Today, Mediaite published my piece titled, "Joss Whedon is Our Master Now," an exploration of why Joss's work resonates so much with his fans. Since it was published, other people have been writing me, sending me clips of articles of Buffy significance, or relating to actors who were part of Whedon's shows. I read about Julie Benz (Darla) appearing soon on "Desperate Housewives."
One person sent me a link to a story about a PhD student who was regretting her decision to study Buffy for her dissertation - "The Perverse in the Buffyverse: Reading Performative Gender Roles and Their Subversion in 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.'" [Added Jan 6: Some loyal commenters pointed out that the thesis story was featured on a humor site, so it's probably not true. Although it feels true. And there have been academic conferences on Buffy.]
Check out the Mediaite piece, leave comments, retweet it...whatever you like. But because you're a My Urban Kvetch reader, you get a special bonus: the clipped passages and idea fragments that were cut because of space. Enjoy!
* Joss’s unspoken specialty is women characters – he celebrates the humor and geekiness in women that other men fear to embrace - and this makes him beloved not just by fanboys who might wear “Joss Whedon is my master now” t-shirts, but by the women who see echoes of themselves in Whedon’s women. I know I was supposed to look at the “Sex and the City” characters and say, “I’m a Carrie,” but I really saw myself more as a “Willow” – underestimated, bookish, overlooked, until she battles with herself and emerges as an intuitive, connected woman of power. (Most days, I feel like I’m still waiting for that second part.)
But the truth is in looking across all the Whedon series, the character I most identify with is whichever is the geekiest: from Giles and Wesley to Willow and Fred, from Wash to Kaylee to Topher. (One of my favorites is from this season of Dollhouse, when Topher imprints his own personality on Victor, essentially creating a clone of himself.) These are my people, the book-and-computer-geek people, who aren’t the suavest of operators, but who keenly observe and understand things before their shinier hero-compatriots do. Their gawky, awkward, unpolished moments emerge as comedic highlights. And we love these characters, perhaps even more than we dare to love ourselves.
*While big-screen Buffy bit the dust, for some miraculous reason, the Chosen-Girl-Fights-Vampires concept got a second chance on television in 1997. The characters deepened weekly, and the ecosystem of support that Buffy has in friends, family and in her watcher, Giles, becomes increasingly important to her survival of both epic battles with evil and high school. In addition to the forces of demonic evil, the characters battled the regular evils of high school: peer pressure, sexual awakening, detention and trying to get your homework done before someone opens the hellmouth.
To the uninitiated, the hellmouth is the reason Sunnydale is so demonically active: the pocket of evil energy that lives just below the California town is both an excuse for every manner of bad spirit to emerge, but is also a not-so-thinly-veiled metaphor for both the potential for evil in us all, and the uncontrolled geological forces that move beneath the earth, especially in Southern California, threatening to destroy us at any minute. “From beneath us, it devours,” is the perfect expression of everything that lies outside of our range of vision and control – and Buffy teaches us that even though things may look desperate, we have to keep fighting.