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ghoststar
14-12-18, 05:07 PM
1397

I absolutely think that at least some demons have souls. In fact, I’m pretty sure we hear the phrase “demon soul” used a couple of times. The essence of demons appears to be immortal, capable of existing in Heaven or Hell, and integrated with a physical body. In short, it’s very close to the human soul– maybe a cousin or grandchild in terms of its origins. The Watchers simply don’t consider demon souls valid, and Buffy takes her philosophy from them.

It changes my view on ethics in the Buffyverse a lot– on Buffy herself, not so much. I think that the Watchers, and by extension Buffy herself, are factually and morally wrong to categorize demons as “evil” or “unnatural” rather than merely dangerous and inconvenient. Vampires, etc., are a notch higher than humans on the food chain, and they treat humans the way that humans often treat animals– or, for that matter, rival groups of humans. It makes them natural competitors and enemies of humans, but that’s different from being intrinsically evil. (If there were still multiple subspecies of Homo sapiens running around, and some of them occasionally ate Homo sapiens sapiens, I wouldn’t say that they were evil in some greater cosmic sense. Same thing with vampires, the Mayor, and so on.) We’re so used to thinking of humans as the most powerful species on Earth that the idea of a more powerful predator feels unnatural and wrong; that doesn’t make it true.

So I view the fight against demons (at least the ones who pose a significant threat to humans) less as a matter of good vs. evil, and more like two nations sending soldiers to fight for their different national self-interests. There are some exceptions, like the actual apocalypse-inducing monsters, but those aren’t the rule: Spike wants the world to not end, Clem wants as far from the rising ubervamp army as possible, and “Doc” didn’t expect a vampire to care one way or another about Glory’s scheme.

When the demons don’t pose a threat, it becomes a much stickier question. Buffy may be acting as an honorable soldier by attacking known enemies, but should Faith’s killing of the demon who demanded payment for information be treated as inherently less wrong than her killing a human enemy? In my opinion, no. It may not be covered by legal codes, but the demon was a person with interests, ambitions, etc., and she killed him. Sometimes killing is unavoidable. Sometimes it doesn’t break one’s “national” loyalties. But none of that makes it any less of a tragedy for the victim, and none of that makes the victim’s life objectively less valuable than a compatriot’s.

flow
14-12-18, 07:15 PM
I remember two times demon souls were mentioned in the show. The first time it is Giles in The Harvest and this is, what he says:


The books tell the last demon to leave this reality fed off a human, mixed their blood. He was a human form possessed, infected by the demon's soul. He bit another, and another, and so they walk the Earth, feeding... Killing some, mixing their blood with others to make more of their kind. Waiting for the animals to die out, and the old ones to return.

The second time it is D`Hoffry in Selfless and he says:


In order to restore the lives of the victims, the fates require a sacrifice. The life and soul of a vengeance demon.

That seems to indicate that demons do indeed - like humans and unlike vampires - have a soul. The difference between a human soul and a demonic soul does not get explained or explored within the show (or the comics as far as I know). Which is a shame.

If there is a difference at all, I think, we can easily agree, that a soul makes a being neither good nor evil.

I don`t agree though, that demons aren`t intrinsically evil. We see that vampires - who are soulless, I give you that - do far more than just feed on humans, because they need their blood to sustain themselves. Apart from the fact that there are other ways - blood donation, animal blood, feeding on humans without draining them - vampires are known, to enjoy slaughtering, maiming, torturing and raping. Spike has slaugheterd an orphanage. He also describes hunting the girl in the coal shed. Knowing, that he just fed of the rest of her family, he probably wasn`t hungry.

Angel raided nunneries, wedding parties and probably didn`t earn the name "Scourge of Europe", because he simply took the amount of blood, he needed to sustain himself.

The same can be said for demons, though not for all the demons, we see. There are peaceful demons, like Loose-Skin-demons, for instance. But what about Der Kindestod? The demon disgusied as children in Gingerbread? Eyghon? Gachnar? The Hellions? They try to cause havroc. Their aim is to bring fear and terror. I do see a difference to simply having a burger for dinner.

I agree, that humans - for the absence of demons in the real world - are the most evil species on earth and we are likely to end the world we live in very soon. But as evil as humans are, they also have the potential for being good. And that makes them worth saving. Imho.

flow

Stoney
15-12-18, 04:40 AM
A vampire is a hybrid of a human and a demon and so the loss of the human soul is a meaningful distinction in what makes a vampire and serves their attitude and actions. Without the human soul and with the inclusion of the demon a vampire can feel all the same emotions it seems but they are shallowed versions of them, the breadth and depth is limited without the soul. So the soul makes a literal difference to their capacities and capabilities in addition to the demon bringing a desire for blood, violence and destruction. Of course when a vampire is souled it doesn't make them good, it just gives them the full capability to understand their choices and make an individual decision, just like a human. They still also have the influencing drive of the demon within to contend with too though. But a soul isn't a good/evil distinction alone.

I have no problem seeing that other demons may have souls. Anya certainly behaved vindictively with her soul in place before she became a vengeance demon. There are some demons that are presented as not being an active threat to humans and some that are, like vampires, bent on violence and destruction. What difference a demon soul makes to the varying demon species isn't ever explored, but whether they do or don't have a demon soul doesn't seem to be a distinguishing factor of good/evil, harmless or not.

There is a point that humans are behaving like they have a greater right to live over demons when they are killing them because of the risk to their individual self or their wider species from the demon. Any preemptive killing is done on the basis that the default position of the demon will be to attack/harm their own species and the shows in the main support this as justified. But it is a battle where we are positioned to be on one side over the other. I think that demons in general though, even though they are presented as having a propensity towards violence, are treated responsively. Buffy et al will come into contact with them often through their plans/actions rather than seeking out any/all demons of any variety to kill preemptively. Those that are killed regardless of whatever they are currently doing, it is done on the basis that they are intrinsically a danger to human life and that is based on experience and evidence. Actions inform where the lines are drawn rather than when/if a soul is present I think. Vampires are treated differently as the loss of soul is a distinct part of how they function and as hybrids why/how the demon becomes so violent and delights in the actions. The soul in this case is meaningful and is consistently supported to be a distinguishing factor whereas in other demon cases is obviously not so.

TriBel
15-12-18, 10:40 PM
flow:


I remember two times demon souls were mentioned in the show. The first time it is Giles in The Harvest and this is, what he says:

The books tell the last demon to leave this reality fed off a human, mixed their blood. He was a human form possessed, infected by the demon's soul. He bit another, and another, and so they walk the Earth, feeding... Killing some, mixing their blood with others to make more of their kind. Waiting for the animals to die out, and the old ones to return.

Geoffry of Monmouth's book told us King Arthur and his Knights existed. They didn't. Perhaps Giles shouldn't believe everything he reads in books. :lol: "Above all his Historia included the character for whom Geoffrey is always best remembered, King Arthur. His work on creating the legend - arguably a necessity in a period of trouble and strife when the country was desperately seeking to return to happier, more peaceful times - certainly began the popularity of the Arthurian legend. Later kings and historians took the legend and adapted it to their own needs but it undoubtedly began with Geoffrey of Monmouth." I mentioned Geoffrey because of the "Scythe in the Stone". Once you get beyond historical fact, you're into the realm of ideology, unconscious bias, the problematics of linking cause and effect etc. etc. etc. It's noticeable there's no mention in the books of The Guardians or the Scythe.

flow:


The second time it is D`Hoffryn in Selfless and he says:


In order to restore the lives of the victims, the fates require a sacrifice. The life and soul of a vengeance demon.
That seems to indicate that demons do indeed - like humans and unlike vampires - have a soul.

I'm not disputing the claim that demons have souls. The point I'm making is the D'Hoffryn is well-p*ssed off and could claim anything. We don't know what the fates demand. D'Hoffryn is Anya's surrogate father - perhaps he does it to regain control over his errant child - to reassert his authority. Is there a parallel between D'Hoffyrn killing Hallie and Giles trying to kill Spike ("I want more for you Buffy" even suggests an exchange). It's sometimes a very thin line between the severe patriarch and paternalism.


The demon disgusied as children in Gingerbread

"From around the middle of the 18th century, many people in Britain began to think about childhood in new ways. Previously, the Puritan belief that humans are born sinful as a consequence of mankind’s ‘Fall’ had led to the widespread notion that childhood was a perilous period". https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/perceptions-of-childhood

I don't think it's too far fetched to say that, at one time, children were considered close to demonic.* In addition, the involuntary memory/flashback Buffy has at the beginning of The Body had Joyce referring to her as a "demon child". I've seen breast-feeding babies referred to using the term "vampiric child".

I think the point I'm making is I'm very dubious about the "lore" in BtVS - often the text deconstructs it for us. I don't think The Guardian (or the scythe) was a Deus ex Machina. I think their appearance tells us a lot about history and historiography and the conditions - the necessity - under which lore becomes law.

*Not just children: I'm (tentatively) thinking of a comparison between Gingerbread and Carrie/The Exorcist.

vampmogs
16-12-18, 11:12 AM
I don`t agree though, that demons aren`t intrinsically evil. We see that vampires - who are soulless, I give you that - do far more than just feed on humans, because they need their blood to sustain themselves. Apart from the fact that there are other ways - blood donation, animal blood, feeding on humans without draining them - vampires are known, to enjoy slaughtering, maiming, torturing and raping. Spike has slaugheterd an orphanage. He also describes hunting the girl in the coal shed. Knowing, that he just fed of the rest of her family, he probably wasn`t hungry.

WORD.

I really, really disagree that vampires aren't intrinsically evil. Holden explicitly told us that upon rising from the grave, that he felt connected to an evil force;

HOLDEN
No, no. Feels great. Strong. Like I'm connected to a powerful all-consuming evil that's gonna suck the world into a firey oblivion. How 'bout you?

And as you say, we have countless examples of vampires taking pleasure in committing evil atrocities against humans. Furthermore, we have episodes such as Pangs where Spike admits to finding pictures of starving people "funny", episodes like In the Dark where Spike smirks at Marcus molesting children, episodes like Redefinition where Dru admits to liking Lilah based purely on the fact that she's "wicked", episodes like Innocence where Angel is particularly spiteful at Buffy for "making him feel like a human being", and episodes like Angel where The Master expressed missing Angel as he was the "cruellest creature he'd ever met." All of this suggests that vampires don't just kill to survive but that how they view the world (the traits they admire in people, their humour, how they view the most abhorrent of human suffering or vileness etc) is warped by evil. Vampires enjoy suffering, pain, cruelty, wickedness etc.

If vampires only killed to feed then we wouldn't have examples of vampires killing people out of revenge ("I'd rather have railroad spike's through my head then listen to that awful stuff"), or vampires tormenting their enemies (Angel and Darla siring Holtz's daughter), or brutal slaughters that were devoid of feeding entirely (Angel bashing the groom to death with his own arm) etc. We can't even say that vampires kill humans purely out of defence as Angel and Darla left Holtz alive for no other reason than to torture him ("Darlin' shouldn't we be killing Holtz? He'll just come after us again" "I know. But why kill him when ruining his life is so much more fun?") and Kralik continued to hunt Buffy and torment Joyce instead of fleeing after he escaped captivity ("And when she wake up your face is going to be the first thing she eats").

I think demons are much more varied. We see numerous examples of demons that don't seem evil at all and express no desire whatsoever to hurt people. However, whilst I believe it would be wrong to categorise all demons as evil, even demons like Lorne are pretty cynical about the average demon. Lorne expresses intolerance against other demons in Forgiving when even he makes the distinction between Angel harming a demon as opposed to a human/Linwood ("Angel that's not some slimy demon you have tied up to a chair in there"). Now, I wouldn't see any moral difference whatsoever between torturing a human and torturing Lorne, and despite personally finding Lorne to often be both selfish and a coward, he's undoubtedly a kinder and better person than humans like Warren. However, the fact that other *demons* even have a prejudice towards demon kind (Clem expresses similar prejudices) leads me to believe that the majority of demons probably are evil. Soulless vampires, on the other hand, have pretty much always been straight up evil.


There are some exceptions, like the actual apocalypse-inducing monsters, but those aren’t the rule: Spike wants the world to not end, Clem wants as far from the rising ubervamp army as possible, and “Doc” didn’t expect a vampire to care one way or another about Glory’s scheme.

Well, I mean, I believe Spike to an extent when he tells Buffy that he didn't want the world to end. I think he was being genuine when he rattled off a list of things about this world that he liked (including killing people). However, earlier in Season 2 Spike is involved in a plot to end the world when he and Dru raised The Judge ("Psst we're going to destroy the world, want to come?") and in Becoming II when he had Dru in his arms, he *fled Sunnydale* knowing that Angel had removed the sword from Acathla and the world was in fact going to end. If Spike didn't want the world to end as much as he had expressed he surely would've stayed back to help defeat Angel instead of leaving the world to be sucked into hell (and he thought Buffy was done for - "My god he's going to kill her"). All of this leads me to believe that whilst Spike did have a genuine fondness for things in this world that he ultimately cared more about Dru (either by bringing forth The Judge to make her happy or snatching her and making a run for it) and was willing to let the world end, or even participate in it's destruction, if it made her happy.

To be honest, I think even Angelus could list a bunch of things he liked about this world similar to how Spike did in Becoming II. He's expressed an appreciation for art, he cried at the ballet, and he rejected The Master's code of living because the human world and all it's finest trappings were actually "quite nice." In Innocence Angelus actually expresses a total disinterest in destroying the world because his primary focus is on hurting Buffy ("Yeah destroy the world... I'm more interested in the Slayer"). I think the only reason he has a sudden fixation on ending the world in Becoming II is because the Acathla apocalypse promises a hell dimension where every human creature will suffer "eternal torment" and that probably appealed to Angel's fondness for torture and suffering. The only vampire we see who seems to have this utter fixation on ending the world is The Master who even back in 1760 was speechifying about the day the "Old Ones" would return and "lay waste to the human pestilence", which he eventually tries to make happen in Sunnydale. However, The Master also rejected living amongst humanity at all whilst Angelus and Darla explicitly *do not* and this is what drive them away from him.

And whilst I do think Clem was harmless and hadn't done anything to warrant killing I think first and foremost he just wanted to evade the Turok Han army because the Uber Vamps would no doubt kill indiscriminately and demons like Clem wouldn't be able to put up much of a fight. That said, they absolutely softened Clem's characterisation from how he originally appeared in Life Serial. In Life Serial he's actually portrayed as a cheat whose willing to let Spike take the fall, he's really antagonistic towards Spike, and he's prejudiced against Buffy and insults her ("Her skins so tight I don't get how you can even look at her!"). Furthermore, he does actually spend a lot of his time, you know, socialising with soulless Spike, who he must know isn't "good" and he never expresses the same kind of ethical dilemmas that Buffy does about this. And for those of you who consider S8-S12 as "canon", Clem actually spends a lot of time socialising with soulless Harmony who murders a Slayer on live television and Clem couldn't care a less. I think Clem is more or less a friendly guy but he does admit to behaving a certain way around Buffy and the Scoobies because as he tells Dawn in Two to Go, "your sister's the Slayer. I'm a demon. That's a real good incentive to stay in good with her." I don't think Clem necessarily has a strong moral or ethical code.

SpuffyGlitz
16-12-18, 12:03 PM
That soulless vampires are intrinsically evil is firmly established within the Buffyverse. As to the distinction between demons (who may also possess souls), vampires are devoid of the human soul and are hybrid mixes of human and demon (as Stoney points out). So this doesn't imply, to my mind, that demons are necessarily higher up in the moral hierarchy. The way Giles worded it on the show, going from flow's quote, is this:

"The books tell the last demon to leave this reality fed off a human, mixed their blood. He was a human form possessed, infected by the demon's soul. He bit another, and another, and so they walk the Earth, feeding... Killing some, mixing their blood with others to make more of their kind..."

The way it is described - a human form "infected" by a demon's soul - seems to automatically position the demon's soul as something negative or impure. One certainly wouldn't say that about a human soul - (that so-and-so was "infected" by a human soul.) That description already lends the demon soul an evil inflection, or at least, makes it morally dubious. In addition, the description also goes on to say they "walk the earth, feeding, killing some, mixing their blood with others to make more of their kind..."

It's an interesting question to consider whether demons are as intrinsically evil as vampires, or whether they feed merely to sustain themselves. But I think the fact that a vampire is a hybrid of human and demon (which makes me wonder whether vampires also possess demon souls/ half-souls), implies that a demon soul is different/has lesser capacities for good than a human soul ('good' is a clunky word, but couldn't come up with anything more appropriate right now.)

But then we also know that a Slayer's strength partly derives from a demonic essence, so the way I'd reason it out would be to assume that a human soul imbues a person with a superior capacity for guilt, self reflection, sense of right and wrong and conscience. (Not that a soul is enough to prevent great acts of evil, of course - we still have people like Warren - but just that a human soul provides more in this capacity than a demon soul can.) Essentially we know nothing about the nature of a demon's soul.

Clem is an extremely likeable demon, with personality traits like kindness and gentleness (although I'm guessing he does eat kittens, as a regular Kitten Poker player). As a demon, I'm going to assume he has a demon soul (if what D'Hoffryn said was the undisputed truth), but his traits like gentleness and kindness could also just be his unique, individual personality markers not having anything to do with his demon soul's influence. Just as vampires have different personalities carried on from their human selves, even if their intrinsic nature changes to evil once they're sired.

flow
16-12-18, 02:58 PM
I just read season 10 Own It and stumbled over D`Hoffryn referring to himself as a "soulless Vengeance Demon". I think he actually said it twice. So, it looks like they kinda retconned the "soul of a Vengeance Demon" remark from season7 Selfless. Hmph.

flow

Stoney
16-12-18, 05:38 PM
Or perhaps he sold his for more power or a new truck?? :p

flow
16-12-18, 09:14 PM
Hah! You nailed it! That`s why he was emphasizing that he is a soulless Vengeance Demon - as opposed to the normal Vengeance Dmon, who has a soul.

Canon has been fixed once more, all is well.:D

flow

flow
21-12-18, 09:13 PM
vampmogs:
And for those of you who consider S8-S12 as "canon", Clem actually spends a lot of time socialising with soulless Harmony who murders a Slayer on live television and Clem couldn't care a less. But when she tells him to write the new rules of magic in the vampyre book, he tricks her. She only gets to play with unicorns, not to take over the world. He acts responsible and he gains nothing from it.

Wasn`t Harmony all into the feed, don`t kill thing-y? Why did she kill a Slayer live on tv?

flow

TriBel
21-12-18, 09:30 PM
vampmogs: But when she tells him to write the new rules of magic in the vampyre book, he tricks her. She only gets to play with unicorns, not to take over the world. He acts responsible and he gains nothing from it.

Wasn`t Harmony all into the feed, don`t kill thing-y? Why did she kill a Slayer live on tv?

flow

Because the Slayer tried to kill her on live TV. :rolling: Season 8.

Stoney
21-12-18, 10:16 PM
Harmony is in it for what she can get and how it suits her as usual. She is also shown to (as is typical to her) try to betray the group if her wants shift outside of what's good or clash with others' expectations/wishes. The agreement that some vamps make is always tenuous and it is made clear imo that the gang still work on the basis that soulless vamps shouldn't be trusted. Harmony is (as is typical to them) foolishly dismissed as a laughable joke quite often and then she does something that could have been disastrous if it wasn't thwarted and so she exits stage left yet again (as is typical to the writers :p). I've always just taken Clem as harmless to humans, that he is generally affable, not that he is 'good' in a way that means you would rely on him in terms of where he'd draw moral boundaries. :noidea:

TriBel
22-12-18, 12:09 AM
SpuffyGlitz:


That soulless vampires are intrinsically evil is firmly established within the Buffyverse.

It might be in the 'verse - but I'm not sure the text agrees. It might support the idea that vampires are "evil" but I don't think it sustains the idea of "intrinsic".

Go back to the kittens. They're mentioned in Life Serial. In this episode Buffy returns to college and in her first class they're discussing "the social construction of reality". From Wiki - a) because I come at it from slightly different direction and b) I'm lazy.


"Social constructionism questions what is defined by humans and society to be reality. Therefore, social constructs can be different based on the society and the events surrounding the time period in which they exist. An example of a social construct is money or the concept of currency, as people in society have agreed to give it importance/value. Another example of a social construction is the concept of self/ self-identity. Charles Cooley stated based on his Looking-Glass-Self theory: "I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am." This demonstrates how people in society construct ideas or concepts that may not exist without the existence of people or language to validate those concepts.

There are weak and strong social constructs. Weak social constructs rely on brute facts (which are fundamental facts that are difficult to explain or understand, such as quarks) or institutional facts (which are formed from social conventions). Strong social constructs rely on the human perspective and knowledge that doesn't just exist, but is rather constructed by society."

Life Serial begins with this:

BUFFY: Oh. Yep, it's me, and I brought dinner. (walks into dining room) Deep fried chicken parts. Hope you're...

We see Tara, Giles, and Dawn sitting around the table, and Willow standing with a dish of food in her hands. They're clearly just finishing a meal. Giles holds a half-full wine glass.

BUFFY: ...hungry. (disappointed) You already ate.
GILES: No! (embarrassed) Well, uh, yes, obviously.
DAWN: Uh, we didn't know when you'd be coming back.
BUFFY: (shrugs) It's okay. More for me.

Buffy puts the bucket of chicken on the table and sits. Willow sits also.

TARA: I don't know about everybody else, but ... I would love some chicken.
GILES: Yes. As would I.
DAWN: I'll take a drumstick.
WILLOW: I'm a breast girl myself. (quietly, to Tara) But, then again, you knew that.

Several things. First, if words had an intrinsic meaning we couldn't use the same word to describe a chicken leg that we use to describe an implement used by drummers. Similarly, chickens don't have "breasts" (they're not mammals, they don't have nibbles, a chicken's breast isn't an erogenous zone - it's their pectoral muscle) so the double entendre wouldn't work. In short, we can only use breast and drumsticks to refer to chicken parts because words don't have intrinsic meaning. We agree that in that particular context that's what they mean - in a different context the words mean something else. By the same logic - while we can talk about "evil", we can't talk about "intrinsic" evil. For me, this is Structuralism 101. "Language is a system with no positive terms".

Secondly, why is eating kittens a sign of evil and eating chicken isn't? They're both animals. The Scoobies take the food not because they're hungry (need), not for pleasure (want) but because they don't want to hurt Buffy's feelings. They take it out of politeness (manners/social convention). She wasn't to know they'd eaten - but she would if she'd thought to ring home. It's stretching it to say Buffy was responsible for the death of an animal but it was a needless death. Ultimately, the only purpose it served was to reinforce group bonds. The kittens (unlike the chicken) are alive when we see them. It's interesting that Buffy says kittens are a stupid currency and the extract from Wiki uses currency as an example of arbitrariness. We could use kittens, beans or pebbles as currency provided there's a consensus on value.

Stoney:


I've always just taken Clem as harmless to humans, that he is generally affable, not that he is 'good' in a way that means you would rely on him in terms of where he'd draw moral boundaries. But that's the problem - if evil isn't intrinsic then neither is good - so who's drawing the boundaries? I think the "Social Construction of Reality" is central to S6.

Stoney
22-12-18, 06:09 AM
But that's the problem - if evil isn't intrinsic then neither is good - so who's drawing the boundaries? I think the "Social Construction of Reality" is central to S6.

There's always going to be a degree of different mileage between species/societies. I think S4 actually is pretty solid for raising the question of who gets to determine who is the dominant species that oppresses and judges. I think the shows cover that some demons are not on the radar of the slayer because they don't rub us the wrong way and the outlooks/wants of the two don't clash. But I don't think that this eradicates that by one social group's determinations of 'good' another wouldn't be trustworthy and reliable. S6 really exposes that with the best will in the world and for as good a reason as he can draw from, to be showing his love and seeking the love of another, Spike couldn't even see/understand where the lines were often and it actually impaired his ability to function in Buffy's world and be by her side as a partner. Once he is souled he can still make bad/evil choices, but he is then capable of making good choices with a level of capacity and understanding that he lacked before. There is a capacity/capability issue that makes it more complex than just talking about what is intrinsic as if a being that has instincts/wants that drives them to act in ways humans would see as inherently evil can only do acts that would class as evil all the time. Sure they can do acts that would class as good too. But how do they feel about the things that they do that is evil and how do they see/understand both the good and the bad. But you'll never escape that it places one group's worth and their determination of where the boundaries are as the 'right' one. But I'm useless when the discussion turns for knowledge of relevant social theories and philosophical debates, my knowledge of them is appallingly weak.

EDIT: I do think that there is certainly an established aspect in verse that demons have an element of what is classed as 'evilness' in their nature and this is expressed by themselves, specifically the vampires, in how they feel rather than just concepts applied onto them. Spike doesn't like being limited by it in how Buffy speaks of it derogatorily, but he also can state it with pride. It isn't the same way he feels about it once souled. As SpuffyGlitz says though, using 'evil' and 'good' feels like simplifying something more complex.

SpuffyGlitz
22-12-18, 10:22 AM
SpuffyGlitz:
That soulless vampires are intrinsically evil is firmly established within the Buffyverse.

It might be in the 'verse - but I'm not sure the text agrees. It might support the idea that vampires are "evil" but I don't think it sustains the idea of "intrinsic". Secondly, why is eating kittens a sign of evil and eating chicken isn't? They're both animals. The Scoobies take the food not because they're hungry (need), not for pleasure (want) but because they don't want to hurt Buffy's feelings. They take it out of politeness (manners/social convention). She wasn't to know they'd eaten - but she would if she'd thought to ring home. It's stretching it to say Buffy was responsible for the death of an animal but it was a needless death. Ultimately, the only purpose it served was to reinforce group bonds. The kittens (unlike the chicken) are alive when we see them. It's interesting that Buffy says kittens are a stupid currency and the extract from Wiki uses currency as an example of arbitrariness. We could use kittens, beans or pebbles as currency provided there's a consensus on value.

I completely agree that Clem eating kittens isn't any more 'evil' than the Scoobies partaking in more chicken (to keep Buffy from feeling left out). I also see how this could be the social equivalent to something like kitten poker, where bonding over a dinner together is another social activity meant to preserve the fabric of their connected-ness. Our perspectives colour how we see eating kittens as evil when in fact it could be the demon equivalent of chicken/ doing what the Scoobies are doing.

And I absolutely agree that scene from Life Serial is integral to S6 because it questions the idea that identities are static. It also foregrounds the emphasis on socially constructed realities playing a huge role, because we do see characters trying to live up to their own socially constructed roles (and often failing.) Perspective is a big factor. When we first meet Clem, he is snarky and contemptuous of Buffy, but soon changes his attitude. Once again, perspective plays a part in how they each see other. There's also a perspectival shift in the Master's account of history as opposed to Giles' (in Giles' account a human being is "infected with a demon's soul" but the Master describes the human race as a "plague of boils".)

Having said that, I think vampires are intrinsically evil because the entire premise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer would otherwise unravel itself. The show sets up a Manichaean universe from its first season (moral ambiguities of slaying grow more complicated as each season progresses, I'll come back to that* - but the premise of good vs evil is preserved to the very end - even if hierarchies of evil exist.) Vampires kill because it gives them pleasure, they torture because they enjoy torturing, whereas Buffy doesn't slay vampires for fun, she feels compelled to prevent them from finding other victims (and sees that as her duty/ calling). If she occasionally feels pleasure in slaying, that's secondary to her main purpose which is to save lives.


Several things. First, if words had an intrinsic meaning we couldn't use the same word to describe a chicken leg that we use to describe an implement used by drummers. Similarly, chickens don't have "breasts" (they're not mammals, they don't have nibbles, a chicken's breast isn't an erogenous zone - it's their pectoral muscle) so the double entendre wouldn't work. In short, we can only use breast and drumsticks to refer to chicken parts because words don't have intrinsic meaning. We agree that in that particular context that's what they mean - in a different context the words mean something else. By the same logic - while we can talk about "evil", we can't talk about "intrinsic" evil. For me, this is Structuralism 101. "Language is a system with no positive terms".
Stoney:
But that's the problem - if evil isn't intrinsic then neither is good - so who's drawing the boundaries? I think the "Social Construction of Reality" is central to S6.

The idea of words/ language not being tied to any intrinsic meaning (thus freeing words for usage in a variety of contexts, in which their meanings change) is fascinating applied to allegorical standpoints in the 'verse! But if we apply the same logic to dismantle the notion that vampires are 'intrinsically' evil, wouldn't that destabilise the premise of Buffy's role? Besides which - are vampires comparable to language? (LOL, random I know, but it's interesting!) While I still think evil is contextualised as intrinsic within the verse, I completely agree that the text questions the idea that identities are static. I think that's where the role of choice/agency comes in. For instance, Buffy calls Spike an "evil, disgusting thing" and within the 'verse she's right, as vampires are intrinsically evil. But Spike exercises his own free will and resists his intrinsic nature by going out and seeking his soul. Whether he's thinking of all of humanity or whether he's motivated purely by his love for Buffy, either way, he's made a choice which resists his intrinsic evil nature and thus his identity isn't as 'static' as Buffy perceived it, he's no longer a 'thing'.

(I do always feel funny using words like 'good' and 'evil' because like I said before, I don't know - they just feel like clunky umbrella terms that can oversimplify complex ideas - but I can't come up with anything better right now LOL.)

It takes me back to S2's Lie To Me, which (with broad brushstrokes) deals with the moral ambiguities of the Buffyverse and the question of good and evil. Billy Fordham wants to be a vampire and for much of the episode we're led up to thinking of him as a creep who's double crossing Buffy. Well, he has tricked her, but his motivation turns out to be pretty heartbreaking. How BtVS resolves the question goes back to free will and choice: Buffy: "You have a choice. You don't have a good choice, but you have a choice." I think that's how one can negotiate the idea that both good and evil are intrinsic - it's up to the individual which side they choose to align themselves with allegorically.