beer_good_foamy: (Buffy)
[personal profile] beer_good_foamy
Go, then. There are other worlds than these.
- Jake Chambers, Stephen King's The Gunslinger

So I wanted to post something for Buffy's 20th birthday, and why I still care so much about this little series, but I wasn't sure just what until I started a rewatch and got to this line in "The Harvest":

JOYCE: Everything's the end of the world when you're a 16-year-old girl.

Which got me to this:

She saved the world. A lot.

Which got me thinking about just what the hell (heh) the "world" and saving it means in terms of the Buffy- and Jossverses, and why that would matter.

I mean, we're talking about the guy whose most recent original work in Cabin In The Woods (spoilers ahead) ended with our heroes explicitly refusing to sacrifice anything to save the world and letting it end. What changed, Joss? Besides, Buffy doesn't seem to do a whole lot of saving outside the larger (and not very large at that) metropolitan area of Sunnydale, as much as they try to convince us that one ancient vampire taking over a small town in SoCal would somehow constitute the end of the world.

Funnily enough, right off the bat, season 1 of Buffy has lots of characters talking about "the world". And they're all defining it from a personal perspective.

GILES: Because you are the Slayer. Into each generation a Slayer is born, one girl in all the world, a Chosen One, one born with the strength and skill to hunt--
BUFFY: -- the vampires, to stop the spread of their evil blah, blah, blah... I've heard it, okay?


BUFFY: You, Xander, Willow, you guys... you guys know the score, you're careful. Two days in my world and Owen really would get himself killed.

DARLA: Do you know what the saddest thing in the world is?
BUFFY: Bad hair on top of that outfit?
DARLA: To love someone who used to love you.


SNYDER: My predecessor, Mr. Flutie, may have gone in for all that touchy-feely relating nonsense, but he was eaten. You're in my world now.

WILLOW: I'm trying to think how to say it... to explain it so you understand...
BUFFY: It doesn't matter as long as you're okay.
WILLOW: I'm not okay! I knew those guys. I go to that room every day. And when I walked in there, it... it wasn't our world anymore. They made it theirs. And they had fun. What are we gonna do?


Thing is, "the world" is a very malleable concept. "The Earth" is a lot more unambiguous, we're talking about a planet, but the world - that can mean a lot of different things. Especially in a series as wilfully post-modern as Buffy. Within the larger Buffyverse there are many different worlds; the two separate series Buffy and Angel (and, if that's your poison, their various comicbook, novel, board game and fanfic spinoffs), hell and heaven dimensions, alternate realities (usually referred to as verses* by fans) ... Sure. But the show also runs on what Terry Pratchett called narrativium, and keeps sneaking into both the characterization and plot that each person is narrating their own story. No two characters experience the events of Buffy the exact same way, they all live their own version of it. There is not ONE world; each person lives in, and constitutes, a world of their own.

BUFFY: What I want is to be left alone.
ANGEL: Do you really think that's an option anymore?


In these days of "alternate facts", filter bubbles and whatnot, that may sound a bit creepy. Surely, that means Ford's or Warren's or Richard Wilkins' or any crush-kill-destroy demon's worldviews (to borrow a word from the current politicsverse) are no less valid than Buffy's? Is Buffy just another PC-gone-mad SJW out to force her biased version of reality on people who just want the freedom to suck the blood of the living in peace? Well, no, because the thing is, those worlds are not mutually exclusive. Just because you have your own, you can't ignore those of others, because the Buffyverse makes them tangible and frequently gives them very sharp teeth.

MASTER: A dream is a wish your heart makes. This is real life.

Much has been made of how Buffy fights demons that are metaphors for her own situation. Less is made of how often she fights other people's demons as well; pretty much every episode of season 1 has her try to protect someone at school, whether they be weirdos or cheerleaders. Buffy is an inherently empathetic story. Even the monsters get their say; Vamp!Jesse gets to explain exactly how this is an improvement for him - while putting some fairly overtly rapey moves on Cordelia - but his story must still be put to an end once he's presented his world. We get to see the horror of Marcy Ross' situation even though it's clear that she's become, in Buffy's words, a thundering loony. The Master weeps over Darla. Buffy's Slayer role was always part-counselor, long before Robin Wood rolled into town; she doesn't just use violence, she lets both victims and perpetrators explain their worlds, even if it may just be a throwaway rationalisation from one of Giles' books. Buffy actively welds other stories to her own. Buffy actively welds other stories to its own. The genre roulette isn't just a fun way to add variety to a weekly TV show, it serves to validate the people in them. Record their pain. Save their worlds.

JONATHAN: Stop saying my name like we're friends! We're not friends! You all think I'm an idiot! A short idiot!
BUFFY: I don't. I don't think about you much at all. Nobody here really does. Bugs you, doesn't it. You have all this pain, and all these feelings and nobody's really paying attention.
JONATHAN: You think I just want attention?
BUFFY: No, I think you're up in the clock tower with a high-powered rifle because you wanna blend in. Believe it or not, Jonathan, I understand about the pain.
JONATHAN: Oh right. Cuz the burden of being beautiful and athletic, that's a crippler.
BUFFY: You know what? I was wrong. You are an idiot. My life happens to, on occasion, suck beyond the telling of it. Sometimes more than I can handle. And it's not just mine. Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they're too busy with their own. The beautiful ones. The popular ones. The guys that pick on you. Everyone. If you could hear what they were feeling. The loneliness. The confusion. It looks quiet down there. It's not. It's deafening.


Buffy was never a perfect series. 20 years later, there are things about it that haven't aged well (especially in season 1) and the very fact that it tried to be on-message tends to call more attention to the ways it failed. But flaws and all, the show was still always based around that simple act of seeing others, of acknowledging them, of dealing with their situations because they are not separate from your own. Saying that we're all in this together. And, in that simple but brilliant twist at the end of the season, have Buffy thwart prophecy and be free of predestination from then on - still trapped in a hellish world, but with the right to fight for her life and others'.

XANDER: You're still weak.
BUFFY: No. No, I feel strong. I feel different.


Which brings us back to Cabin In The Woods, and our heroes' choice to not save the world. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's... complicated, but basically we learn that our heroes have been put through the standard horror-movie script and killed off one by one in order to appease the old gods who will rise and wipe out mankind if they don't get their sacrifices (hello to Buffy's HP Lovecraft-lite backstory, as explained by Giles in s1), and at the end the survivors are told to kill each other off to entertain the monsters or let humanity die. Despite the fact that at least one of them is already bleeding to death, they choose to get stoned and wait for the end of the world instead.

MARTY: Giant evil gods.
DANA: I wish I could have seen them.
MARTY: I know. That would have been a fun weekend.


Does this sound familiar? Because this is not a random monster of the week deciding to try and destroy the world. This is one world unambiguously ending. This is... well, this:

ANYANKA: You trusting fool! How do you know the other world is any better than this?
GILES: Because it has to be!


This world will not stand, Cabin In The Woods says - much like Buffy does in just about every episode. It matters how we treat each other, and realities in which it doesn't must be fought.

We live in a time when a lot of different people are pushing end-of-the-world scenarios, claiming to do it by "listening to the people" (who always seem to agree with them) and "saying what you think" (without ever specifying what that is). If we don't do X (kick out the immigrants, or build higher walls, or return to Traditional Family Values, or...) it'll be the end of the world as YOU know it, so keep your blinders on and trust us to get rid of those invisible monsters for you. Well, any eschatology worth its salt ends with a new world rising from the ashes of the one that ended. Buffy begins and ends with the notion that the world looks different for everyone, meaning that those new worlds were all there all along. Buffy isn't about the apocalypses, it's about the cases-of-the-week. Every time Buffy shows a victim or a monster, it creates a world. Every time Buffy saves a life, she saves a world. And by focusing on the ones left by the wayside of the traditional narratives, by refusing to accept that there's just ONE world, ONE narrative, she keeps doing so 20 years later. And I for one am very grateful for that.

So thank you, Joss, SMG, and all the rest of you who took part in it, actors, writers, producers, and fans. Here's to 20 more.

BUFFY: We saved the world. I say we party.


* Sidebar: Yuri Herrera's very highly recommended novel Signs Preceding The End Of The World uses the verb "to verse" (the equally neologous "jarchar" in Spanish) as a catch-all term to mean to leave, to enter, to pass, to cross, to transgress, as his heroine crosses the Mexican border into the US, moving from one world while giving birth to another. Metaphorically. Maybe. Great novel at any rate, read it.

Date: 2017-03-19 07:02 pm (UTC)
maia: (Maia)
From: [personal profile] maia
This is fascinating and thought-provoking. I want to write a thoughtful reply but need to ponder first...

Thank you for posting this.

Wow!

Date: 2017-03-20 08:55 am (UTC)
nothorse: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nothorse
This is one of the most thoughtful and insightful metas I've read.

Thank you!

Date: 2017-03-19 06:27 pm (UTC)
shapinglight: (BtVS ABC)
From: [personal profile] shapinglight
That was a terrific piece of meta. I think you really have got to the root of why we're still talking about BtVS twenty years later.

I wish I had something even a quarter as intelligent as this to say myself. ;)

Date: 2017-03-19 08:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beer-good-foamy.livejournal.com
Thanks a lot!

Revisiting season 1 after a few years was really fun. I'm tempted to go on with all the rest of it. There's so much in s1 that feels like a dress rehearsal of what the show would become in s2 and s3. So many metaphors, mirror images and concepts they seem to stumble over almost by accident. It's kinda adorable how young and naive not just the characters but the writers are.

Date: 2017-03-21 01:46 pm (UTC)
shapinglight: (BtVS ABC)
From: [personal profile] shapinglight
I agree. I love season 1 to pieces - more and more as the years go by.

If I ever compile one of these rate the seasons lists that people do so often, I'd probably put season 1 on one side and refuse to rate it. It's a special case, IMO.

Date: 2017-03-19 07:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sandy-s.livejournal.com
Makes me think about the song by the Fray...How to Save a Life... it doesn't matter if it's just one person, one moment, what matters is how you impact that person's life...that person's world (from your essay).

Date: 2017-03-19 08:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beer-good-foamy.livejournal.com
Heh, I actually had that song in my head when I wrote down some of this... :)

Date: 2017-03-19 07:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cornerofmadness.livejournal.com
That was a very interesting read.

Date: 2017-03-19 08:43 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-03-19 08:19 pm (UTC)
elisi: (Buffy elsewhere by bogwitch)
From: [personal profile] elisi
Oh very very good. Thank you!

Date: 2017-03-19 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beer-good-foamy.livejournal.com
Thank you, glad you liked it!

Date: 2017-03-19 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rebcake.livejournal.com
I've been wondering why I feel that Buffy is more relevant to me now than ever, and I think you've managed to articulate it for me:

We make the world we want. A lot.

Buffy reminds us that we are the ones with the power to shape our reality. Not that reality is going to bend to our will, but we can make a difference if we work at it — even against terrible odds.

So, thanks for leaving me with hopeful-ish thoughts today. It doesn't happen every day, alas. Just have to remember to put on my slayer boots and start walking.

Today I approached a girl who'd just been pickpocketed and was freaking out. She quickly calmed and didn't feel so alone, I think. I stayed with her through the police report and all that. Just be a human to other humans, and you'll can be Buffy, too!

Date: 2017-03-20 09:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beer-good-foamy.livejournal.com
Thank you! (And awesomely done.)

I've seen too many talking heads recently bemoaning the "post-modern moral relativism where nothing is true and everything is allowed" blah blah blah in response to politicians increasingly flying by the seat of their flaming pants. Bullshit. Allowing for more than one viewpoint doesn't mean everything is allowed; it just shifts the responsibility for being a decent person to you. It just means nothing is written in stone about what we can achieve.

Date: 2017-03-19 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trepkos.livejournal.com
Excellent piece - thank you!

Date: 2017-03-20 09:20 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-03-20 12:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
I was trying to remember if Whedon wrote anything after Cabin in the Woods, which he did with Drew Goddard. I think you're right, Marvel Agents of Sheild, the Avengers, and assorted comics may not count. Doctor Horrible was prior to it. And Much Ado About Nothing was well, Shakespeare....although his interpretations/adaptations of each sort of skew existentialist in a way. The people don't totally get along, but how they help each other...and what they do...matters in small little ways.

Also Cabin in the Woods works as a good analogy with Buffy since both are in their own ways meta-narrative commentaries on the horror genre. Cabin is about the last girl standing motif and Buffy is about the blond girl dying in the alley. He subverts both tropes in his own way. And pulls out of the trope the one thing most people like it for -- which is a group of people coming together to solve a problem, despite their differences, combining resources...and hoping for the best. Often sacrificing themselves in the process. It might not make a difference -- but hey at least they went down fighting or tried.

It's sort of that statement in the Angel episode "Epithany" that was written by somebody else... "If nothing we do matters, then everything we do matters.."

I was on a fanboard that emphasized philosophy over other issues regarding Buffy...and they analyzed it from every philosophical angle imaginable, but I always felt the Existentialist perspective worked best.

Just finished reading Vonnegut's Slaughter-House Five...which seems to move along the same territory..."so it goes", Vonnegut repeats almost like a mantra throughout.
Wondering if the world is even worth saving or if we can...but the moments revisited perhaps make it worth it. Existentialism by way of Buddhism perhaps? Scalzi's RedShirts with Three Codas...also plays on that theme. I prefer Whedon's take, but mainly because he writes better female characters than the others.

At any rate, thanks for the meta. It resonated for me. ;-)

Date: 2017-03-20 09:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beer-good-foamy.livejournal.com
Thanks!

As infinitewhale points out further down, Cabin (or at least the first draft) may predate Dollhouse. All the same, it's the last original thing he's put out (and that was five years ago. Get off twitter and get to work, Joss!)

There's that very telling scene in Cabin where the heroes actually start working together, and the controllers immediately drug them to make them think it makes more sense to go it alone. That's a good metaphor.

I always felt the Existentialist perspective worked best.

Yeah, Joss has been pretty open about his fanboying of Camus and existentialism. To re-use a quote [livejournal.com profile] elisi posted yesterday:
"Season six [of Buffy] remains the highlight. You won't find a more skilled extended exploration of existential turmoil on the big or small screen. And I'm not talking "woe is me" teenage angst, but a genuine search for what it means to be human. It's Bergman for the masses."
Tim Porter, Paste Magazine


Slaughterhouse-Five is one of my favourite novels. Here's a pitch: Scalzi and Joss get together to adapt Vonnegut's novels (they're in a verse with each other, mostly) into a TV series. Who do I contact to make that happen? :)

Date: 2017-03-21 01:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Get off twitter and get to work, Joss!

LOL! He has the same problem Scalzi and Stephen King do..Trumpitis (coined by a co-worker) or an inability to ignore the Doofus. I get it...I've had to yank myself away from FB due to falling into the same trap. Twitter is even worse.

Except I think Scalzi and Stephen King have actually created stuff recently. But they're novelists --- it's easier to get a novel published than a television series or movie.

I wonder if Whedon is ghost-writing?

Slaughterhouse-Five is one of my favourite novels. Here's a pitch: Scalzi and Joss get together to adapt Vonnegut's novels (they're in a verse with each other, mostly) into a TV series. Who do I contact to make that happen? :)

Vonnegut is ridiculously difficult to adapt to the big or small screen. I think for the same reasons that William S. Burroughs, Heinlein, and Joyce are...he has this sort of jagged stream of consciousness style...where he jumps around a lot.
I like it -- because my mind does that. And I have a mother who will do that in mid-sentence so I'm used to it. But I think it is hard for a lot of people.

If anyone could adapt him Whedon and Scalzi could. Both have similar ways of thinking.

I'm in the midst of Hitchhiker's Guide and appreciating Slaughter-House Five more and more as I go. Adams seems to borrow from it in places. No book did a better job of conveying how human beings dehumanize and objectify one another for their own ends...and how War is the end result of that. That book, Slaughter-House Five, kicked me in the gut, and it really resonated...with what is happening now, in a weird way. (Not sure it was the best pick for travel reading material though...but somehow, I found it comforting. The whole "so it goes" just was really comforting somehow.)

It's a weird book - you can't really describe the experience of reading it. Or why...it is weirdly uplifting...you sort of have to read it on your own to experience it. So, not sure how anyone could convey that to a small screen.



Date: 2017-03-21 01:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
Season six [of Buffy] remains the highlight. You won't find a more skilled extended exploration of existential turmoil on the big or small screen. And I'm not talking "woe is me" teenage angst, but a genuine search for what it means to be human. It's Bergman for the masses."
Tim Porter, Paste Magazine


Hmmm...didn't see that. Was that part of the article which stated how S6 Tore the Show Down and Built Something Better?

I tend to agree. S6 is when I became obsessed with the series. I enjoyed it before then, but I wasn't quite a fan until S6. S6 blew me away. Because it took what they were attempting to do in a handful of episodes in S2-5 (Passion/Becoming, Hush/Restless/Who are You, Wish/Doppleganland/Earshot/Superstar, Fool for Love) and expanded on it. Like watching a hire wire act without a net.

And anyone who has seen Luis Bunel or some surrealistic films...saw the ambitious stuff they were attempting with a low-budget, and within a limited time frame. I mean if you consider for a moment that this was on UPN (which was the ugly step-sister to the WB), and that the writers were basically writing from the seat of their pants (no character bible, totally intuitive) -- it's amazingly well done. You can't compare it to stuff like Lost or BSG -- which had much bigger budgets and a lot more freedom and time. And in some respects, I actually think it was better than those shows. I certainly enjoyed it more and don't see myself rewatching or writing much about the other two.

Date: 2017-03-21 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beer-good-foamy.livejournal.com
Except I think Scalzi and Stephen King have actually created stuff recently.

I don't think Stephen King is physically capable of not writing at least two novels per year.

Vonnegut is ridiculously difficult to adapt to the big or small screen.

I thought both Slaughterhouse-Five and Mother Night worked pretty well as movies. But yeah, it's not really the same thing.

You can't compare it to stuff like Lost or BSG -- which had much bigger budgets and a lot more freedom and time. And in some respects, I actually think it was better than those shows.

If nothing else, as contested as it is, the Buffy series finale didn't screw up as monumentally as BSG (and, I'm told, Lost) did.

Date: 2017-03-22 02:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shadowkat67.livejournal.com
I forgot they did movies of Slaughter-House 5 and Mother Night...I missed both somehow.

I've only read Welcome to the Monkeyhouse, Cat's Cradle, Sirens of Titan and Slaughter-House Five. Three in the 1980s (which means I don't remember them that well) and Slaughter-House Five last week.

I don't think Stephen King is physically capable of not writing at least two novels per year.

Whether they are any good is a whole other issue...particularly since they stopped editing his work several years back, which is about around the time I stopped reading his work. I'm sorry, everyone needs a line editor, even if word is horrific about accepting line editing changes and you often don't know it hasn't...(okay rant on a separate topic). Anne Rice did the same thing (no editor, she doesn't think she needs one.).

If nothing else, as contested as it is, the Buffy series finale didn't screw up as monumentally as BSG (and, I'm told, Lost) did.

From what I've seen and heard? Whether people liked the BSG or LOST endings had a lot to do with their personal religious views. Both endings got a bit ....okay more than a bit...religious with a heavy Judeo/Christian motif.

They didn't work for me, but I can't decide if it was because I am admittedly not a big fan of Judeo/Christian heavy religious moral narratives...or if the plotting/structure was off? (Judeo/Christian mythos from my perspective has been overdone and not well. It can get sappy and sanctimonious. And Ron Moore does tend to go down that road a lot -- he did in Caprica, and in Deep Space Nine (which is why I had issues with DS9.) BSG -- it felt like the plotting was off somehow, and there were bits and pieces that just did not make any sense. (ex: Starbuck disappearing like a ghost as if she'd only come back to help Apollo, but had actually died, and the whole Earth that they landed on looking like a freshly mowed lawn, well manicured and taken care of...) To be fair? The first version of BattleStar Galatica got heavy handed with the Christian mythos...going so far as to introduce the devil and the angles of light in an episode. So...it's not surprising that they didn't feel the need to do it in version 2.0.

LOST? It made BSG look rather..subtle in comparison. I have a Lutheran friend, who is rather religious, who adored the ending of Lost. I found it heavy handed and obvious. (We discover the island is a sort of purgatory or limbo gateway between life and death...and at the very end everyone gets to relive their lives and solve all their problems then meets up together at the gates of heaven. ) BSG actually made more sense than LOST did. Because it didn't quite work that the Island was a way-station between heaven and hell, with God and the Devil making deals. Not when people could leave the island and live in the real world, then come back and die on it.
Nor did it make a lot of sense that at the end everyone lives out some alternate existence where they never arrive on the island, and solve all their issues so they can come to heaven.
But, I know people who loved it. (shrugs).

Buffy....I thought worked better. It was less heavy-handed. Of course Whedon isn't religious, so there's that. If anything he's anti-religious...and kept poking at it with a big stick. Yet, religious people had no problems with it -- so more subtle.

Date: 2017-03-22 04:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] infinitewhale.livejournal.com

We discover the island is a sort of purgatory or limbo gateway between life and death...

It wasn't, though. The Island was a real, actual place and everything on it happened as depicted. Basically, it's a Hellmouth with electromagnetism instead of magic.

The ending is something different, but no less heavy-handed. That's why everyone is there, whether they died on the Island or not. I quite enjoyed the last season except for the sideways crap and the ending. It just seemed like fanservice. Everyone gets a happy ending, guys! Maybe I'm made of stone, but I rolled my eyes.

Date: 2017-03-20 02:05 am (UTC)
lynnenne: (buffy: one girl)
From: [personal profile] lynnenne
Great essay!

Buffy's Slayer role was always part-counselor, long before Robin Wood rolled into town; she doesn't just use violence, she lets both victims and perpetrators explain their worlds

You know, I never really thought about this before, but you're absolutely right. She was always counselling, right from the very beginning.

Date: 2017-03-20 10:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beer-good-foamy.livejournal.com
Thanks!

I'm not saying Buffy's always a good counselor. Certainly not always a nice one. But there's something to be said for the way the show unmasks the motivations behind the demons and validates the pain of the victims. Once something is out in the open, then it can't be ignored.

XANDER: If we’re close our eyes and say it’s a dream ... It’ll stab us to death!

Date: 2017-03-21 02:40 am (UTC)
lynnenne: (mood: lolbuffy)
From: [personal profile] lynnenne
HAHAHAHA.

Date: 2017-03-20 02:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] infinitewhale.livejournal.com

Cabin was actually most probably written prior to Dollhouse and possibly even before the comics. It was filmed in 2009 and Whedon mentions in the commentary that he was too busy to direct it (probably with DH), but was free when they were writing it. They also mention it sat it production hell for some time. I remember Eliza mentioning he called her about DH and mentioned horror films she was in during the runup for the show, so maybe the state of horror films was on his mind then. I'm guessing 06-07 for the writing dates.

Not that it matters to the rest of your post.

Good read, thanks.

Date: 2017-03-20 10:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beer-good-foamy.livejournal.com
Good point. (I should probably do a Dollhouse rewatch at some point too, to see what can be salvaged from that mess.) I'm not sure if Cabin goes back quite as far as 2006 - wasn't there a story about Joss and Drew locking themselves in a hotel room and outlining the whole thing in a couple of days? - but yeah, 2008-2009 sounds about right. (Which makes it even more annoying that he hasn't done anything new and original since then.)

Thanks!

Date: 2017-03-20 11:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] infinitewhale.livejournal.com

He and Drew say on the commentary they wrote it over a week(end) or so in a hotel, yeah. But they note that they had the layout beforehand. So it wasn't, like, from scratch. Then they did polish afterwards. It sounds like it was like a Buffy ep. They had the gist of the story going in, they just had to write the dialogue and put it together. They also note CWDP was also written over a weekend and thus say that sometimes doing things under the gun sometimes yields great results because there's no time for second guessing and overthinking.

Both say they were between jobs when they did it, so definitely pre-Dollhouse. It's up in the air whether or not Joss ever considered the comics a job and Goddard just finished Cloverfield mid-07. It filmed in '09. They mention in the commentary it took awhile to be bought and produced. I think June to pre-strike 2007 is the best bet. I have no proof, but I'm certain Joss's beef with Captivity (July 07) at least played a part in his writing it.

It would be a whole lot easier if they put dates on the drafts of their scripts.

He did write the In Your Eyes movie. He may have written others that never sold. Get hold of scripts and script rumors is much harder now after the crackdown.

Date: 2017-03-20 11:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beer-good-foamy.livejournal.com
He did write the In Your Eyes movie.

Oh, that's right, I completely forgot about that one.

I remember it being kinda nice, but also... well, forgettable.

Date: 2017-03-20 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] smhwpf.livejournal.com
That is a very interesting and thought-provoking essay. Yes, encapsulates a lot of why Buffy is still such a big thing for me 20 years on. (Well, OK, 17 years since I started watching, and just under 14 since it finished).

I have started my rewatch, first in a few years.

Date: 2017-03-20 10:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beer-good-foamy.livejournal.com
Thanks a lot!

I don't think I can avoid going on with this rewatch, so I'll hopefully be posting more on it.

Date: 2017-03-21 05:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] frelling-tralk.livejournal.com
Really interesting essay :)

Date: 2017-03-21 09:47 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-03-23 08:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
Whew.

What's interesting is also to compare Giles' smashing of the amulet, and the CitW ending, to Normal Again and Grave, where Buffy and Willow come very close to "destroying the world" -- in NA, there's a real threat not just that her friends will die, but that the entire world will stop existing and the "real" one will return, if she goes through with the killing, because, you know, this is her story, and without her there to interpret it, what happens?

WILLOW: Because social phenomena don't have unproblematic objective existences. They have to be interpreted and given meanings by those who encounter them. (Buffy stares at Willow)
MIKE: Nicely put. So, Ruby, does that mean there are countless realities?


(And what is Life Serial but Buffy universe-hopping, and seeing the monsters lurking behind jargon-filled, sped-up academia, back-breaking parochial blue collar construction, soul-destroying repetitive-motion late-capitalism, and even go-nowhere faux-rebellion slackerdom, which are invisible to those universe's own inhabitants? And hey, maybe hyperfast abstraction denying objective reality, ordinariness combined with backbreaking labour, repeating the same activity for generations and continuing to be disappointed when it doesn't work, and exhausting the concept of perpetual rebellion until you're a loser cheating at kitten poker are universes that Buffy was right to leave, and Willow, Xander, Anya/Giles, and Spike are going to have to eventually universe-hop out of those too, huh, if only after a lot of damage has already been done?)

But it's also that it's a matter of something personal. Let's say that the demon-poison is all that was -- Buffy's just hallucinating the hospital. Her friends might die, but "the world" will live on. Maybe it will die next time Buffy fails to save it because she's permanently trapped in her own head. Or maybe what we are looking at is a personal journey: do you kill off whatever part of you believes that you have power to do something -- and if you do that, does that mean you've destroyed the world? Maybe it does, insofar as you can do anything about "the world" at all -- it all comes down to whether or not you are willing to participate. You save the world every time you save a life; you end the world every time you end one. Because, let's face it, most of us are not going to be the ones to save or destroy the human race. We can only decide on an individual level whether any of this means anything for us. Willow doesn't end the world, in the end, though she could, given power by her own despair, augmented by "the world's", and we have a conscious choice not to destroy the world every day we continue believing in it. And sometimes what it takes is a heroic battle, and sometimes it takes a few words. Heroism is about knowing when to talk the guy with the rifle down by showing him that you are willing to see his world, and that there are other worlds out there he doesn't know about, and when to listen to a few words about vermin eating filth and decide that this isn't going to be settled with logic.

ETA: "Whew" means, wow, I really liked this. (Sorry, I should have been clearer.) To continue the ETA, I think that the universalism, the idea that everyone has their own internal world, is probably THE thing that makes me so attached to the Buffyverse, and to Whedon's (good) works generally (and some of his less-good ones). Of course the very first scene of the show depends on us assuming that we're in one story, and it turning out to be another, and everything follows from there. I'm picturing Buffy standing before the desert in "Restless," as an image encapsulating the infinitude of interior space -- one's own world can go on forever, and/but as you emphasize, so does everyone else's. At its best (and even at its middle and sometimes worst) the show depicts how people go all the way down, and also have the room inside themselves to incorporate others' worlds too.
Edited Date: 2017-03-23 08:42 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-03-25 10:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beer-good-foamy.livejournal.com
Thanks!

And what is Life Serial but Buffy universe-hopping, and seeing the monsters lurking behind jargon-filled, sped-up academia, back-breaking parochial blue collar construction, soul-destroying repetitive-motion late-capitalism, and even go-nowhere faux-rebellion slackerdom, which are invisible to those universe's own inhabitants?

Absolutely. And also,

But it's also that it's a matter of something personal. Let's say that the demon-poison is all that was -- Buffy's just hallucinating the hospital. Her friends might die, but "the world" will live on.

there's also the fact of the Wishverse. And I do mean the fact of it; "Doppelgangland" makes clear that alternate universes stay real, independent of ifs and maybes. The universe Cordelia had Anya create goes on existing without her - both within "The Wish", and after it. The world is real; no more, but no less so than the verse in which Buffy Summers does come to Sunnydale. When she saves the world, she saves a subset of worlds. That doesn't make it pointless; rather the opposite.

You save the world every time you save a life; you end the world every time you end one. Because, let's face it, most of us are not going to be the ones to save or destroy the human race. We can only decide on an individual level whether any of this means anything for us. Willow doesn't end the world, in the end, though she could, given power by her own despair, augmented by "the world's", and we have a conscious choice not to destroy the world every day we continue believing in it. And sometimes what it takes is a heroic battle, and sometimes it takes a few words.

Yep yep yep.

At its best (and even at its middle and sometimes worst) the show depicts how people go all the way down, and also have the room inside themselves to incorporate others' worlds too.

Again, yep yep yep. (And also, now I want to insert turtles into the Buffyverse mythology somehow.)

Date: 2017-03-28 12:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
Your post also makes me think of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory. There's a Star Trek: TNG episode which depicts thousands of alternate universes, and some fans have pointed out that indicating that there are limitless alternate universes cheapens the "real" one, but of course:

1) that's not necessarily true; and also
2) if the many-worlds interpretation is correct, that *is* our (multi)verse, so it can't be bad to depict it.

Or, at least, in 2, my general policy is that depicting truth isn't a bad thing (though you can depict it badly in some way, of course...). Anyway, the meaning of 1 is, as you said in your post, rather the opposite -- if the universe splits at every probabilistic, random process, then it's not just one world but an unlimited number which are affected by your actions. This is a possible reality. Of course, the meaning of the many-worlds theory is maybe more obscure than that, and the "split" between worlds is likely more to do with random quantum processes than human decisions, but....

But generally, of course, we're also on a planet which has more people on it than is possible for a single human brain to process and handle -- we've evolved for communities of a few dozen, and certainly probably can store information about thousands and thousands (I wonder how many names most people would recognize? a million, maybe?) (I want to look into that), but still, we can't really deal with this large a set of data is on the planet right now. So the planet is necessarily subdivided into worlds that we can deal with -- and then the question is whether we can respect our world without destroying the others, or policing the borders fully.

"This is a good death. There's no shame in it.... A man who's done good works. Making a better world. Making all of them...better worlds." (paraphrasing; I couldn't find a transcript, and the IMDb quotes doesn't include that! what?)

Buffy respects the limits of her jurisdiction, most of the time. Letting VampWillow back into the wild, or sending Olaf to Trollville, bothered me at one time, but now I read it a bit differently. It's a bit like the Trekkian Prime Directive -- it's not so much that morality doesn't exist in other places, but we don't necessarily understand them, and Buffy's not so imperialistic as to mess up entire worlds that she doesn't understand. (VampWillow only left the Wishverse because of Anya, though of course Anya was the one who created it.) "We don't live in each other's worlds anymore," Buffy and Angel agree in "The Yoko Factor," and what does that mean -- does that give Angel carte blanche to tell Buffy to get out of "his" city, you know, the one that Buffy lived in first? The one where the person who seems to be on The Right Track in the finale is Anne, who took her story from Buffy directly in LA? Well, maybe. Maybe it's just that things are complicated, and it takes a hell of a lot of work to understand a world enough to know what constitutes saving it.

The first person to "change the world" in WttH is the unnamed dead meat guy who smashes the window and breaks into frame, which he only did (though he didn't know it) at Darla's behest. Darla's the first one to upend expectations, to really change the world, and we eventually learn that there are monsters in Sunnydale, but the monsters are gathering to *really* make their move. Buffy is the second to change the world -- a creature from another world (LA) who comes and defies the carefully-built (social) order by choosing to be neither a Willow nor a Cordelia. ("Can't I be both?" "Not legally.") Darla, at the Master's behest, is going to change the world for the worse, Buffy is going to change the world for the better. We can maybe point out that the vamp in "Pangs" who views Buffy as an imperialist conquerer is maybe ignoring that Buffy is the one who stopped The Harvest, which would have changed everything from the way he liked it anyway (maybe he'd have liked the Master's version better). I'm not sure where I'm going with this, except that Buffy's decision to save the world (in Sunnydale) has something to do with making a space for herself, and the kind of world she wants to live in.
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