itsnotmymind: (buffy/spike as you were)
[personal profile] itsnotmymind
Re-reading [livejournal.com profile] gabrielleabelle's old meta posts in good for inspiring BtVS meta from me.

Gabrielleabelle argued that the Buffy/Angel relationship subverts itself. This is what I picked up on - on a less articulate level - the first time I watched Buffy. I was disappointed when Angel got his soul back and seemed immediately and magically transformed into his good self (when he gets back his soul in Becoming 2, he doesn't remember his soulless period). It shoved the subversion back in the box.


Anyway, so I definitely agree with Gabrielleabelle on that, and recommend her post if you managed to miss it through all these years. But what I was really thinking about was Buffy/Spike. Several months before her Buffy/Angel post, she posted her readers on the question as to whether or not Buffy/Spike was subversive. People had plenty of different ideas on the subject. Here's mine: I think Buffy/Spike follows a subversive pattern that is similar to Buffy/Angel: The relationship is set up in S5/S1, subverted in S2/S6, and the subversion goes back into the box in S3/S7.

Villain falls in love with good guy and decides to redeem themselves is a huge cliché. Bad boy who redeems himself for a good woman is a particular subtype of these cliché that is also very common. Some commentators on Gabriellebelle's post indicated they thought the fact that Buffy does not love him back contradicts the cliché...I'm not so sure. While the revelation of Snape's motivations in the Harry Potter series didn't happen until after Buffy was off the air, it was still around the same time. Snape very much does not get his love - and like Spike, he dies in the end (and actually stays dead). And while Buffy's love does not redeem Spike, he does "earn" her love in the end.

S5 follows the cliché. Despite some initial creepiness on Spike's part, he starts doing genuine good, and earns Buffy's respect (and a kiss). But in S6, things go in an unexpected direction. I've complained in the past about the statement that S6 "ruined" Buffy/Spike. It disturbs me that fans are willing to overlook the violence and creepiness of the earlier parts of their relationship, while seeing a season that shoved these factors in viewer's face as ruining the relationship. Something similar could be said about Buffy/Angel. S1 and early S2 had plenty of creep factor to the relationship. When Angel lost his soul, that brought the horror to the foreground. However, the ostensible divide between souled and soulless Angel meant that fans who didn't want to see the darkness could claim Angel wasn't Angelus, and thus there is no blaming S2 for "ruining" Buffy/Angel.

So, what is the subversion in S6? S6 is too complicated to be a straight and obvious subversion, but one thing is definitely worth noting: the bad-man-redeemed-for-the-love-of-a-good-woman cliché requires the woman to be...good. S6 Buffy isn't "bad", exactly (hence not a straight subversion), but she's hardly the kind of role model someone seeking redemption would want to emulate. And it's not a matter of her taking on Spike's darkness - Spike brings his fair share of darkness to the relationship, but the darkness Buffy brings is Buffy's own (as she realized in her breakdown at the end of Dead Things*). Buffy and Spike's S6 relationship is not, at the end of the day, about him being drawn to her light, or about her being drawn by his darkness. It's just a twisted abusive mess of a collision between two deeply fucked up individuals. It's a stark portrayal of redemption-by-love-for-a-good-woman gone very, very wrong.

And just as in S2, the season ends with the vampire getting his soul back, and the story line reverts to a straight portrayal of the cliché. (Though for some reason it doesn't bother me this time - less of a divide between souled and soulless Spike, perhaps.)

* The whole "Buffy came back wrong" red herring could itself be seen as a commentary on soulless Angel in S2. Angel did bad shit - but it's not Angel so it doesn't fully count. Buffy thinks that her come-back-wrongness is the explanation for her affair with soulless Spike. Turns out, not so much.

Date: 2017-04-23 11:08 am (UTC)
kikimay: (Do you like my darkness now?)
From: [personal profile] kikimay
Buffy and Spike's S6 relationship is not, at the end of the day, about him being drawn to her light, or about her being drawn by his darkness. It's just a twisted abusive mess of a collision between two deeply fucked up individuals. It's a stark portrayal of redemption-by-love-for-a-good-woman gone very, very wrong.

BASICALLY!

Yeah, I actually remember reading some anti-Spuffy meta, from people who actually ship Spuffy (Or the idea of it, if you know what I mean) since S2, because they were disappointed by this development in S6. They were waiting for this trope: monster redeemed by angelic woman, and they got a darker Buffy instead.

Date: 2017-04-23 12:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] itsnotmymind.livejournal.com
Yep. It's always funny when Spuffy or Bangel fans criticize the other group of shippers for romanticizing a creepy vampire and abusive ship because, um. I do find Buffy/Spike easier to watch than Buffy/Angel because I find the adult/teenage girl dynamic way too creepy and James Marsters actually has chemistry with Sarah Michelle Gellar, but I can't objectively claim it's less creepy than Spike's behavior, even pre-S6.

Date: 2017-04-24 02:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] red-satin-doll.livejournal.com
THIS THIS THIS - ALL OF THIS.

Date: 2017-04-24 02:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] itsnotmymind.livejournal.com
Are you trying to communicate that you agree with me, or something? ;)

Haven't seen you in awhile! Good to see you.

Date: 2017-04-28 06:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] red-satin-doll.livejournal.com
Am I? *re-reads my own comment to jog my memory* Yep, I am agreeing with you, and was too tired/lazy to go into specifics. (I'm recovering from the flu - that's my story and I'm sticking to it. *lol*)

And thank you! I'm also working a part time job which I really enjoy but I don't have a lot of energy left over for anything else, and I want to ease myself back into LJ/DW and fandom but not sure where to start.

Your take on the way shippers view each other's "competing" ships/characters is a source of endless fascination/frustration for me (and can be pretty off putting.) Both ships are fucked up, and yet there's this constant amount of time, energy and ink spent trying to prove that one is somehow superior to the other. Even with the 20th anniversary stuff the media can't help but revive "Angel vs Spike" and we all end up talking about that - AGAIN - and so much else that made BtVS great / interesting is discarded along the wayside.

Buffy and Spike's S6 relationship is not, at the end of the day, about him being drawn to her light, or about her being drawn by his darkness. It's just a twisted abusive mess of a collision between two deeply fucked up individuals. It's a stark portrayal of redemption-by-love-for-a-good-woman gone very, very wrong.

That sums things up pretty succinctly, IMO.
Edited Date: 2017-04-28 06:54 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-23 04:23 pm (UTC)
elisi: (Spuffy - destroyer of worlds! by frimfra)
From: [personal profile] elisi
Buffy and Spike's S6 relationship is not, at the end of the day, about him being drawn to her light, or about her being drawn by his darkness. It's just a twisted abusive mess of a collision between two deeply fucked up individuals. It's a stark portrayal of redemption-by-love-for-a-good-woman gone very, very wrong.
Or as [livejournal.com profile] the_royal_anna once said:

'You cannot generalise the Buffy/Spike relationship. It is a story about a reformed vampire legend with a chip in his head and a newly resurrected Slayer. It is a story about a relationship, not a statement about relationships in general. You can't pull abstract ideas out of it, and apply them to any other situation, and judge it on that basis. Even the tidiest analogy in the world will never prove a point, only illustrate it.'

I love allegories and metaphors and fairy tales. (And I love them when they're subverted.) But Spike & Buffy went beyond that, and told a story all their own. <3
Edited Date: 2017-04-23 04:24 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-23 04:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] itsnotmymind.livejournal.com
Yes. I love all of Buffy/Spike, even the parts that do fit with the trope of a man redeeming himself due to his love for a good woman (hey, tropes are not always bad!). But S6 is my #1 season for Spuffy, and S6 is what makes it truly unique.

Date: 2017-04-23 05:03 pm (UTC)
elisi: (Spike - fighting for his soul by awmp)
From: [personal profile] elisi
*nods a lot*

There's nothing else like it out there.

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