There is a Jewish parable that says to save one life is to save a world. If you think of all the young men and women who were impacted by the debut of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you could say Joss and his merry band of actors save an entire galaxy. I was not a person who was enamored with the series as soon as it debut in the spring of 1997, but the passing twentieth anniversary brought about a moment of reflection. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the landmark show about a teenage girl struggling with supernatural forces, while attempting a normal life. Buffy is essentially a superhero sans costume. I didn’t watch the first season because they showed the 1992 film, a week prior on another television station and even at 13 years old, it felt cheap and clumsy.
What slowly endeared me to the show was the humor, as I’ve written on other time for this website; I grew up under a bad sign. I always felt personally my sense of humor is one of the things that kept me afloat. Buffy is a sarcastic character that tried to mask her deep concern for others with a quip and a smile. Seeing a female character who shared my somewhat irreverent take on life and death situations was deeply comforting. There was this smart, quick, pace dialogue the kind which could move the elaborate plots along quickly, while still being emotionally rich. That same balance of quirky with the profound, that you would find in a Spiderman or X-Men comic books at the time. It is no wonder that Joss Whedon the creator of the series, went on to direct The Avengers.
The episode that fully won me over was “Ted.” During the episode, Buffy sarcastically tells her mother’s new boyfriend (who turns out to be an evil robot), that she wants to kill herself. I remember openly gasping when she said this. As someone who grew up in a conservative Hispanic household, that try to have the illusions of order while being complete in disarray, I could never imagine myself even now raising my voice or answering back to my parents. I liked Buffy because she had feelings, she would get sad or even cry when she felt overwhelmed. The most important thing though was she always came back swinging at her problems. There was a sense of fearlessness that the character carried, that gave me confidence.
The show was my first encounter with Feminism and Feministic concepts; I didn’t really grow up with good examples of women as a child and a teenager. Having Buffy Summers and her friends in my life was a good way to see women as people. Now this will probably be the most controversial section of this essay, but I felt it was important to include one of the reason I was drawn to the show was that it felt inclusive. It felt like the male characters Giles, Angel, Xander etc all had a part to contribute towards Buffy’s goals. While the series tackled topics like manipulative boyfriends and abusive men it didn’t feel like masculinity was the villain.
There is certain ire for the men in modern feminism, which makes it feel like we are not part of the solution. I always feel like modern feminism portrayed in the media is about debauchery or just a desire to treat others terribly. The world has a lot of scary things in it right now and I hope men and women can work together to fight the monsters, the demons, and vampires that stalk our lives.
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