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Future Mythology: The Slayer

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  • Future Mythology: The Slayer

    I wanted to ask a couple questions that I think might be interesting. Both have to do with the Slayer mythology and its eventual cultural status. The first is -- do you think that Buffy specifically will withstand the test of time as a superhero mythology?

    Superman was created in 1932. Today, the character is synonymous with virtuous heroism and physical strength. There is an exhibit about him in the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Do you think Buffy will be as iconic as Superman, Batman, Spiderman (the "big three") in 50 years, 75 years?

    The other question is one of more anthropological significance. Vampire mythology is as old as history itself, but the modern paradigm was only formed within the past couple hundred years and become definitive in Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1897. But the vampire, as a concept, is as engrained and established a mythological device as are genies or unicorns. Do you think that the mythology of the Slayer will enter that same status? Will the Slayer become a mythological hero, an archetype all on its own, in the long run of history? Does it have that much cache, that much hook on the imagination, that much exposure?
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  • #2
    do you think that Buffy specifically will withstand the test of time as a superhero mythology?

    She definitely goes beyond any of the female superheroes like Wonder Woman and Xena simply because Buffy, as a character, has more layers. I would also say she is as original of superhero as are the classic DC and Marvel superheroes. I don't think this is necessarily an original claim since there are a number of scholarly reports that support this statement.

    Do you think Buffy will be as iconic as Superman, Batman, Spiderman (the "big three") in 50 years, 75 years?

    Yes in terms of grandeur, but I think she and the series itself will be recognized for breaking new grounds that the "big three" didn't. Specifically, in terms that Buffy was introduced as a television character (let us dismiss the 1992 movie) and was then further explored as a comic book character. It was the reverse for the "big three".

    Vampire mythology is as old as history itself, but the modern paradigm was only formed within the past couple hundred years and become definitive in Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1897. But the vampire, as a concept, is as engrained and established a mythological device as are genies or unicorns. Do you think that the mythology of the Slayer will enter that same status? Will the Slayer become a mythological hero, an archetype all on its own, in the long run of history? Does it have that much cache, that much hook on the imagination, that much exposure?


    Oh, for sure. The "Buffy" mythology has already been recognized as a new set of old mythology. It has definitely rooted itself in today's culture as to what contemporary vampire is, ie "vampire with a soul". Various TV shows reference vampires to "Buffy" and to "Buffy" alone. Wikipedia itself has a collection of articles that singularly explore the Buffyverse such as Slayers, vampires, and demons.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
      Do you think that Buffy specifically will withstand the test of time as a superhero mythology?
      I think that she will be like Xena, she won't be one of the best known superheroes, but there will be enough people who will remember Buffy.

      Do you think Buffy will be as iconic as Superman, Batman, Spiderman (the "big three") in 50 years, 75 years?
      Buffy has a big fandom now ... but in 50 or 75 years ... nope.

      The other question is one of more anthropological significance. Vampire mythology is as old as history itself, but the modern paradigm was only formed within the past couple hundred years and become definitive in Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1897. But the vampire, as a concept, is as engrained and established a mythological device as are genies or unicorns. Do you think that the mythology of the Slayer will enter that same status? Will the Slayer become a mythological hero, an archetype all on its own, in the long run of history? Does it have that much cache, that much hook on the imagination, that much exposure?
      No, there will always be vampirehunters ... and the slayer isn't so unique that she will be a myth. Again, Buffy is maybe in this years a term, but in 50 years she is one of the many vampirehunters I think.

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      • #4
        I think Buffy will always a loyal fan base, maybe even in 10 or 15 years. Buffy was and still is a show that broke new grounds and dared to go deeper. I think she will be greater than all the "big three superheros" because of that reason.

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        • #5
          Will Buffy herself become a mythological hero, an archetype all on her own?

          I don’t think so. Archetypes are formed and last because they have some resonance with the human psyche- vampires have endured as a cultural figure because they have significance to things like the id, the unconscious, and our shadow selves, and thus they resonate with people throughout time. I don’t know if the character of the Slayer has that kind of resonance.

          I do think the series will endure, because of things like its use of metaphor, the structural elements in some eps which were very creative and unique- like the Zeppo, which many hate, but I thought was brilliant. And for the ways in which it raises numerous philosophical, ethical, and feminist issues. It will at the very least live on in academia.

          And it has achieved a cultural foothold as weredog says, but Superman and Wonderwoman have a mass appeal or recognition that I’m not sure Buffy will ever achieve. It may be because they were characters meant to appeal widely, and thus didn’t really challenge a variety of ideologies the way BtVS does, or are less political or something. Like crime shows such as Law and Order or CSI are popular and a safe bet for networks because - everyone is against crime. It is a safe form of entertainment and appeals to people from all walks of life. Superman and Wonderwoman are like that. I'm not sure the same could ever be said for Buffy.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
            I wanted to ask a couple questions that I think might be interesting. Both have to do with the Slayer mythology and its eventual cultural status. The first is -- do you think that Buffy specifically will withstand the test of time as a superhero mythology?
            Yes, but not in the same way that Superman has, I'm fairly sure of that. Perhaps on a level with The Phantom? Or perhaps as something that's revived with a new spin later? Something that Alan Moores of the future will pick over as per the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Buffy simply hasn't had the mainstream viewing/reading figures of Superman, nor has she been around for anywhere near as long as Superman. Unless the comics REALLY take off, which I don't see them doing, as they aren't accessible to - or aimed at - people who didn't watch the show. While Superman comics/films have, at a lot of points in their evolution at least, offered ways in to the uninitiated, to new generations of kids, while constantly churning out new stuff.

            Of course, there may be new incarnations of Buffy just as there have been of Superman, Batman.... but perhaps her very specificity, her "Buffy Summers" ness makes her less of a symbol, more of a person...and therefore harder to franchise without losing her essence? And Superman is the myth-as-franchise.

            Do you think that the mythology of the Slayer will enter that same status? Will the Slayer become a mythological hero, an archetype all on its own, in the long run of history? Does it have that much cache, that much hook on the imagination, that much exposure?
            I don't think the slayer will become an archetype in the same manner as the vampire, perhaps because its mythical status is something it always questions; t's a myth that often makes fun of the idea of mythology ("I thought the slayer was a myth" "You were mythtaken"). Buffy's slayerness is as much a metaphor for the challenges of everyday life as a reality all of its own. Whedon does not do a Tolkien, creating a mythology for the sake of the mythology - or for the love of myth creation, perhaps.

            The mythology of the slayer functions as a metaphor for being a modern young woman, and there's something a little throwaway about the treatment of the mythology: when Buffy first meets Giles, she "blah blahs" it out as a bit of a spiel, as something that she's so over...the history of the slayer is something she becomes interested in later, because she's trying to work out her own identity...and we do see her more in the context of slayers who have come before...but the focus always returns to the individuals rather than their "slayerness"...to the extent that they didn't even bother to get the slayer succession rules right.

            The comic of The Chain is interesting in this regard. It deals with the nature of being a slayer, but not in a way that focuses on the mystical side of things. It becomes a heroic narrative that could be applied to any sort of superhero, or non super hero for that matter: it's about deciding to get it done, to be yourself and claim the responsibilities that entails. The anonymous hero (well, perhaps anonyeponymous, given she's "Buffy" ) is a slayer, yes, and part of a chain of slayers that stretches back through history...but she's also very much the "just a girl" hero that Buffy sees herself as... her superpowers and her connection to the slayer myth are a part of her, but what really defines her is the courage that anyone could display. She's the everywoman hero that the slayer represents. So, in that way, slayerness represents something, it gestures towards something, as much as existing as a concept and a myth in itself.

            In terms of how it will endure as a cultural idea, then, I think its legacy is more likely to be by way of the history of television and the bridging of high and low culture. So, BtVS will, imo, endure as a work of art rather than in the form of the myth of the slayer. Though Buffy herself - as a character, not a myth out of context - will live on.
            Wolfie Gilmore
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            • #7
              I'm not sure... It seems with each year that separates us from S7 the less interest in Buffy we have. Heroes that are invented in TV first seem to wain in interest once their show is off the air.

              Of course there are loyal fans who will endeavor to keep the fires burning, but as their lives continue to change there will be less and less of those.

              Superman was originated in the comics first during a time when TV was not very popular. Many homes didn't even have ONE TV let alone the average 2-5 in homes today! Reading comics was something every young "male" could do. We also kept our imaginations a little more useful than we do these days - I remember playing superheros at recess when I was in school!! (And we had one TV and it was black and white - no remote. It was was a BIG DAY when we got our first color TV!)

              But today's fan is a bit more fickle. As soon as the next TV Icon rolls onto the screen we are "fanning" for that person/group. (Heroes, BSG, SG, Sarah Connor, Moonlight, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, Torchwood, Supernatural, etc.)

              Dracula was born out of literature. Again, a time when great literature was the TV of that time.

              But as long as fans continue to keep it central I can see it enduring like Star Wars, Star Trek (the original).
              -TP<3
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              • #8
                Great Questions!

                Will Buffy withstand the test of time in Superhero mythology...
                I am going to say yes, she is an original personality and more importantly a heroine and because of being a strong female rolemodel in a supernatural world...I believe she will always be referenced and remembered.

                Though years from now she may not be as popular, and more than likely there will be a new heroine who is the best thing since sliced bread, I believe that next great heroine will have origins from Buffy, she maybe compared or even have similar traits, in any case when this new heroine is talked about, people will make references to Buffy.

                I hope I am making sense...i see Buffy as a ground breaking character, like Princess Leia was, Xena (as another poster already mentioned) or even Ripley from the Alien series. These women were taking charge in a male dominated field or situation. There love interests may have been heroes as well but they were on an even playing field with them in brains and resilance.

                Many of them also have a cult following which will keep them alive years after "mainstream" has tossed them aside.

                I do not believe she will ever get to the status of Superman or Batman because though Buffy the character is amazing, and though I know that actually two actresses played the role, I do believe SMG is synomonus with the character and therefore trying to update her later may not work.

                I think having the movie first showed that though the idea of Buffy was great, if the wrong person had been cast for the show the charater of Buffy would now be forgotten.

                I do not mean any disrespect to Kristy, it was more that there was magic in what Sarah brought to the role and then along with great writing and an outstanding supporting cast, Buffy became what we know and love today.

                Where in Superman and Batman, though the actors whosen to play the roles have helped or hurt to keep the frachise extremely popular, they were a comic first and therefore new actors can jump into the already established character and add their own flare.

                Whew okay I am going to stop for now, I really hope I made sense, everyone else had such excellent posts, the pressure is on

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                • #9
                  So, I did a search for "Buffy" on the website of The Guardian (British newspaper), and it came up with 706 hits. 14 from this year, 76 from last year, about 60 in each of the previous years. (Admittedly, some of them were for Buffy Sainte-Marie or other people with the same name).
                  For example:

                  An article on Ellen Page:
                  It was precisely because Juno's screenwriter, former stripper Diablo Cody, had given Juno such sassy dialogue (think Buffy, think My So-Called Life, think Dawson's Creek before it got schmaltzy) that Page took the part.

                  An news article on a spate of suicides in a town in Wales:
                  A real story, filled with genuine grief and pain, that nevertheless 'ran' in our media like some corny horror movie (a teenage Salem's Lot) or a discarded plot from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

                  A feature article on coping with adolescent children:
                  Any secondary school can be a bit of a trauma. So is adolescence. It's exactly the wrong age to learn anything. You probably need to be a bit bonkers. A bit Beryl the Peril or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

                  An article on use of Gaelic in modern Ireland:
                  They were fluent in Irish text-speak and had moulded the ancient pronunciations and syntax in accordance with the latest styles of Buffy-speak and Londonstani slang.

                  An article on David Beckham's retirement as England captain (this one is my favourite):
                  Beckham means so much more than football, but only from within football does he really gather all this significance, and if we insist upon his stardom long after his retirement from the football A-list, it'll ... well, it will all go wrong. It will be like trying to bring Buffy back from the dead.

                  An article written on 6 June 2006:
                  As anyone with a passing acquaintance with the Book of Revelation, The Omen or Buffy the Vampire Slayer will know, Tuesday's date - 6/6/06 - echoes the number of the beast and therefore offers itself as a strong contender for the beginning of the end of days.


                  Conclusion: Buffy isn't likely to end up as iconic as Superman or Dracula, but I can't see her fading out of popular culture quite yet.

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                  • #10
                    One of the reasons why Superman, Wonder woman, Batman or the vampires will live on in the minds of people is that they all have a specific look or costume.
                    Buffy's downfall is that she appears to be normal.
                    Being as she was a vampire slayer that will help her to be remembered but a vampire slayer is the definitive rememberance key. Even Harry Potter has a costume of sorts, the wand and the gown.
                    As for the fan base, the number of these type of forums are getting fewer. As they get fewer a greater number of people will join each one which ultimately creates a bandwidth problem that only copious amounts of money can solve, failure to produce the money will only add to the brevity of the memory of Buffy.
                    Angel liked to sing 'Oh Mandy', using the Angelus method.

                    Look at it, play with it, then torture it.

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