Buffy’s character


In his analysis of the Buffy Thanksgiving Special (and its treatment of race, empire, colonialism, etc.), Dominic Alessio listed some of Buffy’s characteristics and dispostions. I find this interesting because I’m curious about what makes for a successful superhero. Anyway, as well as pointing to “her extraordinary martial abilities,” (p.731), Alessio describes Buffy in the following way: “Buffy’s humour, resourcefulness, physical strength, leadership abilities, bravery, and loyalty to her friends and family, when coupled with her good looks and cutting-edge fashion sense, are seen as appropriate and attractive role models for young American women. Shattering restrictive female stereotypes as she does, Buffy the hero is subsequently seen to reverse the historically patriarchal paradigm of woman as victim. In fact, it is often Buffy in the series who has to come to the rescue of her male friends Giles and Xander.” (p.731)

A couple of other interesting statements from his argument include:

“Like many successful works of its kind in the genres of horror, fantasy, the gothic fairy tale, and science Žfiction, BVS has developed into an imaginative and entertaining vehicle to address an intricate variety of contemporary social, ethical and philosophical dilemmas.” (p.731))

Not only are all of Buffy’s friends of an apparently middle class socio-economic background (a possible contributing reason why Faith, the working class Slayer, was never entirely accepted by the Scooby Gang), but most of the characters in the series are white. The only major exceptions to this rule of generally omitting non-white characters appear to be Kendra (a black slayer who appears brie y in three episodes and is then killed off) and Mr Trick (an evil black vampire who appeared in Season III as the right hand man of the demonic mayor of Sunnydale and who in turn dies too). Consequently, the BVS Thanksgiving Special episode “Pangs” (Season IV, Episode 8), which was aired on 23 November 1999, deserves further consideration.” (p.732)

“While the English watcher Giles and neutered vampire Spike do not seem to have any problem with empire (the British are apparently unabashed imperialists like the Romans), the American characters by contrast, whose very national existence and origins is owing to a war presumably fought in the name of independence from an imperial and undemocratic tyranny, seem to have some problems now in getting to grips with their own imperial epigone.” (p.736)

“It appears as BVS, like much early American science Žfiction writing, is more like a reworking (albeit a very successful one) of an old myth: “Science Fiction brought the nationalist narrative of America’s westward expansion into the present and on to the future. It allowed the pioneers of the previous century to trade their Winchesters for ray guns and their covered wagons for rocket ships, modernising the myth of American hegemony.”” (p.739)

Ref: Dominic Alessio (2001): “Things are Different Now”?: A Postcolonial Analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The European Legacy, 6:6, 731-740


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