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Priceless
12-06-18, 06:33 AM
http://www.whedonstudies.tv/uploads/2/6/2/8/26288593/gilliland_-_slayage_16.1.pdf

This great piece by Elisabeth Gilliland suggests that each of Buffy's serious romantic relationships helped her grow and accept parts of her of personality. I thought it was a good read and I wondered what everyone else thinks?

Buffy’s three main love interests—
Angel, Riley, and Spike—often act as both shadows/doubles to Buffy
and as physical manifestations of her crises of identity as she journeys
into adulthood.

Each of Buffy’s lovers also takes on a classic Gothic persona
who evokes some element of mirroring: Angel and Angelus act much
like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, the good doctor and
his monstrous alter ego; Riley as Dr. Frankenstein’s creature, from Mary
Shelley’s novel, who is a monstrous version of his namesake; and Spike
as a Byronic hero, found in a variety of Gothic tales, who acts as the
fusion of both the Gothic hero and the Gothic villain.

Stoney
12-06-18, 12:34 PM
I only scanned a bit around the Spike part and the suggestion the attempted rape reflected Spike's humanity because of the nature of the attack and his remorse over it stood out. I'll consider this when watching it again soon, but whilst I like the point that is made generally about Spike's journey reflecting some of Buffy's own reconciliation with the differing sides of herself, the point with the attempted rape was I think very much to underline that he is was still a monster and couldn't draw the lines unsouled. So pretty much the opposite of it being about his humanity, but it being about his inability to see the boundaries and be reliable under his own free will being the intended point. Whether he was able to care/love/relate on some level, it wasn't enough. His remorse then was also confused in the crypt scene as he also questions why he didn't do it. That he decides to choose a side and looks to remove the confusion and uncertainty still is partly under the focus of self interest and not simply driven by a guilt to a level he isn't capable of (which I think is how she's presenting it).

I also saw when I scanned down at the end there is a note about Spike's varying nicknames as a vamp don't imply he has taken on a completely new persona as you get with Angel/Angelus. I really do find the perpetuation of that really frustrating as the continuity in Angel's character is there from the very start and deepens as we understand more of his background and why there are more dramatic shifts in his character when he is souled/unsouled. It's only the surface level reading of him which believes in this stark separation as literal. But I accept totally that the wording of it 'suggesting' he takes on a new persona in the notes may go with her having a more complete and complex view of Angel that this snippet just doesn't convey.

I might get around to reading it thoroughly at some point because I like the overall idea of the piece and agree with the idea of each of the three relationships being very reflective of stages Buffy is at and reflective of elements of her own journey/development. But I generally find these articles where someone is presenting their perspective as scholarly can deeply frustrate me and the inability to reply and debate normally puts me off reading them, ha. :biggrin1:

Priceless
12-06-18, 01:13 PM
Strangely the most interesting part for me was about Riley, maybe because I don't focus on him much when I'm considering the show. I like the metaphor of Riley being the true monster to Maggie's Frankenstein, when it's usually Adam that's considered her monster.

I had never considered Riley to be a 'reflection of Buffy's fear of not belonging' because he so beautifully belongs everywhere, even with the lesbian alliance. Riley has been built by Maggie to be acceptable wherever he goes, he fits with the Initiative, the university, every social group, accepted by the soldiers and by the scoobies. I like the idea that it is Buffy that is the embodiment of the monster who cannot conform, who does not fit, now she's left high school and is starting college. I think this reading works really well within Season 4. Buffy chooses Riley as a partner because he fits in with everyone and gives her what she herself lacks. Riley 'completes the trifecta of patriarchal structures' by being a 'devotee to government, university . . . and a regular church goer'.

HardlyThere
12-06-18, 01:34 PM
I think people put way too much thought into this stuff and most of the work of the essays are to move the goalposts of their parallels rather than draw them directly.

I mean, the premise of it is quite flawed. Angel emotionally damages Buffy to great extent and is a textbook cautionary tale. Riley furthers her disconnect and leaves her. Spike is also more or less a cautionary tale. Unless that damage is seen as growth in some way, I don't see it. None of the changes are depicted as positive.

Buffy and Angel did a lot of mirroring but it was chiral far more often than not.

Stoney
12-06-18, 01:42 PM
The relationship with Riley certainly is there along her attempt at the 'normal' relationship in Angel's wake and as she tries to follow the pattern of high school transferring to college studies. It's interesting to think of his uber 'Joe Normal' status aspects, which are such a strong part of his own issues/story, against Buffy's fears of what is abnormal within herself, flagged further as S5 begins and melding alongside her developing relationship with Spike and her wish to explore her slayer side further too.

Using her relationships to look at for reflections of what she is exploring personally works well because of the way the writing in the series ties other characters to Buffy's story. It makes sense that the different love interests will be driving individual development as well as the relationship dynamic along the same tracks. There are ties with other characters in other seasons in the same way too. Buffy and Giles I think follow each other a lot in the earlier seasons as he too breaks away and becomes independent from authority. Buffy and Willow follow similar paths in S6/S7 too.


I mean, the premise of it is quite flawed. Angel emotionally damages Buffy to great extent and is a textbook cautionary tale. Riley furthers her disconnect and leaves her. Spike is also more or less a cautionary tale. Unless that damage is seen as growth in some way, I don't see it. None of the changes are depicted as positive.

Buffy and Angel did a lot of mirroring but it was chiral far more often than not.

Well I haven't read much of it, but I do think you're correct about the cautionary tale aspects and this is why I think trying to twist Spike's story to be about his humanity at the point he is supposed to be definitely showing as the bad boyfriend choice and, fundamentally, why he can't be good whilst unsouled is flawed. I do think that they cover similar themes/issues in her relationships (romantic and otherwise) to further explore the same topics. But it isn't always as a purely positive path for sure, sometimes they reflect, sometimes it's about contrast.

HardlyThere
12-06-18, 02:04 PM
The relationship with Riley certainly is there along her attempt at the 'normal' relationship in Angel's wake and as she tries to follow the pattern of high school transferring to college studies. It's interesting to think of his uber 'Joe Normal' status aspects, which are such a strong part of his own issues/story, against Buffy's fears of what is abnormal within herself, flagged further as S5 begins and melding alongside her developing relationship with Spike and her wish to explore her slayer side further too.

Using her relationships to look at for reflections of what she is exploring personally works well because of the way the writing in the series ties other characters to Buffy's story. It makes sense that the different love interests will be driving individual development as well as the relationship dynamic along the same tracks. There are ties with other characters in other seasons in the same way too. Buffy and Giles I think follow each other a lot in the earlier seasons as he too breaks away and becomes independent from authority. Buffy and Willow follow similar paths in S6/S7 too.

At the outset, Riley can be seen as an attempt at Joe Normal. Except it turns out he isn't and because of that, she balks at the idea of a relationship with a juiced-up military dude who is very much NOT normal. Going forward with it, it's the exact opposite of what is suggested. When she attempts to explore her slayer side, it's depicted as alienating and he leaves her. Growth where?

There is something to be said about Spike and Buffy being in similar places in S6, both outcasts of their respective worlds and there are episodes detailing how they don't fit (DT/OaFA), but again, the story told is the opposite. He doesn't help her at all. He's depicted as an anchor or a crutch and it's not until they break up that things start to minimally improve. She helps him finally come to understand some things, but I fail to see how she grows from that.

Sure, there are parallels and mirrors between characters all relationships. I just think people go way, way too far. An orange and a bowling ball are both round but they are nothing alike.

Priceless
12-06-18, 02:13 PM
At the outset, Riley can be seen as an attempt at Joe Normal. Except it turns out he isn't and because of that, she balks at the idea of a relationship with a juiced-up military dude who is very much NOT normal. Going forward with it, it's the exact opposite of what is suggested. When she attempts to explore her slayer side, it's depicted as alienating and he leaves her. Growth where?


Buffy doesn't balk at a relationship with a juiced up military dude at all. That doesn't even factor into her thinking about Riley. She's worried about his health, and doesn't care if he's juiced up or not. His strength or lack of has little to do with why she's with him, and Gilliland is saying she's with him because he represents yes normality, and that normality is about fitting in with the society around him and that's something Buffy cannot do in S4.

Stoney
12-06-18, 02:21 PM
At the outset, Riley can be seen as an attempt at Joe Normal. Except it turns out he isn't and because of that, she balks at the idea of a relationship with a juiced-up military dude who is very much NOT normal. Going forward with it, it's the exact opposite of what is suggested. When she attempts to explore her slayer side, it's depicted as alienating and he leaves her. Growth where?

I haven't read what has been said in the article about their relationship, I'm just talking generally. I think Buffy generally speaking gains from her experiences in relationships just through experiencing, if you see what I mean. I'm not sure what growth is claimed to have come from her experience in the relationship with Riley specifically. As I said, I haven't read it, but the relevancy of the 'normal' aspect of their relationship, however it develops, is reflective of something she's struggling with/exploring herself (which I thought was the point being made).


There is something to be said about Spike and Buffy being in similar places in S6, both outcasts of their respective worlds and there are episodes detailing how they don't fit (DT/OaFA), but again, the story told is the opposite. He doesn't help her at all. He's depicted as an anchor or a crutch and it's not until they break up that things start to minimally improve. She helps him finally come to understand some things, but I fail to see how she grows from that.

Hmmm I don't agree that he doesn't help her at all. Just because the ways that he attempts to draw her to him and sustain their relationship aren't healthy and ultimately the relationship is proven to be a bad call whilst he is unsouled and limited by that, doesn't mean that she doesn't gain from the experience. Buffy has always been very wary of certain aspects of her own character, has been in denial of them even when Faith is being used to openly explore and reflect on them. Being with Spike gave her some freedom to explore some aspects of her own self and desires that she had denied/contained. The way these ended up often being looked at wasn't always positive either, but I think she came out of it generally more accepting of certain parts of her own personality that she had tried to deny before.


Sure, there are parallels and mirrors between characters all relationships. I just think people go way, way too far. An orange and a bowling ball are both round but they are nothing alike.

Well as there are parallels and mirrors in relationships it's valid and interesting to consider them. That being said, I don't disagree that sometimes it can be taken too far and for me that is when the messages/stories/interpretations bend to try to meet an idea. But exploring a topic generally, such as duality, can be done with several characters in different ways and just be interesting overall and in comparison without tightly tying them. This is why I think the S6 comparison with Spike goes awry. By trying to make Buffy's acceptance of her darker side run alongside Spike's humanity, it derails the season's actual point of progression and realisation for Spike that he can't walk the line. So I certainly agree that such articles can run aground whilst trying to make something run true that doesn't work. This is one of the reasons I don't tend to read them because the presentation of that kind of, to my eye, inherently flawed thinking of a major part of the direction of a character's path is deeply frustrating and the inability to respond bugs me. That they are presented as scholarly makes it worse imo.

HardlyThere
12-06-18, 03:46 PM
Buffy doesn't balk at a relationship with a juiced up military dude at all. That doesn't even factor into her thinking about Riley. She's worried about his health, and doesn't care if he's juiced up or not. His strength or lack of has little to do with why she's with him, and Gilliland is saying she's with him because he represents yes normality, and that normality is about fitting in with the society around him and that's something Buffy cannot do in S4.

Doomed is literally dedicated to her reservations about getting involved with Riley after the revelation that he's part of the Initiative. When she cuts it off, he calls her a chicken.


Hmmm I don't agree that he doesn't help her at all. Just because the ways that he attempts to draw her to him and sustain their relationship aren't healthy and ultimately the relationship is proven to be a bad call whilst he is unsouled and limited by that, doesn't mean that she doesn't gain from the experience. Buffy has always been very wary of certain aspects of her own character, has been in denial of them even when Faith is being used to openly explore and reflect on them. Being with Spike gave her some freedom to explore some aspects of her own self and desires that she had denied/contained. The way these ended up often being looked at wasn't always positive either, but I think she came out of it generally more accepting of certain parts of her own personality that she had tried to deny before.

Like what? Spike tries to draw her to all this, but the point of the season is she's not.


Well as there are parallels and mirrors in relationships it's valid and interesting to consider them. That being said, I don't disagree that sometimes it can be taken too far and for me that is when the messages/stories/interpretations bend to try to meet an idea. But exploring a topic generally, such as duality, can be done with several characters in different ways and just be interesting overall and in comparison without tightly tying them. This is why I think the S6 comparison with Spike goes awry. By trying to make Buffy's acceptance of her darker side run alongside Spike's humanity, it derails the season's actual point of progression and realisation for Spike that he can't walk the line. So I certainly agree that such articles can run aground whilst trying to make something run true that doesn't work. This is one of the reasons I don't tend to read them because the presentation of that kind of, to my eye, inherently flawed thinking of a major part of the direction of a character's path is deeply frustrating and the inability to respond bugs me. That they are presented as scholarly makes it worse imo.

Obviously, I agree. There are parallels, though like I said, most of them are chiral. They look the same but are opposite.

It's fun to talk about it, but I think we have to aware that the text is more important than any meta. Too often the meta comes first and is used to distort the text.

Priceless
12-06-18, 04:53 PM
Doomed is literally dedicated to her reservations about getting involved with Riley after the revelation that he's part of the Initiative. When she cuts it off, he calls her a chicken.


Doomed is about Buffy's fear of entering into a relationship with anyone, not just Mr Normal. If she'd been asked out by anyone, she would have had reservations.

I'm not saying that Gilliland is spot on with everything she suggests, but I think she writes well, makes some good points and I for one have learnt from her article and it's made me look at those three relationships from a different angle.

Stoney
12-06-18, 05:06 PM
Like what? Spike tries to draw her to all this, but the point of the season is she's not.

Like what I've already said. I don't agree that she isn't connected to the darkness at all. I think the fact that she is drawn to him and finds herself wanting to engage in the relationship is in part because it appeals to the darker side within her and that is a genuine part of her too. This is the side that enjoys the fight and can use the physicality of what she does to release emotions/energy. It's in the text as a part of being the slayer and a side that she has feared. It's something that she tried to deny most when Faith was around but we see it time and again as something that she does feel and consider and Spike is intended to link to that side as well. I think that S6 deliberately has Buffy explore this within herself and she gains a better understanding of herself and her inner duality. She eventually does draw the line on accepting the negative abuse of the power that she has used and explored in their relationship, which Spike wouldn't/doesn't because it isn't an issue as far as he is concerned. But understanding it and that it can be used negatively is part of using it positively. The positive use of violent power is something that Spike himself then has to face in S7 when Buffy asks him to step up to the plate more but he has been trying to pull back as he now doesn't enjoy the violence the same. Spike trying to draw her into the shadows to be with him is what he does which isn't right and the season goes to prove to be wrong because Buffy needs to reengage with living, but that doesn't mean that all that drew her to him was redundant for increasing her self-awareness. Buffy faced a side of herself that she experienced during their relationship that meant she had a better understanding of her own power and duality after and I think this is a very pointed part of their relationship and the season for her and it contrasts with Willow's path too. I honestly think that is all within the text of the season.


Obviously, I agree. There are parallels, though like I said, most of them are chiral. They look the same but are opposite.

It's fun to talk about it, but I think we have to aware that the text is more important than any meta. Too often the meta comes first and is used to distort the text.

And some of these things are deliberately explored in the text as part of the characters interacting and learning about themselves. I agree that some readings of the text are done with the focus being on exploring an idea more than the work itself, which I think has happened here (from the little I read) and is why I don't agree with what was said about Seeing Red and Spike's humanity. But this isn't always the case and the way characters interact and the effect they have on each other is in great part what the show is deliberately about and is what the text does look to explore. Often through the parallels and contrasts given. That they are distinguishable doesn't mean that they weren't written to intentionally reflect and relate and so enrich the text in exploring the experiences and topics. I don't think the text was written to be plain but intentionally layered so we don't need to shut down considering/discussing the depth/worth in the work. Sure, when something distorts the text we can speak out as to why we think that subjective interpretation now doesn't reflect what happens and doesn't 'work', but looking for ties in the first place seems part of what is purposely part of it.

a thing of evil
12-06-18, 05:21 PM
Honestly, is using those modern/gothic tropes to describe postmodern characters really such a good idea? Is Spike still a Byronic hero if most of his Byron-isms exist within the realm of performance and simulation? Also, Riley's not a Frankenstein's monster, the author doesn't even make a single convincing argument to support the notion.

HardlyThere
12-06-18, 06:06 PM
Doomed is about Buffy's fear of entering into a relationship with anyone, not just Mr Normal. If she'd been asked out by anyone, she would have had reservations.

It was full steam ahead with Riley before the reveal. Initiative-Hush builds to it.


I'm not saying that Gilliland is spot on with everything she suggests, but I think she writes well, makes some good points and I for one have learnt from her article and it's made me look at those three relationships from a different angle.

That's the problem. There is nothing to learn. She has nothing to teach you. She's just someone interpreting a text, same as you, me, Stoney, a thing of evil and any other member of this board or fandom.


Like what I've already said. I don't agree that she isn't connected to the darkness at all. I think the fact that she is drawn to him and finds herself wanting to engage in the relationship is in part because it appeals to the darker side within her and that is a genuine part of her too. This is the side that enjoys the fight and can use the physicality of what she does to release emotions/energy. It's in the text as a part of being the slayer and a side that she has feared. It's something that she tried to deny most when Faith was around but we see it time and again as something that she does feel and consider and Spike is intended to link to that side as well. I think that S6 deliberately has Buffy explore this within herself and she gains a better understanding of herself and her inner duality. She eventually does draw the line on accepting the negative abuse of the power that she has used and explored in their relationship, which Spike wouldn't/doesn't because it isn't an issue as far as he is concerned. But understanding it and that it can be used negatively is part of using it positively. The positive use of violent power is something that Spike himself then has to face in S7 when Buffy asks him to step up to the plate more but he has been trying to pull back as he now doesn't enjoy the violence the same. Spike trying to draw her into the shadows to be with him is what he does which isn't right and the season goes to prove to be wrong because Buffy needs to reengage with living, but that doesn't mean that all that drew her to him was redundant for increasing her self-awareness. Buffy faced a side of herself that she experienced during their relationship that meant she had a better understanding of her own power and duality after and I think this is a very pointed part of their relationship and the season for her and it contrasts with Willow's path too. I honestly think that is all within the text of the season.

No one said she didn't have a touch of darkness in her. I said Spike had zero to do with her embracing it. She embraced that in S2 and displayed it in S5 and has positively been using it since...forever. Kicking ass is comfort food. You wrote a bunch of words there, but not anything he helped her realize about herself or grow from.

I mean, seriously. Spike is portrayed in S6 as a crutch. A weakness. To be crude, a stink that should be washed away (As You Were). S7 is much better but it has nothing to do with any darkness, but standing beside her and believing in her in contrast to S6. Spike learns more there than she does.


And some of these things are deliberately explored in the text as part of the characters interacting and learning about themselves. I agree that some readings of the text are done with the focus being on exploring an idea more than the work itself, which I think has happened here (from the little I read) and is why I don't agree with what was said about Seeing Red and Spike's humanity. But this isn't always the case and the way characters interact and the effect they have on each other is in great part what the show is deliberately about and is what the text does look to explore. Often through the parallels and contrasts given. That they are distinguishable doesn't mean that they weren't written to intentionally reflect and relate and so enrich the text in exploring the experiences and topics. I don't think the text was written to be plain but intentionally layered so we don't need to shut down considering/discussing the depth/worth in the work. Sure, when something distorts the text we can speak out as to why we think that subjective interpretation now doesn't reflect what happens and doesn't 'work', but looking for ties in the first place seems part of what is purposely part of it.

In theory. In fandom practice, it's a character saying a similar phrase or wearing a shirt and books are written about the meaning. Buffy is about dispelling archetypes, not reinforcing them.

Priceless
12-06-18, 06:12 PM
That's the problem. There is nothing to learn. She has nothing to teach you. She's just someone interpreting a text, same as you, me, Stoney, a thing of evil and any other member of this board or fandom.


And I learn something from everyone! That's why I'm on a forum, to learn things and maybe have my opinions change. We all interpret in different ways, and I find her interpretation interesting. The only thing that doesn't interest me is a closed mind

Stoney
12-06-18, 07:43 PM
I have to agree with Priceless that other people's thoughts and interpretations can inform and change our own. Sometimes they bring us closer to understanding and seeing elements of the text better. Not all do of course, but sometime others bring us to seeing it differently and it improves understanding.


No one said she didn't have a touch of darkness in her. I said Spike had zero to do with her embracing it. She embraced that in S2 and displayed it in S5 and has positively been using it since...forever. Kicking ass is comfort food. You wrote a bunch of words there, but not anything he helped her realize about herself or grow from.

I mean, seriously. Spike is portrayed in S6 as a crutch. A weakness. To be crude, a stink that should be washed away (As You Were). S7 is much better but it has nothing to do with any darkness, but standing beside her and believing in her in contrast to S6. Spike learns more there than she does.

I don't disagree with you that he was a crutch and she used him to punish herself. But I don't agree that he didn't bring her along the path to understanding herself some more and accepting some aspects of herself were genuinely within her. It's an aspect that I think is specifically in the text, his understanding of that darkness within her and their relationship bringing her to accept and face it further/differently than she had to date. But I'll definitely grant you that he tried to separate her and encouraged her to accept a negative expression of it in some ways because of his false beliefs and limitations. That also helped her to see the lines of what was her and what she didn't want to be and was right to turn from. You don't see it, that's fine, we don't have to agree. :)


In theory. In fandom practice, it's a character saying a similar phrase or wearing a shirt and books are written about the meaning. Buffy is about dispelling archetypes, not reinforcing them.

Exploring a topic from several angles and examples isn't reinforcing archetypes it's looking at variety and nuance. None of which makes me rate this particular interpretation under discussion originally better personally (again, from the very little I read, I'm not damning it from having skimmed one part). We're side tracking in a way that almost comes down to whether or not there is merit in considering different points of view, which is somewhat odd to me on a discussion board.