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An ever-growing Cordelia fan appreciation club

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  • An ever-growing Cordelia fan appreciation club

    I find it interesting that in the past couple of years that Cordelia has really taken off as a breakaway fan favorite in BtVS and Angel. Several fan sites and podcasts - like Buffering the Vampire Slayer - are head over heels in love with the character and there are more and more appreciations all the time.
    Meanwhile, the love for Willow and Xander and several other characters has taken a beating. Why do you think this is?

    Of course, it's common nowadays to put most characters under a bright light and cluck over their less sterling qualities - it's group social shaming writ internet large - but Cordelia had her blind spots too (some really intense bullying and class issues in the first seasons of Buffy) and yet, she's not getting the same kind of dragging as the other characters.

    I love Cordelia as a character - but I love Willow and Xander too. Is it because Cordelia is assertive and confidently sexual? Interestingly, her character was meant to be an antagonist to Buffy back in the day, but her combative style and witty comebacks are now somewhat viewed as a woman asserting her power.

    I'd be curious to hear what people think.

  • #2
    I think it's at least partly due to the way how the writers write characters. In several fandoms I notice that fandom favourites and headcanons compensate for canon where one character (or a group of characters) isn't treated fairly by the writer(s) or the opposite; they are less inclined to like a character who the writers want you to adore. So it's pretty much a form of backlash. A very clear example are the Harry Potter fans who cheer on Slytherin house while pointing out the negative traits of Gryffindors because they don't like JKR's clear divide between the good Gryffindors and the bad Slytherins. It's not just fans trying to be edgy, it's a clear reaction to the canon material which lacks complexity. So people come up with headcanons, fill in the blanks etc in order to create that necessary complexity.


    Cordelia is not that different. As a character on BtVS she wasn't as well-developed as the other ones. She was there for comedy, to be the minor antagonist and she was there to show how much better the Scoobies were. Their victories over her are often played as smart and funny, but they were rather dirty from time to time as well. As a whole you notice a certain "popular kid = bad, uncool kid = good" vibe in the early seasons. And I think fans feel the need to compensate for that and thus go overboard with their love for her. Especially those who watched Ats as well. The way Cordy is killed, is horrifying. (And there is certainly a link between her bullying and the pain the accepts, she plays with the idea that she deserves to be punished). While Willow, whose crimes are much worse, ends up glowing like a goddess.





    And for me: I think Xander and Willow didn't age all that well. Xander is a notorious example of a 'nice guy', he slutshames women, tries to force Cordy to love him with magic (and is rewarded for that) and cheats on his girlfriend in the early seasons. His growth in the later seasons is not enough to get over that part of the character completely. I don't think he is a horrible person because he was a sexist teen, but I don't love the character either. And Willow's horrid abuse of power can't be hidden by her geeky cuteness forever. She didn't bother me that much the first time I watched, but over the years she became my least favourite main character in the Buffyverse. Her terrible actions, the lack of learning curve or punishment and her childish behaviour are a pretty toxic cocktail IMO.

    But I don't really like BtVS!Cordy either.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
      I find it interesting that in the past couple of years that Cordelia has really taken off as a breakaway fan favorite in BtVS and Angel. Several fan sites and podcasts - like Buffering the Vampire Slayer - are head over heels in love with the character and there are more and more appreciations all the time.
      Meanwhile, the love for Willow and Xander and several other characters has taken a beating. Why do you think this is?

      Of course, it's common nowadays to put most characters under a bright light and cluck over their less sterling qualities - it's group social shaming writ internet large - but Cordelia had her blind spots too (some really intense bullying and class issues in the first seasons of Buffy) and yet, she's not getting the same kind of dragging as the other characters.

      I love Cordelia as a character - but I love Willow and Xander too. Is it because Cordelia is assertive and confidently sexual? Interestingly, her character was meant to be an antagonist to Buffy back in the day, but her combative style and witty comebacks are now somewhat viewed as a woman asserting her power.

      I'd be curious to hear what people think.
      Because she's seen as a victim of the narrative, along with Charisma. You might have noticed an ever-increasing love of characters that many feel fall into the same group like Kendra and Jenny and to a lesser extent Tara and Buffy herself.

      But I also think that when the rubber meets the road, that affection falls short since they spend more time bashing others than extolling the actual virtues of those characters.

      Comment


      • #4
        It's interesting to ponder the swings and sways of fandom favourites. I do think Cordelia's blunt, often brutal, way of treating people in the early seasons has become something that is looked on as being the attitude of a confident woman. To some degree I think it should be admired but the casual cruelty that comes with the social posturing and dismissal of people wrapped within that really shouldn't. It is greatly played for humour, but we should also be considering the people it is directed at and the damage that can be done to someone's self esteem that can be an ongoing struggle. It's part of what makes high school years hell.

        But I love OOMOOS for adding in a sympathetic angle to Cordelia early on and layering her behaviour. That was the episode that got me hooked on the show as it really changed my perception of her character, but it didn't paper over the negatives of what she does. I do wonder if the expanding social effects of the internet and the unfortunate element of anonymity that also makes people casually cruel and blunt has meant that being so openly face-to-face as well has become strangely admired.

        I do agree with Nina that Xander's less than sterling behaviour in the early seasons and Willow's lack of real consequences for her later actions could well be a bigger turn off for the modern audience. Personally I do find Xander's development just very believable of an insecure teen and find seeing how it negatively affects the adult he becomes too, but how he grows self awareness and improves does make up for it. It was reading Season 8 after first seeing the show and seeing how far he'd come that really made me view him very differently when I next rewatched the show and he became a more sympathetic character to me. But I did struggle with Willow after S6 for quite some time. I still don't feel as connected to her character after S6 than before. I do think there is a learning curve in there (although there definitely isn't a sense of external punishment), but I'm not sure how much the Kennedy factor of S7 actually made it hard for me to 'get' Willow fully again.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Stoney View Post
          It's interesting to ponder the swings and sways of fandom favourites. I do think Cordelia's blunt, often brutal, way of treating people in the early seasons has become something that is looked on as being the attitude of a confident woman. To some degree I think it should be admired but the casual cruelty that comes with the social posturing and dismissal of people wrapped within that really shouldn't. It is greatly played for humour, but we should also be considering the people it is directed at and the damage that can be done to someone's self esteem that can be an ongoing struggle. It's part of what makes high school years hell.

          But I love OOMOOS for adding in a sympathetic angle to Cordelia early on and layering her behaviour. That was the episode that got me hooked on the show as it really changed my perception of her character, but it didn't paper over the negatives of what she does. I do wonder if the expanding social effects of the internet and the unfortunate element of anonymity that also makes people casually cruel and blunt has meant that being so openly face-to-face as well has become strangely admired.

          I do agree with Nina that Xander's less than sterling behaviour in the early seasons and Willow's lack of real consequences for her later actions could well be a bigger turn off for the modern audience. Personally I do find Xander's development just very believable of an insecure teen and find seeing how it negatively affects the adult he becomes too, but how he grows self awareness and improves does make up for it. It was reading Season 8 after first seeing the show and seeing how far he'd come that really made me view him very differently when I next rewatched the show and he became a more sympathetic character to me. But I did struggle with Willow after S6 for quite some time. I still don't feel as connected to her character after S6 than before. I do think there is a learning curve in there (although there definitely isn't a sense of external punishment), but I'm not sure how much the Kennedy factor of S7 actually made it hard for me to 'get' Willow fully again.
          It's always been admired...so long as it's not directed at the person doing the admiring. I mean, does casually cruel sound familiar in recent events?

          Comment


          • #6
            I think CC has a great deal of charm (nope, not going to say charisma ) and as others have said, Cordelia is witty, not afraid to speak her mind, and is very confident, all of which are rather admirable qualities.

            Also, and not to get all political, I do wonder if there isn't something to the idea of Cordelia's popularity being linked to the neo-liberal/3rd wave/"bubblegum" feminism that has somewhat taken over the discourse in the past few years (though I don't think it's particularly new in concept). I think part of it is also push-back against the way that the "mean girl" was often demonized in specifically misogynistic ways, and the tendency of some people to "pendulum swing" towards the other end of the spectrum, where they now completely gloss over her bullying behavior, or even deem it "empowering".

            And finally, yes, I think that the behind the scenes events help create a feeling of sympathy for CC that gets transferred to the character, especially as the character had a rather terrible send-off.
            What a challenge, honesty
            What a struggle to learn to speak
            Who would've thought that pretending was easier

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            • #7
              I've always been a Cordy fan. She's strong, confident and knows her own mind. I think it helps that she was paired on the show with Xander, who is frankly horrible to her and eventually ends up cheating on her. In comparison she seems much nicer then perhaps she was in Season 1 when we see her picking on Willow. Her growth on Angel also adds to her charm.


              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Priceless View Post
                I've always been a Cordy fan. She's strong, confident and knows her own mind. I think it helps that she was paired on the show with Xander, who is frankly horrible to her and eventually ends up cheating on her. In comparison she seems much nicer then perhaps she was in Season 1 when we see her picking on Willow. Her growth on Angel also adds to her charm.
                Actually this is a really interesting element, the relationship with Xander. Cordelia eventually abandoned her social status to be in the relationship with Xander and, at the point when it all fell apart, it was made clear that she was really falling for him. Now that doesn't oblige him to stay in the relationship with her of course, but the fact that he cheated on her and treated her so disrespectfully rather than just breaking up with her, probably does go towards people feeling more sympathy towards Cordelia and greater frustration with Willow and Xander.

                They are teenagers and thoughtlessness happens. Especially when hormones come in to play too. But that doesn't change that the cheating is a really bad choice and wasn't okay. I can see how people would see it as worse than the meanness that Cordelia doled out to others in earlier seasons because it was a personal betrayal. Interestingly though, I think I do see it as more equivalent to the betrayal of confidence that Cordelia shows in revealing some details of Xander's home life after they have broken up and the malicious comments directed at him of that ilk after that time too. I do understand that she is hurt of course, but two wrongs and all that.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I enjoy the banter in their relationship but Cordelia definitely comes off as overall more sympathetic than Xander. She shows a genuine affection for him on multiple occasions and while I do think he cares for her as well, he does have some pretty vile moments, like when he talks about how he "puts up with her vapid chit chat so he can get some touch" and the way he barely conceals the fact that he would dump her like a hot potato if Buffy ever showed any interest in him.
                  Last edited by Cheese Slices; 11-06-21, 08:47 PM.
                  What a challenge, honesty
                  What a struggle to learn to speak
                  Who would've thought that pretending was easier

                  Comment


                  • Priceless
                    Priceless commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yeah he says some really horrible things that make Cordy's mean girl cruelty pale into insignificance.
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