"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wTuesday, May 20, 2003

ALL BUFFY, ALL THE TIME: Tonight is the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As such, everybody and their aunt has gone into tribute mode. Jonathan Last calls it "the best show in the history of television." For the Washington Post, Rita Kempley wrote a long piece titled "Fangs for the Memories, Buffy." (One error: Kempley says Buffy, "always wears a crucifix." In fact, she wears a cross.)

I'd have more to say but I'm on deadline. Here's a piece that I did for Books & Culture on the whole Buffy phenomenon. I'm sure I'll have more to say about it in the future.

Life Sucks
Buffy the Vampire Slayer finally gets some respect. Too bad the life is slowly ebbing out of the show.

It might be a stretch to get him to publicly admit it, but Buffy creator Joss Whedon likely loved the last chapter of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale.

For 293 pages, scholars have been prattling on about Buffy-and-feminism, Buffy-and-religion, Buffy-and-science, Buffy-and-Plato (-Aristotle, -Kant), Buffy-and-politics. Along come Michael Levine and Steven Jay Sneider to argue that the show's success does not rest "on innovation in genre or in any other area, nor does it rest on anything remarkable . . . about the series, its scripts, acting, language, or message." Rather, people watch the show for a much more simple reason. They're turned on by the lead character, a classic blonde "girl next door" type, albeit one with superhuman powers.

I think they're dead wrong, and I would propose another reason for the show's success -- but it's this same reason that leads me to believe Whedon would appreciate their contrarian effort. Both Buffy and the spin-off series Angel succeed by consistently and stubbornly refusing to give viewers what they want. Just when you get attached to a character or comfortable with things as they are, watch for the narrative hand bunching up the edge of the carpet. People die unexpectedly and relationships sour like milk left out too long. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 4:03 PM