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  • The S6 division between fandom and writers

    Stoney: This thread began in the thread discussing POTN's review of Into the Woods...

    Originally posted by Cheese Slices View Post
    I don't mind the rant in itself, it's his video and he doesn't have to be impartial or "reasonable" if he doesn't want to, and he gives pretty good arguments as to why he feels the way he does (I'll admit I agree with a lot of them ^^).
    One thing that does bother me is his saying that Buffy showing a bit of darkness is OOC, and his general over-protectiveness of the character. I love Buffy too, but by refusing to acknowledge that she has a dark side to herself and that she is capable of morally questionable actions, he is actually selling her character short, and it often feels a bit like paternalistic/benevolent sexism imho. It's not like Buffy has never done or will not do some truly questionable stuff under emotional stress (WSWB, GD, Gone, DT, etc...), and I think it's perfectly IC for her to lash out violently.
    The problem with a lot of men joining in on the whole “our society is terribly sexist” isn’t that they’re necessarily wrong that there’s been structural sexism built into everything for so long - women banned from certain college degrees, women unable to maintain their own bank accounts, women finding it almost impossible to get a job in certain fields - but that in response, they tend to ‘pedestal’ women into some kind of perfect, virtuous victim. Agree that it’s just another form of paternalistic sexism. Buffy can’t be a total a**hole because she’s a female beset by males - Buffy can’t have a ‘dark’ side or be into porn/sex or whatever activity drags her from that pedestal into the mud or it’s OOC.

    It’s frustrating because one doesn’t want to see some shallow sexist portrayal of Buffy where she’s just a bitch or a slut, but denying her the agency to have a dark side ends up creating a virgin/whore dynamic anyway that repels a lot of people when it comes to Season Six.

  • #2
    Originally posted by American Aurora View Post

    The problem with a lot of men joining in on the whole “our society is terribly sexist” isn’t that they’re necessarily wrong that there’s been structural sexism built into everything for so long - women banned from certain college degrees, women unable to maintain their own bank accounts, women finding it almost impossible to get a job in certain fields - but that in response, they tend to ‘pedestal’ women into some kind of perfect, virtuous victim. Agree that it’s just another form of paternalistic sexism. Buffy can’t be a total a**hole because she’s a female beset by males - Buffy can’t have a ‘dark’ side or be into porn/sex or whatever activity drags her from that pedestal into the mud or it’s OOC.

    It’s frustrating because one doesn’t want to see some shallow sexist portrayal of Buffy where she’s just a bitch or a slut, but denying her the agency to have a dark side ends up creating a virgin/whore dynamic anyway that repels a lot of people when it comes to Season Six.
    But it seems that was what the writers were going for and they were frustrated with the fans that they weren't getting that.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by BtVS fan View Post

      But it seems that was what the writers were going for and they were frustrated with the fans that they weren't getting that.
      I don't think it's as simple as that. Most of the interviews I've read/listened to from the various writers are nuanced and don't paint things in quite such a black and white contrast. Even textually it's very clear that there's a deliberate ambiguity there. Some writers might have eventually gotten fed up with a certain romanticization from one part of the fandom (and some were probably a bit Manichean regardless) and put the hammer down in a somewhat questionable way, but the text and the performance themselves are nuanced enough. Basically I just picture the writers flailing a lot and going "yes!...no!..yes!..no!" when deciding what to do with Spike.
      What a challenge, honesty
      What a struggle to learn to speak
      Who would've thought that pretending was easier

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Cheese Slices View Post

        I don't think it's as simple as that. Most of the interviews I've read/listened to from the various writers are nuanced and don't paint things in quite such a black and white contrast. Even textually it's very clear that there's a deliberate ambiguity there. Some writers might have eventually gotten fed up with a certain romanticization from one part of the fandom (and some were probably a bit Manichean regardless) and put the hammer down in a somewhat questionable way, but the text and the performance themselves are nuanced enough. Basically I just picture the writers flailing a lot and going "yes!...no!..yes!..no!" when deciding what to do with Spike.
        They have to be diplomatic in interviews. However, there were plenty of leaks and notes back when S6 aired. They were very confused at the level of romanticizing of Spike and Spuffy. They shouldn't have been but it is what it is. It was basically:

        Fans: This is what you are writing.
        Writers: No.
        Fans: Yes.
        Writers: No.
        Fans: Well, if it's not, you should not leave things open to interpretation.
        Writers: INT. BUFFY'S HOUSE - UPSTAIRS BATHROOM - NIGHT

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post

          They have to be diplomatic in interviews. However, there were plenty of leaks and notes back when S6 aired. They were very confused at the level of romanticizing of Spike and Spuffy. They shouldn't have been but it is what it is. It was basically:
          Depends on what one means by romanticizing. If we're talking about fans swooning over how the romantic the relationship as it was presented in S6 was, then I'm with them. If we're talking enjoying the dynamic for what it was (while maybe hoping for an eventual positive development), then I'm the one that's confused because the writers seemed very interested in the dynamic as well.
          Also not sure that the writers feeling compelled to be diplomatic is a big factor, given that some of them were comfortable enough to insult fans to their (digital) face. Overall it's just a big pile of "huh ?" to me.
          What a challenge, honesty
          What a struggle to learn to speak
          Who would've thought that pretending was easier

          Comment


          • #6
            Well imo If It had been anyone other then JM playing Spike I might have had a different view of both the character and his relationship with Buffy, but as It was Spike came across to me as far too much of a sympathetic character to pull me into he's a soulless git category.

            Comment


            • Cheese Slices
              Cheese Slices commented
              Editing a comment
              Definitely a big factor yeah.

          • #7
            Originally posted by Cheese Slices View Post

            I don't think it's as simple as that. Most of the interviews I've read/listened to from the various writers are nuanced and don't paint things in quite such a black and white contrast. Even textually it's very clear that there's a deliberate ambiguity there. Some writers might have eventually gotten fed up with a certain romanticization from one part of the fandom (and some were probably a bit Manichean regardless) and put the hammer down in a somewhat questionable way, but the text and the performance themselves are nuanced enough. Basically I just picture the writers flailing a lot and going "yes!...no!..yes!..no!" when deciding what to do with Spike.
            You've not read the David Fury interviews from S5 and S6 because he was DEFINITELY not nuanced and was very clear in his intentions

            Comment


            • flow
              flow commented
              Editing a comment
              David Fury wrote four episodes in season 6 (one together with Jane Espenson) and directed one. Even if he'd said "no!" in his episodes (which he actually didn't) there were plenty more episodes to provide the ambiguity.
              Last edited by flow; 11-06-21, 03:03 PM.

          • #8
            But they did then take the path through of Spike going to get his soul rather than just killing him off when they underlined his limitation. A choice which works both for character continuity on focussing on wanting to be loved as well as weaving in a soulless self-focus within it too. So, even if they were frustrated to some degree about some people's sense of there being potential between Buffy & Spike soulless, which is what it seems like to me, they took the story in a direction that drew a limitation on him and yet also moved past it. They then built on the existing relationship and history after that. It seems to me then that they didn't actually fail to see the potential in the relationship, they were just more adamant on the soulless limitation than some fans are. What they wrote is in line with that, which is fair enough and personally, I thought it was excellently done. Whether or not it was all thought through and planned to the Nth degree or not doesn't matter to me. And fans that wish they hadn't drawn a limitation on him can and do write fics to take it down different paths.

            Comment


            • #9
              Originally posted by Silver1 View Post
              Well imo If It had been anyone other then JM playing Spike I might have had a different view of both the character and his relationship with Buffy, but as It was Spike came across to me as far too much of a sympathetic character to pull me into he's a soulless git category.
              I do remember a Joss Whedon quote around S5 saying Spike was never nice as that was what was fun to write with the character

              Comment


              • #10
                Originally posted by BtVS fan View Post

                You've not read the David Fury interviews from S5 and S6 because he was DEFINITELY not nuanced and was very clear in his intentions
                I did, that's why I explicitly said that *some* writers had a more manichean take on things and that *some* writers had taken the liberty to insult fans to their face. However, that's one writer in a team of about 8 people. There were other writers with a more nuanced view of things, and you can tell by the text itself.

                I do remember a Joss Whedon quote around S5 saying Spike was never nice as that was what was fun to write with the character
                I don't think it's an indication that Whedon thought that they character was just awful and that's that. Up until S5 Spike is not a nice character, and even afterwards you could argue that he is not "nice" in the sense that he doesn't spend his time trying to spare people's feelings and just tells it how he sees it, which *is* probably fun to write.
                I mean, this is the guy who wrote the "I know you'll never love me" scene, the "I don't smell a soul in you" in The Gift as well as Spike as the messenger of "hope" in OMWF. He clearly does not share Fury's cynicism regarding the character.
                What a challenge, honesty
                What a struggle to learn to speak
                Who would've thought that pretending was easier

                Comment


                • #11
                  Originally posted by Cheese Slices View Post

                  Depends on what one means by romanticizing. If we're talking about fans swooning over how the romantic the relationship as it was presented in S6 was, then I'm with them. If we're talking enjoying the dynamic for what it was (while maybe hoping for an eventual positive development), then I'm the one that's confused because the writers seemed very interested in the dynamic as well.
                  Also not sure that the writers feeling compelled to be diplomatic is a big factor, given that some of them were comfortable enough to insult fans to their (digital) face. Overall it's just a big pile of "huh ?" to me.
                  Fury's rant was in S5. What dynamic were they interested in considering the driving point of it was Buffy was making a huge mistake? This was made clear by multiple lectures from author stand-ins like Riley and Xander? Like I said, there were leaked note pages on BAPS detailing the writers confusion that people were siding with Spike in all of it.

                  Joss and the rest were all diplomatic in interviews. In public speaking, they play to shippers. Behind the scenes, they mock them. That's how you end up with episodes like Seeing Red and The Girl In Question.

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    I don't see how SR mocks the fans. It just takes a character direction some might dislike. Unless you're meaning including Amber in the main cast list, that seems like something of a cheap trick and is, I believe, well known to be something that Joss had always wanted to do for the additional shock element it added to a character death.

                    Putting aside whether it works for you or not, TGIQ is comedic in itself so it feels like you're being encouraged to laugh with them. I suppose I'm just not feeling the writers being surprised with how some sections of the fans react and continuing the story in the direction they want regardless of what some fans would prefer or making a tongue in cheek episode where they are openly poking fun at the relationships makes it all two faced. It seems really different to the thing with Tara/Amber that was playing with the audience in a different way that I can see could feel like you're being played for someone else's amusement.

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      So you don't think Buffy having joyless sex in an Alley with a guy in E12. Her literally beating him bloody in self loathing in E13 as well as the Balcony scene earlier which was added in too boot or the guy grabbing her hand and putting it on his genitals in E14 in her house or pretty much the whole of E15 and the end with Buffy literally walking into light at the end was trying to tell you something that this was portrayed as unhealthy and that Buffy should not be dating him then ?

                      You also have to remember that how writers viewed things were different to the fans. I remember they were shocked over people being upset at Spikes beat down. After all he was just an evil vampire why shouldn't Buffy beat him.
                      OTOH ratings were tanking towards the back end of S6 and Spuffy fans were a big part of the shrinking fan base so they also needed to keep them on board at the same time.

                      Back during S5 I remember Joss Whedon was asked about the backlash to Fury interview and his response was no comment. So even then he knew enough that Spuffy or probably more accurate Spike fans were to big a group to openly insult.
                      Last edited by BtVS fan; 12-06-21, 06:29 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        I don't know if you were addressing this to me, possibly not as those don't seem like examples of mocking fans but just character/plot points and I was never saying the relationship wasn't being shown as unhealthy, it clearly was. I definitely think S6 was showing repeatedly why Buffy shouldn't be dating Spike. It was an important element of the relationship being a symptom of her depression. That doesn't remove the sense of a better connection being possible if only too though. And that change came, both with Buffy starting to come out of her depression, as well as Spike getting his soul. But I suppose I'm coming from the perspective of thinking Spike needed his soul and that the canon direction was really well executed. Fans that feel/felt aggrieved by the writing and canon choices probably feel very differently.

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post

                          Fury's rant was in S5. What dynamic were they interested in considering the driving point of it was Buffy was making a huge mistake? This was made clear by multiple lectures from author stand-ins like Riley and Xander? Like I said, there were leaked note pages on BAPS detailing the writers confusion that people were siding with Spike in all of it.

                          Joss and the rest were all diplomatic in interviews. In public speaking, they play to shippers. Behind the scenes, they mock them. That's how you end up with episodes like Seeing Red and The Girl In Question.
                          Just in case I wasn't clear, when I say they were nuanced in their interview, I'm talking about Spike, not about the shippers or Buffy/Spike as a romance.
                          And again, confused about which statements ? I've seen some fans siding with Spike in a completely unreasonable fashion, so if it's what they are referring to, I understand their surprise; however, I don't believe that most of them (excluding Fury it would seem) thought that the unhealthy aspect of the relationship rested solely on Spike's shoulders. You've got the text acknowledging several times that he was at the very least an ambiguous figure and that Buffy treated him badly, and that's not fanwank: Pretty much every episode of S6 + Beneath You, CWDP -- all of those contain scenes that textually show that the relationship is more than "Buffy is being abused by her bad boyfriend", though this element is present here and there.
                          If people want to believe that the writers only wanted to avoid alienating part of their audience and were lying through their teeth when describing their interest in the dynamic, I'm not going to stop them, but seeing what they actually wrote and reading what was said I believe it's more nuanced than that. Basically, there's a difference between being put off by some fans' over romanticization of the character (which does exist, especially back then) and believing that said character is irredeemable and the source of everything wrong in Buffy's life. And at the end of the day, even if that's what they truly believed, then they did a pretty poor job of conveying it anyway.
                          I don't want to make it sound like I think the writers have all the answers and never missed the mark. Like BtVS fan said, their reaction to the alley scene beating was a bit lackluster to say the least (and it would arguably not be the first or last time they don't realize a scene's impact on their audience).

                          IIRC, both extremes were blaming the writers for diametrically opposite stuff anyway : those who hated Spike/Spuffy were accusing the writers of being Spike fangirls (the "wet panties brigade", anyone ? ), and those who had a very romantic notion of him accused them of going out of their way to vilify him and the ship. Basically, they could not win. Kind of what happens when you play in a grey area, I guess.
                          What a challenge, honesty
                          What a struggle to learn to speak
                          Who would've thought that pretending was easier

                          Comment


                          • #16
                            Originally posted by Cheese Slices View Post

                            Depends on what one means by romanticizing. If we're talking about fans swooning over how the romantic the relationship as it was presented in S6 was, then I'm with them. If we're talking enjoying the dynamic for what it was (while maybe hoping for an eventual positive development), then I'm the one that's confused because the writers seemed very interested in the dynamic as well.
                            Also not sure that the writers feeling compelled to be diplomatic is a big factor, given that some of them were comfortable enough to insult fans to their (digital) face. Overall it's just a big pile of "huh ?" to me.
                            I think that in all commercial artistic endeavors there's a sense of division when it comes to contentious material. The concern is that the art work goes so far off the rails that it obliterates the eventual destination.

                            The writers were most likely of two minds. They found the Spuffy relationship dramatically exciting because of the chemistry between the two actors and the possibilities of transgressive erotic behavior that would turn into big ratings. At the same time, they were afraid to lose two of the most important pillars of the Buffyverse up to that point - the necessity of believing vampires without a soul must die and the solid moral compass of Buffy. So it was always a high-wire act of creating enough chaos and confusion that Buffy's morals were compromised (by yanking her out of heaven) and giving the character of Spike enough latitude to express a degree of affection and humanity that was highly unusual for a soulless vampire - without knocking over the twin pillars of the show.

                            It's pretty obvious by the middle of Season Five that Spuffy was coming and the writers massaged the hell out of Buffy's moral confusion and Spike's increasing complexity to get to Smashed. And then - they weren't really sure how to keep that relationship going without destroying two of the basic tenants of the show. It feels uneven, but fascinating all the same. Finally, Buffy began to find her moral compass again and cut off relations with Spike - not just for her sake, but for his. Which I think was a great spin - it's killing her that she can't love him but she's using him. And Spike, unable to understand this, goes too far in his attempt to bring the relationship back, which runs into the brick wall of his inability to truly comprehend her moral stance without a soul.

                            From that point onward, there's only a few choices left to the writers. They could have Buffy turn her back on her former moral beliefs and embrace Spike; they could have Spike turn demonically evil and have a final battle in which Buffy dusts him; or they could have Spike win back his soul for Buffy. Well, I suppose they could do nothing, but that's not very dramatically compelling.

                            Of course, I think that this brings up more serious issues about the whole premise of Buffy - should vampires without a soul be instantly dusted? Are all demons evil monsters? The vitality and 'humanity' of Angel and chipped Spike and jolly demons like Clem and Lorne made this more and more difficult to accept the WC dogma. As the series continued, the idea of vampires as ashtray filler kinda faded away in favor of vows promising not to harm humans - like Harmony in Angel Season Five. Buffy herself comes to realize that she has some element of demonic power herself as vested in her by the original spell.

                            It's an interesting progression that shouldn't be seen as a negation of the original premise, but more of an evolution. And I don't think that it means we have to discount the meaning of the 'soul' in the Buffyverse - which seems to be neither wholly metaphysical nor solely physiological, but something in-between. It's a complex question that I think is too often reduced to "Spike should be staked" or "Spike doesn't need the soul!" without separating the two. Should a lack of soul be viewed as a marker of difference that deserves death? Should the lack of a soul be viewed as a kind of temporary state (as Buffy thinks of it) that needs to be resolved in some way? And most importantly, even if those without souls can live and maintain good relations with humans (such as the vampires who pledge to keep humans safe), what does it mean in an ethical sense for a soulless vampire and a souled human to be together in a relationship? Are there imbalances that create unfair power relations? Would the human treat the vampire as a lesser being (as Buffy does with Spike) and would the soulless vampire see the souled human as diminished somehow because of their pesky soul that inhibits them from fully embracing the life of a soulless vampire?

                            If the series were written today, there might have been another alternative. I can see a plotline in which Spike could have formed a vampire group which would have petitioned Buffy and the Watchers Council to allow soulless vampires to live, accusing them of genocidal intent. Spike could point to himself as an example of a vampire who didn't need to hunt and feed and forced pledges from all vamps present to never harm human beings. This is closer to the world of Twilight and sparkly vampires than the world of Buffy, but I imagine some would feel that was an improvement and Whedon and the Buffyverse writers must have agreed to a certain extent. By the end of the canon comics, we have just that with vampires as a protected group who are thrown into camps and treated like chattel.

                            Of course, that still doesn't negate the possible need for a soul to have a romantic relationship with a human - it's a sticky ethical situation.

                            Stoney, should we start a new thread here? I feel like I've thrown it way off track and we're no longer talking about POTN.
                            Last edited by American Aurora; 12-06-21, 03:05 PM.

                            Comment


                            • Cheese Slices
                              Cheese Slices commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Nothing to add, I feel this is a pretty accurate breakdown ^^

                          • #17
                            I had wondered about pulling this out of the POTN thread as it went onto the tangent pretty early on. I'll see where it started and put it in a separate thread, 'The S6/soul division between fandom and writers' perhaps? - EDIT: clearly I've done this and titled it 'The S6 division between fandom and writers' but please let me know if you'd like the title changing at all American Aurora

                            --
                            I do think the greys leaning into whether vampires can live alongside humans with an element of a truce in place was somewhat explored in the comic seasons and it makes sense as you say that some time and thought would eventually go to this. But they always fell back to not fully trusting souled vampires because they can/will betray you if a better deal comes along. And this holds true to what we saw in the show too, particularly around Harmony repeatedly. I think Spike even in S11 when the were writing members of the group entering the camp with other demons, objected to the idea that soulless vampires could gain civil rights. But the greys around other demons that did harmlessly live alongside humans was also shown in the shows and continued in the comics and I think that did just give breadth to the mythology/verse. And I can see that as an evolution of the overall ideas as you suggested.

                            That Spike's motivations and interest led him to seek his soul I think is a clear exceptional combination of circumstances that can be separated out from whether every soulless vampire should have equal rights on the off chance they won't murder you tomorrow on a whim. I would definitely have liked to see some sense of acknowledgment that the very nature and limitation of their soullessness makes some of the evil humans do despite fully understanding the moral boundaries they are overstepping 'worse' in terms of evil. We saw the cruelty and violence in people depicted too and the line drawn on what was within the jurisdiction of the slayer, but the aspect of it being more despicable and yet those people being jailed in response is a stark contrast to preemptive killing.

                            Comment


                            • #18
                              Originally posted by American Aurora View Post

                              I think that in all commercial artistic endeavors there's a sense of division when it comes to contentious material. The concern is that the art work goes so far off the rails that it obliterates the eventual destination.

                              The writers were most likely of two minds. They found the Spuffy relationship dramatically exciting because of the chemistry between the two actors and the possibilities of transgressive erotic behavior that would turn into big ratings. At the same time, they were afraid to lose two of the most important pillars of the Buffyverse up to that point - the necessity of believing vampires without a soul must die and the solid moral compass of Buffy. So it was always a high-wire act of creating enough chaos and confusion that Buffy's morals were compromised (by yanking her out of heaven) and giving the character of Spike enough latitude to express a degree of affection and humanity that was highly unusual for a soulless vampire - without knocking over the twin pillars of the show.

                              It's pretty obvious by the middle of Season Five that Spuffy was coming and the writers massaged the hell out of Buffy's moral confusion and Spike's increasing complexity to get to Smashed. And then - they weren't really sure how to keep that relationship going without destroying two of the basic tenants of the show. It feels uneven, but fascinating all the same. Finally, Buffy began to find her moral compass again and cut off relations with Spike - not just for her sake, but for his. Which I think was a great spin - it's killing her that she can't love him but she's using him. And Spike, unable to understand this, goes too far in his attempt to bring the relationship back, which runs into the brick wall of his inability to truly comprehend her moral stance without a soul.

                              From that point onward, there's only a few choices left to the writers. They could have Buffy turn her back on her former moral beliefs and embrace Spike; they could have Spike turn demonically evil and have a final battle in which Buffy dusts him; or they could have Spike win back his soul for Buffy. Well, I suppose they could do nothing, but that's not very dramatically compelling.

                              Of course, I think that this brings up more serious issues about the whole premise of Buffy - should vampires without a soul be instantly dusted? Are all demons evil monsters? The vitality and 'humanity' of Angel and chipped Spike and jolly demons like Clem and Lorne made this more and more difficult to accept the WC dogma. As the series continued, the idea of vampires as ashtray filler kinda faded away in favor of vows promising not to harm humans - like Harmony in Angel Season Five. Buffy herself comes to realize that she has some element of demonic power herself as vested in her by the original spell.

                              It's an interesting progression that shouldn't be seen as a negation of the original premise, but more of an evolution. And I don't think that it means we have to discount the meaning of the 'soul' in the Buffyverse - which seems to be neither wholly metaphysical nor solely physiological, but something in-between. It's a complex question that I think is too often reduced to "Spike should be staked" or "Spike doesn't need the soul!" without separating the two. Should a lack of soul be viewed as a marker of difference that deserves death? Should the lack of a soul be viewed as a kind of temporary state (as Buffy thinks of it) that needs to be resolved in some way? And most importantly, even if those without souls can live and maintain good relations with humans (such as the vampires who pledge to keep humans safe), what does it mean in an ethical sense for a soulless vampire and a souled human to be together in a relationship? Are there imbalances that create unfair power relations? Would the human treat the vampire as a lesser being (as Buffy does with Spike) and would the soulless vampire see the souled human as diminished somehow because of their pesky soul that inhibits them from fully embracing the life of a soulless vampire?

                              If the series were written today, there might have been another alternative. I can see a plotline in which Spike could have formed a vampire group which would have petitioned Buffy and the Watchers Council to allow soulless vampires to live, accusing them of genocidal intent. Spike could point to himself as an example of a vampire who didn't need to hunt and feed and forced pledges from all vamps present to never harm human beings. This is closer to the world of Twilight and sparkly vampires than the world of Buffy, but I imagine some would feel that was an improvement and Whedon and the Buffyverse writers must have agreed to a certain extent. By the end of the canon comics, we have just that with vampires as a protected group who are thrown into camps and treated like chattel.

                              Of course, that still doesn't negate the possible need for a soul to have a romantic relationship with a human - it's a sticky ethical situation.

                              Stoney, should we start a new thread here? I feel like I've thrown it way off track and we're no longer talking about POTN.
                              No disrespect but this wasn't accurate at the time. I remember a full Fury interview on the set of Crush just before it aired (JM on set I'm psyched I'm psyched) and he was very explicit. He didn't think Spike should be good as it made Angel less special. And Buffy shouldn't be lowered to be with a serial killer. He felt Spike should be the villain on Ats though. Then you had his engagement with Spuffy fans on Cross and Stake etc.

                              Whedon himself said there were lots of arguments with the Writers about Spike. So to say they were prepping Spuffy from mid S5 is inaccurate. They recognised the chemistry hence the dream sequences. It wasn't till Buffy kisses Spike in Intervention that she even reciprocates. Until then its all 1 way. At the time they were saying yes Spike is in love with Buffy and its scary and real which she recognises but that in no way says it was reciprocated.

                              As for S6 we know from leaked notes and interviews again there was lots of debate with the writers, like would it just be a 1 and done. Hell even in Smashed there is a scene in the script of Spike getting a bunch of items ready to torture Buffy before he meets her. Though I don't know if it was filmed.
                              JM has said the AR was due to Joss getting frustrated with fans having sympathy for Spike and that was borne out with interviews at the time over his beat down.

                              Comment


                              • American Aurora
                                American Aurora commented
                                Editing a comment
                                You are right, but Espenson and Petrie disagreed with Fury. Intervention is mid-S5 - which is what I was thinking of. And the debates are exactly what I was referring to - they wanted to have their cake (Buffy moral) and eat it too! (sex with Spike)

                              • Stoney
                                Stoney commented
                                Editing a comment
                                The cut scene could all be about dramatic gestures with both threatening & romantic items mixed (similar to Crush). With the comedy forgotten change for the phone too I feel less inclined to think very dark was the aim. No idea if it was ever filmed.

                            • #19
                              Originally posted by Stoney View Post
                              I had wondered about pulling this out of the POTN thread as it went onto the tangent pretty early on. I'll see where it started and put it in a separate thread, 'The S6/soul division between fandom and writers' perhaps? - EDIT: clearly I've done this and titled it 'The S6 division between fandom and writers' but please let me know if you'd like the title changing at all American Aurora
                              Thanks, Stoney!

                              I do think the greys leaning into whether vampires can live alongside humans with an element of a truce in place was somewhat explored in the comic seasons and it makes sense as you say that some time and thought would eventually go to this. But they always fell back to not fully trusting souled vampires because they can/will betray you if a better deal comes along. And this holds true to what we saw in the show too, particularly around Harmony repeatedly. I think Spike even in S11 when the were writing members of the group entering the camp with other demons, objected to the idea that soulless vampires could gain civil rights.
                              Yes, and that's what makes it so difficult to take a fictional world like the Buffyverse and treat it as an allegory for the real world.

                              On one side, the in-verse explanation of the Buffyverse have made it clear that vampires are akin to Tolkien's Orcs - like the Orcs who were originally Elves, Vampires were once human beings who were deliberately denatured through magical means and corrupted in order to serve a great and powerful master by doing evil acts (whether the Old Ones or Morgoth). So the idea that they should be a protected class (like race, sexuality, religion or even species) is difficult because they are essentially no longer human beings, but animated corpses possessed by an exterior demon who is related to another demon who literally fed on and murdered the original person.

                              But let's say that we try to extend civil rights protection to vampires in the Buffyverse. As you say, they all seem to be connected to a source that encourages them not only to hunt down humans and murder them (and other mammals), but also derive intense joy from creating terror and immense suffering. The problem lies in what to do with a vampire if one does not dust them - is it possible to force them to stop killing? Should they be prevented from having any avenue to murder human beings through isolation in the same manner that society deals with those who want to have sex with children? Does their apparent psychopathy in desiring mayhem and mass murder require drastic measures if it cannot be controlled or changed enough to protect others?

                              In Lie to Me, the writers addressed this issue pretty plainly - people who felt empathy with the vampires were vigorously mocked. Not only by Buffy, but by the vampires themselves who only saw their next meal.

                              As I said, it's a tricky ethical situation that doesn't really have an analogous counterpart in our world unless you think of extremely predatory and dangerous animals such as sharks and certain big cats who can turn on their trainer in an instant and bite their arm off - but even that isn't really a good analogy because the animal is generally reacting out of fear and not malice.

                              But what complicates it even more is that humans are vampire food - meaning that vampires prey upon humans in ways that humans prey upon other animals. So there is a biological necessity involved that goes beyond the pleasure of sheer terror and torment. Drinking blood doesn't seem to be something vampires can avoid - so is there an element of specism when vamps are allowed to guzzle the blood of other animals as long as they're not human? Or is it more about the breaking of taboo - the cannibalistic elements of dead humans feeding off living humans that horrifies everyone? If Buffy willingly offers her blood, does that make it morally okay to drink?

                              But the greys around other demons that did harmlessly live alongside humans was also shown in the shows and continued in the comics and I think that did just give breadth to the mythology/verse. And I can see that as an evolution of the overall ideas as you suggested.
                              Yes, I think that the moral questions were troubling enough - especially after Anne Rice and Twilight and True Blood and all the 'good' vampires out there - that seeing the vampires as just your basic Hammer horror monsters was out of the question. The problem stems from the audience seeing vampires as analogous to those that represent the 'other' in our real world. If Spike and Angel were real, vampires should absolutely have civil rights as undead people because they'd be representative of a new species that might deserve recognition and aid. One could make the case that they were not voluntarily sired, so they are in dire need of aid in order to grapple with their new situation. But this is the Buffyverse where vampires are not analogous to Jewish people or Black People or Indigenous peoples - they are demons animating a human body who are natural predators of human beings - and connected to a power that lies outside of human knowledge.

                              But - and this is a big but - if the vampires retain the memories and human feelings of their previous owner, does that make them, in effect, a new creature with rights of their own despite their urges to rampage, murder and commit terrible acts? If so, then how does the Buffyverse deal with vampires who might be able to stay within the letter of the law and not harm other humans? The fact that a vampire stops such behavior after their soul is returned to them brings up an enormous array of ethical issues that are almost overwhelming in their complexity. Is Angel a composite of Liam and Angelus? What is he with or without the soul? Does he only become a "person" with civil rights once he regains the soul - meaning that the soul is what makes a person "human" in the eyes of Buffyverse law - or is he a strange amalgamation of the vampire's memories with the soul? And if so, does that mean that dusting a vampire is partly a snuffing out of a possible return for the human soul?

                              Also - if a vampire is incapable of comprehending the morality of an action because they are lacking a soul - then are we talking about incorrigible behavior or a mental incapacity to understand the law? How culpable are soulless vampires for their actions? Buffy seems to feel that a souled vampire is not at all responsible for the behavior of their formerly soulless selves, but both Angel and Spike seem to disagree. Why feel guilt at all, then, if they truly are innocent of their crimes? The balancing act between the human soul and the demon within a vampire isn't clear enough to determine guilt - are we talking about a possible 'not guilty' by reason of soulless insanity?

                              Of course, that begs the question as to where the 'soul' has been this whole time - in an afterlife or limbo - and if placing a soul into an animated corpse isn't a fate worse than death. Does the soul have rights outside of the vampire - can it ask to be sent back and away from the grotesque undead corpse it's forced to inhabit? Like the Potentials becoming Slayers without consent, restoring the soul without consent can be viewed as another violation of individual freedom and agency as terrible as the original siring. So perhaps the vampire might want to be dusted - might seek out a Slayer as a kind of Dr. Kevorkian who can put them out of their misery.

                              That Spike's motivations and interest led him to seek his soul I think is a clear exceptional combination of circumstances that can be separated out from whether every soulless vampire should have equal rights on the off chance they won't murder you tomorrow on a whim. I would definitely have liked to see some sense of acknowledgment that the very nature and limitation of their soullessness makes some of the evil humans do despite fully understanding the moral boundaries they are overstepping 'worse' in terms of evil. We saw the cruelty and violence in people depicted too and the line drawn on what was within the jurisdiction of the slayer, but the aspect of it being more despicable and yet those people being jailed in response is a stark contrast to preemptive killing.
                              Yes, I think that the show really stepped away from addressing the whole issue because it might bring up disturbing parallels that really weren't meant to be there. As it is, what's the difference between Warren in Seeing Red and Spike in Smashed? Spike trying to bite the woman in the alley isn't that different from Warren blasting guns at Buffy and Tara. Both are premeditated acts and both seem to involve a psychological pumping of a battered ego, despite Spike also finding sustenance from human blood. But in the Buffyverse, they ARE different because Warren fully understands his crimes whereas Spike does not because of the lack of soul. In many ways, this makes Warren even more despicable - or perhaps not if you assume that Warren suffers from psychopathy or another mental disorder that takes away his agency as well.

                              It would have been nice to see the kind of acknowledgement that you're talking about - or at least a discussion that was a bit deeper than "He's human!" about why we should see Spike and Warren differently.

                              Perhaps the answer instead of dusting vampires is to magic them to the world without humans where they can feast on 'veggie burger' humans who taste delicious but aren't real. Of course, that would also take away their agency, but it would protect humans. The only problem is that it's a rather genocidal policy since most vampire would end up killing each other and there'd be no humans to sire so they'd probably be down to just Spike and Angel arguing about cavemen and astronauts in the end.
                              Last edited by American Aurora; 12-06-21, 11:59 PM.

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                              • bespangeled
                                bespangeled commented
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                                I like this, except I have to say that given that the blood came from butchers who were cutting meat for people it doesn't seem like specism for the to drink the blood of other mammals.

                            • #20
                              Originally posted by Cheese Slices View Post

                              Just in case I wasn't clear, when I say they were nuanced in their interview, I'm talking about Spike, not about the shippers or Buffy/Spike as a romance.
                              Each follows the other, does it not? Fans were saying Spike was redeemed. Marti says no, it's not that simple.

                              And again, confused about which statements ? I've seen some fans siding with Spike in a completely unreasonable fashion, so if it's what they are referring to, I understand their surprise; however, I don't believe that most of them (excluding Fury it would seem) thought that the unhealthy aspect of the relationship rested solely on Spike's shoulders. You've got the text acknowledging several times that he was at the very least an ambiguous figure and that Buffy treated him badly, and that's not fanwank: Pretty much every episode of S6 + Beneath You, CWDP -- all of those contain scenes that textually show that the relationship is more than "Buffy is being abused by her bad boyfriend", though this element is present here and there.
                              If people want to believe that the writers only wanted to avoid alienating part of their audience and were lying through their teeth when describing their interest in the dynamic, I'm not going to stop them, but seeing what they actually wrote and reading what was said I believe it's more nuanced than that. Basically, there's a difference between being put off by some fans' over romanticization of the character (which does exist, especially back then) and believing that said character is irredeemable and the source of everything wrong in Buffy's life. And at the end of the day, even if that's what they truly believed, then they did a pretty poor job of conveying it anyway.
                              I don't want to make it sound like I think the writers have all the answers and never missed the mark. Like BtVS fan said, their reaction to the alley scene beating was a bit lackluster to say the least (and it would arguably not be the first or last time they don't realize a scene's impact on their audience).
                              We can only talk about the ones writers interacted with. If you don't think Xander lecturing Buffy about her stupidity, followed immediately by her being assaulted in her bathroom, then later Xander once again lecturing Dawn about Spike isn't proving the writers' point (to quote Marti), then what was it? This all follows an episode where Riley shows up and reminds the audience Spike is evil in a ridiculous plot.

                              IIRC, both extremes were blaming the writers for diametrically opposite stuff anyway : those who hated Spike/Spuffy were accusing the writers of being Spike fangirls (the "wet panties brigade", anyone ? ), and those who had a very romantic notion of him accused them of going out of their way to vilify him and the ship. Basically, they could not win. Kind of what happens when you play in a grey area, I guess.
                              There's no grey area when fans dismiss the storyline to see what they want. That was the problem. That is likely why they felt that HAD to show the AR the way they did. I don't think they were playing a grey area. I think they simply overestimated the audience or rather underestimated the audiences willingness to sympathize with Spike. By audience, I mean vocal fans they interacted with. I think that was the core of the problem. They put too much stock into online rumblings and forgot the bulk of the viewership.

                              You bring up multiple instances of it. The alley beating. What led up to it? Spike following her, blocking her way and throwing her across the alley twice. That doesn't make her actions acceptable, but it's certainly not as simple as described. Spike consistently calls himself a victim and sex slave, yet he's shown as the pursuer more oft than not in the show. Spike is an unreliable narrator, yet fans say he's a truthteller.

                              Yeah, there were certainly Spike and Spuffy haters calling every instance of anything rape and abuse and all this. But who exactly did the writers take the sledgehammer to?

                              IMO, they definitely should have let the scene from Smashed in. It was cut for time, but it would have saved a lot of problems for them.

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