Sunday, April 14, 2013

Slayage for The People?

"The thing about changing the world...Once you do it, the world's all different." -- Buffy Summers

A couple years ago, I decided to re-view an old Joss Whedon series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've been periodically rewatching it ever since. About the same time, I was reading various treatises by the likes of The Red Army Faction, who operated as urban guerrillas in West Germany during the 1970s and 1980s. Somehow, I began to wonder if one potential "reading" of Buffy was that of Buffy Summers and her sidekicks as acting as urban guerrillas.

From one standpoint, one could say that the vampires (including the uber-vamps that appear in season seven), the Mayor of Sunnydale from season three, Glorificus from season five, Adam, and a host of others as representing various facets of capitalism sucking the life blood out of all who come into contact with it. But could one find a revolutionary ideology articulated by Buffy or others within her collective? Perhaps. Certainly, by mid-series, the group has become very conscious of the need for collective action - something made increasingly explicit over the last three seasons of the television series. And one could say that Buffy's efforts to share slayer powers more universally as one action that is truly had revolutionary implications, within the framework of the Buffyverse. One can view the various references in season six and beyond to everything being connected to everything else - by both Giles and later Willow - as providing something of a cornerstone for justifying correct action.

There are a lot of interesting strands in that series that makes me think of much of what would have been going on during the 1960s and 1970s. The tension and discord between Old and New Left can be viewed as represented by the conflicted relationship between the Watchers' Council and Buffy (and increasingly Giles as the series progressed). The Watchers' Council is represented as inflexible, bureaucratic, and out of touch, much as the Old Left seemed represented in much of the New Left writings from back in the day. The tensions between the intellectual and the fighter were represented throughout the series through the often strained relationship between Giles and Buffy, and later Willow. There is of course the strained relations between revolutionary and mercenary represented by the interactions with Faith (who occasionally reminds me of a female equivalent to Carlos Sanchez) and Spike.

Anyway, right now, all I have are a few scattered ideas, very much in need of fleshing out. Hopefully, as time permits, I can expand on a few of the strands in my head. I suspect Joss Whedon would be horrified at the prospect of his work being interpreted in an explicitly anticapitalist fashion - the show's themes from his perspective were more of a liberal flavor of feminism. But I do think something could be said for my proposed alternative reading. The series even offers something of a tentative happy ending that all but eluded groups like the Red Army Faction, the Red Brigades, and the Weathermen in real life.


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