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Thread: Buffy Season 7 v Angel Season 4

  1. #61
    Scooby Gang Double Dutchess's Avatar
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    I think that there always would have been some bad consequences, even if no Potentials had been activated without their individual, informed consent. It's true that cases like Dana could have been avoided (as she was not in a fit state to give consent) but types like Simone from the comics would have consented in a heartbeat, and then gone on to abuse their new power.

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  3. #62
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    Lots of good points were made in this thread re: empowerment spell, on both sides.

    Quote Originally Posted by Priceless
    I like what they did with the story, to give it a different perspective, and Dana is a great character. I think the comics too added even more perspectives, with people like Simone Doffler and the Unknown Slayer.
    THIS. I love the way Angel's "Damage" and the S8 comics explored the inevitable cons of Buffy's decision. But even then, I didn't get the sense that either storyline (Dana; Twilight) was about saying Buffy's decision was a mistake, so much as offering different perspectives. I mean, Buffy completely altered these girls' lives. So, of course that's going to have consequences (some girls becoming traumatized, murderous, or targeted due to their power, etc.). But it depends on whether or not you think the ultimate outcome (previously defenseless girls being able to stand up for themselves, find purpose in saving the world, connecting with fellow Slayers, not being killed by Ubervamps, etc.) was worth it or not. For the most part, I think it was a good thing and here are the main reasons why I'm pro-empowerment spell:

    1) It was an amazing twist and subversion of the 'One girl in all the world' dilemma that had plagued Buffy for the entire series.

    2) Whedon essentially future-proofed the franchise by having a world full of Slayers, which opened up tons of opportunities for new series and characters set in the Buffyverse (as we can see with the new television series that's apparently in development).

    3) And the empowerment spell (while mostly praised by fans and critics) proved controversial enough for people to still be talking about it heavily years later. There are people who love it, people who hate it, and the merit of Buffy's decision is still being discussed to this day (this thread as example). Same with the 'I love you' / 'No, you don't but thanks for saying it' exchange. I think every great series should end with a finale that not only wraps up the story/character arcs adequately, but also starts some arguments amongst its fans that force them to look deeper and see other perspectives/layers of the story.
    Last edited by Andrew S.; 05-07-19 at 04:04 AM.

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  5. #63
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    As I said before for me the spell was the same as somebody driving around chucking out hand guns out of the windows to kids and then speeding off.

    For me the ending was devised the way It was because Whedon truly thought the show would never come back so he wouldn't have to deal with the plots messy consequences.
    Last edited by Silver1; 06-07-19 at 12:15 AM.

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  7. #64
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    Many fine thoughts on this thread, for which I have given thanks, for
    which I hear offer further gratitude—

    I have my own problems with the Enjoining Spell—

    Not that I think it wrong:

    Like vampmogs and others, I see it born, in part, out of
    the catastrophic situation Buffy faced in her obligation to the world—
    and to the Potentials—

    What other option did she have...?

    I see it born, too, of a visionary sense that she can alter permanently
    the destiny—she tells the Potentials that Willow will use the power of
    the Scythe to alter "our Destiny"—of all the future chosen, to transform
    chosenness into choice: her meeting with the Guardian, that revelation
    of a line of womanist power strong enough to subvert the patriarchal
    force of the Shadowmen and their descendents in the Council—

    Yet much as I like Stoney's idea that the Enjoining Spell loosens
    the patriarchal control upon a power with which all Potentials were born
    but to which they were deprived access until called, a loosening that
    would render that power something organic, in a sense, that would
    grow within them as they themselves do, part of their identity, I think
    the matter is more complex, more fraught—

    More complex and fraught because the power of the Slayers is not natural—
    it is constituted by and in them through its fundamental alterity, its otherness,
    and their inhabitation by such otherness always involves violence, always goes
    beyond choice, exceeds simple oppositions between control and autonomy or
    free will—

    To explain more fully, allow me to quote a few passages from my review of
    Normal Again, where I explored this at length:


    This begs... the question: How healthy is it to be a Slayer? How normative?

    From one level, looking at the tradition of slayerhood, of the Slayers who preceded Buffy, at Kendra, at the Council, one must say, in answer to the second question—and thus the first—absolutely: the first Slayer, we will learn in GiD, was created through an act of subjection and subjectification akin to rape by men whose heirs would become the Council, men who would continue to subject each new Slayer to a disciplined and disciplined life as a docile body formed to serve as an “instrument”—to use Quentin’s word—of their power. She would have no relationships—no family, no friends—would live an essentially affectless life, devoid of agency, subjected to having her vast vital powers extracted by the Council for its own use. In this, she would be not unlike the workers biopolitical power prepared for capitalism and colonialism in the late 18th through the 19th century—and for global capital in the 20th, the workers from whom it, too, extracted and continues to extract their vital forces for its profit (and for those deemed lacking in valuable vital forces… just think of the way in which global capital has essentially written most of Africa off the map—it simply does not exist, save for China, which has found a different mode of extraction…). Further, while the Slayer herself lives in a liminal space between the living and the dead, the human and the nonhuman, she does so to police the boundary that separates them, to assure its stability, to assure the health and life of the human species. That the Shadow Men chose a girl rather than a boy to be the Slayer also set up a dynamic of sexual difference and domination that better enabled them to extract, instrumentalize the young women they empowered, resulting in an infusion of Slayer power with a certain ambivalence, if not guilt, about both the exercise of that power and the subjection through which she gained it. Thus while her calling separated each Slayer from society to a great extent, extracting her from all its comforts and supports, its grounding in sexual difference served to further sodder her to that society’s patriarchal norms, turning the obligation to the other that shapes the ethics of Buffy’s slaying into an obligation to the Council, a requirement that she submit to their rule, pass her power over to them, given the impropriety of wielding it, as a woman, on her own. This shows the Shadow Men and the Council to be early precursors of biopower, its first manifestation, since they, before traditional sovereign power, recognized the existence of Life and sought to regulate at least one aspect of its growth and maintenance.

    This assumption of biopower by the Council works to control, as well, to reduce to normative form the tremendous, potentially disruptive power of the Slayer—something that Faith sees through, although she errs in taking that power as her own possession. In this, I will only note now, before continuing, that Willow, at the end of S6, will make the same error when she tells Buffy that she finally gets the “Slayer thing”—that “it’s not about the violence… it’s about the power”—a power that she, too, takes as her own belonging. And this is why Buffy tells her that she has no understanding of what to be a Slayer is, as I will dilate on fully below—

    Buffy, of course, frees herself from the Council, learns to live with
    the power that embodies her much as she embodies it in a vastly
    different way—

    Thus, later, I write of the way she gives way to full becoming, to
    the essential ethics of Slaying:

    In this becoming, the difference between Buffy’s resistance to the disciplinary norms of the Council and that of Faith fully manifests itself: where the Council demands that the Slayer surrender to it her power, giving up all agency and affect; where Faith seeks to grab possession of the otherness that has taken up residence within her (and must suppress all affect, save in relation to her father figure, the Mayor, to do so… but that would take another post…)—as Willow, too, works, at the end of S6, to claim the powers of magic as her own, as an inherent aspect of her being, her possession to wield as she will; Buffy, rather, surrenders to her power, gives herself over to it, becomes passive in facing the obligation to the other that it carries. In this, she experiences a certain dissolution of her boundaries, of her body, of her identity, becomes fully herself only in her opening out to those whom she loves and those whom she seeks to save. Her very life, in its becoming, turns to be shaped neither in its self-subjection to the norms of the Council, in its instrumentalization, in the patriarchal Council’s imposition of isolation and affectlessness; nor in her wresting of an autonomous agency, with its bounded identity and mastery of unlimited power; but precisely through her openness to affect—to affecting and being affected by the movements of the world and the others whose lives are ever at stake within it, though her fleeting connectedness to them and the indeterminacy it visits upon her, the absolute futurity it brings—the Possibility – !. Here resides the core of the ethics of Slaying—and the broader ethics it teaches—an ethics moved by an impersonal love, by Buffy’s surrender to its demand.

    I unravel these ideas, their implications, at greater length, but I'll spare you here further quotes...

    What I wish to stress here that while Buffy envisions the possibility that the Enjoining Spell will
    transform chosenness into choice, she can only give the Potentials—those before her in the room
    and those to come—the choice of how to live with the power once it comes. She cannot give them
    any choice of its arrival. In this, she forgets the violence of the power's inhabitation, a violence
    that no freeing from the patriarchal norms of the Council can still. I am not a great fan of AtS,
    but I do love Damage for the way that it explores this—

    Explores it in ways that, as others have noted above, the comics (which I enjoy but do not love, find
    far less complex in terms of their explorations of power and ethics than the series) fail to do....

    Does this mean that I think Buffy was wrong, fault her for the Enjoining Spell?

    No. That would be a simplification.

    I think she truly sought to free, sought to subvert the normative lines through which power most
    often flows, sought to "change the world," in Willow's words, in that sense. Yet, at the same time,
    I think in doing so she had to simplify, if not repress, her own experience and understanding of
    the power that moved within her.

    To make her alone responsible for the damage done would be another simplification—at the
    same time, that damage cannot be glossed over, any more than the suffering of all the women—
    Slayers and not—who preceded Buffy cannot be, calls for witnessing, response.

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  9. #65
    Well Spiked Stoney's Avatar
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    Just a quick read/thoughts...

    I do understand seeing the coming of the power an unnatural violation, but there is no control of the power, no control of who receives it. In this I think our knowledge of the spell (or perhaps my recollection!) is too limited. We can't deny the start of the power originated in a spell, but the potentials are born with the potential. Something the shadowmen didn't control either resides in these women that makes them the ones that have the potential but the spell did restrict the number that could be strengthened. How and why the people are chosen, what it is within them that channels the power and why it feels so natural and part of who they are once it is activated makes it seem to me that this is something dormant that is being realised. I don't know. I do see the issues with it, they were where I started from with it myself, but I definitely agree it is complex. There's certainly something in it about the control being about the determination that the power which comes to some but not others without the patriarchal judgement being limited to only one receiving it. Keeping it manageable. But certainly the suddenness of the empowerment and the risk of what that can mean (Dana) and it going where it shouldn't (Simone) are certainly issues and illustrative of why it isn't just a purely positive thing.

    I will read and absorb again when I have more time.
    Last edited by Stoney; 05-07-19 at 05:34 PM.

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