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Willow from Buffy
11-02-18, 11:42 PM
Hi. I wrote these two messy little text recently. They were not very well received :p but Flow asked me to post them here. Please, be kind. These are just little thought experiments and I wrote them rather quickly.

Ethnocentricsm in Pangs
Is this was some people call a meta? Anyway, I want to write down some thoughts I have been having about the subject of racism on BtVS. Please, tell me if it makes any sense at all. Please, note that my ideas on this subject may be slightly more nuanced than they appear. I wanted to present a unified argument.

BtVS often portrays people of colour in regrettable ways. One example is the portrayal of the Native American spirit warrior in Pangs. Hus is like a cartoon character. He is violent, irrational and nothing about his dress or mannerism appears authentic. I want to suggest that the portrayal of Hus is necessary for the message the episode is trying to convey.

The episode presents us with three white perspectives on the Native Americans. Spike's ethnic Darwinism requires little comment. To Giles, the Native Americans are an inconvenience brought on by history that it is too late to do anything about. Willow is the only one who is truly sympathetic, but her perspective lacks any nuance or real understanding and was inspired by the behind-a-desk academics of her mother.

The episode seems to tell us that white middle class people cannot understand the perspective of the descendants of the survivors of genocide. If that is so, then it would be paradoxical for the episode to portray a Native American in a way that felt convincing. The stereotypical nature of Hus tells us that we cannot really see him. We can either accept Spike's unapologetic racism, Giles's indifference or Willow's naive empathy. An inclusion of a true Native American perspective could have disrupted the message of the episode, and it would require the inclusion of a Native American writer, because if the white writers of Buffy could provide a convincing portrayal of a Native American perspective, it would effectively disprove the episode's central argument.

Kendra's exotic but unplacable hair, ear rings and accent show us that we are watching an Orientalist vision of someone from the third world, not a real person from an actual place in the third world. Buffy's comment about Sineya's hair may be the single most blatantly racist line in the entire franchise, but it could also be seen as the writers reminding us that we are watching a white show by white people and that we should be mindful of what that means.

I have had some arguments with people on the boards about whether it is most important to have representations in the characters a show presents to us or if representations is more important among the writers from whom the stories come from. I tend to lean towards the latter idea. Matt Damon famously said that only representation in front of the camera mattered. I think BtVS was a show of the white-middle class. No show can be the show of everything. I actually think on of the advantages of books over TV and film is that books are made by a single identifiable author, rather than a large collective, which makes it easier to be aware of who is speaking to us.

I am not saying that the racism and limited perspective of BtVS isn't harmful and exclusive, just that writers are trapped by their own perspectives. Writers who take it upon themselves to write the stories of people from marginalised groups often do more harm than good.

WFB'S LITTLE META ON COLONIALISM IN FOOL FOR LOVE
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ee/Lord_Byron_in_Albanian_dress.jpg/220px-Lord_Byron_in_Albanian_dress.jpg
I assume most of you will recognise this man as Lord Byron. Lord Byron was undoubtedly one of William Pratt's heroes. He was a great romantic poet, who loved women, wine and fighting. He is dressed up as the Orientalist vision of an Arab. I'll come back to why that is significant.

The vampires on BtVS are different from the classical Victorian vamps, such as Varney, Count Drac and Byron's Vampyr. This is because BtVS's vampires signify a different fear than the Victorian ones. Buffy's vampires represent the danger of sexual violence to young women. Therefore, the vampires are mostly big, hulky, bruitish men. Of course, there are vampires on BtVS that do not fit this description, such as Darla, but that is because they represent different fears. Spike represents both a continuation and a departure from the classic Buffy vampire hooligan. Most notably, Spike is the first charming vampire on Buffy. Soon, he also becomes the first vampire the audience is invited to feel a certain degree of sympathy for.

In Fool for Love, we learn a lot of new things about Spike. For example, we learn that Spike was originally a dandyish aristocrat. It is should perhaps not be as surprising as it first seems, however. Many poets of the period were obsessed with war. Byron had gone to Greece to fight the Ottoman's. The British aristocracy are an old warrior class, a legacy which they have carried with pride, and at the time, many second, third and fourth sons joined the military and headed out to the Colonies to fight for the continued expansion of the Empire.

In a later flashback, we see Spike having transformed into his Spike persona. He acts aggressively and he uses slang words associated with the lower classes, though his accent remains fairly posh. This shows us that Spike is a chameleon. His identity is created, rather than innate. This makes sense, as his behaviour in School Hard seems very preformative in its flamboyance.

Then we see Spike in China, which was a British colony at the time. Spike has come her for the sole purpose of killing the current slayer in order to prove his bad-assery to Drusilla. The slayer's final words are, "Tell my mother I am sorry." This implies that the slayer left her family in order to protect her community from the vampires. Even though she had reason to leave, she feels guilt about leaving her mother. The slayer fought to protect a community that she was connected to. Spike fought merely for fun and to prove how tough he is. The colonies brought tremendous wealth to Britain, but many of the people who went out were rich already. They were motivated by boredom and a yearning for adventure, and as a result, they decimated entire civilisations.

Spike's reply is chilling. First he says, "I'm sorry, luv," and he almost sounds sincere. Then his voice turns cold as he continues, "I don't speak Chinese." Spike is unable to understand the pain he is causing, because he doesn't speak Chinese. That is probably why the Europeans sought out exotic nations to colonise. Belgium probably could not have been as cruel to a white nation as they were to Congo. The innate xenophobia in humans is a powerful political tool for those who know how to wield it, because it seems there seem as if there is no limit to the cruelty that can be enacted against someone that is sufficiently othered.

Spike kills his next slayer in New York. This time, he is dressed up as a punk. I don't know the New York punk scene as well as I the London punk scene, but in London, many of the working class, immigrant, inner city kids complained at the sudden influx of middle-class punks from the suburbs. Spike clearly looks like a poser and a try-hard. His outfit is a little too perfected.

We don't learn a lot about the slayer this time around, but we can assume that she is native to New York. Later, we learn that she is a mother, as the last slayer was a daughter. Both slayers have people who rely upon them and who will miss them. Spike does not. He might die, but his adventure is otherwise consequence free.

After Spike kills the slayer, he puts on her leather coat. This represent white civilisations desire to not only destroy but also to possess exotic cultures. We do not merely fear, hate or feel superior to the other. We also feel enticed and fascinated by it. This has led the perverse ideology of Orientalism. In the picture above, Lord Byron is dressed in the garb of the Muslims he was fighting. Spike takes the leather coat of the slayer and appropriates it as part of his costume. As the slayer is black and the leather on the coat is black, it is almost as if Spike is skinning her. I once made a joke about how Robin Wood's father must have been Shaft, and thinking about it, I am certain the writer had Shaft in mind.

After all the callous cruelty Spike has displayed throughout the episode, the final scene shows him as compassionate and sympathetic. The sequel episode - Lies Our Parents Told Us - seems to forget about the racial aspect of Spike's conflict with Robin and his mother.

GoSpuffy
12-02-18, 12:03 AM
Great post. I remember a discussion I was in years ago and the general consensus was Buffy might be liberating and breaking stereotypes for women but it definitely did nothing for people of colour. I think 20 years ago things were different and if Buffy was being filmed today I like to think it would have been more reflective of the population. If you look a the highschool or college crowds they are much whiter than you would expect to see in southern california where there was a large hispanic population at the time. So BtVS might have challenged some who didn't think women could be strong but at the same time it also had a lot of traditional value modeling (Parker and Buffy). It presented Willow and Tara's relationship in what I think was bold at the time. So maybe if that's your focal point, women power and relationship freedom there's just no more room to attack racial stereotypes? I believe most of the writers were white so 20 years ago white people writing for white characters are going to make some mistakes. Does anyone know if any of the writers were POC?

Willow from Buffy
12-02-18, 12:12 AM
Great post.
Thank you. When I posted it originally, I was criticised for being to flippant, too forgiving and too harsh. Sometimes you just cannot win :p

Does anyone know if any of the writers were POC?
I haven't checked, but I think I would have known.

TimeTravellingBunny
12-02-18, 12:48 AM
All the writers on BtVS were white, as far as I know (I know for sure at least for all the major ones).

WillowfromBuffy, great post. I disagree about Spike's background though - I don't believe he was an aristocrat (whatever MikeB may think). Upper middle class at best, I'd say. Although I doubt that the BtVS writers did much research on social class in Victorian England, and it's been noticed that William's family's social standing seems higher in Lies My Parents Told Me than in Fool for Love, I don't think there's anything about him that labels him as an aristocrat, and way too many things that speak against that: walking through London alone on foot, "William Pratt", no mention of any titles or lands owned, being looked down on as "beneath" Cecily - whatever standing Cecily is supposed to have [I do wonder what role a vengeance demon could have convincingly taken?], people in the salon laughing at him, lack of impressive clothes, no mention of any specifically aristocratic pastimes, etc.

Stoney
12-02-18, 02:48 AM
Really interesting post WfB. I'm terrible for noticing these kinds of social commentaries in the show, and have terrible historical general knowledge, but I think you are right that there are issues with the representation and I can definitely see the argument that there is a limitation on how well represented POC can truly be when the writers are all white. I'd like to think with deliberate consideration and reading that a white writer could adequately and fairly represent other cultural backgrounds, but perhaps that is naive.

I agree with TTB about William's social standing and Aurora detailed a lot of issues with the social representation in FFL in her rewatch review. Plus, I don't think William would have liked to think upon such awful things as war. But as a vampire he obviously doesn't live by such constraints and Spike is a persona he creates partly because he is a 'new' being but also because he very specifically wants to fight to prove his strength and lack of weakness. As the scourge are travelling 'invading' countries and cultures it is an interesting consideration in the representation then of his conquests over the two slayers he kills. It's also interesting to note that both the slayers that he fought and killed and the only other slayer that we see killed on the show, Kendra, were all POC. :s

Willow from Buffy
12-02-18, 05:16 AM
I am not and expert, so I might be wrong, but because I am of an argumentative disposition, I would like to argue that William may indeed be an aristocrat. He seems to be a gentleman of leisure. The middle class were hard working, pious and wore simple dress. I figure he is from a branch of an old family that has fallen on hard times but still has a fortune that pays some interest. Fortunes were divided up for each generations, so people from old families might find themselves with little to inherit.

Anyway, if he isn't an aristocrat, he clearly aspires to be a gentleman, so he likely shares their values.

GoSpuffy
12-02-18, 05:35 AM
I'd like to think with deliberate consideration and reading that a white writer could adequately and fairly represent other cultural backgrounds, but perhaps that is naive. s
I'd like to think in 2018 that this would be true. Lots of people talk about the need for better representation now. I think it's one of the gifts we got with the internet and social media creating a place for people to share their stories and feelings with a wider audience. I'm very aware now that minority groups feel disenfranchised but I was completely unaware of those issues 20 years ago.

TriBel
12-02-18, 09:10 AM
I read this "elsewhere" and was going to make the following comment.
We can either accept Spike's unapologetic racism

I don't accept it because (in this particular incident) I don't think it is racism. "You won. All right? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That's what conquering nations do. It's what Caesar did, and he's not going around saying, "I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it." The history of the world isn't people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story". He's just calling the hypocrisy. There's no discrimination, no prejudice, no exoticization, no stereotyping indicated. It's the superiority of guns over bow arrow not the superiority of one race over another. It's pragmatic - nothing more. It's a long time since I watched the episode but I thought one of the points he was making is - when it came to his lunch - colour, creed and gender didn't make a difference. I'm not excusing Spike or the show - I have real problems with it from the perspective of race and ethnicity - but on this occasion, I think Spike's in the clear. What I've just this second realised is that this remark "The history of the world isn't people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story" could be seen as foreshadowing Chosen - in the sense that Buffy and Spike make "friends", together they all make new "friends" in the form of new Slayers, have the amulet and the scythe and massacre the Turok-Han. I'm not pushing this connection but there could be an element of self- referencing - "End of story" is a telling phrase.


Then we see Spike in China, which was a British colony at the time. I'd check this - I think it's factually wrong. The r/ship between China and Britain was more complex than this.


Most notably, Spike is the first charming vampire on Buffy. Soon, he also becomes the first vampire the audience is invited to feel a certain degree of sympathy for. Angel?

I have to go out but I'll get back to you. :)

Priceless
12-02-18, 09:59 AM
Really interesting read WFB, thanks for posting. Here are my rambling and probably not very useful thoughts . . .

I have to agree with TriBel in that Spike's comments in Pangs are not racist. He is simply commenting that in war there is a winner and loser, one conquers, the other is defeatd. He mentions the Romans, who conquered half the world, he isn't talking about specific races, he's just talking about the outcomes of wars.

When it comes to white writers writing about other races, I would site David Simon, who wrote brilliantly about the African-American experience in The Wire and Treme. But we are talking about a teen show on the WB, a very different animal to a HBO political drama. Not that type of audience should excuse racism, but BtVS was often written in broad comedic strokes.

I'm not totally convinced BtVS vampires represent the threat of sexual violence to young woman, especially when the main character actually falls in love with two of them.

There is also the underlining British/Irish question that is referenced in BtVS and the antagonism within that relationship as seen through Spike and Angel. I would say Spike is only really racist when talking about the Irish and that's only because of his dislike for Angel. I also find it interesting that the four main vampires are all British or from nations ruled by Britain.

Willow from Buffy
12-02-18, 10:08 AM
@Tribel This is lazily written and I have focused on getting across my central points. I wrote the first post in a hurry before running off to class.

My point was simply that all three represent three distinct views on the plight of the Native Americans. You will likely find one Spike, one Giles and one Willow around at most middle class dinner parties. I guess it is unfair to call Spike's racist, but he is certainly unsympathetic.

I admit I know very little about the colonisation of China and the Boxer rebellion.

I am not counting Angel, because he isn't evil.

It is so much work to write essays for class. Sometimes, I just want to write my thoughts down in an effortless way. :p

Clavus
12-02-18, 04:29 PM
WfB I have to agree with the comments above that this is a great set of 2 essays. The topic's come up on the board a couple of times before, but your view of Hus in Pangs and your view of Spike's sport of hunting and killing slayers refracted in the "adventuring" of 19th century colonialists (British, German, Belgian, French and otherwise) at the expense of native populations which were seen as inferior and exploitable for profit, sex, excitement or just plain sadistic fun definitely is a well-argued case I had not come across before.

It seems to fit, though I would not necessarily pin it just on Spike's possible aristocratic (or not) past. To me his "fun" with the two Slayers he kills is not much different from Angelus and Darla having their "fun" with some gypsies. All are instances of predatory behavior in which the victims are members of marginalized groups or groups seen as "other". Spike's inability to interpret Xin Rong's dying words is an indication of his lack of empathy as much as becomes apparent in Darla and Angelus using the girl at the camp for their own amusement and indifferent to her horror and pain.

Also - this:


Spike takes the leather coat of the slayer and appropriates it as part of his costume. As the slayer is black and the leather on the coat is black, it is almost as if Spike is skinning her.

I had not thought of it like that before, but it rings absolutely true to me and I don't think I'll be able to see that scene ever again without remembering your description - chilling and brilliant!

It would be interesting to really delve into the thematic more rather than just to regret that BtVS is showing its age in the way it deals with minorities. I think we have some elements that would bear further exploration:

Vampires - humans: are they a metaphor for Spike's callous description of the Native American genocide? Are humans the "other", the prey species for vampires, who simply "want, take, have" - not unlike conquering races, whether it be Roman slavers, Spanish conquistadors or European mercenaries during the Indian wars?

Vampires - Slayers: we do see a disproportionate (for BtVS) number of Slayers of color. Is this a metaphor for the "underdog" fighting back, similar to the gypsies who do manage to get back at Angelus for his atrocities by cursing him? Are both Slayers and vampires problem cases themselves, since Slayers are tainted by demon-infusion as per the Shadow-men and demons despise vampires as half-breeds?

Slayers - humans: Among humanity Slayers are a minority of one out of a slightly larger minority of potentials. How is that explored and eventually exploded in the concept of handing all potentials Slayer abilities? Do we see so many Slayers of color, because the show is making the point that they are somehow different, "exotic"?

I think this whole area would pay back more in-depth scrutiny...

TimeTravellingBunny
12-02-18, 08:20 PM
Slayers - humans: Among humanity Slayers are a minority of one out of a slightly larger minority of potentials. How is that explored and eventually exploded in the concept of handing all potentials Slayer abilities? Do we see so many Slayers of color, because the show is making the point that they are somehow different, "exotic"?

I would say that it's simply a realistic element and a reflection of the fact - which the writers were, fortunately, aware - that white people do not constitute the majority - let alone absolute majority - of human population of Earth, and that Slayers exist throughout the world. It would be pretty weird, and genuinely racist, if only white women could be Slayers.

flow
12-02-18, 09:10 PM
Thank you so much for posting this here, WillowFromBuffy !

I need to split my answer in two and I`ll start with the racism in Pangs. I am just going to throw in my couple of not very well sorted out thoughts :-)


Hus is like a cartoon character. He is violent, irrational and nothing about his dress or mannerism appears authentic. I want to suggest that the portrayal of Hus is necessary for the message the episode is trying to convey.
The stereotypical nature of Hus tells us that we cannot really see him.

If I understand you correctly, you are saying, that the show is giving us a stereotype on purpose and that we are supposed to recognize those stereotypes and to realize that they are deeply implanted in our own perspective of etnic minorities and that therefore racism is a part of us.

That would have been brilliant, if it had been intended by the writers that way.

But - alas - I think, you are giving the writers too much credit here. Hus in an almost ridiculous cliche. It is over the top in a way, that we can almost not take it serious. But it is not the only time, that ethnic minorities are portrayed that as cliches or stereotypes.
You mentioned Kendra, who was made fun of, not only because she was poor ("my only T-Shirt!") but also because she could not properly speak english (although it is the official language of Jamaica). And there is also Jenny Calebdar`s uncle, who was portrayed as the sterotypical Romani. Shady and wearing outdated clothes. I think, that the portrayal of Cho Ahn in season 7 was also horrible and fits in here. Of course she had to be lactose-intolerant and is there really a single person in Shanhghai, who does not speak English at all ? I don`t think so.

I am sorry to say this, but the fact, that most ethnic minorities are portrayed in the worst stereotypical manner possible, makes me think, that it was not a clever narrative device by the writers but just sloppy writing, that was probably not meant to discriminate but did so nevertheless.

actually think, that black people are not portrayed as stereotypical, as Native Americans, Jamaicans or Asians on BtVS are. They may be underrepresented, but if we see them, they are usually three-dimensional-characters. We have Mr. Trick, Rona, Giles girlfriend from Hush, Gunn (on AtS). Anybody else, I have forgotten ? They may be evil or not, they may be likeable or not, but they are not cartoon characters, imho.


Spike's ethnic Darwinism requires little comment

I agree with those, who have already defended Spike here. I don`t believe, he is being a racist. He is very matter-of-fact. He shows no compassion, that is true. But he does not jugde either. He just says it as it is. "You have massacred them and now there is nothing left, you can say, to make them feel better."

I listened to the Slayerfest Podcast for Pangs and Jane Espenson said, that, although she was the writer of that episode, Spike`s point of view was pretty much written by Joss Whedon. She also says, that Spike is not saying, anybody deserved anything, he is just saying "your respect comes too late".


but it could also be seen as the writers reminding us that we are watching a white show by white people and that we should be mindful of what that means.

I have my doubts, because those are white writers, writing a white show about white people for a white audience. To have done, what you give them credit for, would have meant, that they would have been able, to step outside their own white world and look at it from the outside. It is not impossible, that they have done that, but I don`t believe it.



I think 20 years ago things were different and if Buffy was being filmed today I like to think it would have been more reflective of the population

I am not really sure about that. I was in my early thirties, when Pangs aired. I did not watch the show back then. But I remember the nineties. They weren`t the fifties or sixties. We were fully aware of minorities being underrepresented - not only in media - and discriminated against. They could have filmed it differently even back then, if they had wanted to. If they had bothered enough.

flow

Fool for Buffy
13-02-18, 03:31 AM
Lots of great thoughts here guys. I’ll just add a relevant point that bothers me, and that is Gunn. He’s a great character, but the only African American on the show is homeless, was in a gang, fights to serve a purpose, and is significantly less educated. Really writers? Wanna have him play basketball and carry a gun too? Oh right. One literal and one figurative there. I wasn’t around in the late nineties. But I’d like to think they could have done a lot better. The poor race representation in general is one of the things that most bothers me in the Buffyverse. It’s not that they fail to recognize other races, it’s that they do and seem to want to be completely stereotypical!

Willow from Buffy
13-02-18, 03:28 PM
Lots of great thoughts here guys. I’ll just add a relevant point that bothers me, and that is Gunn. He’s a great character, but the only African American on the show is homeless, was in a gang, fights to serve a purpose, and is significantly less educated. Really writers? Wanna have him play basketball and carry a gun too? Oh right. One literal and one figurative there. I wasn’t around in the late nineties. But I’d like to think they could have done a lot better. The poor race representation in general is one of the things that most bothers me in the Buffyverse. It’s not that they fail to recognize other races, it’s that they do and seem to want to be completely stereotypical!
He does play basketball :p He carries around a basketball in the first episode of S5.

Gunn was a lovely character most of the time, but they did some really awful things with him. Worst was how the love triangle played out in S4. Wes is white and middle class, which for some reason means that he is able to understand Fred's work on theoretical physics, even though Wes is supposed to be an expert on the occult, history and old languages. It makes no sense.

Fool for Buffy
13-02-18, 08:28 PM
He does play basketball :p He carries around a basketball in the first episode of S5.

Gunn was a lovely character most of the time, but they did some really awful things with him. Worst was how the love triangle played out in S4. Wes is white and middle class, which for some reason means that he is able to understand Fred's work on theoretical physics, even though Wes is supposed to be an expert on the occult, history and old languages. It makes no sense.

I know he plays lol. That was my point when I said “one literal”

But yeah despite heavily shipping Wesley and Fred I agree I’m very disappointed with what they did to Gunn in season 4.

Willow from Buffy
13-02-18, 10:18 PM
I know he plays lol. That was my point when I said “one literal”

But yeah despite heavily shipping Wesley and Fred I agree I’m very disappointed with what they did to Gunn in season 4.

That's right. You're a Fred and Wes shipper. *scowl at you while I slowly sip my drink*

TimeTravellingBunny
14-02-18, 01:03 AM
actually think, that black people are not portrayed as stereotypical, as Native Americans, Jamaicans or Asians on BtVS are. They may be underrepresented, but if we see them, they are usually three-dimensional-characters. We have Mr. Trick, Rona, Giles girlfriend from Hush, Gunn (on AtS). Anybody else, I have forgotten ? They may be evil or not, they may be likeable or not, but they are not cartoon characters, imho.

Well, there's Wood, probably the least stereotypical character of color in Buffyverse.

flow
16-02-18, 08:50 PM
Here are my thoughts on the second part of your essay - Spike and Lord Byron (actually they are rather questions than thoughts):


This shows us that Spike is a chameleon. His identity is created, rather than innate.

Spike kills his next slayer in New York. This time, he is dressed up as a punk...Spike clearly looks like a poser and a try-hard. His outfit is a little too perfected.

I agree, with you on your premise, but I would like to know, if you think, that Spike is putting up a front - if yes, for what reason ? - or if he inventing himself over and over again, like, for example. Madonna (the singer, not the immaculate mother). If yes, for what reason ?


"I don't speak Chinese." Spike is unable to understand the pain he is causing, because he doesn't speak Chinese

Again, I agree with your premise. But I don`t think, his lack of Mandarin is a valid explanation.

He does not understand the pain, he is causing, because he is a (soulless) vampire. There is a Scene in School Hard, where Spike captures Sheila (not Willows mother, but a classmate of Buffy) and ties her up in the bedroom he shares with Drusilla. We see him in this scene, lying on the bed, talking to Drusilla and we see his love, his compassion and his concern for Drusilla. It is overwhelmingly touching. The he cuts Sheila loose, throws her to Drusilla and begs Druzsilla, to feed, because she is weak and needs the blood. At the same time we see the pain, the fear and the terror on Sheilas face. Spike can see that too. But he is not able to understand the pain, he causes. Sheila does not say a word and it isn`t necessary. But she clearly speaks english and she is white. This is imho not about Spike being a racist. It isn`t about Spike being a misogynist either. This is about Spike being inhumane.


That is probably why the Europeans sought out exotic nations to colonise. Belgium probably could not have been as cruel to a white nation as they were to Congo.

Yes, and I think that is mirrored in BtVS. But I don`t think it is mirrored by Spike killing a chinese victim. I`d say, the Belgiums (or any other nation, that was colonising) are the vampires and the Africans were the human victims. The colonialising nations could commit atrocities, because they separated themselves from the pain, the Africans felt. And ironically they did this, by claiming, Africans weren`t humans.


After all the callous cruelty Spike has displayed throughout the episode, the final scene shows him as compassionate and sympathetic. The sequel episode - Lies Our Parents Told Us - seems to forget about the racial aspect of Spike's conflict with Robin and his mother.

Are there really racial aspects in Spikes conflict with Nikki ? Would he not have acted exactly the same way, if she had not been black ? It has been said, he killed her, because she was a woman. It has been said, that his urge, to seek out and fight slayers has misogynist aspects. Now you say, his fight with Nikki has racial aspects. I am not sure about that. I`d like to know, what would have been different, if Nikki had not been black, but Asian, Native American, Latina or Caucasian ? I do believe, that he still would not only have killed her but would also have taken the leather coat. But maybe I am wrong.


For example, we learn that Spike was originally a dandyish aristocrat.

It has been discussed in the threads before and I am neither an expert in english history nor in english aristocracy. But I am a sucker for Jane Austen novels. When I first saw the flashbacks in Fool For Love and in Lies My Parents Told me, I was reminded of the middle class, as Jane Austen portrays it in her novels. Her characters are often not from the middle class, but from the gentry, which is, as I understand it, a lesser from of aristocracy and I won`t rule it out, that the Pratt family belonged to the gentry (with a house in town and we just randomly see them there and not on their estate in the ...shire). But there also are examples for middle class families in Jane Austen`s novels, such as:

- the Dashwood family, before Henry Dashwood died and his wife`s and daughter`s social status was reduced (Sense and Sensibility)
- the Ferrars family (Sense and Sensibility)
- the Gardiner family (Pride and Prejudice)
- the Bingley family (Pride and Prejudice)
- the Crawford siblings (Mansfield Park)
- the Woodhouse family (Emma)
- the Knightley brothers (Emma)
- Frank Churchill (Emma)
- the Musgrove family (Persuasion)

What do you all think ? Does the Pratt Family fit into the picture, Jane Austen drew of the (upper) middle class ? Or am I mistaken ?

flow

TriBel
16-02-18, 11:50 PM
There's an article here about third wave feminism in BtVS that mentions its racial politics https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/07/how-buffy-became-a-third-wave-feminist-icon/493154/ Actually, I've just ordered the book this is drawn from but my argument would be that S7 is far more radical than supposed by Pender.

There's also this “Why don’t you just go back where you came from?” or “Slight yams”: “Pangs” of Regret and Unresolved Ambivalence in Joss Whedon’s California" by
Tereza Szeghi and Wesley Dempster http://www.whedonstudies.tv/uploads/2/6/2/8/26288593/szeghi_dempster_slayage_15.1.pdf

flow
18-02-18, 06:50 PM
Thanks for both links, TriBel ! need an additional day each week. So much to read, so little time.....

flow

betta
18-02-18, 07:41 PM
Are there really racial aspects in Spikes conflict with Nikki ? Would he not have acted exactly the same way, if she had not been black ? It has been said, he killed her, because she was a woman. It has been said, that his urge, to seek out and fight slayers has misogynist aspects. Now you say, his fight with Nikki has racial aspects. I am not sure about that. I`d like to know, what would have been different, if Nikki had not been black, but Asian, Native American, Latina or Caucasian ? I do believe, that he still would not only have killed her but would also have taken the leather coat. But maybe I am wrong.

I think you're right: the fact that the writers chose a black Slayer and an Asian Slayer for Spike to kill has nothing to do with the character; he would have acted exactly the same way with a Caucasian Slayer.

If the show runners thought that it would be necessary/good to give Buffy some diversity, and instead of a regular character they had the (unfortunate?) idea to make it happen within Spike's story, I wouldn't blame the character.

If they thought that the Boxer Rebellion was the best scenario (as in exciting, interesting) at the best time (1900) for Soulled Angel, Darla, Spike and Drusilla to meet, it has nothing to do with Spike.

If they thought that, because Spike liked punk, it would be a good idea to place him in the 1970's as a punk rocker, and choose a black Slayer with her iconic afro hair style*, it has nothing to do with the character; I don't think the writers were trying to say something about Spike, or that they were insulting/offending any race by doing that.

*The effect of the Civil Rights Movement brought a renewed sense of identity to the African-American community, which also resulted in a redefinition of personal style that included an appreciation of black beauty and aesthetics, as embodied by the "Black is beautiful" movement. This cultural movement marked a return to more natural, untreated hairstyles. The Afro became a powerful political symbol which reflected black pride and a rejection of notions of assimilation and integration—not unlike the long and untreated hair sported by the mainly White hippies. Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afro#History_in_the_United_States)

And about Slayers being women: what got Spike interest in them in the first place was that they were the ones, besides angry mobs, who "could teach him a lesson" – and this was a personal offense to him:

ANGELUS: You can't keep this up forever. If I can't teach you, maybe someday an angry crowd will. That... or the Slayer.

Spike sits up, suddenly interested.

SPIKE: What's a Slayer?

KingofCretins
18-02-18, 11:03 PM
I was going to steer like he'll away from this thread but I can't. The two Slavers Spike killed were obviously and self-evidently chosen to be minorities as a conscious effort of inclusiveness. A mitzvah of diversity. That they both die is irrelevant for any number of reasons, but two obvious ones are

A) it is a known fact for 3 seasons at that point that Spikes story of those 2 would necessarily end with them dead
B) that there aren't any stories of past Slayers that retired and lived happily ever after.

There is also no credible argument that Spike targeted either for their ethnicity. There really isn't much evidence that he targeted them as such, at all. One gets the impression that he would find himself in a Slayer's turf and then make the point of going after her, not that he was combing the world for them and only found the two.