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  • Tara's Past

    Was she locked in her room or something before she went to college? I'm considering her father's words where he said we allowed you out in hopes she'd stop using magic. Did they let her go to high school or was she home-schooled?
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  • #2
    I dont beleieve that they 'locked' her in her room , but i believe they kept her in the family with no outside contact with otehr people such as friends etc. Thats why it was so hard for her when Oz came back i think because she thought the only freind and/girlfreind she had was going to leave her. Becuase her father was aashamed of Tara's powers he came up with the idea of a curse and that they had demon in them. But really he was scared, and only let her out because he thought she would realise that she needed him. I think its like any other dad letting their daughter go, and knowing that he's not the most important man or in tara's case woman in her life. So i believe she wasnt locked in her room just locked within the family unit. What do you think ?

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    • #3
      First, let me disclaim -- I've always found the Maclays' portrayal to be arch and cliched and pretty condescending to the American south. It felt so typical, for a Hollywood television show to treat these characters, from either Mississippi or Alabama, can't remember which, as backwards cave-dwellers from deepest, darkest Africa in a 19th century adventure novel.

      That said, I don't think that Tara was locked in a closet, slept under the stairs, etc. I don't think she was physically or even emotionally abused* in her upbringing. The fact that she was the woman she turned out to be supports this.

      When her father says that about "letting her go", I suspect it probably referred to her crossing the country for college and probably some degree of financial support in doing so -- moving expenses if nothing else. However wrong-minded or deceptive, I think that all three of her family members we met do love Tara. I suspect Beth resents her independence from attending to the family, but mostly just wants her back there so she has another woman to relate to. Donny is a protective older brother -- and there's nothing clear in "Family" to indicate he actually knew about the family lie. Her father, for his crappy and manipulative storytelling, I would suspect probably sincerely believes that the magic is dangerous and that telling her she's part "demon" and needs to stay home is equivalent to telling her that if she makes that face it will get stuck.

      I mostly say all of these things because I was disappointed with how thinly drawn Joss (Joss!) made these characters.

      *There is certainly a case for the lie told about her lineage as a species of emotional abuse -- what I'm referring to here is an apparent lack of more overt emotional abuse, that she's worthless, or fat, etc. She'd have been more than merely shy if this were the case -- she'd have been pretty intensely damaged even as she opened up to Willow, and she wasn't.
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      • #4
        I don't know, I found the Maclays interesting. I especially thought Beth's resentment was realistic, in a kind of 'you got what I didn't get, so I don't want it anyway' kind of way. I think the thing that was most confusing was actually the fact that they let her go to college in the first place...a bit uncharacteristic of what we saw of their characters.

        I definitely think that the whole demon thing was on par with being told that you're ugly, worthless, etc...because they were basically telling her that she was evil and a bad person! Which in someways is more traumatic. And I think she was a bit scarred, in that she found it hard to believe that anyone could love her, but I also think that reactions to that kind of situation really differ person to person. The Tara we see in season six for example is quite a strong person...so it's not unrealistic to me that she would be able to make it through a very hard childhood.

        And now I'm totally thinking of cordelia saying, 'what is your childhood trauma?!
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        • #5
          She'd have been more than merely shy if this were the case -- she'd have been pretty intensely damaged even as she opened up to Willow, and she wasn't.
          I think Tara is more messed up than “merely shy” – I remember her saying to Willow at some point “even when I’m at my worst”, which implies she has some pretty dark moments. Ditto the fact that she sings “I lived my life in shadow/Never the sun on my face”. Some real self-esteem issues – “I figured that was my place”.

          HOWEVER…I don’t think there needs to be any kind of abuse in the mix to explain that. You can come from a loving family and still have issues, especially in your late teens/early twenties, when you’re figuring out who you are and how you fit into the world.

          So, coming from a family who didn’t value her, and who told her she was part-demon… I don’t think it necessarily needs to be abuse per se (and I get so bored when all psychological problems on TV are explained away by “she was abused as a child”…. Get a new theme!). It’s just a whole big Larkin thing.

          They fck you up your mum and dad
          They may not mean to but they do
          They fill you with the faults they had
          And tell you you’re part demon, too.


          Hadn't Tara had girlfriends before? So she must've left the house sometimes!


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          • #6
            I think that the men in Tara's family had a need to control the women. They were afraid that the women with a talent for witchcraft would cause them to loose their firm grip on them. So they wove the tale of the women being part demon to control them. They used emotional abuse to prevent the women to believe in themselves. Spike saw right through Tara's father.

            Spike: There's no demon in there. That's just a family legend, am I right? (Mr. Maclay looks angry) Just a bit of spin to keep the ladies in line. (smirks) Oh, you're a piece of work. I like you.

            Could be that all the people Tara met while growing up were from the same type of families. She didn't know any different. When you are told from birth things are a certain way you believe it. I often wondered if Tara ran away to go to college. It seemed like she was shocked that the family found her.

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            • #7
              Donny saying he would "beat her down" qualifies as emotional abuse. Telling her she is a demon also qualifies as emotional abuse. She also looks constantly on the verge of flinching in the beginning, and when someone shoots her down, she bows her head and waits for people to look away from her (in Hush). She definitely acts like an abuse victim, whether it was physical or emotional.

              Her mother also died less than three years before the episode Family, and from everything Tara says in the Body, it's possible she was sick for a long time before that. That could account for a lot of Tara's distress, especially if she'd been told that she had the same ailment as her mother.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
                First, let me disclaim -- I've always found the Maclays' portrayal to be arch and cliched and pretty condescending to the American south. It felt so typical, for a Hollywood television show to treat these characters, from either Mississippi or Alabama, can't remember which, as backwards cave-dwellers from deepest, darkest Africa in a 19th century adventure novel.
                Um yeah, I think you are way overreacting about it. I didn't see any pokes at those states, whatsoever. Had the Maclays walked in with straw hats and a "I heart KKK" shirt, then I'd question what's the why, but fortunately there were no such stereotypes. One reason why Joss decided to make the Maclays Mississippians or Alabamians could very well be because Amber Benson herself was born in Alabama. No?

                But anyway, in regards to this thread, I always thought that the "demon" in Tara was a metaphor for her lesbianism. And her family trying to oppress this "demon" was a metaphor for them trying to "un-gay" her. I figured that growing up, Tara was very much told that her lesbianism was wrong, and she pushed herself to believe so. In "Goodbye, Iowa", Tara decides to back out of performing her spell with Willow because she's afraid Willow would find out she's actually a demon. If you translate that, it means that Tara was afraid that Willow would know she's a lesbian (since we know spells is aka for sex). And in "Where the Wild Things Are", I always thought there was a paradox when Tara scolded at Willow for touching her. We're believed to think that Tara was being possessed/affected by the ghosts, however it sounded much like Tara's subconscious thought speaking: "That's just disgusting!" Sounds very much like something Mr. Maclay would've told her in her adolescence.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
                  First, let me disclaim -- I've always found the Maclays' portrayal to be arch and cliched and pretty condescending to the American south. It felt so typical, for a Hollywood television show to treat these characters, from either Mississippi or Alabama, can't remember which, as backwards cave-dwellers from deepest, darkest Africa in a 19th century adventure novel.
                  Huh. I don't think you can really say that. That's like saying that you can't have people from any minority group doing anything bad as it is reflecting on the group as a whole. You would never be able to write a show if that was the case. Maybe I just missed it but I don't see what you mean. But you probably know more about it than I do anyway.

                  I'll just say that Tara is tied as my Fav Character. K? Good

                  I think the abuse she went through was mainly emotional and degrading. Specifically about her inferiority about being a woman and a witch.

                  I think the men in the family are just scared of women and have very old extreme Christian beliefs. Involving women's Inferiority. And even more so because she is a witch!
                  They don't like that though they really love her. They just have a bad way of showing it.
                  I really think they are trying to help her by abusing her although it is awfully wrong and evil. It's just their way. I think they intimidated her into doing what they viewed as the women's job. And Tara was raised to live that way and had no choice. Basically she was forced to live like a woman in the middle ages. Her mother was the main reason in my opinion she didn't turn out more like her cousin beth. Because through her she understood how women lived in today's society. The men of the family I bet really hated that and that is why she would have been physically abused. Though I think it was occasionally. And most of the time just the threat of physical violence to keep her in line with their narrow, ancient view of the world.

                  Originally posted by Weredog View Post
                  , I always thought that the "demon" in Tara was a metaphor for her lesbianism. And her family trying to oppress this "demon" was a metaphor for them trying to "un-gay" her.
                  Really Interesting I never thought they were aware otherwise they would have never let her out of their sight. Her mom probably told her to keep it hidden in my opinion to save her from further abuse.

                  The Demon in my opinion was just their way of making sure that she would listen to them and always come back. It was used throughout the generations to control women and keep them docile and not leave.
                  Last edited by Revan; 19-06-08, 10:05 AM.
                  "I never learned from a man who agreed with me.'" Robert Heinlen

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Hekate View Post
                    Donny saying he would "beat her down" qualifies as emotional abuse.
                    Hmm, true! Though, he is her brother so... don't siblings say violent stuff to one another? Mind you, it's different in a family like that where the power is all with the men. It's not run of the mill sibling scuffling. Yeah, you're right. Donny is abusive.


                    Telling her she is a demon also qualifies as emotional abuse.
                    I've been thinking this over and I'm still not sure, because it depends on whether the men of the family have come to believe it. In which case it's more insanity than abuse. But given that the end result is the same - that Tara believes she's a demon - on balance, it is effectively abuse - as in, she has been abused, whether through craziness or knowing cruelty. I think what made me quibble about this was that it's operating in metaphor territory... so it's more a metaphor for abuse than abuse per se. But I now think it's both - a metaphor for abuse, and actual in-the-buffyverse's-reality abuse.

                    But I guess it's a blurry line. One person's harsh words might be another person's definition of abuse?


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Weredog View Post
                      But anyway, in regards to this thread, I always thought that the "demon" in Tara was a metaphor for her lesbianism. And her family trying to oppress this "demon" was a metaphor for them trying to "un-gay" her. I figured that growing up, Tara was very much told that her lesbianism was wrong, and she pushed herself to believe so. In "Goodbye, Iowa", Tara decides to back out of performing her spell with Willow because she's afraid Willow would find out she's actually a demon. If you translate that, it means that Tara was afraid that Willow would know she's a lesbian (since we know spells is aka for sex). And in "Where the Wild Things Are", I always thought there was a paradox when Tara scolded at Willow for touching her. We're believed to think that Tara was being possessed/affected by the ghosts, however it sounded much like Tara's subconscious thought speaking: "That's just disgusting!" Sounds very much like something Mr. Maclay would've told her in her adolescence.
                      I always thought the demon thing was indeed a metaphor for the gay thing (), but that it was a meta metaphor (if you will) rather than a literal one. ie, Tara never thought it had anything to do with being a lesbian, and the story revolves around the fact that the demon myth is about magic and feminism.

                      Hmm, not sure I actually made any sense there...
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by litzie View Post
                        I always thought the demon thing was indeed a metaphor for the gay thing (), but that it was a meta metaphor (if you will) rather than a literal one. ie, Tara never thought it had anything to do with being a lesbian, and the story revolves around the fact that the demon myth is about magic and feminism.

                        Hmm, not sure I actually made any sense there...
                        Sense there is! I partly agree and partly think the opposite. That is, I agree that there are different layers of metaphor at work, but I think that metaphor was explicitly about female power and male fear of that power, and female complicity in this* but that Tara feels the demon represents her sexuality and the shame attached to it by others, which she can't help but internalise to a degree ? eg it comes out when she's infected/possessed in the wacky sex house.

                        That is, the lesbian/demon metaphor is from Tara's perspective, not from her family's exactly. Though I think they might suspect? Who knows. But given that her mother is supposed to be the "same", and have demon in her?I don't think that's meant to imply that her mother's gay/bi?though of course it could. But that wasn't what I took from it.

                        The metaphors in Buffy are often multivalent so it doesn't have to be just about one thing. Just like magic represents both lesbianism and, erm, crack addiction. Hmm? perhaps not an example of multivalence at its most subtle! But the idea that magic is both sex and power is interesting. So I'll go with that. So, the demon could be both lesbianism and the fears surrounding it and a more general representation of gendered power.


                        *or perhaps, more generally, the fear that the oppressor has of the oppressed, and the way that some oppressed prefer to side with the oppressor to protect themselves. Cousin Beth is Vichy France


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Revan View Post
                          That's like saying that you can't have people from any minority group doing anything bad as it is reflecting on the group as a whole. You would never be able to write a show if that was the case.
                          Spot on, buddy. That would be like saying Mr. Trick is evil because he's black, or Faith is evil because she's the working-class. I always thought they were evil because they killed people.

                          Originally posted by litzie View Post
                          I always thought the demon thing was indeed a metaphor for the gay thing (), but that it was a meta metaphor (if you will) rather than a literal one. ie, Tara never thought it had anything to do with being a lesbian, and the story revolves around the fact that the demon myth is about magic and feminism.

                          Hmm, not sure I actually made any sense there...
                          Yup, yup, yup, that's exactly what I meant. Thanks for clearing that up. It's like for the characters, the Maclays believed that she had an actual beasty demon inside of her. For us gentle viewers -- or at least me --, the Maclays believed Tara swayed to be gay, despite their objections.

                          Ugh! So hard to explain! But I think we understand each other....
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                          • #14
                            I didn't see the demon thing being a metaophor for being gay. Tara's dad said this:

                            Mr. Maclay: Demon. The women in our family... (Everyone looks up at him) have demon in them. Her mother had it. That's where the magic comes from.

                            It was more about the women in family being a witch than gay. Tara's mom wasn't gay and her father said the mother had demon in her. To me it was about the males trying to control the females. They used fear to control them.

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                            • #15
                              kudagirl they mean only for us the viewers. Not the characters in the show I don't even think that Tara's family was aware that she was gay. Because he mother told her to hide it.

                              Though I didn't see the metaphor. Personally though I need to re-watch the episode so who knows. It's precisely the sort of thing that Joss would do.

                              That's an interesting point was Tara's mom a lesbian or bi? I think maybe. And that she was tricked into marriage or didn't realise it at the time. Then maybe she looked outside her family for love because she wouldn't leave Tara. It might explain a few things too. What do you think?

                              Someone please expand my idea.
                              "I never learned from a man who agreed with me.'" Robert Heinlen

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Weredog View Post
                                Ugh! So hard to explain! But I think we understand each other....
                                We do indeed!
                                Spot on, buddy. That would be like saying Mr. Trick is evil because he's black, or Faith is evil because she's the working-class. I always thought they were evil because they killed people.
                                Originally posted by Revan
                                Huh. I don't think you can really say that. That's like saying that you can't have people from any minority group doing anything bad as it is reflecting on the group as a whole. You would never be able to write a show if that was the case. Maybe I just missed it but I don't see what you mean. But you probably know more about it than I do anyway.
                                I don't know...I think here the issue isn't so much how you MUST represent minorities (which, if it was...obviously Joss has a desire to break those kind of rules...like the whole killing a lesbian rule with Tara) but rather that Joss often breaks stereotypes, and in this case he only reinforced them. Not sure I agree with this interpretation, but I think that's the one you could rationalize.
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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Weredog View Post
                                  Spot on, buddy. That would be like saying Mr. Trick is evil because he's black, or Faith is evil because she's the working-class. I always thought they were evil because they killed people.
                                  "The fact that you're fat makes you look fat. That sweater just makes you look purple".

                                  However, I can see why the Maclays might seem a bit of a dig at the South, if you're thinking about Joss's political leanings - and the stereotype thing. But then, there's Fred on the other hand. And Captain Mal in an extended sense, by implication/accent.

                                  kudagirl they mean only for us the viewers. Not the characters in the show I don't even think that Tara's family was aware that she was gay. Because he mother told her to hide it.
                                  I think that Tara might've seen it as connected to her sexuality too, though. But not the Maclays necesssarily, no.


                                  Re Tara's sexuality...I really want to know who she slept with before Willow. Is that prurient? Or did she not sleep with anyone, but just knew she was gay?
                                  Last edited by Wolfie Gilmore; 20-06-08, 10:55 AM.


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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by litzie View Post
                                    I don't know...I think here the issue isn't so much how you MUST represent minorities (which, if it was...obviously Joss has a desire to break those kind of rules...like the whole killing a lesbian rule with Tara) but rather that Joss often breaks stereotypes, and in this case he only reinforced them. Not sure I agree with this interpretation, but I think that's the one you could rationalize.
                                    I understand what you're saying but you are reinforcing the stereotype when you say that one is untouchable because of one's stereotype. In my opinion it matters not at all. All should be treated equally.

                                    Wolfie there is no canon as far as i'm aware but unofficially I think most agree she had one relationship beforehand. I say this because it's what everyone says and to me it makes sense. Clear?
                                    "I never learned from a man who agreed with me.'" Robert Heinlen

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Revan View Post
                                      I understand what you're saying but you are reinforcing the stereotype when you say that one is untouchable because of one's stereotype. In my opinion it matters not at all. All should be treated equally.
                                      But the thing is...how are you reinforcing a stereotype by breaking it? I mean, I do get what you're saying, it relates well to Tara's Death and Joss's take on that, but...Joss obviously thought about the stereotype of women in horror movies when he set out to break it...and I think that he also thought a lot about what he was saying about women/feminism/stereotypes of female heroes throughout the show.

                                      I don't think it's wrong to set out to break a stereotype...or to try to avoid confirming it. Much like I think that making an effort to represent minorities on screen doesn't have to be bad. But I also think that you should be able, as a creator, to NOT break stereotypes. I'm not actually arguing against the Maclays' portrayal.
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                                      • #20
                                        My point is that it is going to far to say for example that joss could not kill tara because she is a lesbian is doing as bad a disservice as Joss killing her because she is a lesbian. Because it is re-nforcing the stereotype. Sort of like the person saying that firefly is sexist. Have you read that thread? you should. It's in the Firefly section. I'm sorry I can't explain it better than that.

                                        Ah wait i'll try again it's like giving a black person a job over a white person because he is black. And because he will be treated as racist if he takes the white guy. Because that is still taking race into consideration. Meaning it's racist. I think one should not take into consideration race, or gender when one judges another.
                                        "I never learned from a man who agreed with me.'" Robert Heinlen

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