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My fellow blogger, podcast co-host and friend Kelly Thompson is helping out during my vacation week with posts. Today she has promised me a look at my favorite character, Barbara Gordon. If you read Kelly’s posts over at her blog and CBR you know you are in for a treat. Her thoughts follow.
Aha! Sue has left her Tumblr exposed and vulnerable! Thus leaving it open to my COMPLETE TAKEOVER!
And what pray tell will I takeover it with? Silly child! What does Sue forbid?
And so that is what we will discuss!
More seriously, I’ve talked about my love of Buffy The Vampire Slayer in other places, but I’ve never really expressed out how critical Buffy has been as a role model of female superheroes, an icon of feminism, and an inspiration to so many. People who love and are inspired by Buffy all have their own unique stories for why and how they got there and why and how they’ve never been able to let go, but they (who am I kidding – WE) all share in our mad devotion. How else could a television show that ended nearly ten years ago still have such an active and passionate fan base?
For me, while there were always other superheroes - I certainly found Rogue from the X-Men Animated Series before I found Buffy - and there were many more superheroes between Rogue and my first introduction to Buffy – Buffy is the one superheroine that took the deepest root, inspired the most creativity, and made me the proudest to love complicated and kick ass women.
In one form or another, I can trace almost everything I write (or want to write) back to Buffy. Buffy taught me how to fall absolutely in love with a character, how to let them be flawed and yet amazing. How they could be utterly powerful and still have such human and tragic weaknesses. How stories and themes could all tie together so effortlessly with the right planning and care, and how no story can be too campy or too absurd if you’ve already fallen deeply in love with the characters.
Thanks to the absolutely hilarious and surprisingly moving blog Mark Watches, by writer Mark Oshiro, I am currently engaged in a full Buffy The Vampire Slayer re-watch. I’m watching from the beginning and in order so that I can read along with Mark (we are currently at the finale of Season Five – and those of you know Buffy know what that means!)
I‘m enjoying this re-watch as much as I’ve ever enjoyed watching Buffy, but mostly I find myself fascinated by how Buffy has grown and changed with me over the years. While Buffy The Vampire Slayer is easily one of my favorite television shows of all time (right up there with The West Wing, The Wire, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones) in truth, it’s really the only one of those excellent shows that I watch and re-watch and use as a benchmark of so much of what I try to do as a writer and creator. And while all of those shows are layered and as smart as they come, I think since I experienced Buffy both when I was still figuring things out and now again as an adult, it just has a different resonance and perhaps importance for me that those shows, even if technically superior, can’t really touch.
Sure, some of the special effects from Buffy are still stuck in the very bad 90’s and Season One still feels awkward and highly flawed to me in comparison to everything that came afterwards, but with those few exceptions, I can watch Buffy and both see what I originally fell in love with – what moved me so powerfully as a young woman, and also see it in a whole new way, as a fully formed adult.
I do have to largely credit Buffy The Vampire Slayer for the feminist that I eventually became. When I first watched Buffy I was young (but not that young) and I didn’t know what I was in so many ways, including whether I was a feminist or not. Of course now, despite the bad rap that feminism frequently gets, the question to me is how can you be a woman and NOT be a feminist. But whatever, I digress. I was young and naïve (and not particularly bright) and I absorbed Buffy for all the greatness that was there – the heroic themes, the great monsters, the tragic love stories, the beloved characters, and the whip-smart always funny dialogue – but I didn’t realize at the time that I was also absorbing some amazing female positive and decidedly feminist messages.
Well, it must have taken hold at some point because I turned into a very committed feminist and with Buffy as my primary media touchstone (and love) I’m confident it was a primary driver in shaping me. When I look back on Buffy now I can see all these things — the things that helped build me into this person I became; all those original stories, characters, and themes I fell in love with; and with the gift of hindsight, I can just marvel at how smart it was. How positive it was. How sure it was of its messages, in both overt and subtle ways. Sure, it made some mistakes along the way – we all do – but by and large Buffy the show, and Buffy the character were beautiful, brilliant, badass, and nearly impossible not to fall in love with if given half a chance.
And now comes the shameless self promotion bit…
If anything I said resonates with you, about what you like to find in stories, about what you always HOPE to find in stories, then please head on over to 1979 Semi-Finalist and check out the first chapters of my book THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING, which is all about kick ass complicated girls like Buffy. I’ll be giving away the entire first section in chapters twice a week on my blog for the next month and the Kickstarter for the project begins on Monday, June 25th.
Buffy and I appreciate your support. J
BUFFY FOR PRESIDENT!!!
SUE WILL NEVER CATCH ME…BWAHAHAHA!!!