie of the Week will be that week? -- OnM, 06:19:35 07/26/02 Fri

What if it lands in the ocean? Should we bring swim suits, or will we still be all naked after the orgy?

[> [> Re: Did I miss the memo on this? -- Brian, 06:28:46 07/26/02 Fri

I'll bring hot dogs and buns!

[> [> Heck, OnM, that's easy--George Pal's "When Worlds Collide" -- cjl, 07:16:51 07/26/02 Fri

What else?

Oh, and pencil me in for the orgy.

[> [> Not particularly a good movie...but the obvious choice for me would be "Armageddon" -- Rob, 09:23:30 07/26/02 Fri

...and the fact that Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck could defeat the evil asteroid could give us some false sense of hope!


[> [> [> or the Canadian version - Last Night -- ponygirl, 10:13:26 07/26/02 Fri

...where instead of trying to save the world everyone just politely waits for it to finish.

Fab movie though, definitely worth renting if you can find it. I'll bring my copy to the orgy!

[> [> [> [> YES!!! Incredible movie! But we should see it.. - - redcat, 11:00:24 07/26/02 Fri

*before* the Last Night, in case the damn thing hits at high noon...

[> [> [> [> Re: or the Canadian version - Last Night -- matching mole, 11:55:42 07/26/02 Fri

A great film. Loved David Cronenberg calling everyone up to assure that the Gas Company was going to keep on working until the end.

A very civilized way to have an apocalypse.

Joss on the Death of Tara ...taken from Watch with Wanda ...no spoilers -- Rufus, 20:32:31 07/25/02 Thu


Quote from Watch with Wanda July 26/02
On that note, before signing off, I want to share with you a bit of a conversation I had with Joss about Tara's death and the subsequent outrage. Hundreds of you emailed me with differing opinions on the way it was handled, and many of you forwarded me that thought-provoking article by Robert A. Black, so I feel it's important to address.

I asked Joss if he was surprised that Tara's death upset so many people, and he said: "No, I wanted people to be upset-- it's my job to upset them. What was surprising was that there was a lot of hate toward us. It was an episode that was so clearly about male violence and male dominance, and suddenly I'm a gay basher. It's one thing when you piss off the people you want wiped off the planet. It's different when it's people you care about--your audience. But it's
especially frustrating when they treat you in the same knee- jerk manner."

I asked if he could understand why it was painful to lose TV's only positive lesbian relationship. "You have to understand," he said, "I'm not watching TV. You either watch it or you make it. So,when people said,'Willow and Tara were all we had.' I was like, 'I didn't know that.' And I felt bad that that should be the reality. But on the other hand then, it's like we were the coolest."

Robert Black or BBovenGuys essay is at the Trollop Board

I always saw the death of Tara as something about male violence but do admit that the timing could have appear to be invoking the "Lesbian Cliche"....so how I made up my mind on the subject was to look at the history of both Willow and Tara and the events of Tara's death and feel that Joss is right it's about senseless violence and how it can have unexpected consequences. JMO

[> I agree, Rufus. (season 6 spoilers) -- Rob, 21:29:05 07/25/02 Thu

I understand how some have read it, but that is taking the details of the story out of context, IMO. If Willow came out, fell in love with Tara, Tara was killed, and Willow went evil all within the space of two or three episodes, then it would have been the old lesbian cliche. But I thought it was quite clear that Willow wasn't being punished for being gay. If she was, it was three full years after having a rich, rewarding, and most importantly, positive and healthy relationship with a woman. No, I don't buy that. Willow might have been cosmically punished as a result of resurrecting Buffy, but that's about it. I thought it was quite clear (again, don't want to assign my opinion to others) that Tara's death was a negative thing. And Willow's transformation was a result of her hurt and pain over Tara's death, especially so soon after finally reuniting with her, not as a declaration that lesbian sex leads to death and evilness. Why didn't this happen the other bajillion times they had sex? If one were to argue that there was not as much graphic touchage between the two before, I would point him or her to a little song called "Under Your Spell" from OMWF, especially the action occurring during the last stanza. ;o)

I think all the touching and kissing was necessary to make it clear that finally after months of hell, Willow's life was finally coming back into place. Everything was absolutely fairy-tale perfect...and then the rug was pulled out from under her, making Tara's death all the more tragic and her reaction all the more gutwrenching.


[> [> Here, here -- cjc36, 01:52:07 07/26/02 Fri

[> [> I don't understand... -- Darby, 07:11:51 07/26/02 Fri

...How people think that cliches aren't cliches because one detail doesn't particularly line up. Think about all of the variations of the "be trampy, have sex, get killed" cliche that have been done in horror/slasher movies (Joss even alludes to it on one of the DVD tracks). The W/T example may have some mitigating details, but the "be lesbian, have sex, get killed, go evil" cliche is very much there. And it is largely irrelevant to say, "No, see, that's not really the message here!" The cliche carries its own weight, as cliches do. And someone on the ME staff (deKnight, maybe?)admitted to knowing about the lesbian cliche long before the ep was plotted (in the original breakdown, it was largely avoided; I think that cliches become cliches because they are valuable as cheap manipulation, and that's why they get used and why it got used here).

No one has seriously accused ME of purposely sending the message that goes with the cliche. That's the sad thing, though: they knew what the cliche message classically is and didn't take the creative steps to avoid it. Many of us see this as indicative of a lack of...what? Talent? Social consciousness? Probably effort. Does anyone here think they could not have come up with a way to accomplish their goals that would have given us that old emergence-of- Angelus rush? Instead, it's this lingering jump-the-shark twinge...

And does anybody believe that Joss didn't know the significance of the W/T relationship on TV? How many times have his own words said otherwise? Sure, our Great Nerd Auteur is totally unaware, even after being interviewed for gay and lesbian publications, of doing something fairly unique. As I've said before, his attitude of "make the viewers upset, give them stuff they don't want" has itself become a cliche, and it's a dangerous one if you don't put enough thought into it. This one has bitten back big-time, and I'd just like to see them acknowledge it and move on. Heck, I'm trying to talk myself into doing essentially that same thing.

And for someone who never watches tv, he sure does snipe a lot at Charmed...

[> [> [> Agreed. -- AurraSing, 07:36:33 07/26/02 Fri

My view of this article was a lot more negative than Rufus'...I've basically lost most of my faith in both ME and Joss after the debacle of season 6. Pouring salt into the wounds of those who were most outraged by the way W/T was resolved does not help matters in any way,shape or form. It was not so much the death of a lesbian lover but the death of the last loving sexual relationship on the show and the lame attempt to turn Willow into a BB that really was a slap in the face to me.Was this truly the best that ME could come up with??

"We can't think of anything better to do so let's break up the couple and do a "Dark Phoenix" with Willow. And hey,we are the coolest!!!"

After reading this article I've decided NOT to try and talk my friends who have stopped watching BTVS during or at the end of season 6 to start watching the show again when season 7 resumes.
If in fact ME does pull off a decent season,I'll urge them to watch the reruns.
But based on the mistruths and sleight-of-hand they have been pulling off over the past while,I'm the least optimistic I've been about any tv show coming back for another season in a long,long time.

I embarassed myself early this spring on one board by declaring that "Hey,trust in Joss,things will get turned around and we will all be happy about how things turned out"...well,I apologise now for that statement and have learned never to defend those who really don't deserve it.
In this case I've been burnt and I'm coming back very,very skeptical.

[> [> [> Re: I don't understand... -- grifter, 07:38:55 07/26/02 Fri

"No one has seriously accused ME of purposely sending the message that goes with the cliche. That's the sad thing, though: they knew what the cliche message classically is and didn't take the creative steps to avoid it."

See, the sad thing really is that people really DID think they were doing the "cliche" on purpose. After two years of the most beautiful relationship ever in a tv series people over at the W/T boards really WERE accusing ME and Joss as being gay-haters. I enjoyed the "Kitten Board" very much, but soon after news of Tara´s death came out the whole board, including, sadly, the moderators, weas running amok. I had to leave it because I couldn´t stand it anymore that people I had come to like over the last few months were suddenly hating the people who were responsible for the very existence of our community. I just didn´t make sense.

"Many of us see this as indicative of a lack of...what? Talent? Social consciousness? Probably effort. Does anyone here think they could not have come up with a way to accomplish their goals that would have given us that old emergence-of-Angelus rush? Instead, it's this lingering jump- the-shark twinge..."

Maybe they did see the cliche coming. I think they tried to avoid being to cliche-y. Have they failed? Apperently so. Is this a reason to suddenly damn them all to hell? I don´t think so. People make mistakes. Joss himself admitted to making lots and lots of them. Why can´t you accept that and move on?

"And does anybody believe that Joss didn't know the significance of the W/T relationship on TV? How many times have his own words said otherwise? Sure, our Great Nerd Auteur is totally unaware, even after being interviewed for gay and lesbian publications, of doing something fairly unique."

The funny thing is that if Joss was trying to make the perfect lesbian couple because he didn´t see it anywere else on TV, he couldn´t suceed. And he knows that. The only reason W/T were so great is that Joss never tried to create the best lesbian couple on tv, but just to create two fascinating human beings in love with each other. That´s what he does, he creates humans, not rolemodels, who have human relationships and lifes, not role-model relationships and lifes.

"And for someone who never watches tv, he sure does snipe a lot at Charmed..."

Well, Charmed really DOES deserve to be sniped at. ;)

[> [> [> [> Re: I don't understand... -- skeeve, 08:34:42 07/26/02 Fri

It seems to me, having Tara die so soon after sex with Willow was probably a side-effect of poor writing, specifically the small amount of time devoted to the W/T reunion.

Regarding the rest of it: Joss tries to do math. Joss sucks at math. Maybe Joss tried to avoid a cliche. Maybe Joss sucked at it.

Who knows, maybe Tara will come back. Just because Osiris won't send her back, doesn't mean that she can't come back on her own intiative. Maybe heaven is optional.

[> [> [> Re: Charmed -- Robert, 09:59:13 07/26/02 Fri

>> "And for someone who never watches tv, he sure does snipe a lot at Charmed..."

This is interesting. Could you please provide me links or sources? Thanks!

[> [> [> [> Wish I could... -- Darby, 11:21:03 07/26/02 Fri

There's the problem with having read WAY too many interviews - I couldn't begin to cite specific sources.

The major impression I've gotten from Joss is that he sees Charmed as essentially ripping Buffy off in a very substandard way. I remember him specifically alluding to Buffy plots being "recycled" (he used a different word, more accusatory, but I don't remember exactly what it was) by Charmed. He has used the show as a general stand- in for bad tv when he makes snarky remarks. And there's the whole Shannon Doherty thing - there was a rumor that she would guest on Buffy, and his response was something to the effect that he only works with "real" - what? Actors? Professionals? Something that amounted to a pretty nasty put-down (especially considering that SD and SMG are supposed to be friends).

Can anybody help out my failing memory with specifics here? I'll see if I can track some references down...

[> [> [> [> [> Here's one... -- Darby, 19:05:53 07/26/02 Fri

Man, this is one difficult thing to do a web search on!


[> [> [> [> [> ...And another... -- Darby, 19:13:53 07/26/02 Fri

I guess these were mostly postings - he does get a bit nastier posting/


[> [> [> [> [> [> Buffy can get preggers -- skeeve, 09:14:46 07/29/02 Mon

Thanks, Darby.
That site answered an interesting question, though Joss did sort of hint that he really hadn't thought about it.

"Joss says:
(Mon May 29 20:38:51 2000
Yes, Buffy can get preggers. I assume. Lotta girls can.
in a leaving mode..."

It leaves open the question of whether birth control pills would work on her.

Of course if Spike comes back to Sunnydale with a soul and a healthy body, Buffy might incorrectly assume that birth control is unnecessary.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> G, I always assumed Slayers Were Sterile, for practicallity purposes at least. -- Majin Gojira, 16:55:56 07/29/02 Mon

[> [> [> Re: I don't understand... -- JBone, 17:06:17 07/26/02 Fri

OK, this is coming from someone who had no idea that there was even such a thing as a lesbian cliche until this whole controversy exploded. I knew of the horror cliche in movies when someone has sex, they die, but had no idea of a special lesbian clause. I'm fully immersed in the Buffyverse, and I was only vaguely aware of the kudos that ME was receiving from the gay/lesbian community for the Willow/Tara couple. I'm upset that Tara was killed off, much the same way I was upset that Jenny, Doyle, Joyce or Buffy was killed off. It's sad and tragic, but the best stories usually are. And Tara's death was arguably the most tragic story told on BtVS. Anyway, this whole debate is giving me tired head, and wishing for the good ole days of Spike saturation. Like that subject never got its just due.

I don't mean to be insensitive, if this is, because I understand the "burn Joss" point of view. I just don't agree with it. I've been reading this stuff for three months now, and I really just want to turn the page on it. So go ahead and fry me, I'm a white, heterosexual male, living in America if that helps you spray the lighter fluid

[> [> [> [> The two cliches conflated -- d'Herblay, 20:26:17 07/26/02 Fri

I am (big surprise) with Rah in thinking that whether or not something is or is not a cliché has more to do with its effect on the reader than with how many times it has been done before. After all, the "Identical Twins Separated at Birth" trope has been a standard element of farce since at least the first century. That does not mean that when Shakespeare went back to it in Comedy of Errors, he was being cliché. Nor was Mark Twain, going back to that well in The Prince and the Pauper, indulging in cliché. But these are subjective judgments, and I'd bet there were groundlings who sat through Comedy of Errors muttering "This was old when Plautus did it."

It seems to me, that in the rush to find some reason (any reason?) to condemn the death of Tara, people have conflated two entirely separate clichés and created this supposed "lesbian cliché" ab novo. The first cliché is an expansion on the one JBone mentions as being associated with horror films: someone has sex, someone dies. But it is not limited to just sexual situations. It is a recurring plot point in Buffy that just when people are finally happy again, whammo! I just watched "Passion" the other night, and one can see Jenny's death just as she and Giles reconcile as cliché, or one may prefer to view such as the stuff from which tragedy is made. Again and again in the Buffyverse, people just manage to get their lives back together only to have them fall apart. "Passion," "Becoming," "The Body" -- if these were cliché, give me cliché every Tuesday. I suppose that there has never been a direct causation between happiness and death on Buffy, never anything like the cliché of the cop three days from retirement who's just had a baby and has a bull's-eye on his back where you can look right at a character and know he's doomed, but there has been a definite corelation.

The other cliché cited over at the Kitten manifesto is an "Evil Lesbian" cliché. I think this is a recent innovation, dating back to Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, and it concerns a villainous female character who uses her sexuality for nefarious purposes. (Jennifer Tilly in Bound may be an example of such a character who escapes cliché; Jane March in The Color of Night one who does not. Denise Richards and Neve Campbell in Wild Things also come to mind, but that's not such a rare occurance.) Technically, it should be the Evil Bisexual cliché, but never mind that. This cliché is only evoked when the sexuality is bound up with the evil. VampWillow might fit the criteria, but EvilWillow certainly does not. A less sexual being I cannot imagine.

I don't think either of these clichés really occur during the season endgame, and I am certain that the bastardized combination of the two currently being called the "lesbian cliché" is not a cliché at all. After all, if so many people have to be educated as to its existence, can it really have become trite?

I also suspect that some people are so proudly waving the this supposed cliché in Joss's face because they are desperate for some grounds on which to criticize the loss of a favorite character or the extreme transformation of another favorite, and if, in the process, they can wrap themselves in a rainbow flag and make themselves look holier- than-thou, then all to their benefit. I thought that "Seeing Red" was the most powerful Buffy episode of 2002, and I am unwilling to let it be implied that in this subjective preference I am somehow either insensitive to gay issues (though I may well be; my apologies if anything in this post offends) or not well-versed enough in popular culture to recognize a cliché.

[> [> [> [> [> THANK YOU, OnM! -- Rob, 21:10:05 07/26/02 Fri

[> [> [> [> [> [> Ooof! I meant d'Herb! God...I'm too tired to be typing. -- Rob, 21:23:00 07/26/02 Fri

A thousand pardons, d'Herb! Sorry!

Rob :o)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Does this mean I have to write a movie review tomorrow? -- d'Herblay, 23:31:07 07/26/02 Fri

Well, short notice but ok. And if OnM has to do the archives, yay!!!!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> And what will your CMoTW be? ;o) -- Rob, 08:32:41 07/27/02 Sat

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I'm starting to suspect that OnM took my offer seriously! -- d'Herblay, 18:10:37 07/28/02 Sun

Where is the CMotW, anyway?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Look up! :-) -- OnM, a day late, but only 50c short. Not bad, considering., 19:17:50 07/28/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> Nice post -- Rahael, 05:14:46 07/27/02 Sat

Let's not forget the jealous black man killing his white girlfriend cliche, or the greedy and rapacious Jew or powerhungry ambitious women, evil witches, miserable puritans etc.

Though it does remind me of the amusing story where a woman goes to see Hamlet for the first time. Asked what she thought of it, she said "It was good. But did the lines have to be so cliched? (!).

And err, Rob, LOL

[> [> [> [> [> Cliche City -- Darby, 07:24:53 07/27/02 Sat

People with more background and better memories than I wrote essays back when this was a fresh controversy invoking movies and television that were so old that I remember watching it when I had no idea there were lesbians to punish, so it's older than Sharon Stone, literally. I seem to remember that it was a point of discussion in The Celluloid Closet, and the images shown seemed to support the idea.

For me, a cliche becomes problematical when it draws you out of the story, when the pattern is so stubbornly adhered to that any sense of tension in "Oh, what's going to happen?" becomes this nasty mixture of "Here it comes, here it comes," and "Oh, they're not really going to do this, are they? Have they no pride?" I mentioned the Mark Harmon subplot on the season finale of The West Wing, which is a great / horrible example - he just needed a red shirt to complete it.

And it occurs to me that I might not be quite fair in this instance because there's a significant difference: part of what made the whole thing seeme cliched is that I knew what was going to happen anyway. I quickly learned here that I prefer to remain unspoiled, but there was no way to avoid more-or-less knowing about Tara, so maybe the set-up just seemed cliched.

Nope, nope, that's not what happened here. I forgot, cliches work two different ways: there are the ones you see coming (like, from this discussion, I'll see rolling in every time a BtVS character is shown being blissful) and which are distracting in the moment, and the ones which you don't see because of ignorance, like the minority stereotypes in the movies I watched as a kid but now, because I know more, I can't ignore. I have to admit that I didn't pick up on the cliche when I watched the episode for the first time, but it sure colors my attitude toward it now.

And I'd forgive it if there was some inherent payoff - there's a difference between the cliches of Scream and the ones of the current Halloween. Shakespeare could take a cliche and twist it into something fresh, something ME is generally good at. Where's the twist here? Is Tara coming back from the astral plane to say, "Well, Will, I had to die, I was the lesbian. You didn't go all evil, did you?"

But even though that may happen, the infuriating thing about this has been the "Who, us?" innocence exhibited by ME. When it was pointed out that the wig lady monster was disturbingly phallic, they immediately confessed with an "Oops!" and acknowledged it on the show when the chance arose. There is a certain responsibility as artist exercised here, as also showed up in "Yeah, the season was depressing, but we meant to do that, and maybe it didn't work out as well as we'd like." (Why do I suddenly feel like the "Smell this shoe!" lady on Boston Public?)

What I've seen from ME that bothers me is a combination of pleading ignorance - "Really, even though we've been asked about the lesbian cliche and discussed it in the past, we really knew nothing about it" - and misdirection (this is coming more from fans) - "Yeah, well, they had obvious sweaty lesbian sex, and then one partner died and the other went all psycho-bitch, but hey, how about Willow and Tara in season 5? Wasn't that great?"

What makes me want desperately to drop the subject but what also keeps bringing me back to it is that most responses don't seem to understand why and how cliches are an indicator of bad writing (and a single instance, not an overall condemnation) and that the detail or extraneous details are irrelevant. That Mark Harmon was a Secret Service Agent does not make a war-movie cliche "fresh;" the backstory on W/T changed the emotional resonance of the scene but the pertinent details of the cliche - be lesbian, entice heroine, have sex (and in previous more cencored incarnations, it was mostly implied), one partner gets killed, the other goes nuts and becomes evil/suicidal/martyr - were all there.

This is where it gets dicey - people bring more to the table. They read conscious anti-gay messages in - but no one here is doing that, that I've seen. I think that people also react to my problems as if I'm indicting the entire season and all of the writers, but I'm not. I do find this disturbing beyond a single bad cliche, for reasons I've mentioned, but if I didn't like and respect the show I wouldn't be here.

So D'Herb, would you really put this usage of a cliche on a Prince and the Pauper level and not It Takes Two?

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Cliche City -- Sophist, 10:37:55 07/27/02 Sat

The most disturbing aspect of cliches is the fact that they are invisible to most viewers at the time. When Elizabethan audiences watched Merchant of Venice, they didn't see Shylock as a "cliche", they saw a portrayal of a Jew that fit their pre-existing prejudices. When Ilsa Lund referred to Sam as a "boy" in Casablanca, American audiences in 1942 didn't think of it as a cliche, that's what they thought of African Americans. That lack of conscious recognition is what makes it a cliche.

The fact that so many people were unaware of the cliche is evidence for its existence, not its absence. However, if you don't like the term cliche under such circumstances, you could call it a failure to identify with the Other. :)

There are no new scenes in art. Every artist has to take a plot as old as Abraham and re-work it. What distinguishes art from a cliche is not whether the viewers recognize the cliche, but whether the artist can bring something fresh to an old story.

In the S2 commentary, JW admits being aware of the horror film cliche in which the character (usually the girl) has sex and gets killed. He knew his story arc invoked that cliche. It worked because he made something new and fresh. Great artistry. It didn't work that way in S6.

I completely agree with Darby about having limited criticisms of S6. As I've made clear before, there was a lot that I liked in S6 and I liked that a lot.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Cliche City -- Rahael, 10:38:28 07/27/02 Sat

"What makes me want desperately to drop the subject but what also keeps bringing me back to it is that most responses don't seem to understand why and how cliches are an indicator of bad writing (and a single instance, not an overall condemnation) and that the detail or extraneous details are irrelevant."

Please explain further. At some point everything can become a cliche "Vampire with a soul? how lame is that?". The stuffy English librarian. The bitchy airhead who gets taught a lesson about life and becomes a better human being. Angel going psycho after sex, and 'not calling' the next day. Professor Walsh, the mad scientist who creats a monster.

What confuses me is when people talk about 'bad writing'. Don't you mean bad plotting?

If you are saying that Seeing Red was a badly written epsiode, full of clunky lines, unoriginal and stunted dialogue, hack writing etc, I clearly have no critical discrimination. Because I think it is a finely written episode. You say, Shakespeare delivered things with an original twist - I don't think he did. He made good drama using and playing up to cultural stereotypes - look at the Welsh and Scottish characters in Henry V. He didn't subvert the cliche (did Shylock somehow turn round and confront society's prejudices?) He just wrote great, complex drama where even the villains were real human beings. Adding flesh to the cliche.

Writers write the same stories again and again. They do rip off each other. THey do use familiar storylines. Shakespeare didn't make up most of his plots - he used existing stories.

I can see that western culture has often portrayed homosexuality as deviant, as sick, as mentally ill and as undesirable. That if you're gay, you are doomed to a life of misery and abnormality. Please show me how ME reinforces this in Seeing Red. To be honest, so far the arguments that have been advanced have been disengenous. If we're going to condemn ME for stereotypes and cliches, we should start with Episode 1, Season 1 and work our way through. And I strongly protest that we take one episode out of context. BtVS is all about nuance, about context. That's the level where cliches get *subverted*. If you ignore the subtext, you get a reduced and impoverished and misleading reading.
And I have observed that the most harmful and discriminatory way that Television and Film operate is in the subtle subtext. Well, nowadays, because it can no longer openly display itself. For ME to so flagrantly and openly take on a cliche and make it gut wrenching drama which is all about Willow and her grief and her pain, is brave and uncowardly.

I've been the first to defend ME from charges of racism. But a much stronger case for casual, and wilful racism could be directed at them than at perpetuating harmful stereotypes about sexual orientation. People are getting angry at the way two main gay characters are acting. Where are the protests about the behaviour of the two main black characters? Oh, wait. They aren't there

I think a more clear charge of lazy writing could be directed at the Willow/Tara relationship of Season 5. Willow, lispy little girl and Tara the placid blank slate. A clear indicator from ME that being gay infantilises you and makes you want your partner to read you cute bedtime stories. I could write post after post that made Joss appear to be a misogynist, a man who falls back on easy stereotypes and who produces a programme which is trivial and lazy. Buffy never gets a break - you could argue that Joss enjoys punishing women. That being a strong woman means you'll never have a happy life. Men go away. They are threatened. They turn evil after sex. Why not just kill yourself and go to heaven?

This is a view which picks and chooses, which prefers BtVS show us how to live our lives, and portrays morally improving characters. It is a reductive approach. Because it doesn't acknowledge the depth of character, the power of the narrative, the emotions the show stirs up. If people said "well, of course it's perfectly natural she turn evil" then the cliche is alive and well. If they say, "how did that happen? she was the best of them? how could someone like her do that?" Then, then, I think, here is a show which is both challenging, thought provoking and worthy of my interest. The day I know that Willow is always going to do the right thing, because of course, she's gay, and the day that Buffy always is clever and correct in her decisions, because, of course, she's a woman, and the day that I know Kendra is going to be a loveable human being the minute I see her because she's black is the day I hope never to see on Buffy. Because, that is the real cliche.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> The function of criticism -- Sophist, 11:01:13 07/27/02 Sat

Your post makes a good point, though I'm not sure you intended it so. The fact is, there are many directions from which one could analyze the show. Your best example is that people have argued here about the lack of characters "of color".

Where I think the problem rests is this: there is nothing per se illegitimate about any such criticism. The function of criticism is to deconstruct (yeah, I'm deliberately using a loaded word) and expose hidden assumptions and attitudes expressed in the show. The only real issue is whether the critic provides reasonable evidence to support the criticism.

What is bothersome about ME, and in some of the posts I've seen here (not yours and not dH's, and not any in this thread), is the attempt to de- legitimize the very effort to discuss the problems with the W/T story arc. The critics (IMHO) are being berated dismissively rather than refuted.

I have some limited sympathy with the critics. My posts here have probably given the impression that I feel more strongly about this issue than I do. In truth, I consider this issue relatively minor compared to my real problem with the ending of S6 (the consequences of Dark Willow and the contrived ending on the hilltop).

What really bothers me -- and the only reason I continue to post about W/T -- is the failure by so many to address the issue on the merits.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The function of criticism -- Rahael, 12:10:43 07/27/02 Sat

I'll take the backhanded compliment. Of course, all sorts of criticisms can be made about the show. And this forum of all places should be a legitimate forum for criticism. I can remember back to the heated race debate. I remember feeling very irritated by being told that to simply look for, and criticise any show about race was a) illegitimate b) having a chip on my shoulder. Regardless whether I choose to defend ME or criticise them, the freedom to do so should exist.

To be honest, I think that a lot of people have made very clear why the Willow/Tara storyline is not regarded by them as cliched. Others have an equal right to bring up their dissatisfaction as many times as they want (if I didn't want to argue the point, I would bypass the thread, and not bother responding). There is no official party line here.

Seeing Red has provoked quite the most thought and discussion of any ep apart from OMWF. I think that it is to be welcomed. I am not someone who easily excuses writers/tv from the perpetuation and transmission of dubious messages - nor am I someone who is unaware of hidden assumptions and messages. I've always seen everypart of my life, whether at my workplace now, or in my academic work to unpick ideas, and deconstruct texts.

I am probably influenced by how shell shocked I was as a result of lurking at the Kitten Board after SR. I'm not surprised, considering all the insults and threats against ME that the writers are not responding. There is no obligation for them to defend themselves. Their show speaks for them, and there is no better defence they could mount.

If I believed that Joss wrote a show which was steeped in racism and misogyny and fired by knee jerk prejudices, I wouldn't even accord it the dignity of a response. I'd simply stop watching it, and since I don't watch much television anyway, that's not an idle threat. Everything about this show makes me feel at home, and the more I learn, and the more I deconstruct, the more I realise how thoughtful and tolerant and sophisticated it is. Just look at IRYJ!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I agree with you about the Kitten Board -- Sophist, 12:23:18 07/27/02 Sat

I think grifter expressed that pretty well higher up in this thread. Their reaction was self-destructive and abusive.

Even with the Kittens, however, I don't believe anyone accused ME of intentionally stereotyping lesbians (I could be wrong here; there were lots of wild accusations posted there). I'm quite sure no one here has suggested that. The question for critics is whether ME handled the potential for stereotyping in a way that was artistically sound and emotionally sensitive.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> the problem with selective fandoms... -- celticross, 21:14:26 07/27/02 Sat

I too lurked at the Kitten Board after Seeing Red aired. I didn't like the episode all that much, it was far too painful to be enjoyable - I don't deny its artistic merits, but I'll never be able to watch it again. I'd heard the online rumbles about Tara's death, and I knew the Kittens would take it hard, but I was unprepared for the level of rage expressed on that board in the days following Seeing Red. And I begin to think about the nature of fan boards and select communities of fans online. The internet has provided a place for people with similar views to congregate. If you love the Willow/Tara relationship, there are others who share your view.

However, it becomes all too easy for a party line to develop, as Rah put it, and in such an environment, fans tend to zero in on what they love best about the show and cling to that as their reason for watching and their barometer for how well they like what they see. For many of the Kittens, W/T was the only reason they watched BtVS, and a few even stated they'd rather see Willow killed off than with someone new, male or female. Spike is the only reason some watch, and it was the most ardent redemptionistas who lead the charge against Marti Noxon (which also got nasty, though not nearly as vocal). There are websites dedicated to every possible romantic pairing, and to every character.

We all have favorite characters. I personally prefer Spike, Giles and Willow (pre Magic Crack, when it was still her fault). And we like these characters because we can identify with them. The problem becomes OVER- identification, which, in my mind, makes watching far less enjoyable.

There. I've rambled. Make some sense of it if you can. :)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> good points - I agree. Some additional ones -- shadowkat, 06:15:20 07/28/02 Sun

You make a great deal of sense celtic-cross and I agree with your points. Been trying to stay away from this topic because - well it was thrashed too death before SR even aired. But you make some good points I think about the episode and fandom.

1."I didn't like the episode all that much, it was far too painful to be enjoyable - I don't deny its artistic merits, but I'll never be able to watch it again."

Agree. Seeing Red was IMHO tightly written, well acted with some Emmy worthy performances. It blew me away with some of the scenes. But like you I'll never be able to watch segments of it again.

A friend asked me on Friday, whether Btvs or ATs had ever done anything this controversial in the past. If they did they cloaked it in layers of metaphor so the audience wasn't hit over the head with hammer. Not so in SR. They hit us over the head with the hammer. What they decided to do in SR was risky to do. They created not one but two very powerful and controversial scenes around characters that fandom had become obsessed with. Similar scenes unfortunately had already been done on a plethora of tv shows, both daytime and nighttime. Most notably daytime soaps. (See Lifetime Channel on Cable for the made-for-tv movies both on the bad boyfriend and on
the homosexual relationship - which television tends to stay away from. Everything from Dawson's Creek to 90210 have dealt with these things and not very well IMHO.)But as others on the board have pointed out - There really aren't any new ideas out there - just new ways of expressing them. And ME normally does an amazing job of expressing these ideas in new and different ways.

Since I knew Tara was going to die as early as Restless and only briefly got dissuaded from this opinion, I really had no problems with that part of the episode. I tend to agree with Rufus, Rah, D'H and Rob on that one. But that said- I think the writers made an honest mistake as writers do and to be honest I may have done the same thing as a writer. We have to remember that creating something is very different than watching it. You may watch what you create but it is unlikely you'll notice what someone else less close to the art notices.

What was their mistake? How they used the metaphor. Yeah, yeah - i know Whedon and company were moving away from metaphors this season, but they still used them. And some of the metaphors they used contradicted how they used them previously - confusing the audience. (I think they tend to forget that their audience remembers every episode and has analyzed some of the episodes to death.) On W/T - they attempt to get around the WB censors in Seasons 4-5 by using magic as a sexual metaphor. Which would have been fine if they weren't also planning on using magic as a drug metaphor. PArt of the audience, got confused. What was ME trying to say? That a lesbian relationship led to darkness? Or is it a power addiction? Or drugs? At least with OZ, Willow wasn't using magic as much in the beginning, their sexual relationship did not feel associated with magic in the least. It wasn't used as a metaphor for their feelings towards each other. With Tara - the magic, Joss admits this in Hush and Restless commentary - was a metaphor for the sex. What they attempt to do is switch the metaphor - and let Tara and Willow really have sex. Which would have also worked well if they had started doing it in Bargaining not SR. We really don't see them naked in bed until SR. We do see them kiss and in bed together. But not to the degree. I see what the writers intended - which was quite innocent and very nice dramatically but I can also see why a portion of their audience reacted negatively towards it. If they had shot Tara anywhere but the bedroom. The backyard. The coffee house. It wouldn't have been as bed. Of course the bedroom was more dramatic and enabled them to do the Dawn scene and link the whole thing to Joyce - etc. I honestly don't think it ever occurred to them that a portion of the audience would see the shooting in the bedroom as a negative message about lesbianism. I didn't see it that way.
But then it's not an issue I live with or that is close to my heart. Nor was I heavily invested in W/T since I always knew Tara or whomever they put Willow with would die. That seemed obvious to me. But i can see why it didn't for other people.

"We all have favorite characters. I personally prefer Spike, Giles and Willow (pre Magic Crack, when it was still her fault). And we like these characters because we can identify with them. The problem becomes OVER-identification, which, in my mind, makes watching far less enjoyable."

I agree and feel the same way. My favorites are also Spike,
Giles and Willow and (pre-drug metaphor Willow). I also agree that there is a danger of over-identifying with these characters. For some reason posting and inter-acting on the internet tends to foster this. Mob mentality? Some of the boards tend to bolster the emotions, heating them to a frenzy. I saw that with the Marti threads and the SR threads. The boards I've stayed with - B C & S and ATP
did not do that. The moderators kept control. We tend to forget sometimes that Btvs is JUST a television show. It may be an amazing television show. But it is still just televison. The characters aren't real and are often created to serve a plot device or storyline. That's the nature of fiction. To over-identify with a fictional character to the extent that they become real and you'll actually send hate mail to the creator for killing them - may mean it's time to turn off that tv set, get off the computer, and go outside for a few walks in the woods.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I agree cc, sk -- Rahael, 07:34:27 07/28/02 Sun

and just a comment on the magic metaphor. It, like Vampirism has been used a shifting metaphor - it changes in the context, just as blood has been a shifting metaphor, and Slaying.

Was magic a metaphor for lesbian sex or addiction when Giles used it? or Ethan Rayne? or the Master? Actually, I never saw the Willow/Tara sex allusions to magic-sex as a metaphor - more of a sly allusion. A bit of a nod and a wink to a clued in audience. There is always the danger of misinterpretation, and harmful misinterpretation in art. Whether being responsible means fencing off whole storylines (Tara can't die, Willow shouldn't turn dark) is one that I have yet to be persuaded upon. Being persuaded on one issue in BtVS would mean a shift in my entire world view, and that's something I'm reluctant to undertake.

As for over-identification - I think that only becomes a probem when you white wash the character. I'm a good person. That character is me! That character shouldn't do anything bad. I wouldn't do it, so how can he/she?

In real life, we can never truly know what other human beings think. One of the great attractions of my reading obsesssion has been the ability to see how other people think - not only the writers, but the illusion that you are in someone elses head, someone elses mind. It's kind of potent. We come to feel that we have an ownership of the character.

I can understand why the mood is so angry at the Kittenboard. Quite apart from the Lesbian cliche thing (that phrase is rapidly turning into a cliche itself) their entire raison d'etre has gone! How would we feel if Joss turned around and said "sorry folks, no real meaning. I just made it up as I go along. The Shakespeare weekends? a little joke of mine. I don't actually read any books". I'd like to think that I'd react with extreme hilarity rather than anger, but who knows?

By the way, Miss Edith, I think the Kittens are free to say whatever they want. But they are fighting a public campaign, so I don't think their discussions are a private matter. Why else would they write a manifesto? Why else seek to persuade ME and other fans of their perspective? It most assuredly is not private. I registered there quite some time ago, before this whole thing blew up.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I agree cc, sk -- Miss Edith, 09:14:18 07/28/02 Sun

Willow and Tara's love wasn't just a sly allusion to magic. Joss has admitted on the season 4 DVD that magic was used as a clear metaphour. E.g in Who Are You the spell was their first sexual experience (Joss's words). And in Family when Tara's father was talking about her being into witchcraft there was a strong subtext. Even in season 6 when making love in Seeing Red Tara says about the sex "there was plenty of magic".
And I agree that the Kittens are seeking to educate people about the lesbian cliche and how it was used. I really meant that a lot of people talk about the Kitten board and how terrible it is there as they are so unfair to Joss etc. Not suggesting anyone on this board has said this but there is a lot of condemnation of the Kittens discussions on their own board which is what I was mainly refering to. It is true that they are fighting a public campign by writing letters to magazines and articles to show how Joss offended them. But the insults and name-calling directed at ME are really confined to their own board from what I can see and it's how they let off steam (I'm not a member of the Kitten board BTW, just an occasional lurker). I don't have a problem with them letting their feelings about the lesbian cliche and how Joss followed it known. I would still say their discussions on their own board are private. JMHO.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yes...I agree Rah and miss edith. -- shadowkat, 13:31:46 07/28/02 Sun

You make some excellent points here.

I agree that the magic metaphor kept shifting. ME shifts all its metaphors and trusts that it's audience gets that.
Having rewatched all of Season 1 ATs - I've found a new appreciation for this. In the course of five episodes, the writers shift and fully explore several aspects of the soul metaphor for guilt, vampirisim - removal of guilt and desire for immortality and the whole desire for clarity - with a soul everything seems more ambiquous. They do the same thing with magic. Magic is used to symbolize power, sex, control, drugs, and experimentation. What is fascinating is all five of these ideas can be entangled. Often sex is used to control someone, to show power. Often drugs are used to make someone have sex with you. Often we experiment with drugs and sex and lose control. In the past the metaphor was used with Giles and Jenny and Ethan...now Willow. It is a complex and interesting metaphor. Me's use of metaphor is one of the many reasons that I am so obsessed with their shows.

Also agree with the over-identification. We all do it. But I like to think like you...I would laugh if someone revealed Joss didn't read books. Probably would. I already laughed when I discovered that Asmodea came from a video game that Petrie and Fury were playing and Promethea in Primeval came from Alan Moore's comic books. What I love about writing is so much of what we create comes from our unconscious...comes from what we unconsciously pick up around us. When we read books or watch tv shows - we get to see how someone else's mind works what their subconscious picks up and it helps us understand why others do what they do better. Its one of the reasons I love to read books - being inside another's head and one of the reasons I love to write.

Agree with you on the Kitten Board as well. I went there before and after the spoilers on SR were released. I haven't been back. There were people who wanted to get the epsiode pulled and change the writers' story. They also bashed the writers. That bothered me. It still does. I believe in authorial integrity and am against censorship.
One of the reasons I love Btvs and Ats is they DON'T pay attention to what fans want - unlike just about every other show on television. I've stopped watching most of the other television shows because of this. I may have despised the AR scene for instance, but I would never tell the writers to remove it. I don't know what they have planned next. It's not my story. I'm just lucky enough to be along for the ride and so far am enjoying it. The nice thing about it, is if there comes a time that I no longer enjoy the ride, I can hop off, turn off the tv and move onto something else. Done it with more tv programs than I can count.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Fictional characters -- Rufus, 23:07:35 07/28/02 Sun

We tend to forget sometimes that Btvs is JUST a television show. It may be an amazing television show. But it is still just televison. The characters aren't real and are often created to serve a plot device or storyline. That's the nature of fiction. To over-identify with a fictional character to the extent that they become real and you'll actually send hate mail to the creator for killing them - may mean it's time to turn off that tv set, get off the computer, and go outside for a few walks in the woods.

Amber Benson was in Toronto recently and mentioned the fictional nature of the show and for viewers not to take things too personally. Seeing Red was a great episode and I can watch it over and over again. Not because they showed the death of Tara but because it continued on the evolving nature of Willows relationship with power. The only thing that could be questionable in any way was the actual timing of the death close on the heels of the couple having sex.

It is well within Willows character to react in the vengeful way she did. It was foreshadowed in Tough Love in Season 5, where Taras sanity was taken from her in the mind suck from Glory. Willow immediately went to find what she needed to get revenge on who had harmed her lover. In this case the villian was a God and Willow was no match for her(at the time, I'd have to wonder season six). Willow acted out in a violent way with Giles, the same as she had with Glory in Tough Love(scene with the knives). The difference between season five and six is that in five, Willow was more limited in her dark powers and Tara survived, but if she could have killed Glory in Tough Love she would have, just as Giles would have killed Angel for the murder of Jenny. There was a shift in the magic metaphor from sex to drugs, but it did make some sense. At first Willow had posative feedback from her powers(though she screwed up many of her spells), she began to find her identity through power, she felt it was the reason Tara "could" love her, and when she sourced dark magicks she paid for her arrogance by losing herself to that darkness she used to get her way. While Willow used magic in a posative way, the results we saw just that "magic", she got the girl, got respect, felt good about who she was. As soon as magic became a way of getting everything she wanted her way, Willow became corrupted and all her subsequent uses of power were tainted by the need for self gain.

When Tara was killed, Willow found out who did it and went and got her bloody revenge. In the cries of "lesbian cliche" the original villian, Warren was fogotten. Before I knew of the lesbian cliche, I took the story for what Joss said it was, the abuse of male power. I saw that Tara died because some insecure j/a could only feel good when someone, preferably female, suffered or was humiliated. Most of all, Willow(who is still gay) is lost in the need to vent about the loss of Tara.

The characters in BTVS are fictional, and people do get emotionally invested in them, but when that investment includes personal attacks on living people I have to wonder about the people doing the attacking. I've lurked many places and I can see why ME would be acting in a less than friendly way to people who say they are fans and proceed to use insults and profanity to make their point. If some fans are finding the reaction of Joss and the other writers to be less than they want, they should look at their original message....ones with F*ck you Joss...Steve...Marti.....whoever....puking emoticons....personal insults and harassing behavior on message boards when a writer visits...should remember that a fictional character died, and being cruel to live people and expecting them to be friendly to you is not going work.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Fictional characters -- Miss Edith, 09:21:20 07/29/02 Mon

If the Kittens feel better by venting on their own messsage board and swearing at the writers than I will say again I still think they have every right to do that. It is their community and no one is forcing the writers to visit a place where they know they will recieve a hostile reception. As long as writers aren't receiving personal threats through the post I believe the Kittens can behave as they wish on their own board. There are far worse sites on the internet than a community saying amongst themselves that they hate the writers of Buffy and feel personally betrayed. More than one Kitten is so deeply upset they have mentioned being suicidal. Not becuase of Buffy alone of course. But Joss assuring them they could trust him to tell a love story without having it end in suffering for the lesbian as in the cliche was a betrayel in their minds. They were personally assured by writers that the lesbian cliche was purposely going to be avoided and Willow and Tara were a safe ship to emotionally invest in. T/W were the light in a dark world and many Kittens want their pain acknowledged.
One young girl is in the hospital with a suspected tumour waiting and hoping that her grandmother will visit. Her grandmother (who she lives with) wants nothing to do with the young girl who has come out as gay and her only support and way of feeling less alone is on the Kitten board. There is a lot of pain and betrayel there as well as hate and anger. If the people there feel like saying Joss is an a- hole, he screwed us etc whether I agree or not they do have a right to say it on their own board in my mind.
Joss and ME have cetainly fueled the fire with their own harsh attitudes. Whether it is a response to the comments or not no compassion was shown to the Kitten board from the very beginning of Tara's death way before the bitterness rose. If having puking emoticons makes them feel better who am I to disagree. I would speak against intimadation of Joss through threatening e-mail. That is not what the Kittens are doing. Maybe a fringe element is personally threatening Joss as any unpleasant minority will do when pushed but the board as a whole is not encouraging such behaviour. Someone mentioned Marti having a gay mother and they were told not to talk about the writers personal lives. The writers work and decision to kill Tara and make Willow the sterotypical vengeful lesbian/evil witch is what is critisiced. Certainly the Kittens are not going about condemning MEs recent work kindly or tactfully but again it is their board and they do have a right to do this if it helps them to feel better. No writer is forced to read what the Kittens think of them on that board.
And as for your comment about the real message of the Tara/Willow arc is a caution against male power I would disagree. Yes Warren was presented as a hateful character but the focus is on Willow and how power is corrupting her. That is the message most viwers are getting from the images they watch. The end of season 6 will be remembered as the one where Willow was the big bad, not Warren purely because we have more of an emotional investment in Willow's character.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I can't agree -- Sophist, 09:46:09 07/29/02 Mon

There is some sense to the idea that a Board can serve as a private place to vent feelings that shouldn't be expressed elsewhere. BUT. A group hatefest is hardly likely to lead to calmer, more rational views. Sometimes we let out emotions on others for cathartic effect, and it's helpful to us because the other person provides sympathy and understanding. When the others react with even more venom, this is not catharsis, it's a mob mentality. ME's behavior has hardly been ideal, but their reactions are not without provocation.

If someone is truly suicidal "because" of W/T, I would politely and sympathetically suggest that that person had problems pre-dating W/T. I do sympathize with social outsiders. I do understand that TV role models can be significant in their personal struggles. But they are just fictional characters. Real tragedy is the death of Abraham Lincoln or MLK, Jr.

Notwithstanding what people may assume from my posts here, the W/T story arc (as distinct from DarkWillow) does not affect in any way my view of any S6 episode, including SR. A posting board should provide a way for viewers to come to terms with the problems they have with a scene or a story. This Board does that; I gain a great deal from the views of others even when I argue most strongly against them. The posters on the Kitten Board are hurting themselves even more than they are anyone else.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I can't agree -- Miss Edith, 10:29:03 07/29/02 Mon

There really isn't the group hatefest that is assumed by Buffy fans on the Kitten board. The anger there is clear but the rep the Kittens are getting on other boards really is exagerated. There is one thread purely for venting which is The Angry Rant Thread. Other threads on the board do have people critisicing the decisions made regarding W/T but it isn't as much as some would claim. The reputation really comes from the venem displayed directly after Seeing Red aired. The board was at that point not a pleasant place to visit I will admit. But the feelings whilst still there no longer overwhelm the board in the way that many critics would like to claim. (Not saying you are BTW.)
On other boards a lot of mocking is aimed at the Kittens and the board only allows registrated people to post following the number of trolls who came there to bash them following what they had heard. The Kittens still have to deal with trolls who will make the effort to register in order to tell the Kittens to stop being vengeful lesbians and that Joss is God and beyong reproach.
The anger directed at Joss is primarily because he is now saying that he never saw W/T as lesbains and he treated them like any other couple. He has also said he had no idea of the impact that killing Tara would have as he never saw her as a lesbain.
The Kittens are calling him on this because Joss has spoken in the past of all the letters he has received from gay people thanking him for giving them a positive role model. Young people coming out to their families have written to Joss thanking him for making it easier for them. He has received so many letters from people relieved that he got it and is truly interested in making the world a better and more tolerant place. He is now saying he never realised killing off Tara would have such an impact? He must have foreseen some anger following all the letters calling him a trused friend surely?
He publicly talked about W/T being the most important thing he had ever done and how much he valued the storytellers ability to help people. More than one writer discussed the lesbian cliche and promised viewers they were not interested in "what we feel is this tired and old cliche". Marti has spoken of wanting to "push the frontiers" with what could be shown of the relationship and how important it was to her that W/T be treated as equal to the straight couples on the show. Gay viewers trusted in Joss and gave him ratings based on the comments he was making. In their position I would be quite happy to condemn his behaviour. There really is a sense of personal betrayel following the relationship that Joss had build up with his audience. He did encounter grateful viewers at conventions and publicly made promises about Tara and Willow's relationship not ending with the cliche of one lesbian dying doomed to misery and the other becoming evil. He followed this cliche to the letter and is now denying that he owes anything but to the story. He had spoken of how it makes him proud to have helped society through his work. He was sent a toaster by one group (based on Ellen). He has recieved awards from the gay media. He had encouraged all of this and spoke publicly about pushing the WB network to allow two lesbians to kiss on his show. He is now saying his responsibility is purely to the story. It is not just the way W/T ended their relationship. Joss's attitude has encouraged their anger and betrayel felt by the Kittens.
I would agree that no person would commit suicide based on a tv show only. I mentioned in my post that certain people were very depressed because of many factors. The behaviour of ME is just the final kick in the gut for many. ME have refused to acknowledge the misery they have caused. They believe the sex shown in Seeing Red and the kissing in Entropy is all they owed the viewing public. If their responsibility had been to the story all along perhaps there would have been less anger. But Joss made specific promises which the Kittens feel were broken. That is why they feel Joss owed them more then they got. Because of the writers own words.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I can't agree -- Rufus, 13:55:45 07/29/02 Mon

I never mentioned a specific board, you did. And the net is far from private, even if you have to register to get onto a site. Working fellow members of a board into a continual hate fest is far from productive. Tara is a fictional character who serves the storyline of the regular fictional character Willow. Willow was for those hours in Two to Go and Grave supposed to be the Big Bad. I have listened to interviews and read print interviews from Steve DeKnight, David Fury, Jane Espenson, and Joss Whedon, as well as read numerous articles with quotes from Joss. My impression is that they have learned a lesson from what has happened with the fan reaction from the death of Tara. The writers are "real" people, not fictional characters, the treatment of them has been disgusting. Some members will accept nothing short of the return of Tara and are treating the writers like they are "real" murderers. If they want a dialogue with the writers the constant put downs, foul language, harassing behavior at The Bronze, personal insults..aren't gonna get the writers to treat anyone like that in a gentle way.

I understand that some people have a personal investment in a character, but jeeze get a grip! Any character is expendable on BTVS and it was Tara that got it this time, to throw away all the good parts of the show including Willow makes no sense to me.

Bad behavior isn't going to get a posative response, and shouldn't get a posative response. The writers have a job, the characters are their creation, they write what Joss tells them to write. The characters aren't real and the writers reflect that when they speak. To treat them like real life criminals for telling their story is like mob censorship. If people are hurt by the death of Tara the constructive thing to do is write about the real hurt, the personal attacks and insults can't be expected to have the writers treat their attackers with any respect as those people have proved they don't deserve it.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I can't agree -- Miss Edith, 14:31:05 07/29/02 Mon

I never accused anyone on this board of bashing the Kittens. I was simply saying that other Buffy boards do treat the Kittens as a joke and indulge in wholescale bashing of a site that they do not need to visit if they don't wish to.
I did not say the net was private. I said that the Kitten board is a community for W/T fans only and I stand by my comment that the writers do not need to visit if they find the attitudes offensive. It is considered a haven for W/T shippers so if they do visit expecting their work to be praised surely they must know that is not the case and they will encounter bitterness. Steven DeKnight talking of fearing ranting lesbians threatening him and implying the Kittens as a board are involved is a lie. No personal threats were aimed at the writers on that board. Not all members are even lesbians anyway.
And I would disagree with your statement that the board is unproductively "working fellow members of a board into a continul hate fest". There was fan outrage after SR and I do agree that the board did have people critisising the writers work strongly. But the board has calmed down since then although there is one thread dedicated to ranting and occasional nasty comments do emerge in other threads. But I will say again personal insults are not tolerated. The writing is critisised only, along with occasional comments about Joss's false promises and how they feel screwed. Spoiler for Firefly:

Someone called Joss a "comic geek" and made a suggestion on his sexual preferences based on spoilers that Firefly would have lines like "they're going to rape us to death, then eat our flesh" and they were pulled up for it.

End of spoiler.

Personal insults are not hurled at the writers private lives although people do make comments like f**k ME. But if that helps them let off steam I cannot see the harm in it. People are not working others up continuosly. In fact the only time more anger emerges is following another of MEs tactless interviews or public comments.
I'm sorry if you disaprove of the board but the writers are not forced to visit it and as long as such commets are not e- mailed to the writers the Kittens have a right to condemn ME when talking amongst themselves on their own website. Maybe you don't appreciate foul language or the writers being put- down unkindly. In that case don't visit their website.
As for your comments about harrassing behaviour at the Bronze in fact the writers themselves commented on their dismay at the attitude in the Bronze from a significant minority which was basically "the fat ugly lesbian got what she deserved" etc. Some Kittens tried to challenge such attitudes but gave up in the end as the mocking of their grief over Tara was so widespread.
And I am not denying that some Kittens are not just sticking to their private forum in which to challenge Joss. There have been articles on the lesbian cliche appearing in on- line magazines for instance. But I personally have only seen the Kittens swear and insult ME on their own board in which people visiting are almost always expecting unpleasant attitudes based on the reputation the board has gained.
If I were Joss I would be hurt by the strength of feeling on that board. But then again if I were Joss I would not waste my time visiting that board in the first place knowing what reception ME can expect.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I can't agree -- Finn Mac Cool, 15:20:19 07/29/02 Mon

Come on! Have you ever doubted that Joss Whedon enjoys torturing, not only his characters, but his fans as well? Therefore, complaining about unsentimental comments from him is kinda hypocritical, since any BtVS watcher should be clued into the fact that he's an enormous sadist, but not bothered complaining about it when he's done it in the past.

(Take post with a grain of salt)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I can't agree -- Miss Edith, 16:15:34 07/29/02 Mon

I know the writers joke and wind up fans a lot. But the Kittens don't feel such an attitude is appropriate at the moment and were actually half-hoping for some compassion to be shown towards their feelings. It really was interviews like Steven DeKnight's mocking of fans that got them so riled up in the first place. Yes to the majority of fans the comments from the writers may not seem particularly objective but the Kittens were feeling sensitive and hoped the writers would take that into consideration. The perceived belittling of their feelings was certainly not expected and caught them so unawares that following certain interviews with the writers many Kittens were indeed literally spitting with rage.
I am not a Kitten as I have said but I will defend their right to condemn ME on their board providing it doesn't get personally offensive to the writers in question. I do not count insults of their work as personally offensive any more than I would if reading an episode guide saying the writer had produced crap/what were they thinking etc. As long as the comments don't get personal they have not crossed any lines in my eyes.
It really is easy to joke that Tara is just a fictional character and we should take the writers comments in a light- hearted manner as that is the spirit in which they are given. That is just not how some viewers are feeling at the moment and they are seeing the recent events from a entirely different perspective from most fans.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I can't agree -- Rufus, 16:37:28 07/29/02 Mon

I said that the Kitten board is a community for W/T fans only and I stand by my comment that the writers do not need to visit if they find the attitudes offensive. It is considered a haven for W/T shippers so if they do visit expecting their work to be praised surely they must know that is not the case and they will encounter bitterness.

If the Kitten Board want Joss and other writers to be responsible for every word they write, then they have to be prepared to be responsible for every word they write on the very public internet. People tend to mirror those they are talking to and how can you expect compassion and understanding from someone as a group when there is open hostility? The writers have been invited to join the board but I understand how they would be hesitant to join a virtual bashing. I don't think this issue will be resolved by puking emoticons and Death to ME rants. What I do think will get attention is honest feelings and words that reflect the pain Kittens and others feel instead of attacks. Someone has to give at this point and at long as the bitterness is encouraged I don't see anyone getting past it. I belong to the Kitten Board and understood a few weeks of rants but not this continual loop of anger. It's too bad because I fear that other writers will take from this situation the idea that it's not worth writing gay characters which I think would be a great loss.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Well said Rufus. -- Rahael, 16:39:55 07/29/02 Mon

Another must read post from you today!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I can't agree -- Miss Edith, 16:55:24 07/29/02 Mon

Surely there is a difference for a website for W/T shippers specifically joing for common ground and a television series and the message it may inadvertently send out? The internet is alomst impossible to regulate anyway but I do think television shows need to be called on what they write and that the kittens have a right to do so on a product that ME are offering to the public.
I take your point that the rage expressed is often self- defeating and their cause will get more attention if they behave courteously at all times. The Kittens do try to do so when calling attention to their cause through letters to the media etc. They only rant on their own board as I have said and perhaps this can be used against them which I agree is a shame.
The bitterness has lasted for a long time, it can certainly be argued too long, and no it really doesn't help the Kittens cause. I have often felt the need to speak up when the Kittens are dismissed as ranting, irrational lesbians (again I am not accusing anyone at this board of doing so). It is a shame that the Kittens have created a situation in which it is possible for people to dismiss them as such. But I still feel the Kittens have a right to rant on their own board without being critisised and told to get over it. If they start infaltrating all Buffy boards and spreading their bitterness I would not agree with that. I guess I just feel sympathy for them needing to vent regardless of whether it can be considered health or beneficial.
I just think if the Kittens do feel the need to express anger it is fair enough as long as it is confined to their own board.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I can't agree -- Finn Mac Cool, 18:27:01 07/29/02 Mon

If the Kittens can rant about Mutant Enemy on their board, can't people of a dissenting opinion rant about the Kittens on a different board?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: I can't agree -- Miss Edith, 18:39:52 07/29/02 Mon

Lol good question I guess you've got me there. But again the Kittens are really ranting about the writers work, rather than attacking individuals. Although I suppose calling someone an a-hole when talking of the episode they wrote is a personal attack really and now I'm starting to get a headache. I really am feeling like a broken record at the moment. I'm not even a Kitten, just sympathetic to the cause. It's 2:30 over here in Englans so I just feel like giving the whole thing a rest and signing off.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Actually No -- Dochawk, 18:54:55 07/29/02 Mon

If there were a board where the major theme was anti-lesbian or anti-Kitten I guess you have a point. Noone likes to be called names or spat on figuaratively let alone literally. But pent up emotions need to have a place to be relieved. I agree with Rufus that noone should have to see "Death to Joss", kinda inane and there may be some maladjusted person who takes it literally. The interesting thing is what was the response on the kitten board to the "Amber Benson is Fat" brouhaha (one of the most ridiculous and hurtful statements a person could make) or that "Mark Blucas is boring". This isn't the first time that the internet has been used to condemn in a hurtful way something that ME was doing. The difference is that people had and apparantly still have truly painful feelings. And to disparage them for their feelings is just wrong. To say "get over it" or "your just misinterpeting what happened" which apparantly many people here seem to be saying totally demeans a whole group of people's feelings. Now how they act about those feelings, does have some element to criticize, but people feel what they feel and "convincing them otherwise" just makes their sense of isolation and frutration greater.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Clarifying Myself -- Finn Mac Cool, 22:15:48 07/29/02 Mon

Did I give the impression that I don't think the Kittens should say what they have? If I did, I'm afraid I didn't explain myself thoroughly.

I would be incredibly shocked if any W/T shipper who saw Seeing Red wasn't surprised, hurt, and outraged. I have no problems with this. Nor do I have problems with them posting angry and occassionally insulting comments on the Internet about this. Nor do I think that they shouldn't talk about the "dead/evil lesbian cliche" if they believe it is true. I don't have issues with any of these. Damn right they should be able to feel what they feel and say what they say!

But, what happens when someone who is a supporter of Joss and/or a fan of Seeing Red wanders across some of these Kittenish comments while surfing the Net? They'd probably be angry and maybe even upset at how a writer and/or episode they admire was, and still is, to a certain extent, being bashed. These people have just as much right to feel this way, and just as much right to post emotional messages about it, as any of the Kittens do about their views.

I have no problem with people getting loud, upset, and angry on or off the Internet. But, the louder someone yells and the more biting their comments become, the backlash can be expected to only get fiercer.

As for those things about "misinterpreting what happened" and "convincing them otherwise", most of those have been from people arguing against the "dead/evil lesbian cliche". Unofortunately, grief over the loss of Tara and the end of W/T has become horribly intertwined with this "cliche" theory. There is a big difference between scoffing at the grief of W/T shippers and saying that the "evil/dead lesbian cliche" doesn't apply to BtVS. However, for people on both sides of the arguement, the two become increasingly hard to separate.

As for those who just say "get over it", that is a very mean comment, and deserves whatever snarky remarks it gets in return.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Clarifying Myself -- Miss Edith, 12:28:06 07/30/02 Tue

In responce to Dochawks comment maybe I missed it but I have never seen any Kitten say "death to ME". If such words were posted I have no doubt they were deleted by the mods. Death threats against any individual is completely inappropriate and I think I can safely say we can all agree on that. The Kittens do have slogans like "Just Say No To ME" and they say amongst themselves that they feel betrayed and will not watch any product produced by ME ever again. That is about as bad as the bashing gets. Well with the occasional naughty word. But certainly personal threats are not tolerated on any board that I would post or lurk at. If the Kittens were planning to go round Joss's house and infringe on his personal liberty for instance I would not visit that board or support it in any way.
And the response to the Kittens pain has sadly been "get over it" all too frequently. I have not seen such an attitude on this board but often when a Kitten does publish an article on the Lesbian cliche the responses are pretty infantile and do not encourage good debate. I would agree that they themselves have encouraged a backlash by the harsh criticism of ME on their own board meaning ME supporters often have a knee-jerk reaction to any article written by a Kitten. It's a shame as they really do keep the rage and bitterness confined to their own board. When they write letters publicly it would be more helpful if the people opposing the Kittens views ignored the reputation of the Kitten board and just concentrated on how the Kittens behave in a sensible debate with them. I would say again that as long as they keep what could be termed unreasnable ranting on their own board that I don't see that it should be an issue for others. As ever JMHO.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: the problem with selective fandoms... -- Miss Edith, 06:23:13 07/28/02 Sun

The Kitten board is a private community where you have to register to post. I can't really see a problem with what they discuss on their own board. As you say it is their own private community where they are free to behave as they wish. I'll come right out and say that even though I love Bts I have lost a lot of love for it in season 6 which disapoints me greatly. I will stop watching if James Marsters leaves and people can mock that if they wish. But the fact is the show doesn't have enough left to interest me as they have made characters I once liked (Xander, Dawn) unpleasant for me to watch. The writers can say we were never true fans and over-identify with one character. But it was primarily the writers who killed off my interest in the show this season. I don't like saying I am only hanging around as long as James Marsters is there but it's just how I feel.

The confirmed spoilers of Dawn having a bigger role in season 6 and a lot of time spend in the high school worries me. I really don't want to see Dawn's scrappy gang as I had enough trouble getting through ATW when Dawn and Janice discussed peeing their pants over boys.

End of spoiler.

I want a focus on Buffy, Spike and the core scoobies and I'm afraid Joss will have to work hard next year to convince me Buffy will be worth watching on it's own merits. I am primarily focused on Spike's story at the moment just as I am on Wesley in Angel.
I am usually at the spoiler board the cross and stake so hope I've marked out spoilers correctly? That is how you do it right?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: the problem with selective fandoms... -- Finn Mac Cool, 06:35:50 07/28/02 Sun

Usually, you're supposed to lable spoilers in the title line, but this works good, too.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Okay thanks for letting me know. -- Miss Edith, 08:53:50 07/28/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Ummm...yeah! -- Darby, 12:43:59 07/27/02 Sat

I'm afraid that I can't divorce plotting from writing. Good writing, even when collaborative, is the whole package. To me, a roomful of writers as sophisticated as ME's should have seen the inherent cliche in the scene they were suggesting and responded in one of three ways:

- They should have seen the distracting nature of it and made something different carry the story. As I said, the original concept seemed to have distanced the sex from the death - maybe it would have avoided the cliche claims.

- They should have decided that the classic subtext that had repeatedly been glued to this particular cliche be spun in a new light to subvert that message. The examples Rahael gives, I think, are mostly legitimate examples of ME doing this: vamp w/ a soul, lame but not really cliched, and they promise to spin Spike differently than Angel; Cordelia, the bitchy airhead was never really an airhead and remained bitchy after repeated "lessons" (and I'd like to see a bit more of that preserved where she is now!) but was never quite the cliche anymore than Buffy was; Angel ---> Angelus taking a romance/sex cliche and extending it to operatic heights to deal with it metaphorically; Maggie Walsh - who knows?, that story was played out off-set and how much did she piss everyone off to come back a corpse with no real dialogue? I would add from this season the successful addressing of the left-at-the-altar cliche, the amnesia cliche, the everything's-a-dream cliche, the kid-sister- makes-the-same-mistakes cliche, etc., etc. These people can do it, the evidence screams it. I just don't think they pulled it off in this instance.

- They could have figured it would slide by and then, when it oh-so-obviously didn't, respectfully acknowledged the goof and apologized to the offended parties. If two years ago, ME had written demon Forrest in a way that called up classic "Negro" stereotypes - the Forrest-Adam dynamic turned out a bit too slave-master, or his attack on Buffy smacked of old sexual cliches, I don't think there would have been any hesitation in taking this option, as they did with the gun-in-school scene that really was much further from an actual Columbine image than SR was from the cliche we're discussing. I still don't know why they've circled the wagons on this particular issue, unless they had recognized what they were doing, did it anyway because it was easier, and just are too embarrassed to admit it. When it comes down to it, Joss does hate to lie directly, it seems.

I know that people are getting sick of this issue, especially since it doesn't really involve Spike, the immortal topic. I can't absolutely promise this, but my current intent is that once this thread zips to the archives, this is the last I'm going to discuss it. I hope by now that everyone finally understands the gist of my (and Sophist's, if I can be so bold) feelings on the matter. If not, it's time for me to admit I can't adequately explain it.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The function of criticism -- Arethusa, 14:29:48 07/27/02 Sat

"The function of criticism is to deconstruct (yeah, I'm deliberately using a loaded word) and expose hidden assumptions and attitudes expressed in the show."

Is the function of criticism really to expose hidden assumptions and attitudes expressed in the show? I think the function of criticism is to help people understand what they are viewing or listening to. All creators and viewers have assumptions and attitudes. Exposing them can help the audience understand the creator and his work of art, or can also become an excuse for criticizing the creator for whatever one disagrees with.

The problem with the W/T story arc was that it wasn't a W/T story arc-it was a Willow story arc. Therefore, Wedon didn't feel responsible for the audiences' sexual fantasies about and emotional investment in W/T. Foolish of him, but he's been distracted this year. Wedon wanted to show that even in the best of us are dark places and terrible violence, and he was successful. It seems the assumptions and attitudes that are being exposed are those of the viewers, not necessarily the creators.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The function of criticism -- Sophist, 15:18:55 07/27/02 Sat

All creators and viewers have assumptions and attitudes. Exposing them can help the audience understand the creator and his work of art, or can also become an excuse for criticizing the creator for whatever one disagrees with.

Of course. That's why it's important to evaluate the quality of the evidence presented by the critic. It's perfectly fair to deconstruct the deconstruction, but it has to be done with evidence.

It seems the assumptions and attitudes that are being exposed are those of the viewers, not necessarily the creators.

Ok, suppose I agree with you about this. Do you mean this is true of all the posts on this issue? If so, what's the evidence for that? If not, then you still have to face the merits of the points being made by those who don't fall into this category.

This is clearly a hot-button issue. Geez, you'd think Spike was involved. :) The best way to deal with such issues is to focus narrowly on the evidence. That's what I'm advocating in this thread.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The function of criticism -- Arethusa, 18:42:36 07/27/02 Sat

The reason I'm bringing up attitudes and assumptions instead of evidence is because that is what the W/T critics are doing. Few people disagree on the facts, but many disagree on the interpretation of the facts. The only fact needing determination is: did ME use the Evil Dead Lesbian cliche? ME says no-and that can be accurate because they wanted Willow evil and gay and Tara dead, but only to further the developments they had planned for Willow over the course of years. That is a fact-ME said they did not see it as the EDL cliche because they did not write it as the EDL cliche.

It is also a fact that many critics did see W/T as the EDL cliche, because the events in SR and Grave fulfilled their criteria for the EDL cliche. So how do you weigh the evidence when it it totally based on the two sides' perceptions of the event? The articles I saw written a while after the furor died down conceded the EDL cliche was used accidently and/or carelessly, but some critics are still are upset because their feelings were hurt by certain writers' attitudes in interviews and the loss of a couple on tv they identify with. At this point, there is no use arguing further, because one can't argue that someone needs evidence to have certain emotions-emotions are based on gut responses, not facts. No one wins the argument unless ME apologizes for callousness and the critics accept ME told the truth when they said the EDL cliche was a thoughtless mistake.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The function of criticism -- mundusmundi, 08:40:50 07/28/02 Sun

Good, sensible post, Arethusa, one that takes us off the slippery garden path of "objective" analysis (e.g., "If we accept points A, B, and C, then we must accept conclusion D.") and gets to the heart of the matter. Criticism is not an entirely objective enterprise, and there are ultimately limits to the "evidence" one can use to support one's point. Then again, maybe it's the opposite -- that evidence regarding artistic interpretation is limitless and can be used to support or justify just about any opinion one wishes to make. (It helps explain why Pauline Kael used to lavish praise on near-universally regarded stinkers like Casualties of War.)

The point I am poorly making is that criticism is intensely personal. A good critic may helpfully cite examples, make comparisons, and interpret hidden motifs, but it really boils down to a gut reaction. My own gut reaction (which in no way nullifies anyone else's, so that's clear) was that "Seeing Red" was a phenomenal episode, maybe the best and truest Buffy of the season. That the competition is appallingly thin may have made it seem even more powerful than it is. "Once More, with Feeling" is an endlessly pleasurable, instant TV-classic, but IMO never really capitalized on its central metaphor of song as unbridled passion or emotion. (Joss really should have given it 2 hours and scrapped something like "Gone" or "Doublemeat Palace.") "Normal Again" was a thought-provoking mind-screw that works as a great example of a "gimmick episode," but a gimmick nonetheless. "Seeing Red," OTOH, marks a return to what I will deem "classic" Buffy -- a watershed that, as darrenK might opine, makes you stand up and say, "They fit all that in one episode?"

I think one reason why "Seeing Red" provoked such a heated reaction was, to paraphrase shadowkat and others, it took characters that had been largely stripped of their metaphors all season, causing some viewers to identify more directly with them, and then tried to reinsert the metaphors back. For me, this worked brilliantly with the Troika. The sexual metaphors (the orbs, Warren's orgasmic "ejaculation" with the jetpack) were sharp and funny, and they served to make Warren more terrifying and Jonathan and Andrew much more touching than they ever were before or after.

However, it also appears that the ingenious sexual motifs of the episode gave the explicit W/T bedroom scenes, including Tara's murder, even more impact. I can see why it would be upsetting. It's supposed to be upsetting, albeit in a dramatic sense (which ME intended) and not in an overly personal and/or socio-political context. Maybe they were naive, disingenuous, or too preoccupied with SpikeSexFest 2002, but I'm willing to give Joss & Co. the benefit of the doubt and say that they didn't intend it as such.

I'm not explaining myself as clearly as I would like -- that's the trouble with gut reactions -- so I'll stop here. I'll only add that the Willow/Tara story hasn't necessarily stopped (no spoilers here, just a hunch), so it's difficult for either side on this issue to use evidence that seems, at the moment anyway, inconclusive. We don't know yet what the fallout will be. It wouldn't surprise me, though, if Joss addresses this issue next season as he often does, within the context of the show.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> The purpose of evidence -- Sophist, 10:25:22 07/28/02 Sun

I do agree that our reactions to a given episode are largely subjective, gut reactions. As they are to any work of art.

That being said, my point was that if we take this to an extreme, there is nothing for us to discuss. I like fish, you like steak. End of discussion. If that were the extent of the postings here, I doubt any of us would spend the time we do.

JMHO, but a good critical discussion should be able to isolate specific points of intertwined fact and judgment. For example, if I claim that Spike's behavior in SR was OOC (which I did), then I feel obligated to support that claim with some detailed explanation of fact and interpretation of his behavior on the show over the preceeding 4 years (which I did). Doesn't mean anyone has to agree with my conclusion, but it does give everyone the opportunity to say "Hey, you forgot X" or "Why not look at Y this way?".

It seems to me that some of the most contentious discussions (Spike, W/T) have departed from this track, to the point where people are talking past each other ("Spike is noble"; no "Spike is eeeevil"). If we focus a little more on the evidence and a little less on the ultimate conclusion, we can have a discussion instead of an opinionfest.

Several of the posters did this: Rob challenged the relationship between W/T sex and bad consequences; Mal the existence of a double standard; dH the existence of the "cliche" under discussion. I don't happen to agree with them, but we can talk about the facts in order to establish a common ground for further interpretation (such as Rah did in her discussion about The Merchant of Venice).

In contrast, a post which says (paraphrasing) "this argument says more about the critics than it does about ME" is not very useful. Aside from the implausibility of this when directed at Darby, it's merely an ultimate conclusion, an opinion. It shuts off discussion instead of encouraging it.

One of the things I value most on this Board is that the posters are actually willing to change their minds. I have (despite my apparent stubbornness), and I've seen others do so. It's the presentation of supporting evidence (and argument) that creates that possibility.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Hey, I love fish! -- mundusmundi, 12:47:49 07/28/02 Sun

I just don't want to eat it every day. But, I digress:

That being said, my point was that if we take this to an extreme, there is nothing for us to discuss. I like fish, you like steak. End of discussion. If that were the extent of the postings here, I doubt any of us would spend the time we do.

Well, this is actually a good example of why I'm skeptical of the "If A, then B" method of presenting evidence (though maybe I've just read too many of Philip Johnson's anti- evolutionary screeds, which employ a similar tack, and have grown cynical). The "A" being presented in your argument seems to be that I am against using evidence in our discussions. While this conveniently supports your concluding "B," (which I will address momentarily), it's skewing (another word for "taking to extremes") what I actually wrote.

JMHO, but a good critical discussion should be able to isolate specific points of intertwined fact and judgment.

I guess I agree with this, though it seems a little fuzzy. I'd add that critical discussion, at its best, will relate its points to the larger context of the topic – which some of the W/T critiques have done and some haven't, for example -- rather than leaving them isolated, hanging or threadbare.

It seems to me that some of the most contentious discussions (Spike, W/T) have departed from this track, to the point where people are talking past each other ("Spike is noble"; no "Spike is eeeevil"). If we focus a little more on the evidence and a little less on the ultimate conclusion, we can have a discussion instead of an opinionfest.

Regardless how thoughtful or clever we may be, our responses are ultimately limited to the quality of the subject matter. Hardly an ME apologist, I've taken them to task all year and in my above post for overliteralizing the characters and themes of this season. The evidence is admittedly circumstantial and speculative, but I do think that, perhaps unconsciously, we've taken our cue from the characters and engaged in these discussions in a more blatant, "Tastes great, less filling" fashion. Compared to past seasons, there's been little filet mignon on the table to chew over.

In contrast, a post which says (paraphrasing) "this argument says more about the critics than it does about ME" is not very useful. Aside from the implausibility of this when directed at Darby, it's merely an ultimate conclusion, an opinion. It shuts off discussion instead of encouraging it.

Aside from the fact that this subthread is directly about the nature of criticism, this "then B" of your argument, building on the aformentioned "If A," seems to be accusing me of wanting to stifle discussion. While my fascist tendencies are admittedly well-known on this board, the point I was trying to make (and which supported Arethusa's post and didn't even mention Darby) was that evidence alone does not a compelling argument make. It's how that evidence is presented, whether it's selective or acknowledges any counterpoints, if it's open and unguarded or cleverly couched, that maters. We can't force discussion to happen; it has to flow naturally. That's the difference between a courtroom cross-examination and an open and honest exchange of ideas.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Me too. And it's good for you. -- Sophist, 13:16:51 07/28/02 Sun

this "then B" of your argument, building on the aformentioned "If A," seems to be accusing me of wanting to stifle discussion.

Not directed to you at all. Someone else in this thread made a comment of which this is (I think) a fair paraphrase. I was merely using that as an example, not pointing a finger at you. Sorry for the implication that you were meant.

My original suggestion for evidence was actually evidence on this point, i.e., whether the critics were merely exposing their own assumptions -- what is there about the critics that would make one say this (and what is there about Darby in particular that would bring up this comment in a thread involving his posts)?

evidence alone does not a compelling argument make. It's how that evidence is presented, whether it's selective or acknowledges any counterpoints, if it's open and unguarded or cleverly couched, that maters.

I couldn't agree more.

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but Philip Johnson was my Criminal Law professor in law school. He actually was a good professor. His arguments about evolution are either dishonest or ignorant beyond belief in someone of his apparent intelligence. I'm not sure, though, that I'd reject all of Aristotelian logic because of his abuses. :)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Objective and subjective -- Rahael, 14:18:49 07/28/02 Sun

This is just a view prompted by this very interesting discussion. I've never, whether in studying history or commenting on Buffy wanted to espouse an objective opinion. I recognise that I am subjective, and glad of that subjectivity. It gives me more freedom - to say just how things appear to me. It's not based on any carefully thought out philosophical position, but from my own knowledge that I am not capable of what I would consider a properly objective opinion. It allows me make connections and advocate view points safe in the knowledge that I am not saying that what I see is the final, authoritative picture. That other readings are possible, and truer.

I know, as I sit and read a particular memoir, that I find the writer of that memoir fascinating and engaging - and I know that as I read a particular historian that I find him particularly annoying and it's hard for me not to react instinctively to try and question everything he says.

When I try to comment on Buffy I know perfectly well that I look for the good. I can't muster a similarly critical opinion on BtVS as I do on Merchant of Venice, because I only have one point of view, the BtVS point of view, and critiques here to work on. While for Merchant, I gain a degree of confidence of 3 years studying both writers working in that period, and all nearly all aspects of that particular society.

So my view of Buffy is even more subjective.

(Also it's pretty uncontentious regarding everything Shakespeare wrote as incredibly important, while to regard BtVS as worthy of discussion and thought is a pretty laughable one in the real world. Perhaps even here, because I find myself making constant apologies for 'reading too much into things', or being fanwankery.)

So I agree with Arethusa, essentially. My critiques of Buffy tell everyone else here more about me, than about Buffy. Because, come on, I take quite a different view from lots of people here. I don't like Spuffy, a view that Sophist (one of many!) takes a diametrical opinion on, and yet I love Season 6, a view which separates me from Mundus, dH and Masq among others. I love Seeing Red, and it's probably one of the eps from Season 6 I'll watch regularly and that separates me from a huge section of the fandom.

This is why I usually always reveal something of myself when stating my opinion. Not because I personalise everything, and imagine the discussion is always somehow about me, but because my opinion is always about me, and I feel more comfortable acknowledging this, and whatever may influence me to that view.

So how can I claim to have any kind of objective view? I know I have good reasons for my views, but that does not and should not make them universal. In essence, my attitude to all these come from me, and do tell you more about me than about BtVS.

Just as my fascination for certain areas of history will tell you more about me than I'd care to think. The troubling question, for instance of why someone so politically aware, and so angry about certain injustices has done nothing to study the dark history of her own country. Why do I confine myself to a past that is away from me, not part of me, of which I am an outsider? I'm still thinking about that one.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Objective and subjective -- Sophist, 15:32:12 07/28/02 Sun

Oh goodness, I would never claim objectivity. We're all subjective in our judgments and our opinions, and even in our facts perhaps (don't let's get into that discussion this far out on the edge of this thread!).

I would modify what you said in 2 small ways: First, agreement on "facts" allows us to constrain the subjectivity of our conclusions. It certainly doesn't eliminate it. I'm in favor of that constraint as opposed to a let-it-all-hang-out expression of opinion. I think you agree with this, since your posts always give a "why" for your view.

Second, I was reacting to a statement that the W/T issue said more about the critics than about ME. In a purely subjective world, of course, this is not possible. Any issue would say no more about one side than the other. Such a conclusion would be possible in a constrained view, but then it requires evidence/logic to support it (which was not given).

As for Aristotle and Plato (mundus's post below), well, I'll just say that Aristotle may have a few moments, but Plato is the source of more evil and confusion in the world than anyone else in history. How's that for throwing a few coals onto the fire?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Plato's Republic -- Rahael, 15:36:29 07/28/02 Sun

Pretty scary place huh? I'd agree with you!

I do have a soft spot for Aristotle, however!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Let's see here, Plato begat Augustine and Rousseau . . . -- d'Herblay, 16:17:07 07/28/02 Sun

. . . and that's pretty much everything that's wrong with modern European civilization right there.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> LOL. And don't forget Allan Bloom -- Sophist, 16:44:47 07/28/02 Sun

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Me too. And it's good for you. -- mundusmundi, 15:09:29 07/28/02 Sun

Not directed to you at all. Someone else in this thread made a comment of which this is (I think) a fair paraphrase. I was merely using that as an example, not pointing a finger at you. Sorry for the implication that you were meant.

S'ok, thanks for clarifying though. The hot weather's making me edgy.

My original suggestion for evidence was actually evidence on this point, i.e., whether the critics were merely exposing their own assumptions -- what is there about the critics that would make one say this (and what is there about Darby in particular that would bring up this comment in a thread involving his posts)?

Apparently I haven't read the post you're referring to. Whether I agree with him or not, I'll take Darby's viewpoints over most anybody else's -- including Phil Johnson's -- any day.

I'm not sure, though, that I'd reject all of Aristotelian logic because of his abuses. :)

Mwahaha. Well, this will undoubtedly be an unpopular notion on a philosophy board, but I think Aristotle's pretty overrated anyway. Greek science and thought were coming along nicely with the Pre-Socratics before Plato and Aristotle set everything back 2,000 years. (Is that sweeping enough of a statement to provoke discussion? FLAME AWAY!)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Me too. And it's good for you. -- Darby, 15:46:56 07/28/02 Sun

Thanks. It's probably the heat stroke talkin', but I'll take what affirmation I can get.

And I didn't take the critics statement personally. I'm more likely to take statements like that with a Costellian (as in Abbott and) "I don't know what we're talkin' about!" Occasionally I think that some posters assume I'm a lesbian and react accordingly.

I do prefer to follow at least a pseudo-logical evidentiary argument, but that's my own training and preferences mostly - it's easier to follow someone else's train of thought through the fog if you know how the tracks were laid. Most of the people who present opinions that way here (and I count Rahael among them, even if she doesn't) are easier to respond to - if I disagree, I just have to pick at the premises.

That's what has been frustrating in this discussion, possibly because of the strong personal investment people have in W/T (I don't, incidentally): I keep trying to clarify my premises so as to find out why people disagree with me, but it doesn't seem to affect a lot of the responses. It certainly has clarified my thinking, and shifted my focus from the writing of the scene to the response by ME to criticism about it - I hadn't quite realized that their insensitivity before and mostly after the fact is what had gotten me invested in this.

Heck, I figure if you learn something about yourself or your own motivations, an exchange has definitely been worthwhile. It is the only good thing about the rare fights I have with my wife (this personal detail as a service to Rah. Just kidding - I can't keep personal details out of the mix either!).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> LOL -- Rahael, 16:01:39 07/28/02 Sun

I guess it's my conciousness of my subjectivity which makes me lay out as good a reason as I have for any viewpoint. Sometimes though it just comes down to:

Cordy has such great outfits! She's just great!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The purpose of evidence -- Arethusa, 09:51:28 07/30/02 Tue

"In contrast, a post which says (paraphrasing) "this argument says more about the critics than it does about ME" is not very useful. Aside from the implausibility of this when directed at Darby, it's merely an ultimate conclusion, an opinion. It shuts off discussion instead of encouraging it."

I wasn't responding to Darby, I was responding to your statement that critics need to provide evidence for their criticisms. I even quoted you! I meant to say that the Kittens were not providing evidence because their criticisims were based on their emotional reactions, not facts. And no, I didn't provide any facts to back that statement. My later post explained my reasoning behind that statement. I was not even arguing the W/T Evil Dead Lesbian cliche-I was saying that the same evidence in the case was interpreted two different ways by two different groups-ME and these critics. Their feelings *were* their evidence-and I actually agree with you that is necessary to argue facts, not opinions. But it's pretty obvious that expressing an opinion here, no matter how badly stated, does not stifle debate-it furthers it.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Well, that's certainly true -- Sophist, 10:18:41 07/30/02 Tue

But it's pretty obvious that expressing an opinion here, no matter how badly stated, does not stifle debate-it furthers it.

LOL. It certainly seems to.

My difficulty with your original statement -- and my expression did come out harsher than I really meant; one of the disadvantages of posting instead of conversation -- was that the Kittens are not posting here. Only Darby was. In context, therefore, I understood your post as directed at him.

But even where the Kittens are concerned, I don't know that it's fair to say their reaction was exclusively emotional. They did have reasons; those reasons just "got so lost" in all the screaming.....

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Well, that's certainly true -- Arethusa, 10:42:01 07/30/02 Tue

I don't believe their reaction was exclusively emotional. That's why I stated that the events of SR and Grave, by their definitions, did conform to the EDL cliche.

Is needing to have the last word a communicable disease?- because I think I've caught it!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Only if you fit the stereotype for lawyers -- Sophist, with multiple irony, 11:02:56 07/30/02 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> um, yeah, shylock did -- anom, 23:33:07 07/27/02 Sat

"He [Shakespeare] didn't subvert the cliche (did Shylock somehow turn round and confront society's prejudices?)"

Isn't that exactly what he did in the "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yes, in the subtle context -- Rahael, 03:50:41 07/28/02 Sun

I was only arguing against reductive face value condemnations of art. Shylock is a human being, but still a bad human being, and bad in the way that fitted societies preconceptions. But Shakespeare still gives him power.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? -- Rahael, 05:03:01 07/28/02 Sun

Let me change that answer somewhat. The lead up to that affecting speech by Shylock is simply an excuse for revenge. It's a justification for him heartlessly demanding the death of daughter not very soon after.

"Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means,
warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer,
as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you
poison us, shall we not die
And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? "

Does Shakespeare subvert antisemitism? or does he subvert Shylock's call for a recognition of his humanity? Doesn't he subvert the very humanity of Jews by expressing it and then cutting it under from Shylock as he becomes more and more a caricature?

I don't really see how Shylock combats antisemitism in Elizabethan England - the key word is revenge - a great deal of antisemitism in contemporary England was fired by the notion that the Jews had killed Christ - therefore Shylock's call for revenge, his desire for his pound of flesh and his unfeeling unfatherly attitude toward his daughter simply confirms Jews as treacherous and murderous. In the heightened religious climate of late 16th C England this is not a moot point.

I think that this play, along with Marlowe's Jew of Malta simply confirms, and gives new power to antisemitism. Every mention of 'Shylock' in England in the following centuries (apart from the late 20th) is derogatory. And he later morphs into Fagin as well.

I have no problem with the fact that artists can be prejudiced and express terrible, harmful sentiments. Let's not excuse them simply because they are gifted (without having to deny their giftedness). I have trouble with this play and I have never seen it staged. There are so many other great plays by Shakespeare, I choose not to go watch this one.

Hmmmm. I seem to have shifted my place in this debate.

If I were convinced that there was a terrible and prejudiced logic that ended with Tara dying I wouldn't shilly shally about saying "but I'm not saying Joss is homophobic". To me, if you perpetuate terrible ideas/stereotypes without thinking, then you carry the germ of prejudice and be held up for criticism for it. That doesn't diminish the art. But as far as I can see, the fact that people are so attached to Tara and Willow and so angry about their storyline is the best defense that ME can mount. They did it - they created two real human beings we cared about. How many people in Elizabethan England cheered when Marlowe had Barabbas boiled to death in oil in the 'Jew of Malta'? How many of them shed a tear for Shylock?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Take it a couple of lines on -- KdS, 05:13:04 07/29/02 Mon

Rahael, I don't think that Merchant is as antisemitic as you claim, (and I've seen a lot of productions, including one shocking occasion when a section of the audience laughed at "That he presently become a Christian"). The next line after the section you quote is "The villainy that you teach me I shall execute, And it shall go hard but that I better the instruction." To me, that's the key line of the speech, showing how hatred creates hatred back. Yes, Shylock is in many ways an evil man, but a great deal of it is the result of the lifelong abuse he's received.

(More of this when the Season 1 annotations get to "Out of sight, Out of Mind")

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Let's take the play as a whole -- Rahael, 07:07:50 07/29/02 Mon

Because it’s that very presence of that damning and true point of view that makes the play even more difficult for me. Shakespeare seems to understand what it is like to be made a villain, to lose one’s humanity. But does he fall back on terrible and destructive stereotypes? yes. Does he use the existing vocabulary of prejudice? yes. Does he successfully subvert these prejudices? no. Shylock demands his pound of flesh, rejects the quality of mercy, goes for vengeance over 'turning the other cheek'. Shylock is greedy. He is grasping. He talks constantly of money. He is coldhearted. He has a littleness which all of Shakespeare's other great anti-heros don't have. He is also a little ridiculous. Just compare the nobility of Othello, and the subtle process by which his mind is poisoned, to that one speech Shakespeare gives Shylock. I find it even more disturbing, the concatenation of every Jewish stereotype current being piled on Shylock – why does Shakespeare load all of that onto him? Why not just make him a Jew who demands his pound of flesh?

One of Shakespeare's greatest gifts is that he understands that part of the play's power is the dialogue it sets up with the audience. A late 20th Century audience's reactions to Merchant is going to be very different from the Elizabethan one.

I don't think Merchant, by any means at all, is the most antisemetic thing out there. It is however antisemitic, and it does confirm antisemetic prejudices in Elizabethan England, even if it gives Shylock an excuse for his hatred and his villainy.

When his daughter runs away, he is reported as being more concerned about the money she take with her than her, because of course, the stereotype goes that Jews only care about money.

Shylock is never mentioned without his Jewishness being reinforced. He’s ‘the Jew’, the ‘fiend’, ‘the dog Jew’
Jessica says:

“Alack, what heinous sin is it in me
To be ashamed to be my father's child!
But though I am a daughter to his blood,
I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo,
If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife,
Become a Christian and thy loving wife”

Then later, Salerio refers to him as
“ creature, that did bear the shape of man,
So keen and greedy to confound a man:”

To our modern ears this sounds like profund and terrible prejudice. But, would it have done so in Elizabethan England? Remember some of the most tolerant opinions of Jews in that time were motivated by the idea that only and when the Jews converted to Christianity would Christ be able to make his second coming. This was an age which went to civil war over the idea of the end of the world, and the idea of Antichrists. This was an age which suspected Jews of slaughtering Christian children (that pound of flesh).

Shylock confirms your earlier point by saying:
“But, since I am a dog, beware my fangs”

Yes, he finds excuses. But he’s still ‘a dog’ who revels in hatred and spite. How many other Shakesperian characters react with more nobility to the slings and arrows of misfortune?

Another exchange about Jewishness in the play:

Marry, you may partly hope that your father got you
not, that you are not the Jew's daughter.

That were a kind of bastard hope, indeed: so the
sins of my mother should be visited upon me.

Truly then I fear you are damned both by father and
mother: thus when I shun Scylla, your father, I
fall into Charybdis, your mother: well, you are
gone both ways.

****I shall be saved by my husband; he hath made me a

And when toward the end of the play, moving appeals are made to his better nature, appeals for love and mercy, there is nothing noble or moving in Shylock’s reply. His spite even overcomes his love of money – he’d rather have the pound of flesh than 3000 ducats.

“I have possess'd your grace of what I purpose;
And by our holy Sabbath have I sworn
To have the due and forfeit of my bond:
If you deny it, let the danger light
Upon your charter and your city's freedom.
You'll ask me, why I rather choose to have
A weight of carrion flesh than to receive
Three thousand ducats: I'll not answer that:
But, say, it is my humour: is it answer'd?
What if my house be troubled with a rat
And I be pleased to give ten thousand ducats
To have it baned? What, are you answer'd yet?”
And Antonio says:

“I pray you, think you question with the Jew:
You may as well go stand upon the beach
And bid the main flood bate his usual height;
You may as well use question with the wolf
Why he hath made the ewe bleat for the lamb;

You may as well do anything most hard,
As seek to soften that--than which what's harder?--
His Jewish heart:”

It’s not ‘Shylock’ the human being’s heart. It’s his Jewish Heart. And in the context of the Biblical Christ story, where Jesus lost his blood and body because of the supposed treachery of the Jews, the constant reiteration of the words ‘blood’ ‘body’ and the counterpoint of Shylock’s hard Jewish heart with the Christian message of mercy, love and forgiveness, is particularly compelling, and would have been so to the audience Shakespeare was writing for. Portia particularly uses the word ‘Christian blood’.


Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew,
Thou makest thy knife keen; but no metal can,
No, not the hangman's axe, bear half the keenness
Of thy sharp envy. Can no prayers pierce thee?

The envious, ‘unchristian’, villainous Jew, who did not share in the values of European society, who lived motivated by envy and hatred of others formed part of a potent myth of a ‘fifth’ column, a dark underworld to Christendom. I have encountered it too many times in the course of reading to see Shakespeare use these sentiments, address them toward an individual whose actual actions are inexcusable (what excuse for the cruelty? We still condemn cruelty and malice and spite, even if you can understand why someone feels them) with complacency.

His constant, unvarying demand for blood, flesh, and his reiteration of his ‘bond’ – all this is heavily loaded with Christian meaning. It speaks to a crucial political agenda, of the conversion of the Jews. At the back of the Elizabethan audience’s mind, is the knowledge that the Jews murdered Christ, that they demanded his death, that they appealed to ‘Law’ (as Shylock does) over Mercy, Pity, Peace.
And in the end, Shylock is forced to become a Christian.

Perhaps its my own status as an outsider in English/Western culture that makes me find all of this disturbing. If this isn’t ‘that anti-Semitic’……….it’s anti-Semitic enough for me.

And it's precisely because Shakespeare was talking to a prejudiced audience, and using the language of prejudice to utterly condemn a character that tells us that we cannot separate art from context. We universalise Shakespeare so much that we sometimes separate him from the audience he was writing for, his situation in a particular culture and context. Half the subtlety of his history plays vanish when you remove it from his time. Shakespeare shows us the best and worst of humanity. And shows that he too, partakes of both. This does not diminish him in my eyes.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Now that was the most brilliant essay I've seen on this Board or anywhere else in a long time. -- Sophist, in awe, 08:38:35 07/29/02 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> *blushing* - Sophist, you've made my day! -- Rahael, 09:49:15 07/29/02 Mon

You might even have made my week!!

I had a read through the play this lunchtime (I haven't read it for a very long time) and the ritualistic aspect of what Shylock demands is very striking indeed. He demands it in a court (which reminds us of the greatest court, the court of God on Judgement Day), and Portia tells Shylock, ominously, that if he can't give mercy, he will not find it himself.

Also the 3000 ducuts sound awfully reminiscent of the 30 pieces of silver that Judas betrays Christ for.

I also had a very quick look at Marlowe. I only managed to read the first couple of acts or so, before I had to abandon it, but it looks like Marlowe is a little more complex than Shakespeare here because he counterpoints the villainous Barabas (also seen counting his money in the first scene) with other Jews of a different temperament. Also his daugther Abigail seems a little more feisty than Jessica. But the devil is in the details. I'll have to look it up properly tomorrow.

Marlowe really is a very interesting playwright. In Edward II, he depicts a degenerate, foolish homosexual king. Yet he also writes a beautiful, erotic homosexual scenes in early modern English literature. Now, that's what I call subversive!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Let's take the play as a whole -- Miss Edith, 09:55:11 07/29/02 Mon

When studying The Merchent Of Venice at school most of us were sympathetic to Shylock. I remember it being used in the Buffy episode OFSOFM in which the teacher drew attention to Shylocks suffering and his famous speech which is of course used today to condemn discrimination. Marcy was a sympathetic villian in a way and based heavily on Shylock as her suffering had caused her to reject her own humanity but many members of the audience could see Marcy was striking out at society precicely because of the pain society had inflicted on to her. Therefore the play is interpreted as sympathetic to a modern audience the majority of the time.
But when reading the play I did not immediately make the connection of Shylock to the Jewish sterotype that the Elizabethan audience was aware of. Although the play is interpreted today as sympathetic to Shylock's cause he was not a good character with one fatal flaw as someone like Othello was. No one could ever describe Shylock as a noble hero in that way. Shakespeare was pandering to sterotypes which would have confirmed the Elizabthens ideas of Jews. Making a Jew be a regular person with no love of money would have challenged the sterotype successfully. Making Shylock the unpleasant other was just comfirming prexisting beliefs that the Elizabethan audience would have held.
The words in the play can be used to challenge discrimination and the meaning of the play is today widely interpreted as condemning the society which would treat others as outcasts. That is perhaps the greatest legacy of the play. I do agree though that it would not have done much for the Jews cause at the time the play was written. But the words Shakespeare wrote can be used today for good and frequently are. I had heard the famous "Hath not a Jew eyes" speech long before I had even read the play.
The play is used today to condemn society for creating such people as Shylock which in my eyes makes it a useful play to study. It's really all in the perspective and as the Elizabethans were so hostile to Shylock they interpreted the play as confirmation that Jews needed to be conveted etc. I do think the modern audience would put a very different interpretation on the play. Therefore in my eyes making it a worthwhile play to study. JMHO.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Ummmmm -- Rahael, 10:06:37 07/29/02 Mon

I obviously expressed myself badly.

I didn't say that he shouldn't be studied! All I was trying to decode was Shakespeare's intent. I precisely made the point that different audiences read it different ways, and that is Shakespeare's greatest strength, his awareness of the dialogue with the audience.

I cannot forget the Jewish stereotype when I see it, and I cannot forget how his audience would have. And at the back of my mind, I remember all the terrible things that have happened to the Jews way before the 20th Century. This is why I don't go see it on stage - but where on earth did I argue for censorship??

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Sorry -- Miss Edith, 11:07:13 07/29/02 Mon

I certainly was not trying to suggest that you were advocating censership so sorry if what I was trying to say came across badly. I was actually agreing with you (in my own ham-fisted way) that the play cannot be seen as Shakespeare challenging sterotypes as that isn't the way it would have come across to the Elizabethan audience. But I do think that good can come of the plays message and the way it is interpreted today as condemning prejudice thanks to Shylock's speeches. That is a fine legacy IMO and that is really what I was trying to say.
I just added at the end of my post that I do think The Merchent Of Veince is an important play to look at as the messages can be considered very differently from what Shakespeare may have originally intended. It was not an argument against your post, just one of my long-winded rambles that usually go off-track and in a very different place from the original intention. I agree that the play is not the condemnation of discrimination that people today like to believe Shakespeare had in mind. That is really what I was trying to get across and just added some of my own thoughts about how the play is generally used/studied today and the good that can come off it. That was not taken in any way from you saying the play should not be studied and I apologise if I gave that impression.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Sorry -- Rahael, 11:16:42 07/29/02 Mon

No, I'm sorry for misinterpreting you!

In my excuse, we are having our own little 'cockroach' party in our office. (ughhhhhhhh!)

One just happened to drop on my head. Let's just say I wasn't in the best mood ever.

Xander's right about the hardiest cockroaches surviving. In fact, I've seen more of them today than I did pre - Spraying.

Okay, this is just making me ill!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Shylock and sympathy (gets back on topic towards the end :-) -- KdS, 10:18:18 07/29/02 Mon

Apologies if this is quite long. I need to go home and have something to eat (it's half past five over here), so I'll try and give my opinions in as much detail mas possible in case this falls into the archive.

I'm sorry if you saw my phrase "not that antisemitic" as minimisation. I didn't intend it that way. Every thing you say is true, but it's only one side of the play, and it's the conflict within the play that I find so fascinating. After the villainous "I hate him for he is a Christian" speech in I,iii, there's the affecting description by Shylock of Antonio's brutality towards him in the "Signor Antonio, many a time and oft on the Rialto have you rated me" speech. Even after the denunciations of Jessica in III,i, there's the heart -breaking moment when Shylock finds that Jessica has sold his engagement ring. (While I agree with most of what you say, I don't see Shylock as cold- hearted. Repressed, yes, but who wouldn't be when if you show emotion most people will simply use it against you.)

I accept that you might find the idea disturbing, but I think you miss some of the argument by not seeing a present- day production of the play. Despite everything that you say, I've left every production I've seen feeling sympathetic to Shylock. Admittedly, most modern productions tend to cut or alter certain lines to make Shylock more sympathetic. Mostly the "I hate him for he is a Christian" speech is cut, but one production I've seen reversed the two halfs of III,i, so that Shylock's conversation with Tubal comes before his encounter with Salerio and Solanio, making his outbursts there more forgivable. Similarly, the explicitly anti-Semitic lines and behaviour of the Christian characters are pointed up. You may feel that such softening is dishonest, but it's not just a late 20th century post- Holocaust phenomenon. In the late 19th centruy, Henry Irving played Shylock in London in a manner which led one critic to call him "the only gentleman in the play"., suggesting that Shylock's legal attack on Antonio is the the lashing out of a man driven to desparation by persecution and humiliation, climaxing with the betrayal of his daughter.

My personal interpretation of the Merchant is that Shakespeare intended to create a stock anti-Semitic villain, but when it came to it was unable to prevent himself from injecting moral ambiguity and even sympathy into Shylock's personality. It's the struggle between the anti-Semitic climate, which you rightly point out, and the author's better instincts that fascinate me.

It's ironic that this discussion came out of a "dead/evil lesbian" thread, as it seems to me that ME have gone in exactly the opposite direction to Shakespeare. Shakespeare tried to write a bigoted piece, but was unable to prevent himself from arousing sympathy for his character. ME, on the other hand, as I interpret it, thought it would be cool to make Willow a Big Bad, but didn't have sufficient courage to risk her losing the audience's sympathy. However, they failed to notice that the strategies they used to achieve this, first the pathologisation of magic in the addiction storyline and then Tara's death, echoed an established pattern of prejudice and stereotype. Who's more morally culpable, someone who intends to produce hate propaganda and fails to control their better nature, or someone who tries to be tolerant and fails in the opposite direction?

PS: I've only seen "The Jew of Malta" once, in a semi-staged production, and it makes an ambiguous comparison to "Merchant". Barabbas is far more of an over-the-top, "Big Bad" style villain than Shylock, but there's not a great deal specifically or stereotypically Jewish about it (apart from the posoning, of course), and many of his Christian antagonists are just as overtly vicious as he is and far more hypocritical. (Intriguingly, it's the Islamic characters who come off as the most moral). Then again, Marlowe was supposedly an atheist.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> The Protestant mindset -- Rahael, 11:47:02 07/29/02 Mon

Actually, I agree with you - I don't think it's dishonest to change the play, to find new forms of dramatisation, to add our own interpretations.

That's actually a key part of Renaissance literature - translation becomes a creative, original exercise. When Sir Thomas Wyatt translated Petrarch's sonnets, the way he translated them made crucial, subtle political points. Subtle, because they criticised Henry VIII. The retranslation of Shakespeare to this day is not only perfectly valid but a worthwhile creative enterprise which makes subtle political points of its own. To take a play filled with anti-semitisim, to own it, to change it - that's a victory.

It's an interesting point about Marlowe's atheism, because I'm not all that sure that Shakespeare entirely bought into the Protestant mindset. If you look at his history plays, I find that Tillyard's finding of a providential mindset, pretty dated. In fact, everything Shakespeare depicts shows a remarkably modern (or is it Ancient, lol) mindset. When it comes to politics, he seems to turn to Plutarch's idea of fortune, rather than the Elizabethan hand of God guiding history argument.

I used to have arguments with my tutor who was convinced that Shakespeare was this deeply religious man who saw Richard II as some kind of Christ like figure - yes, he does take on Christ like overtones as he starts to lose his crown, but I think that that's Shakespeare playing around with powerful, resonant narratives. Richard, in my opinion comes across like a silly twit everywhere else.

I am now starting to wonder exactly what date we might have for Shylock being written - at what point in his thinking. I don't think Shakespeare buys into the idea of apocalyptic thought, because he does not seem to display it in his history plays, which is the crucial arena really. (There's also the figure of Malvolio!)

Marlowe is, you're right is also someone else who stands out of the religious mindset of the time (just as Jonson, does actually). That's what's so fascinating about a lot of late Elizabethan theatre - it's slightly out of all that radical Protestant ideology.

It also seems pertinent to point out that actors stood slightly out of the fringes of society - they were often referred to as vagabonds and thieves, and led a precarious existence. (Marlowe and Shakespeare both had good reason to fear the Monarchy) But their plays were hugely popular.

I agree with your interpretation of Shakespeare's approach toward Shylock. But my original point in all this is that

a) Shakespeare does not make Shylock confront contemporary society's prejudice

b) the characterisation is not really given a 'fresh twist'

though you are right, Shakespeare does struggle. After all, the characters who surround him are not at all likeable.

At the end of the day, I regard Merchant as an uneven play, perhaps precisely because of that inner conflict. Disappointingly, he doesn't make Shylock half as charismatic and attractive as Richard III ( a much more subtle and ambiguous play, imo)

And as you may have seen in the Film thread,, I avoid a lot of things which might disturb me, not just Merchant!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> What Jews? -- auroramama, 18:34:09 07/29/02 Mon

As long as people are speaking knowledgeably about the play, I want to ask: to what extent does the play reflect the extreme shortage of actual Jews in Britain at the time?

As far as I know, there were no avowed Jews in the realm from roughly the time of the massacre at the tower in York until Cromwell. Shakespeare and Marlowe were writing about a being somewhere between a Moor and a fairy in terms of familiarity to the viewer; a being they'd read or heard about, but never met. Dare I say -- a metaphor?

On the Continent, of course, there were actual Jews to treat in the ways suggested by these myths. But there has to be some difference between maligning mythical or faraway people, and maligning the folk a couple miles down the road. Or were people accused of Judaism and killed for it, as people were killed for being "witches"?


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> The Jews were there -- Rahael, 04:40:24 07/30/02 Tue

The idea that there were no Jews in England, especially in Elizabethan England is a myth. There weren't many of them, it is true, but there were small communities in England, and in London.

The early modern 'state' if it can be called that, is in no way efficient enough to enforce this - that's what underlays my scepticism. It can't even make people pay tax ( Elizabeth's inability to collect correct tax dues could arguably be one of the long term causes of the civil war in Charles' reign). Anyway, Cromwell's welcome is a de facto ones - Jews are already present in England, as far as I recall.

I would need to read more deeply to answer your question. A good book would be "Shakespeare and the Jews" by Shapiro.

I don't think the Jews ever really become some far away myth. As I've said before, the depth of apocalyptic thought in England, the degree to which people became obsessed by the second coming (this keeps increasing up to Cromwell's time) means that Jews were a real consideration. Which is why the idea of Jessica and Shylock converting seems to be so predominant. So yes, it is kind of mythic, and metaphoric, but in a destructive way. We talk of myth making on the board as a wonderful thing, but forget that some of the most disturbing, poisonous stories are themselves 'myths'.

And I, who was formerly an asylum seeker in Britain, now a citizen (a little 'conversion' of my own) know all too well that people don't need to meet an asylum seeker to believe that they are scroungers, illegal, dirty, threatening, part of that eternal fifth column that society keeps mythmaking about and defining itself against.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> More thoughts -- Rahael, 09:11:00 07/30/02 Tue

I think your point about 'avowed' Jews is also important, given the fact that Shylock is forced to renounce his Jewishness.

There is also a parallel with Catholics, whose avowed numbers are very few in Britain. Yet anti-catholic prejudice ran virulent and strong. The building up of the structures of hatred and prejudice, the legitimising of the demonisation of other human beings - those are ever present, and always relevant. Doesn't the very expulsion of the Jews say something? or does their absence legitimise what Shakespeare did?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Demonizing the unknown -- Sophist, 09:43:06 07/30/02 Tue

Some sociologists argue that prejudice arises more easily and persists longer when only small numbers of "others" are present. The thinking is that it's easy to demonize and caricature a group if you have never had day-to-day dealings with members of that group (which might temper or even erase the stereotype).

One could certainly argue that anti-Catholic hatred increased in England over a time period in which there were fewer and fewer overt Catholics. The same argument might be made regarding the Jews -- prejudice was strong when there were small numbers, but lessened after Cromwell formally allowed them back in.

OTOH, this theory hardly fits very well with, say, slavery in the US or pogroms in Russia. Anti-semitism, in particular, has a very convoluted history which makes such explanations problematic.

Oh yeah -- there were a few Jews in England in the 16th Century, but not many. Most viewers of The Merchant of Venice probably never met one, and would have known only the stock characters in other plays or the popular stereotypes.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yes -- Rahael, 10:51:15 07/30/02 Tue

I had exactly the same thought process re demonising the known and the unknown!

Human societies do seem very good at demonising whole groups - as long as they had certain threatening characteristics:

a noticeable marker of 'otherness'
an attribution of 'treachery'

and of course, prejudice can simmer away, claws sheathed, until certain stress factors are triggered - social and economic insecurities, dislocations etc - and then, beware!

A book published last year contained the intriguing premise that Shakespeare's family may have been former Catholics. This would certainly explain how he doesn't seem to enter into a certain Protestant mindset, and also the complexity with which he presents 'the other' in his plays. Of course, John Donne, who started life as a Catholic ended up making spittle flecked, hate filled anti Catholic sermons in Church.

Prejudice is a funny thing.

[> [> [> [> [> [> what phallic wig lady? -- skeeve, 09:36:11 07/29/02 Mon

Ok, I do know the reference. The only reason I even suspected the phallicness of the wig lady, was because Willow hinted at it. Just to be sure, I asked my girlfriend. She informed me that the wig lady's attachment did look like a penis, but she didn't say "duh". It's still possible that Willow and my girlfriend are a little over- sensitive.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: what phallic wig lady? -- Darby, 12:15:58 07/29/02 Mon

Y'know, I didn't see it originally, either, but whoever wrote that episode talked somewhere about seeing the demon during editing and doing an, "Uh-oh!" over its appearance. At that point, I did have a "Duh!" moment, and watching it in reruns recently I don't see how I could have missed it that first time.

[> [> [> [> [> I think Steve DeKnight substantially impeached your argument -- Sophist, 12:37:50 07/27/02 Sat

in his interview after SR aired. He then acknowledged both the existence of the "cliche" and ME's awareness of its existence.

I suspect that part of the failure in communication here has to do with the use of the term "cliche". Personally, I think "stereotype" is more accurate. Just to be unduly syllogistic in the hope of clarity, here's the way I see the issue:

1. Gays and lesbians have been stereotyped in movies and on TV.

I take it this is a fairly uncontroversial judgment.

2. One method of stereotyping involves making the relationship end badly and/or the characters be unsympathetic.

This is perhaps a little more a matter of judgment, but I think most of us here would acknowledge this point.

3. The stereotyping has occurred often enough in a particular plot framework of sex/death/evil to call that particular plot a cliche.

This, I suspect, is controversial. However, I would argue that agreement to point no. 3 is irrelevant to the W/T discussion. If you agree with points 1 and 2, it remains possible to discuss whether ME handled the potential of stereotyping in a way that was artistically sound and emotionally sensitive.

That issue needs to be addressed on the merits.

[> [> [> [> [> Justification after the facts -- d'Herblay, 17:28:00 07/28/02 Sun

You have to excuse me, I've never ridden this dead horse before. The threads were way too heated when "Seeing Red" first came out, and I was in the throes of preparation for an anticipated visitor at the time. So please forgive my reluctance to return to the sub-thread of my own creation, and my inability to decide where to post my reply. (I also may conflate certain points of Darby's and Sophist's in here, and may very well misrepresent them both.)

I took another look at the Kitten Manifesto, and I really think that they are conflating two entirely separate clichés. That having someone die a horrible death is very much not the same as having someone turn evil. That Sal Mineo's death in Rebel Without a Cause is very different from Sharon Stone's predatory behavior in Basic Instinct. Now, I am not that steeped in examples of the first clichés, but perhaps due to failings in my character I have seen many examples of the second, and I have a very tough time seeing Evil Willow as an example of this. The clichéd Evil Lesbian is typically a woman (a beautiful one, always, but then that's Hollywood) who is voracious in her sexuality, devouring men and women both, and spitting them out once she's had her fill. I can't really see Willow as such a maneater (though were she, she'd be eating healthy -- cutting the skin always cuts the fat). I don't agree with Sophist's willful confusion of cliché and stereotype, nor the concept that a cliché can exist even though it is unrecognized (perhaps Platonically?); for the definitive aspect of a cliché is not its pervasiveness but its triteness.

However, whether or not such an "Evil/Dead Lesbian" cliché exists, what bothers me most is that it is a justification for condemnation after the fact of the episode. The Kitten Board was aghast at the inevitability of Tara's death long before they came up with a political rationale for such recoil. I suspect that where one stands on the validity of the cliché argument has more to do with one's original response to "Seeing Red" than with one's sense of the injustices Hollywood has done to homosexuals. To then, in an attempt to persuade, switch from an aesthetic argument to a political one seems a little like bringing a gun to a knife fight. It's just not cricket.

I suspect that trying to persuade people to change their aesthetic reactions is a fool's game, because the essential subjectivity of the response does not lend itself to objective argumentation. This is not to say that we cannot discuss our aesthetic reaction to the show, but the function of criticism discussed above entails much more than what is at heart a thumbs up/thumbs down reaction. There is such a thing as criticism without value judgements -- I found Age's commentary on "Gone" as valuable as his commentary on "Birthday" despite finding the latter episode sublime and the former subpar. Part of the fun of this board is finding gold in episodes you thought were leaden. I suppose I just don't like being told that the episode I thought was golden was nothing but pyrite.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Justification after the facts -- Sophist, 18:22:04 07/28/02 Sun

I took another look at the Kitten Manifesto, and I really think that they are conflating two entirely separate clichés.

Personally, I'm not much impressed by some of their arguments. I don't think I was making theirs, and I don't think Darby was either.

Speaking for just myself here, the only argument I've ever made (well, in my own brain; never sure how it came out here) was that there was evidence to support a cliched or stereotypical handling of W/T. What I've objected to is that some posters (not you) have denied any validity at all to that position. There are lots of ad hominem assertions being made on both sides of this issue (not by you; can I have a continuing understanding of this for this post at least?), and I was trying to suggest that that wasn't helpful.

What would be helpful is: (1) admit that the facts are there, but argue that they don't add up to stereotype here because of X; (2) point out which aspects, asserted to exist, do not in fact exist.

I don't agree with Sophist's willful confusion of cliché and stereotype

I'm stickin' to this one. I'm right on this. Subjectively, of course.

To then, in an attempt to persuade, switch from an aesthetic argument to a political one seems a little like bringing a gun to a knife fight. It's just not cricket.

To some degree, I accept this. OTOH, there do seem to me issues with, say, The Merchant of Venice that make it uncomfortable to watch. And I do wince whenever Ilsa refers to Sam as "boy". It's kind of like a pimple on the Mona Lisa.

I suppose I just don't like being told that the episode I thought was golden was nothing but pyrite.

That's ok. I'm sure you can also see this difficulty from the vice versa side as well.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Well said! (now THAT's a cliche) -- mundusmundi, 19:15:27 07/28/02 Sun

But it warrants saying anyway. I am encouraged by most of the replies in this thread, which are a refreshing break from the Mutant Enemy on Trial! stuff we'd been seeing since November or so. (And not just on this board, which as we all know is a comparatively civil court to some of the other Inquisitions in Buffyland.) I do hope next season marks a return to more metaphors and less denotative writing. A suggested rule of thumb for Joss's writing team: Never explain more in your interviews than the amount of words it takes to put on the page.

On the subject of visitors, be them anticipated or dreaded, I'd like to thank you, d'Herb, since I've rudely forgotten to do so, for your hospitality recently. Despite my notorious sense of direction (as in I have none), it only took me two circumnambulations of The Circle to find my way out of Cleveland in one piece. Thanks for a much needed rest stop.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Any time! -- d'Herblay, 19:36:45 07/28/02 Sun

Circumambulations . . . I like that. Fairmount Circle is just a circle, though. University Circle is the circle, despite not being circular. Something for next time!

[> [> [> [> [> [> Footnote on the pleasures of etymology -- Sophist, 08:45:23 07/29/02 Mon

From Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary:

cliche: n [F. lit., stereotype fr. pp. of clicher to stereotype, of imit. origin]

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> "It was a dark and stormy night" and other racist stereotypes -- d'Herblay, 15:27:02 07/29/02 Mon

The stereotype referred to in your etymology is a printer's plate. Such an origin is what etymologists would call a "dead metaphor." I do not see two things which happen to be expressed through the same metaphor as necessarily equivalent; I have never confused drug addiction with lesbian sex, before or after "Wrecked." In any case, according to the Shorter Oxford, the two words have similar histories, stereotype having the meaning ascribed to cliché half a century before cliché did and about a century before stereotype branched off to assume its own meaning. The current meaning of stereotype is:
A preconceived, standardized, and oversimplified impression of the characteristics which typify a person, situation, etc., often shared by all members of a society or certain social groups; an attitude based on such a preconception. Also, a person or thing appearing to conform closely to such a standardized impression.
Cliché is defined as "a hackneyed phrase or expression." (Italics added.) A cliché is defined by its form; a stereotype by its content. Now, Rah or some other postmodernist will tell you that form can never be completely divorced from content, and I admit that the sets described by each word overlap, but they do not completely correspond. "It was a dark and stormy night" is a cliché, but a stereotype only in the Pacific Northwest. "All lawyers must have the last word" is a stereotype, but not yet a cliché, as far as I know. But I'm sure I can be proven wrong, at least on this final point.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> To St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, -- Sophist, 17:34:14 07/29/02 Mon

I commend the defense of the legal profession. Even my quixotic nature has limits.

The terminology question has, to me, 2 parts:

1. Am I bound to use the word cliche just because others do? Clearly not. I think it fits the situation better. Of course, I always did subscribe to the Humpty Dumpty theory of words......

2. To what extent do the words "cliche" and "stereotype" have overlapping meaning? They share an origin in the printing industry. Probably because of that common origin, they share overlapping meaning; the thesauruses (thesaurusis? thesaurususes?) I consulted both show "cliche" and "stereotype" as synonyms. Notwithstanding your examples of different meanings in other contexts, I believe they have a shared meaning in the particular context under discussion.

Any good lawyer will tell you that the first word is much more valuable than the last. I freely concede to you the final post on this topic.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Justification after the facts -- Miss Edith, 11:34:31 07/29/02 Mon

I would agree that Dark Willow was pretty sexless on the whole. But at the end of Villians there was a clear link to the vampire Willow with the words "Bored now". The vampire Willow was portrayed as evil, and having a sexual appetite. She came on to many women in the Bronze for instance. She even came on to the "good Willow" who was dating Oz and was very innocent and frightened.
Our evil Willow was linked to the Willow from the alternative dimention when she showed evidence of getting sexual gratification from playing with the puppy. Remember her slowly inserting the bullet into Warren? What did it draw parellels to? To me it suggested a rape or sexual violation. She makes reference to Warren getting off on killing and Buffy being the "big o" which encourages the audience to examine Willow's own pleasure from torturing and killing and compare it to Warren.
Even with Rack Marti has said in interviews when he had a "taste" of Willow it was meant to be a metaphorical rape. One which Willow returned when she later drained his power in an eerily similiar way. I do think a cliche can be found in Willow becoming an evil, sexual lesbian and I fully believe it was not intended by the writers do present such a harmful message. Nevertheless the writers do need to acknowledge the harmful effects their product may have on certain viewers.

[> [> Following up on the sound thrashing I've given this same dead horse on other occasions... -- Sophist, 08:37:46 07/26/02 Fri

And Willow's transformation was a result of her hurt and pain over Tara's death, especially so soon after finally reuniting with her, not as a declaration that lesbian sex leads to death and evilness. Why didn't this happen the other bajillion times they had sex?

This argument doesn't work Rob. There was no "other bajillion times they had sex". We were shown 2 -- and only 2 -- times when W/T had sex: in OMWF and in SR. In OMWF, as you recall, the sex came after Willow's first "forget" spell. I'm sure you remember many people accusing Willow of "raping" Tara by having sex with her after that spell. In any case, the sex was followed immediately by the breakup of the relationship. In SR, of course, Tara's death came right after the extended bout of sex. Both cases therefore support the cliche rather than work against it.

Darby's right.

[> [> [> Re: Following up on the sound thrashing I've given this same dead horse on other occasions... -- Rob, 09:19:41 07/26/02 Fri

We were shown only 2 times. That doesn't mean there only were 2 times. They've shared a bed since the middle of the fourth season.

And while the lesbian sex in OMWF was juxtaposed with their breakup, it was not the cause. If they were going to have broken up because of sex, then they would have broken up a long time ago.

I think it was all just bad timing. UPN obviously allowed a great deal more to be shown sexually than WB ever would. So it happens that ME was allowed to show Willow and Tara doing more things of that sort the same year that their storyline had been to kill Tara. It's unfortunate, but that is all, IMO.

I'm coming from this standpoint...My two favorite characters in the show's history are Tara and Anya. One of my very favorite characters was killed, but I'm not mad. When it happened, yes, I was sad. But I am not mad at the writers-- as usual, they have turned painful situations into what I believe was some brilliant storytelling.

And I think the most important thing to remember is that Tara was killed by the villain of the story, someone who we had already seen kill his girlfriend. She was not killed by the hero of the story, arriving in the nick of time to shun and destroy alternative lifestyles and uphold bigotry and homophobia. She was killed by a bad guy, and not just a bad guy, but perhaps the most hated in the show's history--a bad guy who we have seen in the past treat women as objects, and worse, as sex toys.

No matter how many arguments I read supporting the fact that Tara's death/Willow's evil was the "Lesbian Cliche," I can't get over that obstacle in the argument.


[> [> [> [> Re: Following up on the sound thrashing I've given this same dead horse on other occasions... -- Sophist, 10:49:46 07/26/02 Fri

I think it was all just bad timing. UPN obviously allowed a great deal more to be shown sexually than WB ever would. So it happens that ME was allowed to show Willow and Tara doing more things of that sort the same year that their storyline had been to kill Tara. It's unfortunate, but that is all, IMO.

Yes and no. I want to be clear here: I am not accusing ME of deliberately catering to the cliche. I am saying they could have handled the relationship in S6 so as to avoid it.

In that sense, the fact that we were never shown them having sex in S4-5 (or even kissing in a romantic context) is one of the constraints ME had to deal with. It was not ME's fault (ME made it clear that Standards & Practices imposed the restrictions), but ME had to account for it. By not doing so, they gave us episodes in which lesbian sex led to disaster. That's cliche. They could have avoided cliche by better writing or longer plot development. They didn't.

We were shown only 2 times. That doesn't mean there only were 2 times. They've shared a bed since the middle of the fourth season.

Not to quibble, but how do you know this? I don't recall seeing them sharing a bed together at all in S4, and not in S5 until after The Body (Willow was still rooming with Buffy); I could be wrong. In any case, as others have pointed out many times, we really only "know" what we see on the screen. If they don't show it, we don't know it.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Following up on the sound thrashing I've given this same dead horse on other occasions... -- Rob, 11:31:42 07/26/02 Fri

About the sharing a bed for three years thing...

I basically got that from the fact that, through most of the second half of the fourth season, Willow was usually sleeping at Tara's place. I think she spent more time in the room w/ Buffy at the start of the fifth season, but when Buffy left school, moved in with Tara. And then lived with her until their breakup in the sixth season. So, you're right, it wasn't a straight-through three years, but it was a significant amount of time.


[> [> [> Re: Following up on the sound thrashing I've given this same dead horse on other occasions... -- Malandanza, 09:51:18 07/26/02 Fri

"This argument doesn't work Rob. There was no "other bajillion times they had sex". We were shown 2 -- and only 2 -- times when W/T had sex: in OMWF and in SR. In OMWF, as you recall, the sex came after Willow's first "forget" spell. I'm sure you remember many people accusing Willow of "raping" Tara by having sex with her after that spell. In any case, the sex was followed immediately by the breakup of the relationship. In SR, of course, Tara's death came right after the extended bout of sex. Both cases therefore support the cliche rather than work against it."

We've never seen a X/A sex scene -- we've things leading up to a scene and implying that they'd just had sex, but never an actual sex scene. However, I'm willing to believe that they had frequent sex, that Anya's first experience as a human wasn't with Spike.

Similarly for Olivia and Giles -- no sex scenes, but do any of us doubt that she's his "orgasm" friend?

No Willow/Oz scenes (or Oz/Veruca scenes for that matter).

Dru and Spike? Platonic friends, I'm sure.

Anyway, you get the point -- we don't need to see the sex to know it's happening (in fact I agree with Riley about having seen too much of Spike's dead body this season).

If you look back at the ATPoBtVS main site at the "What Does Joss Have Against Sex" section, you'll see that Joss isn't singling out Willow and Tara to show that lesbian sex is bad. I can't see their situation is that different from Buffy/Angel, Cordelia in Expecting or Buffy, Anya and Harmony in HLoD. Joss is treating lesbian couples more harshly than straight couples, he's treating them exactly the same.

Which is the goal of tolerance, right?

[> [> [> [> Re: Following up on the sound thrashing I've given this same dead horse on other occasions... -- Sophist, 11:06:30 07/26/02 Fri

We've never seen a X/A sex scene -- we've things leading up to a scene and implying that they'd just had sex, but never an actual sex scene.

I believe we did in Forever.

Similarly for Olivia and Giles

Hardly a fair comparison. We've only seen Olivia twice. Tara and Willow were together for 3 years. In any case, we did see G/O kissing and in bed together in Hush. More than we saw for W/T.

No Willow/Oz scenes

Again, not a very fair comparison. W/O were together sexually for only 6 episodes (from GD to WaH). We saw lots of smoochies and they were in bed together with clear sexual implications on several occasions (not least GD and WaH).

In the case of W/T, we never saw even a hint of actual sex in S4-5 except in NMR (there was metaphor).

I am not blaming ME for the double standard that prevailed in S4-5. ME acknowledged the double standard at the time and blamed it on Standards & Practices (and I believe ME). My point is, as I said to Rob above, that ME failed to take that into account in writing the events of S6.

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Following up on the sound thrashing I've given this same dead horse on other occasions... -- Malandanza, 23:17:26 07/27/02 Sat

"In the case of W/T, we never saw even a hint of actual sex in S4-5 except in NMR (there was metaphor)."

You mention one scene that showed X/A right after they'd had sex -- I would add the scene from HLoD and The Gift where the sex scenes are omitted but we have before or after shots clearly indicating that sexual activity took place. So three instances for the longest lasting, unbroken, highly sexual relationship out of all the Scoobies. Yet we have ample evidence from the sexual banter between Anya and Xander that they enjoyed a rich and varied sex life. Willow and Tara were together for a much shorter period of time, if you exclude the Season Six separation and the episodes from Season Five where Tara was a zombie, yet we had two sex scenes. I also don't think there was anything metaphorical in the presex scene at the end of NMR -- just look at the writer's asides (dialogue deleted, but available at psyche's):

Tara, alone, has been crying in the dark. A knock takes her to the door. Willow stands in her threshold, holding a lit candle.
She hands it to Tara, who steps quietly aside for Willow to enter. Tara's silent, her whole body tensed, waiting for the brushoff.
Tara looks up at her, too hopeful to be sure of her meaning. Willow looks a bit tentative as well.
Tara smiles -- Willow returns it.
They both look like their hearts might explode out of their chests...
Willow just smiles a little. Tara returns it, her eyes never leaving Willow's as she blows the candle out...

I don't need to see a sex scene to understand what took place in the dark after Willow blew out the candle and I think it's disingenuous of you to suggest that we have no idea what happened -- as if it is just as plausible that W/T decided to turn the lights back on and play Monopoly for the remainder of the evening. The next episode is The Yoko Factor, where Willow broaches the subject of moving in with Tara instead of "dorming it up with Buffy again". She also announces to everyone that Tara is her girlfriend and takes Spike's hints and innuendoes very seriously. Then, of course, Restless has a sensuous scene where Willow paints a Sappho love poem on Tara's body. It is clear that W/T sex began in Season Four -- and ME didn't have to include an explicit sex scene to get the point across any more than we needed sex scenes of Xander and Anya playing "Shiver Me Timbers" or engaging in a little erotic spanking.

"I am not blaming ME for the double standard that prevailed in S4-5. ME acknowledged the double standard at the time and blamed it on Standards & Practices (and I believe ME). My point is, as I said to Rob above, that ME failed to take that into account in writing the events of S6."

I don't see a double standard. W/T have had as many suggestive scenes as have X/A with less time. Of course we saw more of the Buffy & Riley show than either Willow or Xander -- it's Buffy's show, after all, and ME was trying to make the transition to a post-Angel Buffy while pushing their overinvolvement is bad story line -- so there were reasons to show B/R together that had to do with the story. Furthermore, if ME took five minutes out of every episode to show Tara and Willow having mutually satisfying, guilt-free, no consequences sex to satisfy the Doubting Tomases of the world, it would detract from the story (much as the gratuitous sex scenes in Season Six detracted from the story) and open ME up to additional criticism for indulging in Lesbian Chic or perpetuating the oversexed lesbian cliche (and Sharon Stone would probably be quoted just as often to support the theory). The safest thing for ME to do would be to make sure that they never have another lesbian romance on the show -- it's a lose-lose situation for them.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Following up on the sound thrashing I've given this same dead horse on other occasions... -- Sophist, 08:26:16 07/28/02 Sun

Since ME admitted that they had to follow a double standard, indeed were forced to do so by corporate authority over their own complaints, I don't find it very persuasive to argue that there actually was no double standard.

I don't need to see a sex scene to understand what took place in the dark after Willow blew out the candle and I think it's disingenuous of you to suggest that we have no idea what happened

I'm not ingenious to be disingenuous. I just write poorly sometimes. My sentence read as follows:

In the case of W/T, we never saw even a hint of actual sex in S4-5 except in NMR (there was metaphor).

What I meant by this was that NMR was a pretty clear indication that sex would follow, and that there were other occasions of metaphorical sex (WAY being the most conspicuous). I see now that it reads as if I was saying the sex in NMR was metaphorical; didn't mean that.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Following up on the sound thrashing I've given this same dead horse on other occasions... -- Miss Edith, 09:31:25 07/28/02 Sun

It wasn't just the lack of sex scenes. It would have been nice to see W/T kiss a few times as well since all the otehr characters could kiss their partners. W/T didn't kiss in season 4 on-screen. They kissed once in the whole of season 5 (The Body) and had a couple of kisses in season 6 in Barganning and ATW but only kissed passionately in Entropy and Seeing Red. So I would agree there was most cetainly a double standard which ME didn't do enough to address before killing off Tara.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> The Double Standard -- Malandanza, 10:02:20 07/28/02 Sun

"Since ME admitted that they had to follow a double standard, indeed were forced to do so by corporate authority over their own complaints, I don't find it very persuasive to argue that there actually was no double standard."

Perhaps that's because we are speaking of different things - - ME recognized that WB had a double standard. That, had they wanted to show W/T in the same graphic detail that they showed B/R, they would not have been able to.

What I'm talking about is whether or not ME had a double standard. I see very little difference between how X/A was shown and how W/T was shown. Both relationships began under dubious circumstances (Anya having sex with Xander to get him out of her system and Xander agreeing because he isn't Oz, while Willow ran to Tara immediately after the guilt- filled ending of her relationship with Oz). In both relationships, one party was weaker than the other and subjected to verbal abuse from the stronger partner. Both relationships ended in pain (with Xander on a rampage trying to kill Spike and Willow on a rampage succeeding in killing Warren). We haven't seen many public displays of affection from either couple, nor private displays. But the series is about Buffy, not whether X/A or W/T have lots of on screen orgasms.

So I stand by my statement -- there has been no double standard in the way the W/T relationship has been portrayed (perhaps, in part, due to the WB censers -- W/T frequently in bed together would have been a good ratings gimmick). Willow's rampage is not part of the Evil/Dead Lesbian cliche any more than Xander's rampage, or Buffy's (after Faith had sex with Riley) or Giles' (after Jenny was killed by Angelus) are part of the Evil/Dead Lesbian cliche. It is ME being consistent.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The Double Standard -- Sophist, 15:14:54 07/28/02 Sun

I don't think that's what ME meant to make the distinction you are now suggesting.

However, since I'm evidence guy in this thread, I went back through the S5 scripts to see what was shown. Here's what I found:

Sex scenes: X/A 1 (Forever); W/T 0

Scenes with sex implied visually or verbally: X/A 7 (ItW [3], The Replacement [2], Blood Ties, TG); W/T 0*

Romantic kissing scenes: X/A 5 (The Replacement, Family, ItW, Blood Ties, TG); W/T 0

In bed together scenes: X/A 1 (Triangle); W/T 2 (Family, LtF)

Other: X/A 1 (IWMTLY); W/T 1 (Checkpoint)

This, of course, left out some small stuff, but it looks like a double standard to me. OTOH, I guess reasonable people could differ.

*The scene from Tough Love is very subtle. It could imply W/T just had sex, but it might not. I did not count it because doing so would support the EDL argument -- it was followed immediately by their argument and Tara's brainsuck.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: The Double Standard -- Finn Mac Cool, 16:04:02 07/28/02 Sun

Well, Anya was something of a sex maniac. It seems likely there would be more sexual stuff between them because both Xander and Anya had very intense hormones.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Padding the Resume -- Malandanza, 06:06:05 07/29/02 Mon

I understand why you compared Season 5 X/A and W/T -- it was the season both couple were together -- however, bear in mind that Tara was insane for the final episodes, so including X/A from those episodes is inappropriate -- especially from the standpoint of what I like to call the Cuban Missile Crisis cliche (afterwards referred to as the CMC cliche). "Documentaries" professing to show America during the Kennedy Administration typically come to a point where young Americans are interviewed about their activities during the Cuban Missile Crisis -- and invariably talk of how they decided to go wild in the face of the impending apocalypse. The impression suggests that America was one vast Bacchanal during those days, but that's because the documentary makers are including only the risque remarks, not the remarks by people who carried on as if nothing were happening or used the time to mend their ways with sober reflection and plenty of churchgoing. The CMC cliche is perpetuated in movies when, in the face of certain death, the young pagans decide to eat, drink and be merry -- BtVS has followed this cliche in Innocence (B/A), .GD2(W/Oz) and The Gift (X/A), so this is yet another reason to discount evidence from the final episodes of Season Five.

As for your "Scenes with sex implied visually or verbally" category, this seems to be mostly Anya's disturbing sex talk -- remarks which embarrass Xander and all his friends (much as Faith's casual sex remarks would bring conversations to screeching halts). I have to agree with Finn on this one, at least in spirit. I wonder why you view it as a double standard that Anya talks about giving Xander erotic sponge baths but Willow does not. Do you think it would be at all in character for Willow to brag of her sexual exploits with Tara? Or that Tara would be less than mortified to have private life turned into a subject of universal conversation? How are these instances an indication that ME favors heterosexual relationships? -- I would have thought the opposite was true. That W/T is favored by the lack of these remarks.

Romantic kissing scenes. Presumably you used the word "romantic" to exclude this scene from The Body:

[Willow]'s crying now, shaking, and there is a manic pitch and rhythm to her speech that indicates she's going to go off again...

Tara comes at her and holds her, takes her head in her hands...

TARA: Shhh...

WILLOW: Tara...

TARA: Shhhhhh, darling...

WILLOW: I can't do this...

Tara pulls her close, to stop the shaking. She kisses her, on the mouth and again on the cheek, looks close into her eyes. She speaks softly, Willow answering her with almost a little girl's quaver...

Personally, I found that scene to be closer to "romantic kissing" than the ones you cited for X/A -- like this one:

XANDER: Gimme sugar. I've come to buy sugar.
-- and kisses Anya fairly deeply.

Sexual, yes, but romantic? hardly. I couldn't find the romantic kissing scene you mentioned from Blood Ties and the one from The Replacement was with Anya and Xander Suave, not the whole Xander.

I also wonder why you didn't take a look at pure romance scenes like this one from OoMM:

ANGLE ON WILLOW AND TARA as Willow takes a seat among the silken pillows.

TARA: I just keep thinking how cool it would be if we could get a real psychic to set up here and read fortunes and stuff.

WILLOW: You should do it.

TARA: Not me. But I'd love to just watch and learn from someone who's really good, y'know.

WILLOW: You're good, I'll prove it! Here...

Willow puts out her hand.

WILLOW: Do me.

Tara takes Willow's hand, holds it gently, traces a line on her palm.

TARA: Hmmm.

WILLOW: What do you see?

TARA: Willow-hand...

Tara smiles at it lovingly and they stay like that... just holding hands.

Which is worth a dozen "gimme sugar" scenes. X/A had only one such scene in Season Five as I recall -- in ItW, where Xander confesses his love for her -- and it doesn't really compare.

Also bear in mind that much of the Soap Opera relationship development occurs over the summer. At the start of Season Two, we see a pronounced change in W/X, in Season Three, X/C and W/Oz have both advanced substantially, in Season Four, W/Oz went from CMC cliche panicking to being in a comfortable, very sexual relationship without us needing to see the details, in Season Five, the "perfect" B/R relationship has collapsed and Riley is a nervous, jealous basket case. The same holds for W/T -- we didn't need to see the details of the relationship worked out for us -- it happened over the summer the same as the heterosexual relationships. And it was apparently obvious enough that even Joyce figured out that they were a couple:

DAWN (V.O.):
She and Willow are both witches. They do spells and stuff which is so much cooler than slaying. I told mom one time I wish they'd teach me some of the things they do together, and she got really quiet and made me go upstairs.
(Real Me)

So strip away the extraneous padding, and I think that W/T hold their own. Better than that, in fact -- their relationship proved stronger than either the B/R or X/A relationships -- only death could permanently separate them.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Padding the Resume -- Miss Edith, 10:46:06 07/29/02 Mon

Well Marti Noxen has said in interviews that she is interested in seeing how far they can push the network and if W/T will be allowed sex on-screen. She specifically said it was their "next big hurdle". Therefore W/T were unequal to the other couples based on MEs own words. It was the fault of the network rather than the writers but there is still a case to be made that W/T weren't treated as equally as any straight couple would be on the same show.
And you make the point that Tara was insane at the end of season 5. A sexless lesbain relationship is certainly not equal. Many hopeful fans are discussing ways Tara could be brought back and some have suggested she could return in Ghost form. (Not a spoiler BTW, just hopeful fan speculation). That would be encouraging the cliche of a sexless lesbain couple. That is not what the fans want.
W/T had plenty of obstacles when they were alive which meant no physical intimacy. But they also had plenty of moments in which the natural thing would have been to kiss and this was avoided. I do blame the conservative networks, rather than ME, but I would still say this is an example of W/T not reveiving equal treatment before the cliche was finally used in SR and the chance of social progression resulting from Buffy ended.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I've thought about this, and -- Sophist, 17:39:54 07/29/02 Mon

it's a little hard to respond without a fuller understanding of which episodes you would include and what categories you think are appropriate. OTOH, that's a lot of work. If you don't have the time, or are ready to move on to other topics, feel free to let it drop.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Lest my other post seem like I'm dodging your points, -- Sophist, 08:05:29 07/30/02 Tue

here is my response:

Tara was insane for the final episodes, so including X/A from those episodes is inappropriate -- especially from the standpoint of what I like to call the Cuban Missile Crisis cliche

From another perspective, of course, it was convenient that W/T weren't "available" to live out the CMC cliche. There are lots of reasons people on the show don't have sex in particular episodes. The benefit of evaluating an entire season is that these reasons have the chance to even out. I don't see any reason to create a special exception just to exclude these episodes from consideration.

Scenes with sex implied visually or verbally" category, this seems to be mostly Anya's disturbing sex talk

S/H had such scenes. S/BB had such scenes. B/R had such scenes. W/T were the only couple in S5 who did not have such scenes. That's what a double standard is.

Presumably you used the word "romantic" to exclude this scene from The Body

Absolutely right. ME bragged about the fact that they were able to "subvert" the network prohibition on lesbian sex by creating a scene in which kissing had no sexual implications. This is one of the prime pieces of evidence supporting ME's position that there was a double standard imposed on them by higher authority.

the one from The Replacement was with Anya and Xander Suave, not the whole Xander

I don't understand the relevance of this.

we didn't need to see the details of the relationship worked out for us -- it happened over the summer the same as the heterosexual relationships

Perhaps, but the hetero relationships were also shown during the season. They were not relegated to the summer. That's what I would call a double standard.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Lest my other post seem like I'm dodging your points, -- Malandanza, 10:08:23 07/30/02 Tue

I got in this debate merely to side with Rob's statement that Willow and Tara had had sex "a bajillion" times without anything horrible happening to either of them. I considered your response, that W/T had only had sex twice (There was no "other bajillion times they had sex". We were shown 2 -- and only 2 -- times when W/T had sex: in OMWF and in SR), to be absurd and still maintain that it is so. Willow and Tara had sex in season four and five, repeatedly, and far from being shown as a bad thing, they had the best relationship on the show.

In proving your case for Season Five you find:

Sex scenes: X/A 1 (Forever); W/T 0

In bed together scenes: X/A 1 (Triangle); W/T 2 (Family, LtF)

Since I consider "In bed together scenes" to strongly imply sex (especially the Family scene), I'd say your evidence supports the lack of a double standard. I'm not sure why you included the sex talk by Anya since it emphasizes the one-dimensional aspects of the X/A relationship -- that it was about sex, and nothing more, while the romantic scenes between Tara and Willow emphasize that their relationship is superior. You also mention the "romantic kissing scenes," yet now call them sexual:

"Absolutely right. ME bragged about the fact that they were able to "subvert" the network prohibition on lesbian sex by creating a scene in which kissing had no sexual implications. This is one of the prime pieces of evidence supporting ME's position that there was a double standard imposed on them by higher authority"

I can see how you can confuse cliche and stereotype, but romantic and sexual? X/A had a more sexual relationship, W/T had a more romantic relationship. Also, note that I have distinguished between the double standard of the WB and the lack of a double standard for ME -- here, you make reference to the WB's double standard, yet again, while providing evidence that ME was fighting against the WB double standard.

With all these complaints about a double standard, I still have no idea what you would have liked to see happen between W/T that we did not see -- did you want a bedroom/sex scene in every episode? Are you unhappy that Willow doesn't casually reveal intimate details about her life with Tara to her friends' (and Tara's) discomfort the way Anya does? Would you trade the romantic scenes for some "gimme sugar" moments?

Finally, I ask you to consider what type of relationship you would rather have -- the type between W/T in Seasons Four and Five or the type that X/A had. Personally, I'd much rather have a girlfriend like Tara than Anya. If you think the ideal relationship is the heterosexual one, perhaps you have reason to complain about a double standard. If, on the other hand, you think that Tara would make the better girlfriend, I'm at a loss to understand how you can complain.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Lest my other post seem like I'm dodging your points, -- Miss Edith, 11:08:17 07/30/02 Tue

Yes Tara and Willow were a romantic couple and this was carried off very well by the actresses. The writers used dialogue to strengthen the couples bond and W/T were encouraged by the directers to exchange loving glances in order to portray the relationship successfully. But in Family the network objected to W/T being seen in bed together, in sexless pjs. Buffy and Riley at that time were having sex on camera and it was played up as romantic with music etc.
ME have publicly said there was a double standard and told the audience they wanted to overcome it. That is evidence in my mind without needing to call examples to the lack of kissing or on-screen sex. The writers have said they were unable to portray the lesbian couple as equals, however they tried to get around this and still show W/T as romantic. That doesn't change the fact that W/T were not treated as equal to hetrosexual couples. I agre that Anya and Xander were mainly about sexual lust and did not appeal to me personally. I did prefer watching W/T just holding hands or smilling cutely. That was because of the chemistry existing with the actresses. Nevertheless there were no kisses exchanged in the 4th season and only once in seaosn 5. That is not equality regardles sof the sly tricks used to overcome this and keep the viewers happy.
Many new viewers were confused by W/T and wondered if they were meant to be college roommates as they had missed an episode like NMR. More than one viewer has said they touch enough to suggest they are more than friends, but not as much as a couple would so what is the relationship meant to be. That is evidence that there was something lacking with W/T no matter how much the writers tried to get past it with sly inuendo etc. There was so much subtlty precisely because of a double standard. It is easy to say that W/T were romantic anyway and their love shone through. Yet there was something missing. Public affection. The lack if kissing was not truly rectified until Entropy. The one kiss in The Body was hardly an example of passion as shown by the straight couples. Remember Buffy and Angel's first kiss. Xander and Cordy showing overwhelming lust in Whats My Line. Buffy and Spike kissing in TR with a romantic song in the background selling many viewers on the relationship. The first sex scene in Smashed. W/T were denied all of this until Entropy. Hence the supporters of W/T having video caps of the kiss with the words "Home at last" on their website. People are protesting as directly after that kiss the following episode concluded with Tara getting a bullet through her heart.
I am not denying your argument that Willow and Tara were a romantic couple anyway. I would disagre with the suggestion that they didn't therefore need to be shown kissing as the love was evident.

[> [> [> [> Addendum -- Sophist, 12:36:25 07/26/02 Fri

I tried to edit my last post to include this but wasn't able to:

Dru and Spike? Platonic friends, I'm sure.

Dru and Spike were in just 3 episodes (School Hard, Lie to Me, and WML) before Spike became, uh, unable. Once Spike recovered, they left town and we never saw them as a couple again.

or Oz/Veruca scenes for that matter

Well, er, um. This, *ahem*, raises issues a little beyond what I had in mind.

[> [> [> OT: Swan Lake -- Rahael, 14:46:20 07/26/02 Fri

This is OT even for me. Today I picked up a DVD of the modern dance production of Swan Lake by the 'Adventures in Motion Pictures' Dance Company. It's pretty well known, because all the swans are male.

It's really, really magnficent. Sad and scary, magical and tragic. The incredibly beautiful, masculine and sexy swans are quite easy to bear as well!

But the reason I'm putting it in this thread is that of course, there is an incredibly homoerotic undertone. Well, I wouldn't really describe it as an undertone, its very explicit. The Swan represents the Prince's imagination, but he is also the seductive lover. The Prince is tortured, weak, scared. Escaping into his imagination, to the arms of his Swan. All of this to Tchaikovsky's music. The effect to me at least, is mesmerising and to be honest, far more affecting and gripping than even Buffy.

The last scene is just....gah! beautiful. Swans crawl out under the Prince's bed and attack him, furiously and viciously till he lies broken. His Swan comes too late to save him. The final image is blown up on the back of the stage, the Swan, holding his dead lover in his arms, alone.

Needless to say, the Swan is dark, dangerous and wild. The evil twin moment is really creepy because you can imagine that both the evil and the good sides of the Swan might be the same person. It reminds me incredibly of Angel, most particularly because the Evil version of the swan wears leather trousers (Adam Cooper! sigh).

Is this cliched? the dark and dangerous Swan, holding his dead lover in his arms? Because it strikes me as remarkably similar to Dark Willow and Tara. Of course, Willow just walks away, while you imagine that the Prince finally finds his peace in death.

I highly recommend this dvd to you. I was lucky enough to see it on stage, and I could watch it endlessly.... Cathartic isn't the word. I've seen the Kirov perform Petipa's restored version, and while that was great, this was stunning.

[> [> [> [> And here's a link -- Rahael, 15:10:17 07/26/02 Fri


Just for a visual.

And just to make my thoughts clearer, what I feel is this: cliches to me are dead metaphors. Things which are meaningless, unoriginal, boring. The work of hacks and people who don't care about their work. Fazed by difficulty, they reach for the well worn.

If an scene/play/drama/image is powerful, thought provoking, challenging. If it makes the audience gasp, it it moves you, well if that's cliches, I wish I could wield them. I understand that the finale of Season 6 didn't work for a lot of people. But for me, Seeing Red was a great episode, and Dark Willow was compelling. I like these wild, unstoppable, dark characters. It has something of the night about it.

I totally respect that it didn't work for other people, but it worked for me. And I'm not someone who is uncritical and unaware of stereotypes or harmful messages. And that too, should be accepted.

[> [> [> [> [> I agree, Rah, and yes... -- Rob, 15:20:42 07/26/02 Fri

...I taped that "Swan Lake" on PBS last year, and watched it. Quite frankly, it was brilliant, and I am not a normal ballet fan. There was something very modern about it. The last time I enjoyed a ballet so much was the dark, modern version of "Nutcracker" that was produced 7 or 8 years back, called "The Hard Nut," which stressed the original horror and gore of the original E.T.A. Hoffmann tale (no sugar plum fairies here lol)...The other thing of note in that version is that the snowflake princesses were played by...men.


[> Thanks for posting the quotes, Rufus -- aliera, 06:03:24 07/26/02 Fri

[> Re: Joss on the Death of Tara ...taken from Watch with Wanda ...no spoilers -- Miss Edith, 04:38:32 07/27/02 Sat

I think what really got to people was the writers callousness. Joss is constantly making tactless comments like "Being gay is so passe" or talking about the pain he caused hurting him when people ask him how he feels for them. Mybe the sad letters he is receiving should be a discussion about the writers of the letters being in pain, not making it all about him.
Joss also mentions knowing a gay person (his Godfather) to prove he's not a bigot. People aren't arguing he is homophobic, they are simply upset at the message his show sent out whilst underatanding it was not necessirily intentional they still think Joss needs to take responsibily for they way Tara dying could be seen to fit the cliche.
I agree all the arguments are growing tiresome and the writers are not going to win back the fans they have driven away.
A better way of handling the situation would have been to be aware of how people would feel and show them some compassion, tell them you are sorry for how they are feeling. Instead it was treated as a joke. I have heard all the arguments about the writers just being people who joke around a lot naturally. But there is a time and a place for laughter. When Steven DeKnight was asked how he felt about the gay teens writing letters to the radio hosts conducting the interview feeling suicidal they asked what his reply/feelings were. Joking about Tara just having a flesh wound was disrespectful and almost seemed like he was trying to sabatage the show Buffy. The writers are constantly giving new interviews which simply add more fuel to the fire. Joss saying he and Marti discussed whether it would be okay for Willow to return to men but deciding they couldn't because fans would be outraged. It wasn't the fans who made Willow say she was gay, not bisexual (which I feel was the more obvious choice). Why blame the fans for Joss feeling forced to stand by the decision he made and keep Willow gay. People are being told on other boards that they intimadatewd Joss into feeling unable to put Xander and Willow together. That is just ridiculous. If the writers wanted Willow to be bi they should not have been constantly hitting us over the head with anils about Willow being "gay now".
Joss wanted to upset and anger people and I guess the fans gave him what he wanted.
I don't disagree with the writers choosing to kill Tara. If it were my show I'd have kept her around but Joss is free to do as he wishes. I just find it very ill-advised to kill off Tara the first episode she has lesbian sex. The scene in OMWF was not explicit and I know adults who missed the subtext completely (I was kind of surprised too as it seemed so blatent but some people did miss the subtext of the scenes in WAY as well). The fact is the writers could have avoided making such an obvious link by reuniting Tara and Willow for a few episodes which would have made the final sex scenes and death less sensationalist. Including it all in on episode did come across poorly and the writers should have been prepered for fans reactions.

[> [> Re: Joss on the Death of Tara ...taken from Watch with Wanda ...no spoilers -- mundusmundi, 09:40:54 07/28/02 Sun

Those are all good points. Whedon specifically and ME in general have always been a little snarky, but this year they've been downright defensive. To me, that seems to indicate that they know, deep down, the season was largely a failure -- and in the case of DeKnight, I detect an edge in his voice that may be a mark of wounded pride for having written (in terms of pure craft) one of the best episodes of the year. Not justifying his comments, just offering a speculative interpretation.

This also raises another point that somebody mentioned in a season-ending essay: Why are the writers feeling the need to come out and explain everything? It's generous of them to welcome rapport with the fans, but this year I'm seeing less dialogue and more didacticism. Have they lost the confidence to let their stories speak for themselves?

[> My own little opinion - with evidence -- Majin Gojira, 20:52:58 07/28/02 Sun

Man, this is a heated debate, eh?

I don't really understand why people are up with the "Point the finger of blame" thing.

Everyone can agree with the fact that Tara's death was tragic, but after that, everything gets fuzzy.

Ok, I'm going to debunk the 'evil lesbian' thing with some evidence no one can deny: "Something Blue"

Pain-driven acts of...let's say...stupidity through majic...are not unknown to Willow, SB shows this. It's PERFECTLY IN WILLOWS CHARACTER FOR HER TO ACT THE WAY SHE DID.

Does it envoke the Lesbien Cleche? Maybe, but ask yourself this: If Willow was still with Oz, and he was shot in a similar maner (with a silver bullet), would Willow still do the same thing?

Answer: Duh! Of course she would!

It's in Willow's charcter, set in before she ever came out of the closet.

Well, Is my Argument valid or no? I got evidence to support my claim...let's see how it holds.

Oh, and now an opinion: The reason ME is backpedling slightly is because they assumed that people would interpret it differently than what many people have done.

And besides, you people still forget: ME want's their characters to suffer - it's what keeps us watching!

Majin Gojira
Reviewing Movies is a lot like Palentology: The evidence is there; but no one can agree on it.

[> [> LOL. I love your closing line. All too true -- Sophist, 09:03:31 07/29/02 Mon

In SB, Willow's spell was intended to control herself, not to take revenge on others. She had been told by her friends that she was grieving too much and had to move on (paraphrasing, of course). She cast the spell in order to "will away the pain" from herself.

Because the spell went wrong, she ended up inadvertently harming her friends. Of course, she put a stop to it as soon as she realized what had gone wrong.

In Villains-Grave, in contrast, Willow intended to harm others. Far from stopping when she realized her friends were in danger, she tried even harder to destroy them.

By the way, I'm not arguing that SB somehow makes Willow's behavior in S6 out of character or anything like that. I just don't think it shows much either way.

Current board | More July 2002