- In point of fact #1, his quality has been going downhill ever since BTVS.
- In point of fact #2, Dollhouse so far is a silly TV show on par with Fringe in that both shows contain silly premises, unconvincing, murky universes and leads with all the acting ability of lukewarm tap water.
- In point of fact #3, Dollhouse so far is actually worse than Fringe because it lacks the emotional warmth and accessibility that major players John Noble and Joshua Jackson bring to Fringe.
The people who need to be notified of these not-God individuals -- namely, the Whedon wanks on Television Without Pity's Dollhouse forums parsing every moment of dialog looking for "Jossian greatness" and the Moore/Snyder posse who seriously believes that the Watchmen movie is on par with The Godfather trilogy [seriously?!] -- are not going to listen to me. However, if you happen to be of reasonable sanity and you wonder what all the spooge in a teacup is over these not-God individuals, rest assured that you are not missing anything in avoiding either Dollhouse or Watchmen. I'll keep you updated on the off chance that Dollhouse improves. Anyone associated with #2, however, is a lost cause.
To conclude, the following people are God.
1. David Bowie...or, more precisely, his Area. That is all.
I find these complementary commentaries deeply incisive and deeply disturbing, especially as they portray the actions of a fan favorite character to be the worst form of appropriation. It's an especially bad form of appropriation because the show is constructed such that the audience is supposed to suck it up because a) Spike is so awesome!!; b) Buffy defends Spike, thus throwing her support behind his usurpations; c) did we mention that Spike is awesome?!! We're not supposed to criticize the characters everyone likes, even if they are doing morally wretched things, because the popular characters are Good Guys, thus inured to criticism.
Why yes, I am late to the party. What else can you except from someone who just discovered Men Without Hats at the end of last year?
EDIT: This collection of rather short essays is at its best when covering modern vampires, although Hyun-Jung Lee's analysis of LeFanu's Carmilla as a threat to the very foundation of subjectivity is particularly good. In the section on vampires of today, one especially interesting essay by Elizabeth McCarthy addresses the importance of bodily mutilation inflicted by people on vampires to modern conceptions of the vampire legend. In another unusual essay, Pete Remington takes a look at Anne Rice's vampires and their relation to the experience of the depressive self. Five essays treat BTVS and Angel, mostly the sexually problematic characters of Angel and Spike, who both embody and undermine tropes of magnetic, violent, brooding, Byronic heroism. This is a varied collection with essays of uniformly high quality, although I do wish most of the pieces were longer, with more in-depth analysis.
Also possibly of interest: Monsters: Myths and Metaphors of Enduring Evil, edited by Paul Yoder and Peter Kreuter, in the same series.
Also possibly of interest: The Monstrous Identity of Humanity, edited by Marlin Bates, by the same press.
Despite the fact that it's largely lush-looking drivel, there is something compelling about Hex. Like BTVS, Hex ends up focusing on a destined warrior. The character study of Ella is the most interesting thing about the show. Like Buffy, Ella comes from a long line of fighters. Like Buffy, Ella is also gifted with physical and magical strength, but her destiny and her powers separate her from her peers. Both Buffy and Ella are very lonely; they both yearn for friends, family and people to understand them. But Buffy differs from Ella because Buffy has a loyal cadre of friends -- Willow, Xander, Giles and various hangers-on -- and a family [Joyce and Dawn]. Buffy derives strength from her faith in her family and friends. They are her saving grace.
But Ella is different. She wants what Buffy has -- friendship, security and love -- but she hasn't found it. She has tried to satisfy her passion through killing various demonspawn, but that still leaves her unfulfilled. She tries to satisfy herself with Leon, but their love, based on tenderness and friendship, seems too dull and unexciting for her. She tries to satisfy her passion through sex, as represented by her crappy and wholly unconvincing fling with the block of wood named Malachi, but that also doesn't work. Only after she has tried and failed to fill the void in her heart does she realize that she actually really does appreciate the love she shares with Leon. Season 2 leaves her strengthened because Leon has literally cauterized the wound by her heart, a physical representation of the way that their love has helped her to stop dissipating her energy and desire.
Ella is different from Buffy because Ella doesn't run on strength; she runs on fear. She fears being alone; she fears not being like other people; she fears her magical destiny. Because she fears her core identity so much, Ella is easily manipulated...hence her relationship with the Block of Wood. Though a stalwart killer of demons, she's also incredibly needy, which makes her a social fuck-up as she blunders through her friendship with Thelma, her love for Leon and her crush on Malachi. She simultaneously exploits all three of them to try to force their approval, then hurts them, then abases herself trying to make it up to them. Her weakness is her neediness, her hopeless lack of love in her life. Because her desire for acceptance overwhelms even her destined path, her abject wishes for happiness always conflict with her duty, making her triumph as demon slayer always in doubt. Since she spends so much of season 2 either losing her shit or barely hanging onto it, one wonders whether she'll ever develop the internal strength that she needs to carry out her mission.
I don't like Ella that much. I wish she would stop whingeing, trembling and rolling her eyes and just buck up and start kicking ass. That said, when I view her as an intensely lonely character, flailing around in her attempt to find friendship, she becomes sympathetic, more sympathetic than Buffy, who always seemed impervious and uncorruptible to me.
- 0. Fool. Here is the first Slayer at the beginning of her kind's fateful journey.
- 1. Magician. Buffy wields stupendous magic power in the first female interpretation of this card I've seen.
- 2. High Priestess. Willow is the feminine magical principle.
- 6. The Lovers. According to an interview with deck designer Rachel Pollack, this card shows Buffy and Angel.
- 10. Wheel of Fortune. The Master rules the cycle of judgment, death, transformation and undeath.
- 11. Justice. According to Pollack, this card shows Willow.
- 13. Death. This looks like the ritual that created the first Slayer.
- 14. Temperance. Angel in vamp mode represents a balance between all desires and duties.
- 15. Devil. Buffy and Spike [in vamp mode] are tempted to sick carnal delights.
- 16. Tower. This looks like Buffy sacrificing herself at the end of season 5.
- 19. Sun. The death-dealing, life-saving power of the Slayer smites the evil vampire.
Anyway, one of the tired plot devices trotted out by Hex is that of the fast-forward Jesus baby. As the result of a Divine Screw between a supernatural male and an ordinary female, the fast-forward Jesus baby develops alarmingly fast from conception to birth. ( Read more... )
I'm also really keen on the eldest princess in A.S. Byatt's short story "The Story of the Eldest Princess" [available in The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye] because she's smart and assertive and reflective. She realizes she's in a skewed fairy tale and forms her own happy ending, which does not involve happy hetero marriage.
In TV or movies, my favorite characters are Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth [details at Jareth's Realm], Frank from The Rocky Horror Picture Show [details at The Frankenstein Place], Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer [details all over this blog] and Dean Winchester from Supernatural [details all over this blog].
In fiction that I have created, my favorite characters are Will and Anneka because they have pink hair and no fashion sense. I also really like Mark because he's such a dweeb, Chow because he's probably the only wise character around and Viktor because his constant attempts to screw anything that moves are amusing.
In any medium, I dislike whiny characters who do not stand up for themselves. Three particularly egregious examples are Sarah from Labyrinth, Harry Potter from the seven books concerning him and Bella from the Twilight Saga. Make that EVERYONE in the Twilight Saga.
EDIT: BWAH HAHAHAH. I notice that Edward Cullen, abusive personality extraordinaire of the Twilight Saga, appears most frequently as a favorite character, clearly nominated by people without critical intelligence.
Then Dark Horse canceled it. How very disappointing.
Ever since Hulu began coughing up Angel season 1, I've watching a bit here and there and rediscovered my other favorite Angel ep: I Will Remember You. Angel turns human again; Buffy pops up; they get it on, and nothing good can come of it. Status quo is restored at the end of the ep, in part because the status quo, i.e., Angel's suffering, motivates the entire show.
Also it is a fact of TV shows and other media that "you can't always get what you want, but, if you try sometimes, you just might find you'll get what you need," in the immortal words of Mick Jagger. Or, in the immortal words of Geoffrey Chaucer, "Forbid us thing, and that desiren we," which means, "We want what we can't have." All of this is to say that we as humans are driven by our yearning for unobtainable states of being and, when we do obtain these states, we often discover that such states have undesirable consequences. Then we realize that we shouldn't have obtained what we wanted, but what we needed.
Anyway, I really like this ep because it takes the cliches of Forbidden Love, Angsty Suffering, Wish Come True, What-If Futures, Overrated Bliss and Return to the Trenches and really makes 'em work. I credit most of the success to Sarah Michelle Gellar's guest turn as Buffy and the comfortable chemistry she shares with David Boreanaz so that it's really believable that they want, but can't have, each other. Oh, all right, I guess I have to credit David Boreanaz' acting skillz for emanating pain and suffering out Angel's pores, despite the fact that the character is a dense, obtuse, uncommunicative BLOCK even on his good days. Incidentally, momentary humanity really becomes Angel, allowing David Boreanaz to act out moods other than "staring off into space" and "brooding;" Boreanaz' noted comic talent appears, for example, when Angel discovers the glories of non-blood-based food. Hah!
Spike in high voice: “How can I thank you, you mysterious, black-clad hunk of a night thing?
"(low voice) No need, little lady, your tears of gratitude are enough for me. You see, I was once a badass vampire, but love and a pesky curse defanged me. Now I’m just a big, fluffy puppy with bad teeth. (Rachel steps closer to Angel, and Angel steps back warding her off with his hands) No, not the hair! Never the hair!
"(high voice) But there must be some way I can show my appreciation.
"(low voice) No, helping those in need’s my job, - and working up a load of sexual tension, and prancing away like a magnificent poof is truly thanks enough!
"(high voice) I understand. I have a nephew who is gay, so…
"(low voice) Say no more. Evil’s still afoot! And I’m almost out of that Nancy-boy hair-gel that I like so much. Quickly, to the Angel-mobile, away!”
Transcript from Buffyworld.
Spike, as a more flamboyant, demonstrative character, is instantly engaging. Whereas Angel lurks in the shadows and interests the audience because he's a mystery, Spike from his debut evinces positive personality traits that get the viewers perked up.
James Marsters, on the other hand, ranks right up there with David Bowie for me. He's really talented AND really intelligent, not to mention jovial and humorous, as you can see in the latest Television Without Pity interview. After reading the transcript, I conclude that he seems to be a charismatic, extroverted person with the gift of making almost anyone feel relaxed and accepted.
Anyway, in case I need any more reason to have a crush on him, here he is saying intelligent things about the massive popularity of Spike in BTVS. Brains are such a turn-on. A cut from the TWoP interview:
Whether you believe that the universe tends toward good, bad or mediocre, there's still the question of where to assign these capacities. Are people good, bad, good+bad, bad+mediocre, etc.?
I also like supernatural creatures because they work as lovely metaphors, which partly explains their continuing fascination, even to people who do not believe in them.
Do you know why it will be horrible? Well, first of all, the presence of both SMG and her husband Freddy Prinze Jr. tells you that it will tank. Despite possessing talent, the two have no business and career acumen, as evidenced by their previous collaborations Scooby Doo I and II. [In fact, SMG's entire movie career, like Tim Curry's, is pretty much a string of disappointments, and I think they both need really smart agents to get them in showcases for their special gifts, but I digress.]
Second of all, the producers of Shrek are behind this one. Now, for all that I laughed when I saw Shrek I [not II or III so much], I don't think that it was as attractive or subversive as people claim. The franchise tries too hard to be clever, but it just ends up reinforcing stupid gender and sexual stereotypes. I smell the same problem emanating from Happily N'Ever After, particularly in its problematic recycling of characters from Shrek. That purple cat thing in HNA looks like Donkey, while the blond prince in HNA looks like the blond prince in Shrek, and even Ella in HNA reminds me of Fiona. Such uncreative recycling cannot be saved even by the flamboyant evil genius of Sigourney Weaver and any acting talent SMG may happen to evince.
I feel sad for SMG. BTVS provided such a star vehicle and showcase for her, but her brainless career choices since then slide her further into disrepute. I respect her acting talent, but I can't respect her as a person because she's really not that smart. She strikes me as someone with talents who doesn't know how to use them, rather than an artist that has knowledge and craft of his or her art. She stands in opposition to David Bowie, who [besides having way more experience than she does] just emanates wit, intelligence, insight and a dry sense of humor in relation to his art. He would be a perfect example of an exemplary celebrity, except that he smokes.
So, if 6 is the high point for me, I like 2, 3 and 4 next best, but I really dislike 1 and 7. 1, a short, experimental season, provides only glimmers of the juicy richness that the show would later develop into. Plus there's no Spike, so I ignore it. And I am currently refusing to watch 7. I don't want to see Buffy as a motivational speaker to the Potentials; I don't want to see Willow basically squashed, mousy and regressed after 6's drama; and I don't want to see Spike die. I don't care that he comes back in 5 of Angel. I don't want to see him die! I'm just pretending 6 is the end, okay? La la la, I'm not listening to you....
So, in answer to the comments, I like Spike too anyway, abbagirl, and the icon is hilarious. :p
LoreMistress, I recommend watching well past 4 and into 6, but avoiding 7. In other words, don't break off. In my opinion, some of the best eps are coming up.
RedCountess, having read tons of synopses and analyses, I agree that you have a point about the development of Buffy + Spike over time. I still maintain that Crush and Intervention crank up the schmoopiness at the expense of the characters' personalities. I have no problem with them having a relationship; I just wish that the portrayal in those two eps was true to the characters.
And a link to my favorite BTVS site, a critical journal of "Buffy studies" with an archive of meaty analyses of all things BTVS.
Wow, those eps were flaccid! The repartee, linguistic inventiveness and deep emotional responses that I associate with BTVS just didn't exist in these eps, even though they were supposedly about lerve. The characters appeared brainwashed, with Spike saying, "I lerve you; I suffer for you," and Buffy saying, "Bleeecccch," like zombies of pop song lerve rather than consistent, multi-dimensional characters. It wasn't funny; it wasn't interesting; it wasn't in character. It was just really painful and boring to watch.
The only moment in which the true characters surfaced was at the end of Intervention, when Buffy acted like the willing BuffyBot because she was trying to determine if Spike, under torture, had told Glory that Dawn was the Key. So Buffy plays the willing sex slave until she gets the info [e.g., that Spike kept Dawn's secret]; then she switches back to herself and leaves him. Both Buffy and Spike seemed incredibly sad and regretful in this scene, Spike probably because his dedication got him pounded and plus his robot's gone, Buffy because she realized the depths of Spike's infatuation and then played along with it for a bit. Buffy's ambivalence toward Spike [heartless manipulation and reluctant gratitude] and his ambivalence toward her [slavish crush and violent, stupid frustration] are transmitted clearly without platitudes. The truth comes through: their relationship isn't pursuing guy vs. retreating girl, but squeamishly fascinated guy vs. squeamishly fascinated girl, a theme developed much better in season 6.
So, anyway, I've found the perfect application for the word schmoopy: season 5 Spike. Oh, how drab and disappointing. I'll take the characterologically consistent season 6 Spike instead. Stereotypically pining vampires make me want to vomit vomit vomit. If I ever write about them, someone please shoot them.
Of course, I'll get over it. It's only some DVDs, and I have put in a claim to PayPal that will hopefully get most of my money back. I just feel cross because my indulgence was thwarted.
Oh yeah, stay away from seller mclarke6666.
Hooray, that leaves me with seasons 2 through 6 to watch...particularly all those parts in season 6 where Buffy is trying to adjust to being alive...and any eps where James Marsters makes more faces than the bad-ass expression...and any eps with robots in them.
Next BTVS/Angel character to be released in 12" is Cordelia. I smell doom, especially since the prototype looks reasonable accurate. The last time SST had an accurate prototype [regular Willow], the final draft just looked...warped. Please, Sideshow, just for once, could ya NOT mess something up?