?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
A Buffy post, random - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
A Buffy post, random
Well, issue 13/14 of Slayage was up when I peeked from my last post, and I've been happily reading it while I should have been doing just about anything else.

The only thing that disappoints me about Slayage is the heavy focus on gender studies which honestly doesn't interest me very much, though loving academic BS as much as I do, I'll read them with gusto anyway.

On Judith Tabron's article about Willow and Tara (Girl on Girl Politics: Willow/Tara and New Approaches to Media Fandom), she talks about Tara's shooting and Willow's subsequent rampage being somehow anti-lesbian. I found that odd--I read it as exactly the opposite, a total and complete normalization, in which a lesbian couple was put in the same roles we've seen from the beginning of storytelling about one lover going on a total vengeance rampage when the other dies. Complete equality and total claim of archetypical roles, with no stupid dodging (or fake "feminizing," meaning some kind of attempt on Willow's part to "understand" Warren or whatnot) of the issue. Shrug. You never know how people are going to read things, I guess.


I like Willow/Tara a lot--they were a sweet, if boring couple. I like boring couples. I like the Weasleys, too. But of all the sweet, boring, loving couples in Buffy, the one I liked best was Willow/Oz. I liked both characters individually, I liked the way they were written as a couple, and I liked the way the performers interacted. At the end of "New Moon Rising," they talked about meeting up again and always loving one another, and it occurs to me that it was left more or less politically impossible to do that when Willow fell in lust with whats-his-name with the letterman's jacket in "Him" and decided that in order to be attracted to him properly, she would have to turn him into a woman. It would be unthinkable for them to, say, do a movie in the future in which Willow and Oz met in Istanbul, blue-haired and unsurprised (as was suggested in "New Moon Rising") and reinitiated their romance.

Why is that problematic while her relationship with Tara and her whatever it was with Kennedy don't particularly faze me? I think it's that the explicit statement in "Him" that her lust object must be female lends a note of falsification to her relationship with Oz, which had been a carefully constructed literary subject that had a lot of emotional weight behind it. Willow seemed to be with people she loved, regardless of gender (thereby leaving open the possibility of blue-haired Turkish reunions). But if the falsely imposed "love" in "Him" required her to make the object female, then the only way to explain her relationship with Oz is to assume that she saw him (or later remembered him) as an honorary woman--in other words, as something other than what he was. That's very far out of touch with the relationship we saw, but it's the last canon we got on the subject of Willow and men, so it stands.

Anyway, that's probably a good way to open a can of worms, but hey.

Lorna Jowett also has an interesting article on how the "new man" is portrayed in BtVS.

Here's an essay I wonder if anyone has done--BtVS fans, let me know if you've seen the comparison anywhere, because I don't really want to write it as much as I want to read it.

Spike as Willow.


Just to point out a few structural and symbolic parallels:
  • The obvious--he is William, she is Willow. They are both legitimately "Will." (ETA: A virtue name, which could be applied to Willow's decision to stay in Sunnydale for college, thus making a free will choice to fight evil, and to Spike's decision to get a soul, an unprecedented act of will on his part.)
  • Structurally, they both went through their initial period of feeling powerless at the same time (Spike's chipping, Willow's loss of Oz and subsequent depression), and shared a scene where his loss of vampiric prowess is compared to sexual impotence, which she blames on herself for being undesirable.
  • Both of them, before joining a more powerful figure (Buffy in Willow's case, Angelus in Spike's), were nerdy and bookish, and adopted a counter-cultural image (Spike's punk, Willow's Wiccan), which both seem to occasionally think will be stripped away revealing them as 1st season Willow or William the Bloody Awful Poet.
  • Season six. Buffy and Willow are often paralleled here, but Spike is also going through a rather addictive experience with Buffy, which makes him feel both powerful and powerless. He ends by trying to rape Buffy; it's arguable that Willow mentally rapes Tara with the memory spell. While she is more or less possessed by demons in the closing trilogy, he is literally battling demons. When Xander brings Willow back from the brink, the sequence is closed not with her weeping in his arms, but with the return of Spike's soul.
  • Season seven. Both of them come back chastened. Spike is afraid of his violent, monstrous side; Willow of dark magic. They spend the season hamstringing themselves out of these fears, and in the last episode, each overcomes it.


Eh, it's a start. Just wondering if anyone has compared these two. Probably lots. I'm a severe latecomer to the Whedonverse.
12 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
ivylore From: ivylore Date: November 9th, 2004 02:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
like Willow/Tara a lot--they were a sweet, if boring couple. I like boring couples. I like the Weasleys, too. But of all the sweet, boring, loving couples in Buffy, the one I liked best was Willow/Oz.

They were my favourite too. And so NOT boring. (I don't find the Weasleys boring either. Well, see they're er... called, stitches Molly. :) Quirky. Endearing!) Truthfully, I thought that together Willow and Oz were more fascinating - even hotter - than Buffy/Angel. Joan of Arc and God. They were perfect.

I think it's that the explicit statement in "Him" that her lust object must be female lends a note of falsification to her relationship with Oz.

I completely agree. I always felt Willow was led not so much by her sexuality as by her heart.

Interesting comparison between Spike and Willow.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 9th, 2004 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Only "boring" in the sense of stable, not prone to big dramatic break-ups and so on. Willow and Oz had one, but they fixed it, and then they were going along perfectly well until they needed a reason for Seth Green to leave the show, which was kinda contrived, but that's life with actors. They work as a team. They're not too terribly angsty. They just love each other, and that's cool.

I also appreciated Joan of Arc and God. That was just so Willow/Oz... especially with her in a complete, fancy costume, and him just wandering around in his street clothes.
ivylore From: ivylore Date: November 9th, 2004 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

That was just so Willow/Oz.

It was one of my favourite moments from the entire series. Oz, pointing to his nametag.

Speaking of that ep, I don't know HOW but I think am quite possibly the only Buffy fan who has never managed to catch the episode where everyone turned into their costumes.
arclevel From: arclevel Date: November 9th, 2004 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Apparently there's some stereotype in media to do with killing off lesbian characters. I don't think I've ever seen that in anything else, so I'm not sure where it comes from. Interesting thought on the anti-feminine response, though.

I figure Willow's bisexual and hasn't really come to terms with that. For all we've known her and all she's been through, she's still really young. I think her nearly changing RJ into a girl was more her way of showing off due to the jacket, like HP men around Veelas. Additionally, there was probably an element of justification for the attraction, both to herself and her "competitors."

I liked Willow/Oz, too. I tend to think of Willow more as being with Tara, but that's because I usually think of all the characters as their later-season incarnations (usually anywhere from early season 5 to just after season 6). One thing I really liked was that Willow and Oz did have what seemed like an appropriate reconciliation. Despite the fact that it took longer, I never really bought Willow and Tara's reconciliation. I think it seemed like Willow and Oz were both very tentative when they reconciled, whereas Tara and Willow didn't have that feeling to me, even though there had been a gradual period of hanging around each other.

I like your Spike&Willow comparison. I have seen other comparisons (can't remember where), usually focusing on their attempts to be someone different from who they were and their fear that people will see through them. Also, in both cases, it leads to them doing some really nasty things.

Personally, I also associate them because they were central to the plot lines in both Season 6 and 7 which started out with such wonderful promise, then were abandoned for trite, nonsensical stuff that's easier to do (well, what happened with Spuffy may not have been that, but it did take a sudden left turn that was OOC for both of them and not nearly as interesting), or just ignored for much of the season. I love the first several episodes of each season, then my interest just sort of trails off, though there are isolated good episodes in each.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 10th, 2004 07:57 am (UTC) (Link)
How is it a stereotype if we can't think of half a dozen examples immediately? There just haven't been that many lesbian couples on tv... how can a "stereotype" have emerged about their ultimate demise?

:shakes head sharply to clear it:

I think the acid test is how normally Whedon treats the relationship. Yeah, it's two women? Gosh, I hadn't noticed. Now, here's the story...

I usually think of all the characters as their later-season incarnations

I'm mixed. I tend to think of Willow and Xander in their earlier incarnations, Giles all the way through, Buffy about midway, and Spike at the end. Which is odd--I was a very late entrant in thte BtVS fandom, with the first first-run episode I caught being "Once More With Feeling." (It was a show I always wanted to see, but kept forgetting about.) But when I went back and watched the re-runs on FX, early Willow and Xander really caught my imagination in a way that later Willow and Xander didn't. I admit to also liking W/X to some extent--and Xander/Cordy--which made the whole triangle-square sequence really effective for me. Generally, in those cases, I just want to smack the two people cheating on good relationships, but it was so well-handled that I ended up feeling for everyone involved. And I agree with you about the W/O reconciliation. Very, very well written. The W/T reconciliation did have that great little speech from Tara, and who knows--if she hadn't died immediately after the reconciliation sexathon, there may have been some of the same moments of awkwardness and tentativeness later on. But as it stood, yes, it did seem a little arupt.
arclevel From: arclevel Date: November 10th, 2004 10:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought perhaps I'd missed the stereotype. I'm one of those people where I take quizzes where I'm supposed to identify myself as one of six characters, and I've only heard of one of them and I'm nothing like her.

Somehow my mental ramblings involving BtVS characters tend to go AU at the end of Season 6. Which is a little odd given my opinion of Season 6, but I think it's because I like the idea of souled!Spike and a Willow who's already gone off the deep end. (Also, tormented!Wesley usually ends up in the mix.) Then I'm just too lazy to even mentally flesh out how those things *should* have happened in Season 6. ;-)

I joined the fandom even later than you, but I started with the FX reruns, mostly starting during Season 3, but watching some things out of order. I think it's mostly that I watched most of it in relatively rapid succession that I think of them in late-season terms.

My anti-cheating meter flew up too high for me to feel quite so badly for them, I'm afraid. I did like all three ships, just not at the same time.

Yes, the Tara-Willow reconciliation might have seemed better done if it weren't necessary to kill Tara off at the soonest available instant.
shallanelprin From: shallanelprin Date: November 9th, 2004 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved both the Willow/Oz and Willow/Tara couples. I would have to agree that Willow is lead by her heart. I've always seen her as bi, not totally gay.

Spike as Willow? Sounds interesting. I'd love to read anything you write on that subject.
ladyaeryn From: ladyaeryn Date: November 9th, 2004 10:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
she talks about Tara's shooting and Willow's subsequent rampage being somehow anti-lesbian.

Oh, I remember that outcry - mostly from that scary KittenBoard place; most people in the Buffy fandom outside the KB thought those people were absolutely batshit anyway. (I've looked at the KB, and to all those who think the SQ is horribly militant and single-minded on shipping - the Quill's got nothing on the KB.) All this stuff about the "dead lesbian" cliche, symbolically punishing lesbians for their sinful relationship by killing one of them off brutally shortly after a scene consummating their relationship. I have to wonder how they fit the Buffy-and-Angel-have-sex-and-they're-both-punished-as-a-result-too into that notion... it's not just the gays who are punished in the Buffyverse. If anything, Joss is totally non-discriminatory in making his couples unhappy. ALL of them, not just the lesbian ones - heck, the main romance we don't have definite proof of ending unhappily (alas - Willow/Kennedy) on either BtVS or Angel is a lesbian pairing. It may not have been a great move storywise killing off Tara, but it certainly wasn't anti-lesbian.

The sweetness of W/T and W/O was what made me love them - I didn't find them boring at all. With all the angsty/topsy-turvy pairings on the show, it was a refreshing contrast to have relationships that weren't frequently at odds with one another in some way, that were just simply sweet and cute together. If I could've chosen any pairing to somehow end up intact at the end of the series, it would have been W/O.

Willow seemed to be with people she loved, regardless of gender

Absolutely. That was the main thing I loved about her relationship with Tara, despite being sore over losing Oz - from the beginning you could see they had a connection that had absolutely nothing to do with gender and everything to do with being drawn to the person themselves. (Which is what irks me about Willow/Kennedy - that whole set-up felt more like 'I'm gay, you're gay, let's be gay together' and nothing to do with any genuine connection between the characters. Sheesh, she almost showed more connection in one episode with Fred than in an entire season with Kennedy.) After all, not only was she in a obviously very genuine and committed relationship with Oz, she was in love with Xander for years as well, even during her time with Oz. The idea that her being in a relationship with someone is evidently now determinant on gender (the whole thing from 'Him' and her "hello? Gay now!" comment to Anya)... it's, well, jarring.

Interesting Willow/Spike parallels - it had struck me a while back that I found them reminiscent of one another somehow, but hadn't really bothered to analyze it, aside from thinking they both seemed to be struggling with their own addictions at one point. (I generally save my academic BS-ing for SW.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 10th, 2004 08:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, the article cites KittenBoard (with a reverence that suggests allegiance).

With all the angsty/topsy-turvy pairings on the show, it was a refreshing contrast to have relationships that weren't frequently at odds with one another in some way, that were just simply sweet and cute together.

Amen. That's exactly it--Willow, frankly, just had excellent taste, right up until the bizarreness that was Kennedy. Such a nice, marked contrast to Buffy, who had all sorts of unpleasant relationship adventures.

(Which is what irks me about Willow/Kennedy - that whole set-up felt more like 'I'm gay, you're gay, let's be gay together' and nothing to do with any genuine connection between the characters. Sheesh, she almost showed more connection in one episode with Fred than in an entire season with Kennedy.)

Willow had a more developed relationship with the frying pan Tara used to make pancakes than she had with Kennedy.

They should have paid Seth Green any amount of money to come back for the last few episodes of season 7. Everything was going back to the beginning... Oz should have been there. It shouldn't have been a complete stranger in there with Willow for the big spell. It obviously couldn't be Tara and Xander had his own stuff to do, so it should have been Oz sitting with her.
arclevel From: arclevel Date: November 10th, 2004 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Willow had a more developed relationship with the frying pan Tara used to make pancakes than she had with Kennedy.

lol -- great assessment. I was one of those Kennedy-hating fans. I would have strongly disliked her if it weren't for her being with Willow (or if that had been handled differently), but as it was, I couldn't stand her. At all.
snoopypez From: snoopypez Date: November 9th, 2004 11:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love you.

Ahem.

I'm one of the hugest Willow/Oz fans EVER, and I always love to see someone else stating the same things I feel. Heh.

I met Joss recently and brought this up, and he said he wanted it to be that way originally - Willow to just love who she loved, not a gender - but the audience reaction was too against that. Mostly those Kittens. ;P He didn't add that last part, I did. ;)

Willow, besides loving Oz and Xander, had a crush on Giles and thought Dracula was sexy. That's what I HATED about Him. Yeah, she's SO turned off by boyparts. Yet she drooled all over Xander in a speedo, which hides nothing. ;P

All in all.. you're awesome for this. Heh.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 10th, 2004 07:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. I was afraid I was going to end up starting a big fight and getting accused of homophobia or something!

I met Joss recently and brought this up, and he said he wanted it to be that way originally - Willow to just love who she loved, not a gender - but the audience reaction was too against that.

[Willow voice]Hello, audience right here.[/Willow voice]

He should have stuck to his original plan.
12 comments or Leave a comment