Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I'm committed to the geek now, there's no denying it

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
–Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes
in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and
psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.
–Allen Ginsburg, “America”
Amanda from Pandagon used these poems as the starting point of an excellent post on Happiness, community, abortion, progressive struggles and Buffy. I don't agree with it, but it's a really interesting analysis and ties together all sorts of important stuff, you should go read it now.

Guess which bit I'm most interested in responding to?
Last night I was hanging out the Ethical Werewolf and we were nerding out bad talking “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and how the vision for the show really started to fall apart after the Scooby Gang quit high school. I argued that it wasn’t the move from high school to college that caused the show to lose its way (though it was good all the way to the end, in my opinion), but the way the show’s focus shifted from the group dynamics of the Scooby Gang to Buffy’s tedious love life. I blamed Marti Noxon and pointed out that when Whedon would write entire episodes by himself he would often cram a season’s worth of ideas about the importance of community for individual fulfillment into one episode.
This was exactly what I loved in Seasons 1-3 of Buffy. We were told, repeatedly, that it was having people round her that made Buffy a great slayer, not just her jumping, kicking, stabbing, healing powers. In fact when she was alone in Anne, she denied her power, and it was only by connecting with other people that she could fight back (and only by fighting back, that she could connect with other people). When they had to fight a really big bad at the end of Season Three, it was only because the students united and fought back as a group that they were able to defeat the Mayor.

There are huge number of episodes that could be summed up as "I get by with a little help from my friends" (or What Can't We Face If We're Together - without the dramatic irony). The end of The Wish, where Cordelia's wish doesn't work, and they pan over to Buffy, Xander and Willow talking and laughing is one of my favourite things, for precisely that reason.

Now I think in Season 4 what they were trying to do is reiterate this point. I suspect the idea was supposed to be that they drift apart, but then they have to fight the big bad and it turns out that they're stronger together than alone so they turn into a cyborg. In itself this annoys me. The point of collective strength is that it doesn't need a cheesy, magic, flabotinum, plot line, that it's jsut that it's as real in Buffy's world as it is in our own.

But they never really revisted that theme in the last three seasons, until the very last episode. And although they hugged in the lift shaft (and that whole thing felt tremendously unearned, because of the use of Spike to break the group apart), they didn't translate this into strengthening the group dynamic in Season 5 or 6. I'd thought of all these things seperately, but Amanda's post really put it all together for me. Season Six would have worked so much better for me, if Xander and Willow had played more of a role in Buffy finding something to sing about (or if, you know, they'd occasionally had conversations).

But, as Amanda says again, they really did pull it out again in the end, and I love the power sharing speech/montage beyond the telling of it. So I'm going to leave you with the extended shooting script version
I hate being here. I hate that you have to be here. I hate that there's evil, that it's growing, and I hate that I was Chosen to fight it. I wish, a whole lot of the time, that I hadn't. I know a lot of you wished I hadn't been either.

But this isn't about wishes. This is about choices. I never had one. I was Chosen. And I accept that. I'm not asking you to accept anything. I'm asking you to make your own choice.

I believe that we can beat this evil. Not when it comes, not when its army is ready. Now. Tomorrow morning, I'm opening the seal. I'm going down into the Hellmouth and I'm going to finish this once and for all. I've got strong allies: warriors, charms, sorcerers and I need them all. But I'll also need you. Every single one of you.

So now you're asking yourself. 'What makes this different? What makes us anything more than a bunch of girls getting picked off one by one?' It's true none of you have the power that Faith and I have.

So here's the part where you make a choice.

What if you could have that power. Now. All of you.

n every generation, one Slayer is born because a bunch of guys that died thousands of years ago made that rule. They were powerful men. This woman is more powerful than all of them combined. So I say we change the rules. I say my power should be our power.

Tomorrow Willow will use the essence of the scythe that contains the energy and history of so many Slayers, to change our destiny.

Every girl who could have the power, will have the power.

Who can stand up, will stand up.

Every one of you, and girls we've never known, they will have strength they never dreamed of, and more than that, they will have each other. Slayers. Every one of us.

The line will not longer move through me, it hasn't for a long time. It will move through all of us. Right now. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?

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