Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Heroic Women of Speculative Fiction #6: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer played by Sarah Michelle Gellar
Okay, this may be my favorite guilty pleasure.   What can I say- I love Buffy.  Who else can carry a wooden stake and a lipstick in her purse and look fashionable while kickboxing a vampire's face?  I started watching it out of curiosity when it first air and was prepared to hate it, but it instantly  hooked me.  For the seven wonderful seasons it aired I never stopped loving it-even when the show sideways at times.  The TV show had great casting, from the wonderful Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy to the tweedy Giles played by Anthony Stewart Head.  It had a great combination of humor, suspense, action, drama, and mythology,(which included consistent demon/vampire rules).  Buffy was an innocent girl compelled to face horror and darkness because she was chosen.   The one girl in the world chosen to slay the vampires and demons.  So not fair-the world is filled with these evils and she had to carry this all alone?  She did of course.  Buffy saved the world on a weekly basis from vampires, demons, obnoxious jocks, and soured-faced high school principals.   
Unlike current "glossy" vampire shows, it showed vampires as being, well, hideous, nasty demons that want to feed on you.  The exceptions to this, Angel, a vampire cursed with a soul, made her fleeting and doomed romance with Angel tolerable.  It was not about vampire love and longing.  The relationship between Angel and Buffy was always doomed, but he had a human soul.  If you are not familiar with the mythology rules on Buffy, if you were turned into a vampire the demon got your body, memories, and even your personality, but it did not get your soul.  The person they killed and turned no longer existed.  This made Angel an acceptable hero and tragic.  Before Angel got his souls back, he was a vicious vampire named Angelus.  When when a gypsy cursed him and his old soul inhabited the body again.  The real person is then restored, but they are still vampires.  No weak misunderstood demon who loves you and just wants to feed on you.   No glorification.   
Even in the last couple of years when Spike (another vampire) loved her, her relationship was out of pain and clinical depression.  But Spike loved her so much, that he went to a powerful demon to ask for his soul back.  This relationship was shaky for me, but that fact that she was depressed (being ripped out of paradise with good intentions) made it an acceptable relationship. 
Like most heroes, Buffy faced a lot of difficult battles alone.  She never fit in at school.  She was never understood at home.  Never special academically (C average). Buffy was rejected by most of the usual high school cliques, so she was out of step and often mocked by her peers.  Principals did not trust her (it is hard to explain burning down a gym chock full of vampires) and even her mother regarded her as a delinquent.   Thankfully, Buffy had her sidekicks Xander and Willow, plus her mentor, Giles.  Even an outcast needs other outcasts to make a support group. 
Like most heroines, Buffy often had to make sacrifices and endure a lot of personal and physical pain.  She did it bravely and accepted her duty.   It was hard, as it ruined her dating life and shopping time.  She protected her friends and family, and all of Sunnydale, even though she knew she wold never get credit for it.  She was human, despite her super powers, and moaned her curfew and lack of a good hair conditioner.  She was devoted to her friends and family.  She would give her life for the ones she loved and the greater good-which she did more than once.  She never whined and slayed vampires into dust with flare and gusto.  I know that the stories have continued in comic book form, but it is not enough.  I miss Buffy.    It had something today's shows are missing-heart.    
Until next week, read more fantasy!  And watch some Buffy!
Verna McKinnon-Hipps 

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