Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Blah blah Buffy blah blah

I am large in the Walt Whitman sense. I'm big enough to contain contradictions.

One amusing aspect of not only my personality but the personalities of humans worldwide is that I can give a damn about the big and the small. Just because I think and talk about the huge, obvious evils of the world such as rampant sexism and racism doesn't mean that I can't occasionally get caught up in a three hour conversation about everything that is wrong with the new Star Trek film. I can be petty sometimes. I'm a human being. Vice versa, just because I talk about the ups and downs of DnD 3.5 doesn't mean I don't care about the larger issues.

All of this really is just a preamble to the fact that I'm now going to start ranting about fandom, so beware, you're opinion about my values may just be about to plummet (as if it was particularly high to start with). That's kind of why I've put that big disclaimer up there.

You know what I hate? These kind of Thomas-Hobbes-as-applied-to-geekdom way of thinking that says that if you are a fan of something, you're not allowed to criticise it. "If all you do is say 'I hate this' and 'I hate that' then you're not a true fan" cry some idiots, completely unaware that showing an inclination towards something does not mean I get to automatically switch off my critical faculties and disregard anything that it might do that is patently wrong or stupid. Yes, some people may bitch to high heaven all the time and may never seem to have a positive thing to say about their chosen fandom. I agree, that's fucking irritating. But that's different from, say, being a fan of a director/writer/actor/artist/TV-show producer and blindly saying that you really really love everything that they've ever done when as a matter of fact, that likelihood is that not only will they occassionally fuck up (remember, they're human too) or else do something that doesn't appeal to your particular taste or what you otherwise really like about that person's work, but that you as a fan are more likely to be aware of said missteps and will typically have the appropriate knowledge and vocabulary to explain what it is that you particularly dislike about these aspects of your pastime and/or passion gone wrong. Although - again, as a disclaimer - this does not mean I'm aware that some people truly are idiots who do nothing but complain about the most moronic things for the most stupid reasons.

That said, I just want to get it off my chest that whilst I'm generally a massive, feck-off huge fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise, here's a list of a few things I just can't stand.

- Spike. Honest to god, I could dedicate an entire blog about the many and various ways that I do not like Spike. To be honest, I actually really liked him during season two of the show. In the sense of full disclosure, I'd actually rank him amongst one of my favourite things from that season. But god damn, why the hell did they have to go and bring him back in just the most appalling way(s)? Almost any and all appearances by Spike have that reek of insincerity and money-men dictated decisions; "hey, this character's popular, why don't you put him in the show some more?" rather than including him for reasons that, say, make any kind of story-sense. The biggest culprit here is obviously his inclusion in Angel season five, where he not only shamelessly brought back from the dead following what was supposed to be a heroic sacrifice, but his sacrifice was essentially nullified by the amusing geek-history footnote that the WB had started promoting Angel season five before UPN aired Spike's supposedly big, important sacrifice, making it all seem rather muted and pointless in the eyes of the viewers who watched it, as we all knew he was coming back. Oh yeah, the episode "Chosen" should probably make this list of BtVS things I could spend all day criticising too.

- The fallacy that states that if you like BtVS and/or Angel, you must also like Firefly. The other thing that I could easily dedicate an entire blog towards is my many and varied criticisms of the show Firefly, which, for the uninitiated, was a thankfully short-lived science-ficition television series (which later scored a spin-off film) produced by a lot of the same people behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I do have some good things to say about the series, but a lot of that is buried under the fact that I think much of it is hackneyed misfits-in-space/Western stuff that was getting old and done-before long before Joss Whedon took his hand to it. Many place the blame for Firefly's demise on the shenanigans that were going on behind the scenes: the networks' continual fucking around with the show. This no doubt contributed greatly, but I also think that, in no uncertain terms, it simply was not a particularly good show.

Ok, well, it looks like this list is going to end at two for now as I'm kind of running out of bilious steam and I don't like it when I don't finish a post in one sitting so I'm really not going to come back to this post and add to it, so that's really it for now. Once again, I just want to reiterate that I freakin' love BtVS. As shows go it may have a rather considerable series of ups and downs, but most of these I simply take as idiosyncracies or interesting faults that are natural symptoms of what the show did really well at least 50% of the time. I'm not for a moment going to say that it's the best work of art to ever come out of the Northern Hemisphere. That would be stupid. But the nature of fandom is that I still really like it, warts and all ("Where the Wild Things Are" and all), and that I'm willing to engage with other fans about the various bits that I like and dislike.

In the interest of fairness, here are some things that are popularly disliked about BtVS/Angel that I actually really like:

- Connor.
- "The Girl in Question".
- Riley Finn (although only in season five. I mean jeez, I'm not crazy. Seriously though, having him become a depressive, sympathic perpetual outsider (the same mould used for all of Buffy's major paramours) was a really good turn).

Just so that I can at least pretend I've done something more than talk about trivia I happen to be particularly passionate about, here's a link to the latest weekly round-up at feministing. Go, think about public attitudes to breast-cancer survivors and women over 50 in the modelling industry, go! Then come back and maybe we can chat about Buffy some more. After all, how astonishingly unfun would fandom be if these minor disagreements didn't open to door to discoure amongst peers, eh?


Tara said...

Oh my goodness, I love this blog to death!

Jayunderscorezero said...

Aw, you're far too kind.

Tara said...

No really Jay, sometimes it's like you take my mind and magically sprinkle it all over your 'edit posts' window. ha!

I don't agree with every Whedonverse detail here (I've come to appreciate Firefly over time, for instance), but I've been having these exact thoughts lately with regard to the fandom. Not everything Joss does is perfect. I may love the body of work, but that doesn't mean I am obligated to love every detail ever decided. Some of the decisions were a straight up failure. I can't stand when sheeple are afraid to critique the work.

For instance I, for one, believe that Buffy should've ended with her death in Season 5 for far more reasons than I can count, at this point. I'll go so far as to say that at this point in the game, I'd even sacrifice the musical if I could go back in time and make it happen. You should hear the screams of blasphemy I get when mentioning such things. But it's how this blogger/fan feels. It's why I'm truly terrified of a Dr. Horrible sequel.

Sorry, I didn't mean to rant all over your blog!

Jayunderscorezero said...

Ranting is more than appreciated, trust me.

If I can think of one benefit of season six (beyond the musical) it'd be that, for some strange reason, it seemed to bring in a whole lot of new fans, at least in my experience of BtVS fandom. Some of my favourite people to talk Buffy/geek with are people who got hooked on the later seasons and then went back and discovered the earlier ones. Still, I guess the same defence could be made if the show had continued for twenty crappy seasons. I'm not saying it's a strong defence or anything.

Tara said...

I suppose that's true. Ah there you go, getting me to look on the bright side.

Can you manage to help me with that in regards to Dollhouse, please?

Jayunderscorezero said...

I still haven't gotten around to seeing it, so I can't be of much help on that front, I'm afraid.