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|Wednesday, September 8th, 2010|
|"You're the man. A very short, annoying man."
I just read an excellent post by Angearia, here: http://angearia.livejournal.com/169785.html#cutid1
This bit sparked a thought. I'll quote it in full cos it's dead good, and it'll help me explain my point:angearia sezLook at this cover at full size and let the image sink in.
(JOE SWEDEN NOTE: sorry, I'm not as clever at linkiness as she is! Just click on it, fingers crossed it will take you to the right piccy)Whedon is reaching inside and looking at Buffy, at the part of himself that Buffy represents, and saying to her, "I want you to be strong." Not merely in sharing power, not merely in physical strength. He wants her to be strong from WITHIN. He wants the scared little girl that still lives inside Buffy (and maybe the scared part inside himself and inside all of us) to go out and face her fears. To seek them out and kill them dead.
Read this speech again from "Bring on the Night" and then think about what's happening in Season 8:
BUFFY: "I'm beyond tired. I'm beyond scared. I'm standing on the mouth of hell, and it is gonna swallow me whole. And it'll choke on me. We're not ready? They're not ready. They think we're gonna wait for the end to come, like we always do. I'm done waiting. They want an apocalypse? Oh, we'll give 'em one. Anyone else who wants to run, do it now. 'Cause we just became an army. We just declared war. From now on, we won't just face our worst fears, we will seek them out. We will find them, and cut out their hearts one by one, until The First shows itself for what it really is. And I'll kill it myself. There is only one thing on this earth more powerful than evil, and that's us. Any questions?"
I'd like to pick up on a different aspect of both the cover image linked to above, and the part of the quote angearia bolded: "...we just became an army
"? Interesting choice of words, Ms Summers. Or should I say, Generalissima Summers? Those words - and her attitude and experiences in season 7 and 8 - coupled with the shoutout to the Lord Kitchener/Uncle Sam war recruitment posters have set my mind ablaze with paradigm-shifty goodness.
But, before we get onto the shift, what paradigm are we starting out with?
Let's just say, in the past, Buffy has frequently fought against or at least complicated the structures of traditional authority. At the Initiative, she refuses uniform (due to fashion reasons, ostensibly, but I think it goes deeper than that - she's not a rank and number, she's Buffy Summers, dammit!) She defies the Watcher's Council. She thinks Kendra's deference to it is misguided. She defies the authority of Prophecy with a capital P by insisting on coming back to life. She laughs in the face of - and later, kicks the intangible ass of - the First, changing the rules of the game and changing the world at the same time.
As Giles said, the Slayer's Handbook is of no use when you come across someone as mould breaky as Buffy.
So, when she whips up an army and becomes its general in season 7... when she co-ordinates an international army (or perhaps paramilitary organization) in season 8, she's taking on a role that in some ways is antithetical to that played by past!Buffy.
By becoming an "Uncle Sam" figure (though obviously a nuanced one), she's becoming the thing that she's fought against in the past - The Man.
Not in the penis-having sense, in the enemy-of-hippies-and-students-everywhere sense.
I see the struggle for Buffy in season 8 as partly a struggle within herself - a wrestling match in which anarchist!Buffy must battle authoritarianmilitaryleader!Buffy. (No, there is no oil of any kind involved, dirty thugs!)
I'm not suggesting this is a conscious battle, but she does deal consciously with the problem that a leader can never be "one of us" in the full sense - she must stand apart to a degree.
However, in terms of Buffy's character arc over seasons 7 & 8, she's confronting a new reality (of her own making), in which she must become "the Law" (interesting how much she looks like Fray's sister eh?). She must step into the role she dreaded at school careers day....a police officer, of sorts.
It's not as simple or anywhere near as literal as that - Buffy-as-leader is not exactly big on the law-abiding. But she is now in a position to "lay down the law" - that is, make decisions for other people, decide what the aim of her loose organisation is, decide what a slayer's job actually is, on the macro scale at least.
Now Buffy is operating on a global scale, it's qualitatively as well as quantitatively different to when it was just the scooby gang. It's not just that she's "in charge" of more people.... before, she could go off and act alone in a way that didn't affect an organisation, it just potentially hurt/helped her friends (and the world, but that's more amorphous). But things Buffy does as a leader now set an example for younger slayers - for "the troops". There are enough slayers to be faceless and nameless to her now (eg her failure in the art of "learning their names" is something she's criticized for by Faith in season 7).
That changes the whole game, and it changes Buffy.
I've missed quite a bit of season 8, and must catch up - got annoyed with all the Angel business, as it felt like a distraction. But I wonder... I want to see how it ends. I want to see how Buffy-the-Law and Buffy-the-makes-it-up-as-she-goes-along-e
r work together - or less together - and where all this leads her to by next season.
I'm not convinced this will play out perfectly, even well... but there's a lot to think about still in season 8.
|Thursday, September 2nd, 2010|
|Wednesday, September 1st, 2010|
|Funny (and painful) cos it's true
Way back in the late 1990s, I went to university. Over ten years later, someone made this video... that perfectly encapsulates every single conversation I had during Freshers' week.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHDY2QpaSwU
For the record, I didn't go on a "gap yah", but having to listen to a hundred odd gap year stories in quick succession, I think that's quite enough to say... this video is ALL TRUE.
|Wednesday, July 21st, 2010|
|Now we are Eleven (after A.A. Milne)
When I was one
I went on the run
When I was two
I was someone new
When I was three
I was Jon Pertwee
When I was four
When I was five
I kept Peri alive
When I was six,
I made poor style picks
When I was seven,
My show went to heaven
When I was eight,
I snogged my date
When I was nine,
My big ears were divine
When I was ten,
I was godlike, amen.
But now I am eleven,
I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be eleven
now and forever.
|Wednesday, July 14th, 2010|
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|Thursday, July 1st, 2010|
|Sunday, May 9th, 2010|
|The Great Fanfiction Debate
I'm probably last to the party. But I brought beer. Can I come in?
Anyway, re the fanfiction kerfuffle....I've been following it in dribs and drabs, but felt inclined to respond to this one in particular, which flake sake linked to:http://grrm.livejournal.com
The author here (not read anything by him, but apparently he's good) talks about the idea that some authors have that "my characters are my children". That's why they object to fanfic - because you're playing sillybuggers with the fruit of their wombs (or testes, in his case. Erm. I can't believe I'm writing about a stranger's testes on the internet. But, there you go. That's the internet for you. Brings out the worst in all of us. Sorry, George RR Martin. I will back away from your generative organs now.)
His post provoked a surprisingly strong reaction in me - so strong that I actually felt moved to post on my livejournal that's been an almost entirely passive enterprise for as long as I can remember. Which, I'll admit, is not long.
Reading Mr Martin's post, I felt that kind of hand-flappy excitement you get when somebody's wrong on the internet, and you wish they were in the room so you could communicate exactly why they're wrong... or, well, wrong's the wrong word. He's perfectly right about him... but wrong if he tried to extrapolate his experience to me. Which he's not trying to do. So...he's not wrong.
But, it's not about being wrong. It's about having a fundamentally different conception of fiction and the author's role and rights in fiction. And, I hadn't realised quite how earth-shattering it is to experience someone who views the world of fiction as a parallel universe to the world I experience it as. It's as though you discover someone else sees the colour green completely differently. Only, the ideological equivalent.
Following the recent general election, I've been thinking about ideology a lot. I've been thinking about how two perfectly reasonable, intelligent, not-evil people can come to diametrically opposing conclusions about what "the Good" is, and what society is.
The same goes for fiction - I've found, in fandom, that people can come at stories with such radically different expectations and interpretative tools that any given story can change depending on who's looking at it. There' a physics thing to do with that. Can anyone remember what theory it is? Is it the same as the catinabox stuff? Anyway, that's a diversion - but would appreciate any insights the science types on my list have.
Back to topic. So, any given story can shift and change under the gaze of any given selection of people. There's no "right" interpretation - at least, not according to the framework in which I've always approached fiction.
As an extension of that, I've always believed that there's no ownership in fiction, either. I mean, there's the legal kind, but, I mean that for me, there's no emotional ownership - or at least, not exclusively by the author.
Allow me a religious analogy?
Like Jesus, a story exists for everyone, in my worldview (is that a thing? IMW instead of IMO? I need something broader and more structural than "opinion"). Just as Jesus doesn't "belong" to God, just because he was God's idea, a story doesn't "belong" to the author - it has its own existence out there in the world. Jesus was the Word made flesh (I mean, if you accept Christianity on its own terms - I'm just borrowing the imagery for a second, hope no one minds). Characters are the Word that gets up and has experiences and runs around and saves lives and does stupid things...in the minds of whoever happens to pick up the book, or see the movie adaptation, or hear a friend talk about the book.
IMW, once a character has been committed to paper and "sent out" into the world (published, or diseminated in whichever way the kids are doing it these days), they exist in the realm of stories - which, in turn, exists in the minds of readers.
In the storyworld, these characters and the stories that house them interact with all the other stories and ideas out there in the world of fiction. Unless it's the first book you've ever read,you never read a story in total isolation. Or at least... and we go back to the different worldview question here... I know I never can. Characters and plots and worlds echo one another. They influence how each story is experienced.
They can give birth to new life - in terms of how they influence stories that come after. They can change depending on who they're "with" (ie who's reading teh story or interpreting it).
So, maybe you're wondering (if you're still reading - I realise I'm rambling) what all this has to do with fanfiction?
Well, it all goes back to the post I linked to at the start, and my itense gut reaction to it. The idea that "my characters are my children" does not compute in my brain, because I view each piece of fiction as a part of a larger whole - more like, "my characters are my contribution to the debate" or, perhaps, "my characters are the latest arrangement of a fundamental fictional reality that exists behind everything, all the time, in the human collective consciousness".
It comes back to the understanding I have of society. And property, too. To me, the idea of property is pretty absurd. Not on a legal level - I get why people need to observe property laws, in order to have a stable, safe society. I also get why we need copyright laws, to reinforce a sense of fairness or justice, without which, people would feel lost and scared and threatened. Copyright laws and property laws go hand in hand.
But, if we're talking about natural law? The idea that a character belongs to its creator seems as strange as the idea that I could own the seasons, if I happened to be the first person to articulate them as concepts.
Behind all this is a kind of faith - I believe fiction exists in some way beyond each individual author. Stories have a kind of fire and power that can't be owned. We can enjoy them and make new ones and share them and explore the worlds of stories. But we can't own them on a metaphysical level, any more than we can own fire itself.
|Thursday, March 11th, 2010|
|Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010|
|Friday, January 29th, 2010|
|Blair is Twilight?
At the Chilcot Inquiry today, Blair said: "Sometimes I think it’s important not to ask the March 2003 question but to ask the 2010 question."
Anyone else seeing wibbly wobbly timey wimey parallels with Twilight...? Just me...?
|Why Buffy is best
Reading some metafandom discussion about why a lot of female fic writers don't write female characters (apparently), I found myself frowning in bafflement. One person (forget who, sorry, I was skimming) said that this was partly down to the paucity of decent female characters. I frowned some more. That did not compute - there are many awesome women to write about.
Then I realised. They don't write about BtVS. Buffy has spoiled me, and made me expect the same in all shows all the time. A lack of interesting female characters in a show tends to just puzzle me now as much as anything. I feel like looking under the sofa to check where they might be.
Supernatural, for example. Where are the wimmins? Is they hiding? Oh noes. They is hiding on ceiling. Ceiling wife is watching you masturbate. Or, you know, too busy dying horribly in flames to bother about you masturbating.
|Sunday, January 24th, 2010|
|Saturday, January 23rd, 2010|
|Thursday, January 21st, 2010|
|Thursday, January 14th, 2010|
|Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009|
|Tuesday, November 17th, 2009|
|Thursday, October 29th, 2009|
|They call me Polyphonte - a BtVS Greekmythpastiche!drabble (no warnings, no spoilers)
Troy, many years BC...
In the midst of battle I fought, but I did not fight the Greeks. Lamia, hissing their poisonous calls, were my foe. Their glinting fangs were bared in the moonlight. I sliced cruel heads from scrawny shoulders. Blood on my hands; my own, or theirs? I cannot tell.
I saw many men die that day, but men are not my world. They call me polyphonte, slayer of many. All I know is death and fleeting love. Dark hands in the night, of god or man. I am the dark. I am the barrier against the dark.
|Wednesday, September 16th, 2009|