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BethR

What Would Buffy Do?

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*I would have liked a few more Giles and Xander centric episodes. Mainly because those were always strong episodes.

I agree. For example, season three's "The Zeppo," in which Xander attains his own personal "cool" by facing down death alone, with nothing but inner strength is one my all-time favorites. Plus, extra funny! laugh.gif

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Shameless self-promotion: My essay on BtVS season 7 is now online at Slayage 11/12--the first double issue of the "International Online Journal of Buffy Studies."

It has an epigraph from T Bone Burnett.

I hope you enjoy it. cool.gif

Edited by BethR

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CT reviews Jana Reiss's new book, What Would Buffy Do?: The Vampire Slayer as Spiritual Guide--

http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2004/003/7.26.html

Reiss is one of the featured speakers at the Slayage BtVS conference in Nashville, TN, Memorial Day weekend. For more info: Slayage

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And another link: a conference: 'Buffy and the new American Buddhism' among the topics. Hundreds in attendance.

That is the Slayage conference being referred to in the article--also on CNN.com, and it was featured on TV over the weekend on CNN and FOX news (FOX owns BtVS, so naturally...).

The "Buffy & the New American Buddhism" talk was given by Jana Riess--whom I did not, unfortunately, have an opportunity to talk with at the conference. However, she's evidently talked about the Buddhist themes of Buffy before--at 2003 Cornerstone (with David Lavery, who talked about the Christian themes)--so I'm guessing that is her preferred perspective. But I don't know for sure.

There was so much happening (five to seven sessions scheduled every 1:45 period) that it was like the MLA conference, except that you actually wanted to attend nearly every session. Three sessions on "Religion"--I can give the titles if anyone's interested; the abstracts are available online--and James South's keynote on "The Philosophical Consistency of Season Seven" also dealt with some religious issues.

I had a great time.

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Yet another look at Jana Riess's What Would Buffy Do?, with some info about the author's personal beliefs that I did not know, and links to other reviews. She's not a Buddhist!

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Creepy, ordinary guys like Warren and Andrew...who wants to admit how close their pathetic list of goals--"Control The Weather, Miniaturize Fort Knox, Conjure Fake I.D.s, Shrink Ray, Girls, Girls, Girls, The Gorilla Thing" (B6.4 "Flooded")--is to our own worldly desires?

And that is why season 6 was a work of genius!

I am watching the season six set now. I just got through episode 15. And I am rethinking my asseseement. I really like what they have done with even the geeks. You see how pathetic they can be in that although they want to be super-villains, they don't see themselves as diabolical. And not in the way that your villains usually feel justified in doing things that are wrong. They really seem to not realize that these things they are doing are not fun little schemes. Well, Warren seems to get it, especially as he seems to cross the line earlier than the other two.

spoilers1.gif

When Warren's ex tells the three that brainwashing women into being a sex slave is rape, you see this incredible shock and hurt in Jonathon and Andrews eyes-like it never occurred to them that this was a really evil thing to do to a person. Whenever Warren tries to take them a step further, Jonathon and, to a lesser extent, Andrew get scared. When the wrongness of their schemes is thrust in their faces in a raw form, they become horrified. If not for Warren, I think they would have never gone far at all, he was the will, because when it came down to it, Johnathon really didn't want to hurt people and Andrew had no spine.

I also loved the moment when Tara tells Buffy that nothing is wrong with her and Buffy breaks down, confessing to her the relationship with Spike (a raw sexualized relationship-which never is portrayed in a positive light). It was just a beautiful image as the camera has pulled back and Buffy is sobbing as Tara gentley touches her hair in an almost motherly fashion.

I also note that Xander got more emotional time this season. It didn't make him look more heroic, but his heartache, his obvious fear of becoming his father...we actually saw his parents, and his father was another example of mundane evil. Humiliating Xander's mother before the entire mass of guests for the wedding, with such a cold and sarcastic run at the mouth..."on the positive side, being married saved me from a bad case of the clap." I mean, he was physically beating her down, but it was obvious he offered her nothing but suffering and derision. And Xanders pain when he finds that Anya AND Buffy have slept with Spike...you could just see that it killed him that two women he loved in his life gave into lust with someone he hated. In fact, it reminded me of when Willow realized Xander was dating Cordelia. And when Anya faced the man at her wedding and discovered that she wasn't hurting "men"-but people, and she was now on the receiving end. Wow. Nicely handled.

This season is far better than I remembered. One of the extras is a panel featuring Joss Whedon and cast and crew. When asked what they have to say about how dark season 6 was, his response? "Oops". smile.gif

He also notes that for all the controversial things the show ever had, the only one to get in trouble and lose sponsers? The Double Meat Palace episode.

Edited by Nezpop

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Just the other day, I was surprised to discover Robia LaMorte's official site. Click on "God" for her personal testimony.

Am I the only Buffy fan in the world who didn't know she's evidently an evangelical/pentecostal Christian?

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I only knew because I used to pick up the Buffy fan magazine, and one of the issues during the third season had an interview where she spoke heavily about it.

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Am I the only Buffy fan in the world who didn't know she's evidently an evangelical/pentecostal Christian?

As is everyone's favourite cyborgy/freaky type of a guy, George Hertzberg (that's Adam, in case that wasn't quite clear smile.gif )

They've both talked on the convention circuits about their faiths and how it is possible to work as a Christian in LA, even if that means outrightly rejecting roles if they've been unhappy with them. Robia's had some very insightful things to say about how she found no issues in playing Jenny Calendar (her initial techno paganism being less important than her development) until season three's Amends when she became one of the first people to portray the First Evil. All good stuff.

Sadly I'm too poor to actually *go* to conventions, this is all from transcripts on the Intenet. I'll try and look up some links.

Phil.

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Ahhh...that's right...the guy who played the tough guy who comes out of the closet in the third season was a mormon as well.

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Season 7 DVDs now available for pre-orders wherever you prefer to pre-order them from.

Though season 7 had its problems, it worked pretty well (for me) when I viewed all episodes in rapid succession. Which is partly what my essay was about.

This set should be loaded with special features, analyzing not only this season, but the series as a whole.

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Though season 7 had its problems, it worked pretty well (for me) when I viewed all episodes in rapid succession. Which is partly what my essay was about.

Ah yes! I remember reading that essay a while ago. I liked your observance of Willow's arc, especially those moments where she literally is floored by power throughout the season. Thought you got a bit over-obsessed with Buffy and Spike's touches though smile.gif

I agree entirely. I, for various virtuous reasons, didn't see this season on television and waited for the DVDs. So, therefore, saw it over the course of two days. It was easily my favourite of the seasons. Tight, well developed and with a very clear sense of knowing when it was going right and wrong. Hated by all sorts of difficult to please shippers and people who think Buffy has to be all hugs and kisses at the end of each episode!! Looking at it again I'm sure I'll find it's *not* the best, as I do tend to enjoy the meatier stand-alones than the arc stuff (although season seven does have one of the best examples of how to do an astonishing piece of stand-alone character work which contributes to the full arc of the season, the glorious Storyteller)

This set should be loaded with special features, analyzing not only this season, but the series as a whole.

Try to contain your dissapointment. The extras are not nearly as good as those on season six. The overview is particularly frustrating because it gets much more obsessed talking about what happened in the episodes rather than discussing how they came about (barely anything from magic Jane Espenson! And no commentary for Storyteller!!!) And the feature on Buffy academia is just plain bizzare as it has nothing to do with actually studying the series but is a few TV reviewers and commentators assuring us it'll be watched and remembered in fifty years time without really establishing why. Matt Roush is interviewed for it, though, and he's always good to hear as he's the one critic who really latched onto the series when it first appeared and said it would be great.

The highlight is the commentaries. Which, I'm pleased to say, don't have a dud among them despite three with contributions from the kiss of death to all commentaries, David Soloman. Joss' one on Chosen is a highlight because he rattles through not only the significance of the episode but also the whole ethos of how one constructs a series finale. He's pretty good on Lessons as well, despite being joined by the kiss of death. Of course, the thing to get really excited about are contributions from some of the acting talent. Danny Strong and Tom Lenk geeking it up with magic Jane and Drew Goddard is worth the price of admission by itself.

Phil.

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Seven.

Whedon and Soloman on Lessons

Drew Goddard and Soloman on Selfless

Goddard, Espenson, Nick Marck (director), Danny Strong and Tom Lenk on Conversations with Dead People

Drew Z. Greenberg and Soloman on The Killer in Me

Goddard, David Fury, James Marsters and D.B. Woodside on Lies My Parents Told Me

Goddard and Nick Brendon on Dirty Girls

Whedon on Chosen

Phil.

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Glad to see the cast was more in on these. If I had been in charge of these sets, there would have been more commentaries-and more use of the cast. I actually would have liked commentaries to every episode (like Futurama and the Simpsons had). But that might be tough. But up until now, I believe Seth Green was the only cast member to appear in a commentary.

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Shantih wrote:

(although season seven does have one of the best examples of how to do an astonishing piece of stand-alone character work which contributes to the full arc of the season, the glorious Storyteller)

Yes! I love "Storyteller"! It's a masterpiece! Jane Espenson rules!

Though speaking of stand-alone character work, "Selfless," by Drew Goddard, is also pretty special. And David Solomon may not be a thrilling commentator, he does know how to direct. The Bergman parody in the beginning slays me every time.

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And David Solomon may not be a thrilling commentator, he does know how to direct. The Bergman parody in the beginning slays me every time.

Oh goodness, yes! His work throughout the series has been excellent. It always surprises me how often it's the most gifted artists who seem unable (or perhaps its just unwilling?) to share insights in interview/commentary situations.

Phil.

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Beliefnet interviews Jana Riess, author of What Would Buffy Do?: The Vampire Slayer as Spiritual Guide and Chris Seay, author of The Gospel According to The Simpsons, along with some other folks, about spiritual themes on TV, here.

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BethR wrote:

: . . . Chris Seay, author of The Gospel According to The Simpsons . . .

Huh? You mean there's ANOTHER book of that name now? (I assume Mark Pinsky's was first, since it had at least its second printing -- in which my review of it is quoted -- a couple years ago.)

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Huh? You mean there's ANOTHER book of that name now?

I think it's the original and someone just got a little mixed: Pinsky is the one being interviewed throughout the article.

Some good quotes there, I'm especially keen on Jana Reiss' one that all the folks who'd pinned down Buffy as relaying Christian metaphors have quite clearly misread the show. But those who've put it down as a spiritual work are absolutley right (I say this as I wasn't really a fan of her book. That short paragraph was better value for me!)

On the other hand (and this is off-topic but, hey, the way we read one show does effect another so I think it's valid) the implication that The X-Files said nothing about Christianity is a strange one. I mean, if one of the characters is a Catholic and the symbol used to define her throughout the series is a cross then I think that is saying *something* quite specific... Compare cross imagery in The X-Files to that in Buffy. A fascinating essay, I'd wager, given both female lead characters wear one but for different reasons.

Phil.

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Some good quotes there, I'm especially keen on Jana Reiss' one that all the folks who'd pinned down Buffy as relaying Christian metaphors have quite clearly misread the show. But those who've put it down as a spiritual work are absolutley right (I say this as I wasn't really a fan of her book. That short paragraph was better value for me!)

That is in fact...not what she said. She was simply stating that those who try to claim it as a "Christian Show" are ignoring other elements of the show. She explicitly states, however, the show features specific Christian symbolism and addresses questions Christians deal with in their spiritual lives. She never suggests that people who put the show down as a spiritual work are right. Her quote clearly says those folks are also missing importants parts of the picture. Her point is that the show indeed has Christian themes (the writers and creator have even said so-Whedon himself has expressed a strong interest in the various themes found within Christianity) but it is not a "Christian Show". You actually completely teist her words into saying the opposite of what she actually said.

Most folks I am aware of find Christian themes on Buffy. Not that the show says anything specific about Christianity, but rather addresses concepts.

Compare cross imagery in The X-Files to that in Buffy. A fascinating essay, I'd wager, given both female lead characters wear one but for different reasons.

The X-Files didn't say anything about the cross and Christ with it's imagery. It dealt with issues of faith, the show wasn't addressing Chrisitianity, rather it was using Christianity to address the concept of faith. She is right that Christianity is a "device" on the series. The cross on Buffy is a weapon against evil, the cross on the X-Files is a question mark and full of uncertainty.

Edited by Nezpop

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You actually completely teist her words into saying the opposite of what she actually said.

Rubbish! Although I don't disagree with the point you make, you seem to have completley misread my post! The second Reiss quote is answering the following question:

The point is, once TV is out there exploring the mystical, spiritual, divine part of life, we viewers will make of it what we want. Jana, was the spirituality on "Buffy" intentionally there to draw in viewers?

... with the responce ...

The show was written by a self-avowed atheist, and has a deep suspicion of organized, institutional religion. You'll see clergy members who work for the dark side and authority figures who are corrupt and evil--the town's mayor is my favorite villain. In seven seasons on the air, only one character attended church! So when Christians try to claim this as a "Christian" show, I have to say they're missing an important part of the whole.

Which I agree with entirely. Perhaps you misunderstood the phrase "relaying Christian metaphors"? Which means, to me, that the show doesn't *explicitly* set out to deal with spiritual issues from a standpoint of Christianity. And that's exactly what Reiss is saying. I agree entirely with what Reiss goes on to say about how some of these issues are implicit:

On the other hand, the series features deeply Christian symbolism--crosses and holy water to repel vampires, and some of the rituals--even vampire rituals--must take place in churches. Moreover, "Buffy" addresses questions that have always interested Christians: Is there a hell? What will it take for me to go to heaven after I die? Can one individual save the world throuugh self-sacrifice? What will the apocalypse look like? And so on. Buddhism was important on "Buffy" as well. At key moments, as when a character has to make a decision to act compassionately, we see a figure of Kuan-Yin in the background. I don't think it's an accident that the Buddhist saint who exemplifies mercy and compassion appears in the set decoration at those pivotal moments.

These are issues which are addressed but not in an *explicily* Christian context. A lot of people are interested in heaven, hell and self sacrifice. For Christians they have a very specific meaning and so we read them in that way, but Reiss' point about Buddhism demonstrates that there are other spiritual images which can be read from the series. Sure, there are symbols of Christianity (and, apparently, Buddhism) within the series which can be nothing but explicitly Christian, but their purpose there isn't for conveying points of theology.

So going back to my point:

I'm especially keen on Jana Reiss' one that all the folks who'd pinned down Buffy as relaying Christian metaphors have quite clearly misread the show. But those who've put it down as a spiritual work are absolutley right

First sentance ties into Reiss' first paragraph, second ties into the second. There's nothing contradictory there and I *certainly* haven't implied that she's stating anything which she didn't. I can't see for the life of me how you managed to read it that way! Hope that clears up any confusion!

The X-Files didn't say anything about the cross and Christ with it's imagery.
Edited by Shantih

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BethR wrote:

: . . . Chris Seay, author of The Gospel According to The Simpsons . . .

Huh?  You mean there's ANOTHER book of that name now?  (I assume Mark Pinsky's was first, since it had at least its second printing -- in which my review of it is quoted -- a couple years ago.)

Apologies to Chris Seay AND to Mark Pinsky! My bad--typing in a hurry. Thanks, Peter for noticing, and Phil for posting the correct info.

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So going back to my point:

I can't see for the life of me how you managed to read it that way! Hope that clears up any confusion!

Actually, I can't see how you expect me to get all that info from your original statement. I think it's pretty clear where I got my reading...you said:

I'm especially keen on Jana Reiss' one that all the folks who'd pinned down Buffy as relaying Christian metaphors have quite clearly misread the show. But those who've put it down as a spiritual work are absolutley right

She makes no implication that folks who put down the series as a spiritual work are right. She doesn't even imply it. And that's where your statement makes no sense to me. Her first and second statements don't kead to a conclusion of "But those who've put it down as a spiritual work are absolutley right". In fact, she is suggesting it is very MUCH a spiritual work-asking deeply spiritual questions-Is it an explicitely "Christian show"? No. That's all she said. Her comments don't support your second statement-only your first.

But the X-Files is no more a Christian work than Buffy, which is my point. Both address issues of faith, life and redemption. I always enjoyed that about both shows, but I think the X-Files started to get so convoluted in the last three seasons that this became less of a strong point. The episodes you mentioned all occurred in early seasons. There was Signs and Wonders in season 7, but early seasons approached things like Faith healing and angels and demons (I always liked the Bruce Campbell episode).

My point isn't that there were not Christian ideas dealt with on the X-Files-but it owed plenty to other religions (including Voo Doo and Zen ideals) as well. Neither show could be held up as Christian. Both could be held up as strong television that asked important questions and approached deeper ideas of faith and life. I am a fan of both shows. But I don't think the X-Files was less reliant on diverse religious ideas. Honestly, you could make the same claim for the X-Files as your did in reference to Buffy and it's Christian Metaphors. Neither was created by Christians to impart Christian ideals. Both addressed big questions remarkably well.

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