shadowkat: (doing time)
[personal profile] shadowkat
Amongst other things...blogging is an art form in which I continue to insist on coloring outside of the lines.

Today..I ran into five-six homeless people, that I noticed. All people of color. All bundled up, at least there's that. They appeared to be warm. Scarves. Mittens. Layers. On this frigid day. They sat huddled on the floor of subway passageways, tin cans out, begging. Some on the heated grates on sidewalks. Or wandering the subway itself, hat in hand. Explaining that they were homeless due to a lost job, or various other reasons. Normally, I ignore...but today, I just couldn't. Not when I passed the man with the bandaged eye for the second time this week, half blind, huddled against the wall, with the small scratched out sign that he'd been beaten up while sleeping on the subway. I promised myself that if I saw him again, I would stop and hand him a dime. I gave him three dollars, a pittance. At least, others had as well. Further down, a man was railing at all who would listen. Screaming and ranting at the top of his lungs. His voice competed with the Scottish Bag Pipes lonely wail of Sweet By and By. And in between, a blind man sat on a mat, hands crossed on his lap, meditating.

New York City is not a safe comfortable place to live. It screams and shouts at you, to be noticed. With raw wounds scraped along its pretty glistening sides.

Been pondering the past lately...past transgressions, people who have drifted off and some who have drifted back again into my life, seemingly out of nowhere. My friend Maribeth Martell, aka [livejournal.com profile] embers_log, continues to haunt the social media pages...on Facebook her birthday was announced as if she was still amongst us, she'd have been 64, and on Good Reads, I see which books she liked and didn't...that I'm reading. She didn't live long enough to read mine, although she'd seen some introductory chapters. And whenever I post a picture to my livejournal, for some reason or other her name appears in the album posting box. She died two years ago of colitis - an infection that got worse and worse. Even though we'd begun to drift apart before she died, I miss her. An old acquaintance from my college days just contacted me out of nowhere. Hadn't heard from her since 1987 - when we traveled around Britain together. She was much older than I was at the time, thinking 30s or 40s. Found me on LinkedIn. And a few people have popped up again on livejournal, who I thought were basically gone. Then there's the little boy who told my best bud to punch me in the stomach when I was 6 years of age. Or maybe 5. I still vividly remember it. We were friends. We did get over that...kids do. But they moved soon after, both of them did. He was blond, white blond hair, and blue eyes. Name of Derek. I see him vividly sitting on a tree in my mind's eye. He moved out of the house that my best friend moved into, right next door to us. He could climb poles. He taught me to climb poles. I don't remember his last name. I don't know what happened to him.

The past never quite goes away does it? Just sort of floats in the ether of one's brain...around and around. My Granny at the end of her life remembered her childhood better than she did what happened a minute ago.

So...I revisited this old Buffy essay I wrote, about Willow, the other day - which I'd forgotten. And it said something that well made me sit up and take notice:

When the dream ends [Willow's dream in the Buffy episode, Restless] - Willow is literally choking on the chaotic emotions inside her, the order her spirit had imposed on them stripped from her by the first slayer.

In Willow's dream we see the duality of several characters. Buffy is both the ditzy flapper girl and the hard slayer saving her friends. Xander is the smart alec friend and the cruel classmate. Harmony is the sweet friendly milkmaid and the biting social climber. Riley is the Cowboy and the cardboard actor with no substance, rushing to the rescue but leaving chaos in his wake. Giles is the director attempting to install order yet losing control by his inability to understand the actors needs, the absentminded professor if you will. Tara is the spirit guide, kind supportive, yet also judgmental and forcing Willow to face what's inside. And finally Willow - Willow is the geeky nerdy girl doing the book report and the girl controlling Tara with a spell. Janus - the duality of male and female, light and dark lying side by side. Even Willow's book: the Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe expresses this theme of dark and light - in the Witch (female dark chaotic) and Aslan - the Lion (male light order.) The question posed at the end of Willow's dream is will she be able to incorporate both or will the chaotic emotions boiling up inside destroy her spirit and consume her light?

Part of growing up is learning how to deal with past transgressions and one's identity, whether that be sexual, spiritual or mental. Willow has never figured out how to do this. She either bottles it up inside or lashes out. In fact - the source of her power, may be all those dark bottled up emotions boiling up inside her. Instead of dealing, she hides or represses under a sweet facade, bottling up even more.

On her journey - Willow slips into the pitfalls of Kurtz in The Heart of Darkness. Or the surfer boy in Apocalypse Now - who looks forward to the trip but can't deal with the pain he finds on the other side. Like Kurtz and the surfer boy, Willow is an idealist. She believes the world should be a bright and rosy place and worse, believes she has the power to make it so. She doesn't. The problem with trying to save the world - is sometimes it's a chore just trying to save yourself.

It's ironic really - because Willow always came across as the most moral and non-judgmental of the group. She accepted everyone - even Faith, at first. Her spirit held them together. But beneath all that - are some heavy duty fears that date back to her childhood. Like all of us, Willow has chaos/emotion and order/spirit battling inside her. She hasn't figured out how to incorporate them yet partly because she's still carrying her childhood on her back. As she puts it to Tara about Ms. Kitty -"I don't know…she's not fully grown yet. I have time. " In Willow's mind she has plenty of time. But does she? Really?


Willow was on the surface that stock nerdy-geeky sidekick that everyone knew or was in high school. Although insanely bright (not) and with magic(not). If, however, you strip that away or look it at metaphorically...I think a lot of people see themselves in Willow. I certainly did. I was the wallflower. Awkward with boys, and girls. Quirky. Wore the wrong clothes. Was ruthlessly teased and bullied and shamed. I don't know about anyone else, but I developed "a fuck you" attitude after a while, much like Willow did. And in Willow, I see echoes of my own unbridled rage and fury.

And I totally get the savior complex -- the desire to save people, to make the world better. Buffy really didn't have it, she just wanted to be Cordy, and have fun. Willow, however, wanted desperately to be the hero, to stop the bullies, to save others. To take down people like Warren. But the world, damn it, kept putting obstacles in her way and gave the role of superhero to the ditzy cheerleader.

But... what really hit me about my old essay, and it is old, I wrote it in 2002..was this feeling of a broken spirit. Willow had all this power, she was awesome, the most loved, yet because her spirit was broken...she just saw the echo of those past transgressions wherever she looked or her fear of them. She saw the rejections, the teasing, the shame. Harmony hung over her, undead, biting. The seemingly harmless mean girl, who just would not die. Pretty, vapid, and cruel...bubbling, and vivacious, every guy's wet dream, and apparently some women's as well. She tries to be friends with Harmony, but she bites her or stabs her in the back, every single time. And these Harmony's? They pollute our lives. They slink in and out of the shadows, beautiful, and impossible to overlook or avoid. Particularly if ...your spirit is struggling to breathe.

Willow's spirit chokes her, she's so cut off from it. And she almost loses everything as a result of it. She hits rock bottom. I get the metaphor there as well...the feeling of falling into an abyss, and trying to claw one's way out. Which she does...although way too quickly, but it is a television show.

It's odd, but in order to rejoin the others...she's sent off for a while with Giles, the intellect. Although, first, and I almost forgot this...because it is really important from a metaphorical standpoint - it's the heart that saves the spirit. Xander, the heart of the group -- saves Willow, the spirit. Emotion. Forgiveness. Kindness. Love. Quells the rage boiling within.

Then off with intellect to figure it all out.

When she returns...she tries to hide from the heart and the body/hands. The body/the hands, the earth, the real, the world. Which she threw into the grave and now fears to see again. Her judge and jury. And almost gets skinned alive as a result. Or stripped of her spirit, naked and raw. It's not until she reveals herself to the heart and hands...that she begins to heal in actuality. And finally, is forced to face the past transgressions...first Amy, an old friend and enemy (the poisonous friend from her childhood), and then Warren (who she killed with her rage - who represents all the bullies, mean boys and girls who shamed her, who took what she had away). Once these two bridges are crossed - she is able to love again, and enter into the light.

I really like the healing nature or arc of that story. I think that's what stories are meant to do. To give us a way to handle things...without getting too personal. To find our way out of the dark...sort of like a flashlight.

Anyhow, a while back, I wrote this book and self-published it. Called Doing Time on Planet Earth (see icon), it's a play on words. The phrase means mundane. Or drudgery. Feeling drug into the abyss. It features three people, all of which feel lost, all of whom have broken spirits...due to past transgressions, whether they be familial in nature or peer related, or even work related. One of the three has reacted with rage, she's sort of the Willow of the story. People who read it at work wanted to know which character was me, reader's always ask this question. People used to ask Joss Whedon which character represented him in Buffy, he flippantly would say Xander. Then later, Buffy, and at another point Willow. Although, I think they all probably did, and didn't at the same time. Same with me -- all the characters in Doing Time are part of me, and at the same time they aren't -- they exist outside of me, like children that I'd given birth to would. With their own views and ideals. Representative of me and not at the same time.

In my book, I reference fandom a lot, the fan boards...where two of the protagonists meet and become close friends. They know each other, and they really don't at the same time. One of them, Hope Wexler, who is an embezzler and identity thief - collects Loony Tunes action figures. It should be noted that even though she is a thief, she has a moral code -- she only steals from corporations that are laying off employees and only the identities of dead people. The characters she identifies with are Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner. And it's through the Looney Tunes characters that she connects with Kenny, a blind accountant that she is currently working with. He can't see her, but then she's in disguise. But he does see her, better than anyone, just as he sees and appreciates the Loony Tunes in greater depth than she does.

Below is a snippet from this novel that...is one of the reasons I decided to self-publish.
Because every publishing contact I sent it to - wanted me to remove it. They were blind to the fact that it was central to the themes of my book, it was vital to understanding the relationship between various characters and how they viewed the world. But not everyone will see it - because not everyone thinks the same way. If you don't think metaphorically, some of this will most likely jump over your head. You might think it boring or silly or why did she include this. I don't know. I found some of the reactions.. very frustrating. I remember begging my contact to see it...to give it a chance, but she cut me off without a response. None at all. It wasn't a quick read, a page turner, a thriller. It fell outside the box, outside the lines.

Anyhow, below is the scene, which is about how we will often use fictional characters to express how we feel about ourselves or who we are. Whether it be Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, or Willow Rosenberg. In the scene, Kenny identifies with Wile E and Daffy, while Hope in direct contrast is identifying with the much cooler Bugs Bunny and Road Runner.

The conversation is between Hope and Kenny. It is their first date. Takes place in a coffee shop in Coliseum Books in 2004, across from Bryant Park in the fall. Kenny is blind. Hope is using an alias, and working for the same company that he is as a contract administrator. She plans on embezzling from the company at some point. While they are talking, a woman that she'd met at a fandom concert, whose car she borrowed without permission, appears to recognize her. Hope during the conversation is trying to explain herself to Kenny by using a Looney Tune character that she identifies with...but she's not sure she is connecting with him, even though she desperately wants to. At the same time, she knows she has to stay hidden from him, she can't risk revealing who she is...and is on the verge of fleeing his company.


“So, you collect Pez dispensers?” [Kenny asked]

“Pez? No no, Looney Tunes characters. I have a whole set of the rubber action figures. Bugs Bunny. Sylvester. Yosemite Sam. My fav’s Bugs, he was always able to get away with anything.” She bowed her head. “It’s a silly collection but it makes me happy.”

“I get that. I collect vintage cartoons myself. I have the classic Looney Tunes set on DVD as well as the entire Chuck Jones Collection. And Tom and Jerry.”

“But you’re –“

“Blind? I don’t have to see them to enjoy them. Plus, I haven’t always been this way.”

“That’s right, you told me you had some sort of accident when you were a teenager?”

“Sixteen years old – a car ran into my bicycle, tore me up pretty bad. I was cutting behind a school bus at the time, and lucky my eyesight was the only thing that went. It could have been much worse. Mother says I have a tough noggin, so I’m hard to kill.” He tapped his head. “I remember the things that happened before that pretty well though. Visual memory is like that. It becomes imprinted once you lose the ability to add new images at least that’s what the doctors told us. Mother and me. With cartoons, it’s mostly music and sound effects anyway – I hear those. The drawings and pictures I create in my head.”

Hope nodded, gazing past him to the window and the people hurrying by, some with umbrellas. According to Caddy it had poured buckets around five, and it was almost six-thirty now, according to her watch. The sky on the way to Coliseum had resembled a leaky ceiling, drops of rain splattering her arms here and there as she had darted around people. “You can tell what is happening just by listening to the sound? Isn’t most of it visual?”

“Not really, no. When Sylvester traps Tweety, you hear Tweety yelp and the clutch of Sylvester’s claws. Or the Road Runner’s feet zooming away as the Coyote blows himself up. Plus there’s the musical cues.”

“Road Runner was always one of my fav,” Hope said. “How he’d slip through the Coyote’s clutches every time.”

“Yet there’s a certain charm to ole Wile E. He came up with some ingenious methods of capture. It wasn’t brains that aided Road Runner so much as luck.”

“You think? I’d say Wile E did himself in. Road Runner didn’t have to do anything, just let Wile E Coyote outsmart himself. That’s the real art of any con or game – letting the other fellow think that they have the upper hand, think you’re taking one road when you’re really taking the other. Road Runner played Wile E, made him think he could go through that fake tunnel in the cliff face.”

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen the visuals, but doesn’t the Road Runner go through the fake tunnel?”

Hope shrugged. “Yeah, but if he does, why can’t Wile E?”

“That always bothered me. Why can’t Wile E Coyote get through the fake tunnel?”

“Maybe because he knows it’s fake. He knows that it’s just a picture on the wall. Road Runner, on the other hand, doesn’t think about it, he just sees the tunnel and goes right on through. Wile E thinks too much. He’s too aware of his surroundings, while Road Runner just likes to run.”

“But does Road Runner see anything while he’s running? He’s so oblivious, he never notices anyone or anything, nor cares.”

Hope studied her coffee cup, still more than half full. “He’s just a road runner – what’s there to care about but staying alive another day, eating a good meal, and getting to the next place?” She looked past Kenny, towards the window again, and met the eyes of a young blond woman smoking a cigarette. The woman looked vaguely familiar: Hope scanned her memory for the face.

“What’s interesting about the Loony Tunes universe-- Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, even the Road Runner – is that the stories are always about one character running or outmaneuvering another.” Kenny felt for the coffee cup he’d rested on the table, feeling its rim, then lifted it to his lips, sipping. When he finished, he lowered it in a direct line to the table, set it down in the same spot, not spilling a drop. “Same thing with the Tom and Jerry cartoons, particularly the older ones, where the cute blue cat -- at least I think it’s blue, but it could be gray, I remember it as blue though-- struggles to catch the smarter and nicer brown mouse.”

Hope wondered as he spoke how he could appreciate Tom and Jerry without the visuals. Unlike Bugs, Daffy and the other characters, they never spoke – all you had were sound effects.

“The target in all of these cartoons is portrayed as the smarter party, the more worthy. And, in each case, he escapes without a scratch.”

“Except for Daffy.” The blond woman across from her, on the other side of the glass, was staring. Her mouth hung open; her eyes were creased in thought. Her hair was cut in layers, with white-blond highlights. She wore a pink short-sleeved cotton top and long light gray pants; the look reminded Hope of the girls she’d seen recently at the Charleyboy gig.

“Daffy may have been the most complex character in the universe. I have the first Daffy cartoon ever created. In that cartoon, it’s clear that he was constructed as the counter to Bugs Bunny. Or the Hardy to Stan’s Laurel. The fall guy. The klutz. The never-do-well. He envies Bugs, wants everything Bugs has. But each time he attempts to take on Bugs’ role – be Bugs -- he falls flat on his face.”

Hope pushed her chair back from the table. It couldn’t be. She thought back. The blond chick had mentioned something about working in the building close to her at some fashion company and they’d laughed over it. Above a bookstore and right next door to Bryant Park, close proximity to the international fashion shows springing up under the big white tents each fall and spring. ‘Give me a ring’, she’d said, ‘we’ll do lunch. Or better yet, I’ll give you a pass to see the show. Who knows you might even catch Madonna.’

“Yet, with Daffy, his weakness breaks your heart. He wants to be more than he is, he wants to be the star of the show, the main attraction, the great detective . He can’t quite deal with being relegated to sidekick. The music, if you listen, clues you in to when he’ll fall. Daffy’s theme is a series of musical near-misses, stops and starts, wacky, resembling a musical note falling down a hill. While Bug’s theme is sharper, self-assured, the musical note hits a high point. Even the voices signify the differences. Bugs can mimic Daffy, but Daffy can’t wrap his tongue around Bugs. Bugs’ voice contains the hard-hitting twang of the worldly Brooklynite, with all the harsh consonants and dropped mangled vowels. Daffy’s is nasal, harsh to the ear with a literal whining undertone.”

“Kenny, I’m sorry, but I’ve got to go.”

“Why? What’s up?”

“Nothing, I-I just remembered an appointment is all.” She got up and grabbed her purse. The blond chick turned away from the window and flipped open her cell. “Can we talk later?” Hope touched his hand, ducking to the right of him, using him as a shield to block the chick’s view. It hadn’t occurred to her before what a good shield Kenny made.

“Sure…can I walk you out?”

“No, I’ll just go out the back. You stay here and finish your coffee.” She tapped the table.

“Okay…take care, Hope. I’ll see you on the morrow.”

Hope weeded her way between the bookshelves, careful to stay out of sight of the windows. Within minutes she was hailing a cab home. She never looked back, she’d learned long ago not to look behind her when she was running from something. Just like the Road Runner, she thought with a laugh, eyes focused on the road ahead.


The above excerpt depicts how people use characters to explain themselves to each other in a safe way. A healing way. Taking on various archtepyes.

Art, I think, is how we relate to the world when its too painful to do so directly.
A way to express what's inside..without exposing oneself.

I think though often...people don't see it. Too quickly read or skimmed over. We forget to read what isn't written or what the writer hasn't said, but only implied. And so much gets lost in translation, and well...in misinterpretation.

I tried sharing this last night, but panicked and took it down. Afraid it would be misunderstood, leaving me..vulnerable to attack. The internet is scary. LJ less so. Most of the scary folks have fled to the next trendy spot. But..it is still scary to try to connect to others. There's always that chance they will bite you.

Date: 2016-02-12 03:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
I didn't talk that much about the Willow of it in my last comment, partly because -- well.... The truth is, actually, that I'm a bit ambivalent about my Willow-fannishness right now -- at some point or another, it seemed convenient to be "a Willow fan," because being a fan of a certain character allows for a certain amount of leeway in terms of people's expectations of you, and it's like there's this need to have a stable identity. I'm also a little embarrassed at the idea that I'm only interested in one character and I don't want to be shrill and repetitive, which is a risk. Anyway, she probably still is the character I feel closest to in BtVS, though I feel a lot of affinity for most of the characters. And I think it has a lot to do with the "broken spirit." Willow wants very badly for life to make sense, for her and for others; other people's suffering blends in somehow with her own. It is hard to distinguish between her own isolation and the plight of other people, which is why saving the world becomes a substitute for saving herself, I think. Which I relate to. I don't know. I guess if I had any particular dreams of saving the world, they have gone on the backburner. But I do think that I have this idea that achieving a certain proficiency and kindness will make everything make sense. If I'm brilliant and witty and thoughtful and kind and everyone's lives are made better by my presence then whatever it is that holds me back inside and makes me feel like life isn't worthwhile then it'll all make sense.

And that's part of what's funny -- Willow cannot see herself as others see her, because the version of her that they love is the one that she holds up with constant effort. "She was truly the best of us," they say in "Doppelgangland" as she is dead, but that immediately follows Xander (understandably?) saying "Not loving the new you!" when they encounter vamp Willow, before it's clear she's evil rather than just moody, mean and oddly dressed. Some interpretations of the character seem to take Willow's kind exterior as a deliberate fabrication, and certainly there are elements of deliberate deception, especially when she starts performing spells on people's memories, but I think she's being the person she wants herself to be. She does want to help people, really. But it is never good enough. Whatever internal thing about her it was that led to people ignoring her or hurting her hasn't stopped. And it makes her angry that her friends don't really see all of her, and also she is terrified about what would happen if they do see all of her. One of the scariest elements of the nightmare -- is the way everyone in the class sits there bored while Willow is torn apart in front of them. In some ways, deliberate cruelty would be easier to deal with, but Buffy and Xander watch and are indifferent. And in some ways maybe that's the most frightening idea of all -- that if she were truly seen, she wouldn't even be hated, just viewed as nothing, left to die, choking herself to death.

...

Date: 2016-02-12 03:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com


I think many of us have these fears -- that others are hostile to or indifferent to us and our suffering. And sometimes people are -- it's easy to whistle past someone's suffering, or confession of some innermost secret, not out of cruelty or even lack of caring, but because it is hard to feel what another person feels, and hard to tell what really goes on inside. One time in my undergrad, I was hanging out with three of my friends, and it was getting very late. One of them confessed to binge eating and identified this as her primary eating disorder, though it seemed likely that her real issue was anorexia, compounded by periods of "binging" (very possibly, eating normally). It was clear this meant a lot to her to be able to share this. And after about a discussion between some of us, one of the people present just said that he was going to bed and left. I don't think he was trying to be insensitive, but I think he'd reached the limit of what he could do that night, was really tired, and perhaps overwhelmed; but it seemed like he was missing how hard it was for the friend to admit to the problem at all, and the shame she seemed to feel about it. And I know that some people, *myself included*, have had "crises," perhaps manufactured crises even, in order to try to grab some contact and attention, but which in retrospect seemed silly and pointless, and perhaps even with some meanness mixed in. What's difficult is that the pain from people reacting to what seems to be important about oneself does not go away easily, even if we know intellectually that it (probably) was not intended, and maybe doesn't mean that much.

I think that part of the key is that love or connecting to others isn't really about internal worth, or that maybe factors in but shouldn't be the whole of it. Willow spends her whole life (up until she goes dark) trying to improve herself until she is worthy of love, but it will never heal the central hole inside -- because human weakness will always intrude. Spells will always go wrong due to incompetence. Masks of perfect composure will slip and angry words will come out. Selfishness will sneak into good intentions; brilliant plans will go awry. And each failure is then a proof of fundamental worthlessness -- this selfishness means that I am evil, this botching means I am stupid, this social faux pas mean I am forever doomed. It never ends. Whereas actually being able to love oneself, to see flaws in oneself honestly but without then seeing oneself as worthless, can lead to healing. What's interesting is that I think Willow only is just barely starting this at the end of the series -- to some degree, I think she really *believes* that Xander really loves her, no matter what she does, and then that the gang love her when they see her for who she is. But it's not quite the same as loving herself, though it's a step in the right direction -- being loved for all of her. I think that partly, it takes a leap of faith to believe that oneself is lovable -- or rather, worthy of love. Ideally, one should be able to love oneself even without anyone else...but it's easier, somehow, knowing it's possible to connect to others. But in any case it takes a kind of faith to believe that there is something "good enough" about the way one is. Part of the reason it's a leap of faith is, well, what if your "true self" really is evil, or too weak, to "deserve" to continue? What then? What if the love that people have for you is misplaced? Faith is hard for me to come by. When things are going well, socially, it's easy to more or less take group acceptance as confirmation of inner worth and then to move on, but without that social support we are hard-wired for, it's...difficult. For Willow, knowing that she has these feelings bottled up -- this anger -- it feels sometimes like that's all there is to her. I can relate, too -- I actually remember there was a long period, in adolescence, where I started to believe I was actually a sociopath, because I didn't seem to have the right emotional responses to things. Actually I think I was just hyper-aware of what expectations there were, and sometimes was around people who got very emotionally upset about some things that didn't affect me the same way.

Hopefully this made sense.
Edited Date: 2016-02-12 03:18 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-02-13 12:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
A lot of sense...this was a wonderful read.

I think that part of the key is that love or connecting to others isn't really about internal worth, or that maybe factors in but shouldn't be the whole of it. Willow spends her whole life (up until she goes dark) trying to improve herself until she is worthy of love, but it will never heal the central hole inside -- because human weakness will always intrude. Spells will always go wrong due to incompetence. Masks of perfect composure will slip and angry words will come out. Selfishness will sneak into good intentions; brilliant plans will go awry. And each failure is then a proof of fundamental worthlessness -- this selfishness means that I am evil, this botching means I am stupid, this social faux pas mean I am forever doomed. It never ends. Whereas actually being able to love oneself, to see flaws in oneself honestly but without then seeing oneself as worthless, can lead to healing.

I like this statement a lot. There's a great song, written by Whitney Houston, entitled "The Greatest Love of All", which has been misinterpreted. The song basically states what you are stating above. Narcissism is when you have no sense of self -- all your love is coming from outside yourself. You are just ego -- and there is no true love of self. An example is Don Draper from Mad Men, and to a smaller degree Cordelia and Angel, who also don't really have a strong sense of self -- and are constantly hunting their validation from outside themselves.
A real world example of Narcissism is Donald Trump -- who is upset when people aren't applauding him.

If you can't love yourself, who you are, and what you do without constant accolades, awards, external validation (and I mean in excess), then you have a problem. Because it is very hard to love someone else, if you can't love you. Which is shown with Willow and Tara --- Willow's insecurities destroy that relationship.
Willow doesn't love herself, so she doesn't see how Tara can love her without manipulation. She is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Willow is not a narcissist like Angel or Cordy -- she doesn't see herself as terrific and she's not an egoist. It's more...the insecure person who has been bullied and is struggling to get past that.
Willow unlike Cordy doesn't buy the accolades. She isn't in love with her reflection, she's running from it.

[off to make dinner, will return later.]

Date: 2016-02-18 12:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
I like this statement a lot. There's a great song, written by Whitney Houston, entitled "The Greatest Love of All", which has been misinterpreted. The song basically states what you are stating above. Narcissism is when you have no sense of self -- all your love is coming from outside yourself. You are just ego -- and there is no true love of self. An example is Don Draper from Mad Men, and to a smaller degree Cordelia and Angel, who also don't really have a strong sense of self -- and are constantly hunting their validation from outside themselves.

Right. MM is one of my favourite shows, and Don is a very interesting character -- who has something in common with Cordelia and Angel, and also something in common with Willow. At the time we meet him, he is a man who seemingly has everything -- he's a high-level executive, creative genius, very good looking, multiple affairs, beautiful wife and children. But none of it satisfies him for long. As one girlfriend Faye Miller tells him as he breaks up with her by telling her that he's gotten engaged to Megan, he only likes the beginning of things. It turns out that he is running from his background and his past -- piling lie after lie about who he was before reinventing himself, and himself always waiting for the shoe to drop, at which point he panics and seeks to change identities again, sometimes literally wanting to run away and start over with a new name, sometimes just wanting to "start over" with a smaller cosmetic makeover (responding to losing cigarette companies with a declaration that he now stands against them). Don's attitude toward his big secret past is something like Willow's -- and there is even something oddly similar in the way both hit a kind of bottom in their respective sixth seasons, where Don ends the season with a declaration to his children, "This is where I grew up," whereas Xander tells Willow that he knows/accepts who she was in kindergarten. The wounds of childhood never go away, but they can face them and try to make sense of them -- or they can keep running.

Willow wants to be the type of person that Tara (or Oz -- or Xander or Buffy platonically, or Giles or her parents parentally) can love -- and it seems like nothing she does can assure it. I think that part of the reason she goes to manipulation is that it's something of a natural extension of what she needed to do all along; there is something wrong with her, so she tries changing who she herself is. Eventually she gets to a point where it's no longer possible to do so -- all her internal resources are exhausted. The only thing left is to start manipulating others to maintain the illusion that she is the person she feels she needs to be (hyper-competent and always good). What she shares with Don is the desire to run and hide. What she shares with Don and Angel/Cordy is the need for reassurance in order to believe that they are doing okay -- Willow doesn't really believe the praise as you say, but she at least needs it to believe that she's on the right track, and that she won't lose what she has.

Date: 2016-02-13 03:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
What's interesting is that I think Willow only is just barely starting this at the end of the series -- to some degree, I think she really *believes* that Xander really loves her, no matter what she does, and then that the gang love her when they see her for who she is. But it's not quite the same as loving herself, though it's a step in the right direction -- being loved for all of her. I think that partly, it takes a leap of faith to believe that oneself is lovable -- or rather, worthy of love. Ideally, one should be able to love oneself even without anyone else...but it's easier, somehow, knowing it's possible to connect to others. But in any case it takes a kind of faith to believe that there is something "good enough" about the way one is. Part of the reason it's a leap of faith is, well, what if your "true self" really is evil, or too weak, to "deserve" to continue? What then? What if the love that people have for you is misplaced? Faith is hard for me to come by.

I love this. "Faith is hard for me to come by." For me too. I think it is for a lot of us? A minister once told me that Faith and Doubt were neighbors or siblings, who lived next door to each other. You could not have one without the other. And we live in a world that is very "concrete" or tactile. It's not real if you can feel, taste, touch, hear and see it.

I've been reading a lot of romance novels of late, and what they all have in common -- is the hero and heroine desire for the other to say "I love you". For some reason or other, regardless of what they do, if they don't say those three words -- it's not real. In some cases the whole point of the novel is for those words to be said.
And meant. And they are always a little surprised by them.

And...we have two major scenes...one in Buffy which is a reflection of the one in Star Wars, where a climatic moment hinges on those three words.

At the end of Empire Strikes Back, as Han Solo as being lowered into the freezing chamber, Leia finally gets up the courage to tell him that she loves him. His response? "I know."

At the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer - as Spike is about to sacrifice himself to save Buffy and her friends, and well the world...to burn alive, she finally tells him that she loves him. Says the word. His response? "No you don't but thanks for saying it."

He rejects them. Han accepts them but doesn't feel the need to return them...until Jedi.

And this weekend is Valentine's Day...and those words are literally everywhere. On cookies. Cards. Posters.
Balloons. Chocolates. Cakes. Little heart shaped candies..and yet why are they needed to be said?

And when they are...do we believe them? Are we like Han, who already knows and doesn't need to hear them whispered aloud, or Spike who gave up hope of hearing it so long ago...he doesn't quite believe them when they are? (Although there are different interpretations of that scene, I'm just going with this one at the moment.)

And sometimes you just don't feel all that lovable.

Date: 2016-02-18 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
It is interesting, especially because words can be false -- people can say "I love you" and be outright lying or manipulating, and can say it but not mean it the way the other person does. That Han is about to be frozen in carbonite and may never regain consciousness (i.e., may die) makes it especially meaningful that he still can't respond to Leia with reciprocity. Does he not know whether he really loves her, the way he "knows" she does? Or is he still afraid of giving up his gruff exterior and independence, even to the point of probable death? I haven't rewatched that scene lately -- I forget exactly how Leia responds, whether she "knows" that he loves him back, and does not need to hear it. It's also interesting that Han is being frozen -- and he remains, to the last, unwilling to give up his cool and fully admit to his own feelings -- whereas Spike is being burned alive, and has declared his feelings loudly and often...and so perhaps (in this interpretation) cannot believe Buffy's words, at this moment, said quietly. Han is the "colder" of him and Leia, Spike the "hotter," and their own willingness to say the words reflect how they respond to their loved one saying it back to them.

And lovability is hard. I sometimes struggle with it, still, because it's not entirely rational -- what is it that someone loves about me? Would it be different if I had the same personality in a different body? What if I lost my abilities? Interests? What if circumstances change me fundamentally? Would I love my loved ones if they were different in some way? Which comes down to who a person is -- what is the core of personhood, both that can loved and be loved?

Date: 2016-02-13 04:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Part of the reason it's a leap of faith is, well, what if your "true self" really is evil, or too weak, to "deserve" to continue? What then?

The idea of feeling unworthy, like a fraud. One of the things I liked in S7 of Buffy was this theme. Each character was afraid they'd be discovered as a fraud. That maybe they weren't up to the challenge or worthy of love. Maybe they didn't deserve it.

You see it with Spike up until she gives him the amulet. And he's overwhelmed by the gesture. And he wonders if Buffy shouldn't just kill him - stake me now, he asks in Sleeper.

Or Willow...who wonders if she can do magic without going evil. She even asks at one point if she is evil. Maybe it's not the magic that turned her dark, maybe it's her. That's what the whole episode with Warren was about in a way...

And Buffy herself in Touched, who wonders if she can do any of this -- maybe she isn't up to it. Isn't worthy.

When things are going well, socially, it's easy to more or less take group acceptance as confirmation of inner worth and then to move on, but without that social support we are hard-wired for, it's...difficult.

I agree. It's easier to feel good about yourself when the world is showering you with praise. When your social circle, family, friends, significant other/spouse/etc...loves you and is supporting you. It's harder when you are alone. With only your own head for company. Or when things aren't going well at work, school, etc.

Willow was full of confidence when things were going well with Tara, school, etc...but when Tara was gone and she was alone...she fell apart. Tara in a way acted as a shield.

For Willow, knowing that she has these feelings bottled up -- this anger -- it feels sometimes like that's all there is to her.

I can relate as well to this. The rage. I was talking to a friend and said that I felt like the character in the story Life of Pi (not sure if you've read or seen it?) In the story the boy is adrift on a boat with four zoo animals, a zebra, an organtang, (a giraffe, but it might have been something else), and a tiger. One by one they are killed by the tiger, until he is literally left in the boat with the tiger. The tiger symbolizes the boy's rage and when he makes peace with it, he survives. I said that I felt like everyone had left and I was alone with the tiger in the boat. The tiger is my rage.

And rage can be consuming. Willow's rage is an awesome thing to behold. We see it first in S4 with Something Blue, and then in S5 - when she attacks Glory, and finally in S6 when she skins and burns Warren alive.
It takes the form of dark magic and is all consuming, there's no light left -- eyes are black, hair is black, face is veined with black...she's consumed by it.

Rage, I think, is a painful emotion. It can be helpful, but in many cases it just destroys. There's a lot anger behind the current US Presidential Election - the US Middle Class is furious...and you see that fury feeding two political extremes, Bernie Sanders on the Far Left and Donald Trump on the Far Right. Those supporting them are furious and many are filled with hate for the other side. It's hard to watch. And it's not rational, it's all emotion - they are raging at the machine.

Rage fueled the Holocaust, rage was behind many wars. Rage..can kill empathy, because it is hard to feel for others when you are overwhelmed with rage. I know when I'm raging it's hard for me to care about anyone. I just want to destroy that which hurts. The rage takes over --- it becomes a physical entity, fueled by whatever I'm eating, and nervous energy. It is a lot like the dark magic swallowing Willow up. Actually I think the dark magic was a good metaphor for rage. And Dark Willow a really good metaphor for what rage does to you.

Sometimes I think it's hard to see past the rage. You can't talk to people who are raging. When someone writes a rant on lj, it's best to give them a wide berth, and when you see them raging...don't disagree with them.
They can't hear you. You can't see or hear past the emotion. It takes over. It's like you're that boy in life of pi, stuck in the boat with the tiger. And it's draw which of you will make it out alive.



Date: 2016-02-16 01:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
Hi, so I really enjoyed these comments and want to respond soon -- but I haven't had much internet time the past few days. So expect a response later this week probably (you don't have to respond then).

Date: 2016-02-16 11:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Thank you;-)

Date: 2016-02-18 01:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
The idea of feeling unworthy, like a fraud. One of the things I liked in S7 of Buffy was this theme. Each character was afraid they'd be discovered as a fraud. That maybe they weren't up to the challenge or worthy of love. Maybe they didn't deserve it.

It is one of the things I liked about s7 too. We see it with Anya -- who recognizes that all her life, she's clung to whatever came along. And she hadn't earned her place among humans after killing them for so long, and maybe (in Selfless) didn't deserve to continue. Xander knows that he failed Anya by leaving her, and after Buffy reminds him of the lie in Becoming (without realizing that it was a lie), he recognizes on some level that he had failed Buffy, too. He sets about working quietly for the cause, but he admits to Andrew that his heart is filled with darkness, that he hurt Anya really bad and now he has nothing to look forward to, and while he may not say it too explicitly I think it's clear that he 'knows' this wound is self-inflicted. Giles roundly mocked and rejected the Council after they fired him -- talking about them dismissively in s5-6 -- but once it's gone, suddenly Giles feels the need to replicate them, as the last Council man standing, and if he cannot prove to Buffy that his way is necessary, does he even have a place in the world anymore? It's a subtler version of the same thing, but it's there.

I haven't seen/read Life of Pi...though it's on my list.

It's easy to get lost in rage -- especially because real injustices do happen, and keep happening. It feels at times hard to know how to deal with it in a constructive way -- I mostly ignore problems until they blow up in my personal life, and try to stay away from political causes too passionately. The rage of people whose politics are very far opposed to mine upsets me -- but it's often rage of people much closer to my beliefs that's more disturbing, because I feel like that could be me, and I'd rather it not be.

And rage can be consuming. Willow's rage is an awesome thing to behold. We see it first in S4 with Something Blue, and then in S5 - when she attacks Glory, and finally in S6 when she skins and burns Warren alive.
It takes the form of dark magic and is all consuming, there's no light left -- eyes are black, hair is black, face is veined with black...she's consumed by it.

Rage, I think, is a painful emotion. It can be helpful, but in many cases it just destroys.


This reminds me of Buffy's line in What's My Line (I think) -- to Kendra, I believe -- her emotions are total assets! That fire helps her. Without it -- well, we see what happens to Kendra; her Watcher trained her to be cold, dispassionate, and disconnected, and so it is easy for Dru to take her out, like Buffy before the Master killed her. Without feeling those emotions, bottling them up -- one is not playing with a full deck, not in terms of insanity, but simply in terms of living effectively. Anger has some sort of place -- but rage becomes too powerful. Willow's anger at how people treat her comes out in short bursts, because she thinks it is wrong to express it otherwise -- hence she says nothing when she thinks Oz is being too flirtatious with Veruca, does not pursue it when he is acting very strangely and seems to reject her, then when she finds him with Veruca still can only manage "you jerk" and sobs at him...then she nearly gets run over in the street, and it's only Buffy telling her "put the blame where it belongs" that the rage gets directed at Oz, and she nearly kills him. Without being expressed in *some* way, the anger is self-destructive, internal depression and despair, consuming, but without limits it becomes rage, destruction, vengeance. Buffy mostly holds onto her anger interpersonally, but she takes it out on vampires -- which Faith does even more extremely. And sometimes Buffy ends up taking it out on Spike....

It interests me a lot, the idea of how to channel anger productively. People say that depression is anger turned inward, and anger needs to be expressed, in some way -- and maybe the best way if the situation cannot be resolved directly, is with art. Redirecting it. But it's hard to know. Swallowing it eventually backfires, or so it seems.

Date: 2016-02-13 12:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Willow gets a lot of grief from the fandom for various reasons that I probably don't need to go into. (If you've lurked in the Buffy fandom for any length of time, which you have, you already know them all by heart.) But I don't think her actions are necessarily any worse than any of the other characters. Just different. But, that's another lengthy debate -- which I've already had too many times to count. ;-) Suffice it to say, everyone has their favorite and/or least favorite character - which they like to bore everyone to death with -- oh I hate so and so, let me count the ways or oh I adore so and so, let me count the ways. I used to do it with Spike. I think I wrote as many essays as I did on Willow, Buffy, Xander, Giles, etc -- to hide my obsession with Spike or to downplay that just a tad. At any rate, I understand your ambivalence, currently feel the same way about Spike as a character.

Willow wants very badly for life to make sense, for her and for others; other people's suffering blends in somehow with her own. It is hard to distinguish between her own isolation and the plight of other people, which is why saving the world becomes a substitute for saving herself, I think.

I think this is very true. What she says in Grave is interesting -- she wants to cure the world of its suffering, just as she wants to cure herself of her own - by ending it. Completely. And she brings back Buffy - partly because she wants to save herself. It's odd though, because before she does so...she's actually very happy, her world goes kablooey after she brings Buffy back, whether that would have happened regardless, I've no clue.

Willow cannot see herself as others see her, because the version of her that they love is the one that she holds up with constant effort.

I think this is true as well -- definitely shown by her dream and her actions in S4-7. She sees the criticism not the compliments. She's surprised by the group-hug in Dopplegangland. And surprised by her reception in Same Time/Same Place -- in that episode she creates what she believes her reception will be. She is her own worst enemy. Which is actually true of most of us -- we are our own worst enemies. I know that I am. No one can hurt or rip me to shreds, better than I can. I'm the master at that. Willow is the master at ripping herself apart. She's become an expert at it.

She's shocked Oz and/or Tara love her. In her mind - she sees herself as Cordelia, Harmony, and PackXander did. It's hard for her to see past that. In part it's due to her mother, and in part to her peers ...after a while that criticism is internalized.

It's sort of similar to what happens when people post essays or fanfic or publish a book -- you get 7-8 positive responses and 2 negative ones. Your mind focuses on the negative ones.



Date: 2016-02-18 01:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
Willow gets a lot of grief from the fandom for various reasons that I probably don't need to go into. (If you've lurked in the Buffy fandom for any length of time, which you have, you already know them all by heart.) But I don't think her actions are necessarily any worse than any of the other characters. Just different. But, that's another lengthy debate -- which I've already had too many times to count. ;-) Suffice it to say, everyone has their favorite and/or least favorite character - which they like to bore everyone to death with -- oh I hate so and so, let me count the ways or oh I adore so and so, let me count the ways. I used to do it with Spike. I think I wrote as many essays as I did on Willow, Buffy, Xander, Giles, etc -- to hide my obsession with Spike or to downplay that just a tad. At any rate, I understand your ambivalence, currently feel the same way about Spike as a character.

Absolutely. Really, I don't think Willow objectively gets more grief in fandom than Xander, or Spike, or Angel, or Buffy herself. It feels like more grief to me sometimes -- but I know that's just because it bothers me the most. When people rant against Xander or Spike or Buffy or whoever, it still bothers me, sometimes a lot -- but most of the time, it feels a little easier to dismiss. I think a lot of the problem is that direct comparisons of which character are worse are always somewhat unfair -- but they are especially unfair with a supernatural show that emphasizes metaphor so much. The point of the series is not really to measure crimes against each other, and even if you did, how do you evaluate them. How much do you count Oz' actions as a werewolf against him? Are Angel and Angelus the same, or are they completely different? Does it make a difference that D'Hoffryn convinced Anya she was doing good in killing men, or is that the flimsiest of rationalizations? How much do we take into account the trauma of being in a war zone -- especially when the shows are also about "everyday life," writ large? Etc.

I think this is very true. What she says in Grave is interesting -- she wants to cure the world of its suffering, just as she wants to cure herself of her own - by ending it. Completely. And she brings back Buffy - partly because she wants to save herself. It's odd though, because before she does so...she's actually very happy, her world goes kablooey after she brings Buffy back, whether that would have happened regardless, I've no clue.

I think it's really interesting that one of the worst things is the discovery that Buffy didn't want to be back. Some of it is guilt, of course -- Willow hurt her friend. But there's something else. Imagine: Buffy really doesn't want to be alive. Existence is torture for her. And this is Buffy -- who for years has been one of the biggest influences on Willow, someone Willow somewhat modeled herself after. While Buffy is Willow's peer in age, and a worse student academically, Buffy was always wiser and worldlier -- and given how little interest Willow's own mother took in her, something like a mother figure, too. It adds to Willow's own despair -- and she brings it up at the end of s6. How can Buffy genuinely claim that the world is worthwhile while Buffy herself hates it here, and more to the point Willow damaged her by bringing her back? Willow saved Buffy to save herself, then tried to save Buffy by killing her, to save-by-killing herself. In some ways, it's also something like a feeling of rejection -- what does it mean, that Buffy would rather be dead than be in a world with her? It's even more pointed when Buffy tries to kill Willow, Xander and Dawn to retreat to her mental hospital world -- which Willow, typically, shows no anger about, until she gives into rage and despair later on ("you lie to your friends when you aren't trying to kill them") -- "mental hospitals are the comfy alternative."

Date: 2016-02-19 02:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Really, I don't think Willow objectively gets more grief in fandom than Xander, or Spike, or Angel, or Buffy herself. It feels like more grief to me sometimes -- but I know that's just because it bothers me the most. When people rant against Xander or Spike or Buffy or whoever, it still bothers me, sometimes a lot -- but most of the time, it feels a little easier to dismiss.

You aren't alone in that. In fact from what I've seen on lj, various fanboards, and various fandoms - it seems to be true for people across the board. I know it was true of me, when people bash (because really there's no other term for it) my favorite character -- it feels like they are bashing me. What people forget, and it's admittedly easy to forget this, is when you are bashing someone else's favorite character, keep in mind someone out there may come along and kick yours...in fact it is more likely they will do so.

When people are fannish about something, myself included, it is very hard to separate the object of your fannish devotion from yourself. And almost impossible not to take attacks on the object of your devotion, personally. As if someone is attacking you or mocking you. It's even harder not to take it personally, when the person launching the attack or criticism is doing it sanctimoniously. (Nothing like a sanctimonious attack or post to bring out the devil in me.)

At any rate, as you've no doubt witnessed, I never handled it all that well. And since I was trained as a defense attorney....and in debate....oh dear.

I used to rip into sanctimonious Angel fans on the boards and in my lj who felt the need to attack my favorite characters. It never ended well. And I always lived to regret it. (Note to self --- if it upsets you so much that you can't type -- then that's a message from your body to not respond. It's always better to say nothing, then to say something hurtful.)

I think what a lot of folks forget is we all think differently, And when we watch the tv show, we're seeing it through our own lense, our own perception. But most importantly - there's no right or wrong way to watch the tv show, or right or wrong way to love or view the characters. How people watch or view the characters doesn't say anything about their personal values or how they choose to live their lives. Sometimes it's something as simple as liking an apple over an orange.

But, I think, we or rather people in general, have a tendency to judge, and rather harshly at that, those who think differently than they do. Or perceive the world differently.

I think the trick is not to internalize that judgment or take it personally. Because at the end of the day it really isn't about you or me, but about the person who is inflicting the judgment. It's about their ego, not you.
That's hard to remember though, at least it is for me. Also, it's all very well and good to say this - but it doesn't change how it feels to be on the receiving end of that judgement.

Fans can be unnecessarily cruel, and often unknowingly cruel in this regard. It's one of the reasons why I haven't joined any fandoms since Buffy -- I grew tired of the drama. Well that and I find I have 0 tolerance for the new fandom forums - twitter and tumblr and pininterest ...

Date: 2016-02-19 03:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
[As an aside, thank you for having this discussion with me. I've been feeling very down the last few weeks and upset about various things work-related and in my personal life, unrelated to this discussion, but in a way discussing this - - has helped in a metaphorical sense. If that makes sense?]

I think a lot of the problem is that direct comparisons of which character are worse are always somewhat unfair -- but they are especially unfair with a supernatural show that emphasizes metaphor so much. The point of the series is not really to measure crimes against each other, and even if you did, how do you evaluate them. How much do you count Oz' actions as a werewolf against him? Are Angel and Angelus the same, or are they completely different? Does it make a difference that D'Hoffryn convinced Anya she was doing good in killing men, or is that the flimsiest of rationalizations? How much do we take into account the trauma of being in a war zone -- especially when the shows are also about "everyday life," writ large? Etc.

I agree. This is true of other shows as well. Just recently I almost got pulled into a debate regarding various characters decisions in the television series The 100, but deftly side-stepped comparisons to other characters.
(I don't know if you've seen it? It is rather good, if a tad on the extreme violent side of the fence. Although if you can watch Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, you should be fine.) And you should see fan discussions of
Doctor Who, the Marvel Universe, and various daytime soap operas (actually the character fights in soap opera fandoms are hilarious.) Also seen it in the Harry Potter fandom and various novel fandoms.

I think it's a natural tendency to want to compare and contrast various characters misdeeds. Psychologists do it, as do lawyers. In a way we are taught to do this at an early age. Comparing friends. Comparing teachers.
Etc.

And to a degree the writers of Buffy did it themselves. David Fury was notorious for comparing Angel and Spike, and confusing himself in the process. I get the feeling it's not how Whedon or David Greenberg thought - or tackled the characters, but then they more or less created them, while Fury and the other writers wrote for them. When you create a character - you tend to think differently about the character than someone who is merely playing with it.

I agree that there's a big difference in comparing the misdeeds of characters in a supernatural horror series like Buffy, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Angel, etc...as opposed to a series like say The Real Housewives of New Jersey or Grey's Anatomy or Mad Men or even Breaking Bad. Since the misdeeds in the supernatural series aren't governed by the same rules. I mean can we really compare Angel to soulessSpike? Is that even a fair comparison? Wouldn't it make more sense to compare him to someone like ...well, I'm drawing a blank, because there really isn't anyone with Angel's particular impediment. He's "cursed" with a soul or rather he is a demon cursed with his human soul, which is not quite the same thing as Warren who has one and ignores it, the Mayor who sold his, Drusilla who is crazy, Spike who seeks his, and various others. Can we compare Spike's deeds to Willow or Xander? I mean Spike is over 100 years old, a vampire, killed and turned at 26, then spent his formative years as a vamp running amok with Angelus, Darla and Drusilla - three of the most depraved vampires in history. Seriously? That's like comparing a cactus pear to a banana and a peach.
And that's at the literal level. It's absurd literally. If we look at metaphorically...it becomes even more absurd, although there are more things to legitimately compare at least, just not the character's misdeeds.

I used to laugh at David Fury who compared Spike to a serial killer. He's a vampire. They all serial killers.
That's what vampires do, kill. Hello. Angel is reformed serial killer attempting to stay off the habit.
And since the series played loose and fast with its metaphors...I mean you could legitimately analyze the vampires as representing arrested development or alcoholism/addiction. Also sexual violence and lust.
Spike was introduced as a metaphor for lust in School Hard.






Date: 2016-02-19 03:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com

OTOH...I've seen the comparing of misdeeds thing done a lot in fandom. And in various fandoms -- usually as a way of defending one's favorite character. "My character is less evil than your character, nyah, nyah, nyah..." Which is of course irrelevant. Because honestly who cares? It's not like they auditioning for sainthood or even redemption. And often, in stories, the more interesting or better-written characters are the dark edgy ones...mainly because a lot of television and genre writers don't know how to write characters that aren't dark and edgy, and make them a bit bland. (But that's another discussion.) I often wanted to come back to people and say, in my best Dirty Harry/Clint Eastwood impression: " I don't care if Spike is evil and irredeemable -- I happen to like him. You got a problem with that? Do you bub?" But where would be the fun in that? So much more fun to have endless and unwinnable debates on which character did the worst thing ever and who was the least redeemable.

Because the problem is ...our actions are largely situational. At the end of the day, you've no idea what you would do if you were thrown into that situation and had that character's issues. No one does. Sure it's easy to judge in hindsight. But we don't know what we'd do at that moment in time. And if one thing were to change, or the timing were different or our mood or we ate something different that day -- we may well have done something different. That's why it is more than possible for someone to do something monsterous one day and saintly the next. It depends on multiple variables and is rarely predictable - unless you have the ability to see every single variable no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

Fans don't know what Angel would have done if it had been him in those situations in S6 instead of Spike. (And it probably would have been Angel, if there wasn't a spin-off and Spike hadn't taken off.) They don't know what they would have done.

For example? I remember when I was defending a career bank robber - I was handling his parol hearing. The man was in his late 40s. He robbed banks to support a drug habit. And he asked me if I thought he'd be able to go legit on the outside, to not fall back on old ways. He'd rehabilitated himself in prison, did all the right things.
I remember thinking and in fact I told him this...that I had no idea. And I did not think I had the right to judge him, because I had no idea what I would have done if I were him. Literally him. And you can't know unless you are literally in that other person's body.

But we judge these fictional characters morality anyhow. It's impossible, I think, not to. Deeply ingrained in our DNA. An evolutionary tactic no doubt - to ferret out those we do not want to model ourselves after, and too steer clear of. But it's also a flaw, I think, to the extent that it cuts off compassion and understanding.
But again, easy to say...when you aren't the victim of the crime or the crime the fictional character committed doesn't trigger a crime committed against you. It's easy to be non-judgemental of a character that say robs banks, when you've never been robbed at gunpoint. Not so easy when you have.

And I think that's part of it as well. Certain fictional characters misdeeds trigger people, who have either been victims of similar misdeeds or had close family members who did. And that's an emotional reaction, I don't think most people can easily dismiss or get around.
Edited Date: 2016-02-19 03:31 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-02-23 01:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
I feel very strongly that our behaviour is very strongly based in circumstance, and so that it's important to reserve judgment and be compassionate. But it is something that I struggle with, firstly because I think that I believe this to a much greater extent than most people I know, second because I don't know how to put it into practice when people do transgress. In the macro, I don't know how wrongdoers should be dealt with by society, but in the micro I particularly don't know when to forgive and when to stay away from people, or even what types of actions of mine to forgive. And I also know that there are limits to this "reserving judgment" -- as you say, it is a different story if one has actually been robbed at gunpoint. It occupies a lot of my thoughts -- and I have a hard time making sense of it. I think especially because I feel myself being pulled strongly in opposing directions -- the fear that being too forgiving (of oneself and others) creates an environment where it's easier for bad things to happen, versus the fear that being too harsh (on oneself and others) is denying the fundamental fallibility of humanity...and that there is so much that we can't control, and that what we see of a person's behaviour is only the tiniest bit of what is beneath.

Date: 2016-02-27 11:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
I think especially because I feel myself being pulled strongly in opposing directions -- the fear that being too forgiving (of oneself and others) creates an environment where it's easier for bad things to happen, versus the fear that being too harsh (on oneself and others) is denying the fundamental fallibility of humanity...and that there is so much that we can't control, and that what we see of a person's behaviour is only the tiniest bit of what is beneath.

In 2003, I remember have an interesting discussion about forgiveness on a fanboard. The discussion was a subthread of a larger one regarding the episode Lies My Parents Told Me. It haunts me still. In it, two of us were going on about how necessary forgiveness was...while a third person, was upset, and stated that there were just some things you can't forgive. And she was furious at us for suggesting that she should forgive this transgression. The episode LMPTM triggered her - in such a way that she changed how she felt about the show, the writers, and various characters. Without going into too much detail, because I became friends with her and found out the entire story...her mother was assassinated by a hitman. Now, that's just...you just can't...words don't quite...

What haunts me about it, is I know I would have reacted the way she did. I know this because I can't let go of minor transgressions easily. I was told today that when someone wounds your heart -- what you need to decide is what you want to take from that -- do you want to hold on to the hurt, or do you want to learn from it? And let it go. Keep your heart open. What did you learn from that transgression?

I think and I may be reaching a bit here...but stories like Buffy in a way are our method of figuring out what we've learned from those transgressions, and what to take away from them, and how to survive them. They give us various what if scenarios.

Robin Wood handles Spike's murder of his mother by building his life on killing vampires, and is somewhat sanctimonious about it. It doesn't heal him. It doesn't help him. If anything it eats away at him, bit by bit.

Buffy has found a way to forgive Spike for his transgressions against herself and her friends. And Angel.
And herself for her own. And Willow...but there are limits.

The story is a rather dark one. It doesn't provide happy answers. But one wonders what Wood's life would have been like if he took a different message from the death of his mother...I don't know.

I'm torn as are you on this issue. I don't know the answers. This week I was struggling with a relatively minor transgression by a former friend...letting go of it, I finally figured out why I was struggling with it. And found a way to laugh it off and let it go. But it took a while and that was minor. (Shrugs). Although, then again, who I am to judge what is and isn't minor...

And you're right...there is so much that we can't control. That we can't begin to know or understand. We make decisions based on the information provided to us at the time....and it's often not nearly enough...

Date: 2016-02-29 11:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
Right. In terms of LMPTM itself, we know that Robin and William both lost their mothers, and then were "raised" by others. Spike was "raised" by Drusilla, Angelus and Darla (well, Darla seemed pretty hands-off when it came to Spike) and became like them -- a mostly-indiscriminate killer. Wood was raised by Crawley the Watcher, and so her internalized their values -- a killer of vampires, yes, and also someone who translated personal pain into becoming a better killer. It occurs to me that Crawley's approach to Wood may have been similar to Wesley's attitude with Faith in season four of AtS -- insist on playing on her anger and rage (and in Faith's case, self-loathing) to make her a better weapon. Or maybe not -- this is just speculation.

I really appreciate that you mention how hard it is to get over minor slights. I am the same way. In a way, there are no slights others have done to me that I haven't *somewhat* forgiven -- and yet, there are a lot of people I have cut out of my life, quite dramatically. I am divided -- I "forgive" them in the abstract sense that I hope that their lives are good now, but it's too painful (or in some *more minor* cases, awkward) to try to rebuild those relationships or genuinely move past the injuries, which mostly stay. It is sort of hypocritical, but also not -- because there is a difference between forgiveness in the abstract sense, and a matter of protection of self and others. Similarly, there are actually people I stay away from specifically because of guilt I have about how I have acted in the past. And they are sometimes minor things -- not all, but some of them are really just a matter of embarrassment, which I still cannot quite imagine getting over.

And so there are these different levels simultaneously -- it's like I want to believe that there are no unforgivable sins, and yet I also have the reality that there are things I personally can't get past. And yet they also are different. In the case of LMPTM, for example, there is a difference between Wood having to forgive Spike, and Wood having to accept that he can't kill Spike and try to make peace with that. That is a distinction that sometimes gets lost. There is a case to be made that Wood *shouldn't have to* deal with the person who killed his mother walking about, and that is still left somewhat open...but I think even Buffy, who defends Spike, is not saying that Wood has to forgive Spike and be friends with him.

Someone I know recently reported meeting someone who killed someone (or people) while drunk driving, and are now sober and have to live with it. And that's a more minor instance of the Spike story (though there are alcoholism metaphors -- still, it's not quite the same). And it makes me think how difficult that must be for both the drunk driver and the family of the people who were killed.

What makes it harder, and worse, is that I don't have too much faith in the justice system -- which I admit is something I know far less about than you, obviously, since I don't have personal experience. What I mean in particular is that it is hard for me to accept that prison is an ethical way of treating people who have transgressed -- because North American prisons, though they vary from place to place, are still often not humane places. And I think that this contributes to the confusion. Victims of domestic violence often protect the perpetrators. I'm not talking here about cases where they doubt that the perpetrators will be arrested -- but cases where they think it's likely they will be, and then are afraid that they will suffer disproportionate to what they have done. Which I think in some cases might be true. But even then, there has to be an agreed upon standard (at least internally) about what is "proportionate," particularly when people do bad things and hurt others for all kinds of reasons.

...

Date: 2016-02-29 11:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
My grandmother, for example, behaved pretty hurtfully to my grandfather and my mother and her siblings the majority of her life. It was clear that she had some sort of psychiatric problem that spurred her on -- violent temper, violent mood swings, extreme self-loathing which would explode outward, a kind of hair-trigger belief that others despised her that triggered immediate retaliation. At a very early age, she developed an ear condition that made her mostly deaf in that ear, and went in for an operation to (hopefully) fix it, whereupon the doctor proceeded to operate on the wrong ear -- destroying her good ear, rendering her entirely deaf in that one, and leaving her with only the *mostly* deaf ear. She never trusted medical authorities again her whole life, and I don't entirely blame her. So she could never "get help," and never *could* be helped for her entire life, and continued hurting those around her, damaging them quite severely emotionally and physically. Even now, in retrospect, I don't know what the solution should have been.

By awful coincidence, the tragic story of the person you discussed LMPTM with, whose mother was killed by a hitman, hits surprisingly close to home with something I've learned recently. I will skimp on some details, not so much to protect myself but because I don't want to give away other people's confidence. But a woman close to me revealed recently that her ex-husband gloatingly claimed that he had hired a hitman to kill her. This happened years ago -- the taunt -- and nothing ever came of it. So I don't know if it was always something like a cruel threat, which was never genuine, or if he had genuinely hired someone and the deal fell through, or whether he had genuinely intended to go through with it and had second thoughts, or what. And obviously it's a world of difference -- from the threat (even if it was genuinely meant) and the actual consequence of someone dying. It is hard to parse as real, somehow. I don't really know what to make of it

Date: 2016-03-03 03:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
But a woman close to me revealed recently that her ex-husband gloatingly claimed that he had hired a hitman to kill her. This happened years ago -- the taunt -- and nothing ever came of it.

Thank god, nothing came of it. That's horrific. I hope your friend is no longer associated in any way with this man and has distanced herself from him? People can be monsters. And yet, monsters can also be humane. It's all very confusing.
Be so much easier if it was one or the other. I think that's why Spike fascinated me so much on Buffy - he was a study in contradictions. He did monsterous, horrible, unforgiveable things, yet at the same time, could be unspeakably kind.
It fascinated me.

In my friend's case, the hitman was a political assassin. Her parents were on one side of a political conflict, the hitmen were on the other. They went into exile shortly after. Years later, the violent regime that sent them into exile was overthrown and they were able to return. But she still carries the scars.

Date: 2016-02-20 07:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
[As an aside, thank you for having this discussion with me. I've been feeling very down the last few weeks and upset about various things work-related and in my personal life, unrelated to this discussion, but in a way discussing this - - has helped in a metaphorical sense. If that makes sense?]

That makes sense. :) Yeah, it has helped me too...I am just sorry there has to be a bit of a delay between responses. I will probably write a bit more back to you tomorrow or Monday.

Date: 2016-02-18 01:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
It is interesting. I've since cooled in the comics, though I did like season eight at the time, but I do still like the earlier issues, and especially the issue where the demon reveals to Buffy and Willow a conversation Willow had with Kennedy, where Willow says that they were happy, that she and Tara could have taken Dawn and moved away from the Hellmouth, set up a nice life, and left Buffy at peace -- that Willow chose Buffy over Tara, ultimately, that her not letting go got Tara killed. Which is not fair, but is psychologically plausible. And there are different ways of reading it. Part of the question is, how happy was Willow, really? And how close to falling apart were the gang? And the town? I think it's important that comics-Willow mentioned that they could have moved away from the Hellmouth -- because basically the town is depicted in Bargaining as being just a hair's breadth from disaster, with the Buffybot as the first and one of the only lines of defense. The Scoobies in general, and Giles in particular, seem content with this (he is content enough to leave town), but I think Willow maybe recognizes it's only a matter of time.

And so some of the issue is about missing Buffy herself, and believing that Buffy would rather be alive -- while I think Willow was overselling the "Buffy's in hell" idea as rationalization, I do think she believed Buffy would rather be alive than dead, given how important it was for Buffy for years to stay alive. I also don't think that Buffy's depression at being returned is necessarily a sign she should have stayed dead -- any more than any person's depression is necessarily a sign that they would be better dead. But Willow has multiple reasons for wanting Buffy back, and some of them are to save herself, and to prove herself to Buffy, some of them are that she wants to do her best for Buffy, as Buffy's friend, many of them just that she is unwilling to cope with the idea of Buffy being gone.

But also, something interesting happens in part 2 -- when Willow finds out from Xander that the ritual (apparently) failed, she breaks down in tears, and says "Buffy's gone. She's really gone" -- as if the grief is only just hitting her. She has been avoiding it for months, having a fake Buffy to fill in until Willow could bring the real one back to life. But now she realizes her friend is actually dead. And Willow steps up. The others want to stay in the Magic Box where it's safe, but Willow says that they have to go out and find Dawn and Spike, and along the way they fight off the demons -- though it is Buffy who ultimately saves Dawn. So it's a bit of an open question. Willow had a bravery inside her, an ability to take on the challenge of living without Buffy -- which was not expressed until she gave up on the idea of the resurrection. But would this have been enough? We don't know.

But it is also interesting that Willow's falling apart is linked to Buffy, just not always obviously. Giles and Willow's argument is about Buffy. The argument with Tara in All the Way is about Willow's excessive use of magic, but Willow is mostly overusing magic (IMO) to cover for her fears that she was wrong in bringing Buffy back -- to prove Giles wrong, to prove that she did the right thing, that Buffy is okay, and thus that Willow is okay. And she erases Tara's memory after the argument because she cannot deal with conflict...which is a trait that existed before Buffy, of course, but which most recently was made worse when Glory mindsucked Tara after Willow and Tara's first-ever argument, looking for Buffy's sister. She erases Tara's/Buffy's minds again. And then she brings Amy back from being a rat -- another "resurrection" -- as if to prove again to herself that her resurrection was a success.

Date: 2016-02-18 11:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
I'd agree, as annoyed as I got in regards to the Buffy comics, there were a few stellar issues in there. (I gave up after S8 -- so can't comment on any other seasons.)

In particular, I liked the issue you referenced - which delved a bit more into the Willow/Buffy relationship...and why Willow saved Buffy and her fear that her saving of Buffy resulted in Tara's death. (I don't think it did, despite what many fans believe. There was no price for bringing Buffy back, besides the one Willow already paid. Tara's death was a result of other events that may well have occurred despite Buffy's resurrection. In short, I think it was inevitable. Certainly was from the writer's perspective. Whedon was going to kill that character off no matter what.)

But I can see why Willow wonders...in part because she wasn't satisfied with what she had. (Is anyone, really?)

Date: 2016-02-18 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
At the end of the season, Tara dies from a bullet meant for Buffy, and Willow's first action is to save Buffy's life -- whereas she can't save Tara's. Willow links her despair to Buffy's directly several times. And her attempt to end the world is an inverse of resurrecting Buffy -- bringing death as a way of "making up for" bringing life. I think Willow would probably have hit similar walls without Buffy, had she and Tara and the others left town and tried to start a new life -- but the spectre of Buffy's not wanting to be alive haunts everything, and makes everything that much more terrifying, makes her own despair that much more prominent. In some ways, Buffy means as much to Willow as Tara does, but in a very different way -- with years worth of love and pent-up resentment and mutual guilt mixing together.

What's interesting, though, is that it can be read multiple ways. I've at one point written how Willow's anger is related to Xander throughout the season, even more subtly -- she creates the party decorations right after the announcement of Xander & Anya's engagement, it's Xander who says "you said it yourself, Will, the magic's too strong, there's no coming back from it" right before Willow declares "I'm not coming back" and makes the decision to cut off her friends, and of course it's Xander who talks to her at the end. One can also make the case that it's all about her and Giles -- that part of the desire to bring Buffy back was genuinely so that Giles would stay, because she cares about him and needs him and *knows* that he would never stay just for Willow, and so she had to bring Buffy back to keep Giles in her life. That she needs to prove him wrong after he lays into her, that some of her spiral post-Tabula Rasa is actually because Giles left, not just Tara.

And of course it's also all about Tara, how Tara helps make her feel whole, how earning Tara's love makes her feel like she has a purpose, how saving Tara gives her the sense of her worth for others, how Tara's judgment terrifies, confuses and angers her, how it's Tara whom she feels she needs to impress, and Tara whose loss makes the world seem worthless. Much of Willow's rage and despair -- here, and in the Warren episode in s7, as well as other s7 episodes -- seems self-directed for how she treated Tara, as well, perhaps, as anger that she was so dependent on her?

(sorry, that went on a bit longer than I meant it to)

But it is interesting -- because everyone really does care about Willow. They believe that, ultimately, she is more good than evil -- Giles believes that she is not only important, but necessary for the fight. And they love her. Xander showed at the end of s6 that he loves her no matter what. In CWDP, the First nearly convinces Willow to kill herself -- and I suspect that it nearly succeeded. Willow was ready to agree to anything that would make *her* less dangerous -- the First's mistake wasn't underestimating Willow's faith in herself, which was shaky (she was completely willing to believe that she would kill her friends again, and horrified by the idea) -- but underestimating Willow's faith in Tara. Because Willow still loves Tara more than herself at this point, she can believe in Tara's goodness, if not her own -- which is the thing that saves her for now. But importantly, at that point she believes that Tara loves her -- it is starting to sink in -- though it's scary. And it's tragic that it is only after Tara's death, and only after Willow has done so much to break her friends' trust and faith in her, that she can start to believe that love for her is actually real. I think that people keep loving her is actually much of the source of fandom's resentment, as echoed by Amy within the show -- that people in universe don't hate Willow more than they do. I think some of it has to do with timing -- by the time Willow really does screw up very badly, everyone else has a long rap sheet. At that point in time, everyone is looking for forgiveness, to some extent or another -- some for recent transgressions, some for something much longer.

Date: 2016-02-18 02:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
S7 is interesting, because it is about what people have done, but only superficially; it is more about root causes than the characters' rap sheets, which I think is frustrating. The Killer in Me and Lies My Parents Told Me are something similar -- while Tara's death and William's mother's death were more than a century apart, both episodes are really about looking at the key traumatic event that turned both of them into a monster. It still doesn't tell the whole story -- we have to know why Willow and William were so dependent on Tara / William's mother -- but it is about triggers; about the moment where they really lost themselves, more so than they had before that point. (One could argue that Willow's fighting Cordelia, though Willow doesn't know that's what she's doing, is another example of this -- fighting a root cause -- Willow has to fight back against one of the people who created Willow's self-image, which is what makes Willow in danger of becoming a monster again.) Similarly, flashbacks indicate that Olaf's cheating on Anya really was a formative moment for her, the point where she did choose to be a demon, and in some senses the thing that she never got over. Buffy reviews her own personal history and revisits her father's abandonment and the Angel drama to understand why she has done what she has done (admittedly less extreme than the other examples). And that ultimately is okay with me. The message, I think, is that it is better to understand what led people down the road to doing bad things, rather than focusing on the bad things themselves -- because if those root causes can be addressed, they might genuinely be able to become better.

They really do create their own prisons, and have to release themselves. Amy hexes Willow, but it's Willow's mind that determines how she is punished. The First mostly tells people what they already know and believe. One of the interesting ideas in Sleeper is that Spike, while triggered, actually does pick up women before he kills them, which suggests that even controlled by the trigger, he is doing what he has spent lifetimes training to do. In season six, they fall apart. In season seven, they have to put themselves back together, but they still have themselves to fight. Rebuilding -- which is why Xander is constantly rebuilding the house, and learns to do so without complaint, because it's a continual process.

And some of it is also about freeing themselves from restraints -- and having the faith that they will be able to be better, rather than worse, when freed. Is Spike a champion really? If she lets herself access the magical part of herself -- which involves deep emotional engagement of the kind she has been avoiding -- can Willow be trusted? Can Buffy still love? They have made serious mistakes before -- can they move on?

Sorry this got kind of wordy!
Edited Date: 2016-02-18 02:10 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-02-18 11:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
No worries. You're talking to the Queen of wordy responses. I think people dread me. LOL!

And damn live journal for not permitting wordy responses. Ugh. We live in an age of insane brevity and short attention spans. (Is my dislike of Twitter showing?)

Date: 2016-02-19 03:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
The message, I think, is that it is better to understand what led people down the road to doing bad things, rather than focusing on the bad things themselves -- because if those root causes can be addressed, they might genuinely be able to become better.

Interesting point about triggers. I've been thinking about this a lot lately...the unseen landmines or triggers in human relationships. For unexplainable, I or you or anyone really suddenly wants to blast someone. What triggers the anger? Why do we hate one character and adore another? Why did Angel fans forgive Angel everything but hate Spike? Why did Spike fans forgive Spike everything or almost everything, but hate Angel?

Selenak opined in a recent post that American stories overused the Daddy issue trope. What was up with that? Which is another trigger. In this case - it was Angel, Cordelia, Xander, and Buffy's - the Daddy figure who either abandoned them or denounced them. Darla even tells Angel that by killing his father, he'll never get past him. And he never does, just keeps replacing him with new fathers.

we have to know why Willow and William were so dependent on Tara / William's mother -- but it is about triggers; about the moment where they really lost themselves, more so than they had before that point.

The use of the sick mother or lost mother in the series fascinated me. We see it and the Daddy issues reflected in both the S3 episode Helpless and the S7 episode Lies My Parents Told Me, which in a way are echoes of each other on various levels. But the Mommy issues of the vampires in both are rather twisted. This is echoed by Willow's mother issues throughout the series - her own mother as we see in Gingerbread and various other episodes, is highly critical, goal oriented, and treats Willow as a project or trophy, there's no warmth or affection expressed. Buffy's mother in stark contrast, may not always be available but is ultimately supportive, protective and warm. Yet, she dies. Of an illness. That Buffy can't fix. William's mother appears to be a combination of Willow's and Buffy's - judgement/warm, clinging/distant, and dies of illness, that he can't fix.

Both Willow and Spike seek out substitute mothers in their lovers...Tara for Willow, Dru and Buffy for Spike.
Just as Buffy and to a degree Angel seek out the substitute fathers....Giles/Angel/Riley/Wood/Spike for Buffy and Giles/Master/PTB/Wes for Angel. Buffy also has mother issues, but they are less pronounced.

In a way, the writer, Whedon, is exploring his own issues, as all writers do to a degree. Whedon's parents got divorced when he was young. His father remarried and had children by a second wife leaving Whedon with his sick and highly intelligent, not to mention superhero, Mom. (She was one of the founder's of the Women's Movement and heroically battled cancer). Whedon's mom seems to be a combination of Willow's and Buffy's just as Spike's was. Also a bit like Buffy herself. And his Dad, the successful script-writer, is reminiscent of Giles and Buffy's father -- off doing his thing. It's not exact of course - but I think a lot of what is explored in the story was from the writers own experiences, which is why it felt so geniune.

Date: 2016-02-23 12:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
And those triggers are fascinating, because they can be subtle, invisible to others, or they can be glaringly obvious. And they aren't rational -- or, rather, they are usually not entirely explicable by logic. Maybe if we know the full history of the trigger, and the brain chemistry and neurobiology of what goes on when we process the information. But that's a lot of information, and it still is an imperfect representation of an intense subjective response.

What's interesting is trying to navigate conversations with fans about why one character is sympathetic and another isn't, to that fan. There usually are reasons that are clearly expressed -- but a lot of the time, dig deep enough and there are big contradictions. Just as outside fandom, which transgressions from friends or family are forgivable and which aren't varies strongly from person to person, and tend to be inconsistent. Looking seriously at myself, can I really say that I've treated others fairly -- applying the same standards to people I'm close to? No.

Both Willow and Spike seek out substitute mothers in their lovers...Tara for Willow, Dru and Buffy for Spike.
Just as Buffy and to a degree Angel seek out the substitute fathers....Giles/Angel/Riley/Wood/Spike for Buffy and Giles/Master/PTB/Wes for Angel. Buffy also has mother issues, but they are less pronounced.


It's interesting that Tara, like Joyce and William's mother, dies in a way that Willow can't fix. While Joyce and William's mother's illnesses were longer, more drawn out affairs, Tara had her own period of insanity (post Glory mindsucking), which matches with Joyce's madness in season five and with Dru. I think I remember you mentioning at some point in one of those essays how Willow/Tara and Spike/Dru are similar -- both even having a scene where they stare at the stars and talk about naming them. And I think that it's interesting how a certain kind of insanity seems "passed down" from mother (or substitute-mother) to child (or substitute-daughter) -- whether immediately or with a long delay, Buffy, Willow and Spike have periods of insanity, mental instability. For Spike it's after getting his soul back, for Willow it's after Tara's death (and to a lesser extent after Tara left her earlier in the season), for Buffy it's in Normal Again where she is reunited with her mother in the mental hospital frame -- which highlights how much Joyce is *absent* in her current life.

For Spike and Dawn, and I think Willow and Xander too, Buffy is a mother figure about whom they are ambivalent, because she bring both love and rejection. With Dawn, Buffy reenacts some of the same issues she had with Joyce, from the other side. Like Joyce in Gingerbread, Buffy goes to kill Dawn (and Willow and Xander) in an effort to rid her life of the supernatural, while under external influence. Willow, similarly, plays a weird kind of mother role to Buffy and Dawn, and is a particular kind of "dark mother" at the end of the season -- when she tells Dawn that she is not a real girl, "we'll all be happier without listening to the constant whining," and when she tells Buffy that she knows she hurt Buffy by giving her life, she is also being a particular kind of scary mother figure, the angry mother who at last can speak her mind and express her ambivalence about her children's very *existence*.

While this represents Whedon's issues, there are other writers to consider. I listened to a podcast once where Marti Noxon talked about a play that she did early on in her career, which very baldly depicted a "crazy mother" figure -- bipolar, menacing, inconstant, terrifying. It was, Noxon thought, very obviously based on her own experiences with her mother. So when Noxon's mother went to see it, Noxon thought -- uh-oh. What is she going to say? How will she deal with me casting her as the villain out on stage for all to see? And afterwards Noxon's mother went up to her and said, "How did you know so much about my mother?" [Marti's grandmother] The generational elements, the way patterns repeat unconsciously, emotional instability -- a lot of what's interesting about BtVS and AtS is in this anecdote.

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