Sunday, December 9, 2012
YEAR 1997: BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
The 1992 BUFFY film remains important purely as a dry run for the more ambitious teleseries. Had Joss Whedon and his company not managed to find a new direction for the series-- merging horror, adventure, and enough motormouthed, self-referential dialogue to make Quentin Tarantino gag-- the film might scarcely be remembered any better than the Cyndi Lauper vehicle VIBES.
I noted in my XENA essay that I didn't think the "vampire slayer" mythos was quite as ambitious as the "warrior princess" concept. Nevertheless, both teleserials excelled in terms of portraying a relatively unexplored field: the dark side of the heroic femme formidable. Evil "femmes fatales" were as common as dirt in the history of pop culture, but heroines in the adventure tradition generally had to be simon-pure "good girls." Xena and Buffy were both noble souls who occasionally allowed rage or egotism to master them, as pop-fiction readers regularly saw with male heroes ranging from Batman to Mike Hammer.
The most intriguing aspect of Joss Whedon's mythos was that it was fundamentally atheistic despite the presence of multifarous demons. However, Whedon rarely explored this theme in depth in BUFFY as he would in ANGEL. Still, BUFFY was important in terms of Whedon forging his method of the brooding-loner-with-a-posse-of-faithful-friends-- not to mention the mass appeal of BUFFY's "take back the night" feminist theme.