alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
spoilers for the first series )

At least Sarah Jane is, if you squint really hard, an anti-establishment figure and not a monarchist conspiracy like Torchwood, so it's more like Kirk breaking the prime directive than Roslin spoilering the spoilers. But I can't quite construct the show as promoting vigilantism, either--it just wants to have its cake and eat it too. And I find that rather problematic.
alixtii: Mal and Kaylee, from Serenity the Movie. Text: "I Love My Captain." (Mal/Kaylee)
spoilers for Revenge of the Slitheen  )

It occurs to me that SJA is, in a lot of ways, the flip side of Torchwood, and Who is the synthesis of the two. Jack is the Doctor's dark side, Lonely God and Lord of Time, answerable to no one and capable of genocide with a quip, and Sarah Jane is his ethical side, the part that says "This is where I stand; I can do no other."

Which is of course yet another reason why TW/SJA crossovers need to happen. (Spunky investigative journalist takes down secret illegal extragovernmental organization, with the help of teenagers! Would hit my kinks so hard.)
alixtii: The feet of John Henry and Savannah, viewed under the table, Savannah's not reaching the ground.  (Dark Champions)

I've tried different ways to organize my meta, but the only way that really seems to work is tags; it's just too sprawling to organize any other way. But I thought I might visit my meta tags, either one-by-one or in groups, and put forth a collection of the major meta posts with that theme, with annotations and commentary, to trace the evolution of my thought on the subject. I decided to start with the topic of monsters, those who do evil while willing good. What is striking is how these posts are at once me taking a thought as it percolates through my consciousness and evolves in my mind, and is also a discussion, as I take from many different sources that inspire me--other LJ posts, discussions in comments, and, of course, popular culture.

1. Buffyverse Day 2005: An essay on power and its rôle in the Buffyverse, and its rôle in making me love the Buffyverse. This post is important because it goes to length to describe why the will-to-power has such a hold over me as a reader and viewer of texts, tracing my (essentially fannish) history with the motif, finally culminating with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but only after a great many twists and turns.
[The characters] challenge the clear and easy distinction between hero and villain and make it extremely clear that "normative" is not always the same as "good." In doing so, the show flirts with the fascination I and others feel for the villain, recognizing it as not essentially something belonging to the Other (the monstrous, the vampiric), but something which is essentially human.

2. The Monster in the Mirror: A direct response to a Colbert Report sketch which compared President Bush to Superman, but also more indirectly in response to [livejournal.com profile] jennyo's fangirling of Laura Roslin and my own fangirling of a decidedly dark version of Dawn. Here I explicitly formalize the notion of the "monster" (which has of course been a staple of my meta ever since): they who do evil in the name of good, whether it's Jack Bauer torturing people on 24 or whatever. Here I take the stand that monsters are not the sort of people we want, say, running the country in real life, but also admitted just how powerful a hold that sort of character has over us in fiction.
Call me an idealist, but this is what I think: if we have to abandon our principles to save the world, then we turn ourselves into a world that is no longer worth saving. [. . .] I'd rather watch the Huns invade and enslave us all by force than give up one bit of my American civil liberties (the precious few that are left!) in the name of security.[. . .] // The twist is, what if the Huns at the gates aren't Islamofascists, but vampires and demons?

3. More Meta on Monsters: A Response to the BSG Finale: Um, basically what it says on the label. A response to the season finale for season 2 of Battlestar Galactica. Spoilers.
I'm fascinated in Dawn and Giles as monsters, ubermensch with whom I vicariously identify through the will-to-power, but my relation to Roslin is different. I turn to her as a maternal character, as the President I'd like to have, and so like Jed Bartlett or Gina Davis' character from Commander-in-Chief (whatever happened to that show anyway?) I don't want to see her turn into a monster. A monstrous President strikes far too close to home, whereas a monstrous starship captain is far enough removed that I can enjoy the expression of the will-to-power.

4. Meta: Mimesis, Monsters, and Morality: In which I begin to angst that I keep writing about characters doing all these actions with which I am ethically and politically uncomfortable. I don't have any answers to my questions yet, but I am beginning to ask the important questions. Also, I begin to frame the issue in philosopher-speak.
By writing about monsters--indeed by glorifying in their will to power--am I condoning their actions? Am I condoning that is acceptable to infringe on human freedoms in the name of security, in defiance of the one principle which I hold most dear? The answer to that strikes me as unequivocately no; none of these stories come with disclaimers saying "The behavior in this story is morally acceptable." They are fantasy and wish-fulfillment, not how I really want the world to be but how I sometimes like to pretend it is (or could be). But neither do they (nor should they) come with disclaimers saying "The views expressed by this fic are not necessarily those of the author." We should take responsibility for our creations.

5. More Meta on the Morality of Mimetic Monsters: I begin to come up with answers--that we need to concern ourselves not with the formal characteristics of a text but how it functions in a sociohistorical location--and to frame both the questions and answers much more deeply within the language of analytic philosophy. I also begin asking more questions which question the way that texts communicate their meanings, which of course is a whole different theme in my meta--and one I'll collect in a different post.
I find it difficult, as someone skilled (not by any fancy education, although I have that too, but simply by living in the culture and speaking the language) in various relevant narrative conventions, and even with imaginative resistance and assuming that the same moral rules apply in the fictional world as in this one, to interpret Buffy as not endorsing the actions of Buffy (even when she's clearly wrong, like late season 7) or Giles, or Battlestar Galactica as not endorsing the actions of Roslin. The narrative conventions make it clear who is in the right and who is in the wrong. [. . .] The question that needs to be asked isn't what would be the ideal text in the feminist utopia but what is empowering to these people at this time on the ground?

6. Points of Interest in a Convergence Culture: I respond to a post by [livejournal.com profile] jennyo where she discusses how Laura Roslin is "a scary, dangerous person who's going to break and make the Cylons look like kids playing at evil" and why she fangirls her anyway.
God knows that in real life there is nothing more dangerous than someone who is certain that they are right and won't respect any limits on doing what they feel they need to do. The only difference, I suppose, is that in fiction we can be sure that our Mary Sues really are always right, at least in the moral order in which we read out of (or into) the text. But is this really all that separates a Roslin from an Operative? And what does that say (if anything) about real-world ethics? (And if ethics sometimes falls to the exigencies of a crisis, when is that crisis, and who draws the line? Some would claim we--meaning "the United States of America" or perhaps even "Western Civilization"--have already fallen into that sort of crisis.)

alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
People who follow this journal but not [livejournal.com profile] jennyo's needs to get over there and read this post. It's on what I've been calling monsters in this journal (and [livejournal.com profile] jennyo even uses that term herself): those characters who do some pretty major evil while willing good. For [livejournal.com profile] jennyo the archetypal monster is Laura Roslin; for me it is my fanon Dawn; in canon we see traits of monstrosity in Rupert Giles and full-blown monsterhood in Serenity's Operative.

[livejournal.com profile] jennyo just nails how these characters are at once exciting, alluring, and extremely scary--and God knows that in real life there is nothing more dangerous than someone who is certain that they are right and won't respect any limits on doing what they feel they need to do. The only difference, I suppose, is that in fiction we can be sure that our Mary Sues really are always right, at least in the moral order in which we read out of (or into) the text. But is this really all that separates a Roslin from an Operative? And what does that say (if anything) about real-world ethics? (And if ethics sometimes falls to the exigencies of a crisis, when is that crisis, and who draws the line? Some would claim we--meaning "the United States of America" or perhaps even "Western Civilization"--have already fallen into that sort of crisis.)

These are themes to which I constantly return in my fiction, particularly in my Watcher!verse!Dawn stories, and in my meta, and are ones about which I have been (if you haven't noticed) somewhat conflicted given my own political convictions.

How can I squee like crazy over the pure will-to-poweriness of a show like Commander-in-Chief, and yet at the same time agree 100% with the political reasoning in an article like this one ("Geena Davis Is Not My President"): "Geena Davis looks terrific, but we might do better with an awkward fat man"?

Using Roslin, [livejournal.com profile] jennyo explores the various implications of such a character in her most in-depth post on the subject yet as she notes that she "always find[s] it kind of surprising when people point out something incredibly wrong that Laura Roslin is doing and then wonder, 'she shouldn't be doing that, and why are we cheering her on?'." I'm tempted to provide some more quotes, but really I have to recommend that you read the whole thing.

* * * *

An article from the NYT on Google and its rôle in various legal battle arising from the way it manages the flow of information on the internet, including its acquisition of YouTube: We're Google. So Sue Us. My stance as usual is that information should be free (except where the equivalent of a flock is utilized, and even then . . .) and, whenever necessary, supported by advertising rather than charging the consumer directly.

* * * * *

An article, this one from the LA Times, on Stephen Colbert and his effect on Congressional House races: Running for office? Better run from Colbert. (Hat tip to my brother.)

* * * * *

*waits for Torchwood to download appear on the BBC3 station which just now magically appeared on my television?*
alixtii: Mal and Kaylee, from Serenity the Movie. Text: "I Love My Captain." (iluvmycaptain)
Here are twenty-five favorite characters from twenty-five different shows, in no particular order.

1. Dawn Summers (Michelle Trachtenbeg) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
2. Fred Burkle (Amy Acker) from Angel
Bonus! Drusilla (Juliet Landau) from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel
3. River Tam (Summer Glau) from Firefly

Is there really anything else to be said about the above?

4. Player (Justin Shenkarow, Jeffrey Tucker, Joanie Pleasant) from Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? Commentary )
5. Dr. Olga Vukavitch (Justina Vail) from Seven Days Commentary )
6. Morgan Matthews (Lily Nicksay, Lindsay Ridgeway) from Boy Meets World Commentary )
7. Capt. Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) from Star Trek: Voyager Commentary )
8. Cindy Mackenzie (Tina Majorino) from Veronica Mars Commentary )
9. President Mackenzie Allen (Geena Davis) in Commander-in-ChiefCommentary )
10. Donna Moss (Janel Moloney) from The West Wing Commentary )
11A. Tess Doerner (Summer Glau) from The 4400 Commentary )
11B. Maia Skouris née Rutlidge (Conchita Campbell) from The 4400 Commentary )
12. Clarissa Darling (Melissa Joan Hart) from Clarissa Explains It All Commentary )
13. Alex Mack (Larissa Oleynik) from The Secret World of Alex Mack Commentary )
14. Fred Rogers (Himself) from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood Commentary )
15. Nona Mecklenberg (Michelle Trachtenberg) from The Adventures of Pete and Pete Commentary )
16. Rogue (Lenora Zann) from X-Men (90's cartoon) Commentary )
17. Kitty Pryde (Maggie Blue O'Hara) from X-Men Evolution Commentary )
18. Jan Brady (Eve Plumb) from The Brady Bunch Commentary )
19. Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family Commentary )
20. The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant) from Doctor Who Commentary )
21. Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (DeForest Kelly) from Star Trek: The Original Series Commentary )
22. Col. Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) from Battlestar Galactica (2003) Commentary )
23. Rita Repulsa (Barbara Goodson, Carla Pérez, Machiko Soga) from Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Commentary )
24. Ezri Dax (Nicole de Boer) from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Commentary )
25. Rory Gilmore (Alexis Beidel) from Gilmore Girls Commentary )

Ari wondered what it meant that she guessed that most of my favorites were female. It means that she knows me well, because most of my favorites--all but four, plus the ambiguously-gendered Player--are female. Which is interesting, because many of these relate to early childhood, when my heterosexuality wouldn't have been a factor (right?). I'm not sure what it says that I've always found it easier to identify with (or at least be interested in) female characters than male ones, but I think it's pretty clearly true.
alixtii: Dawn Summers, w/ books and candles. Image from when Michelle hosted that ghost show. Text: "Dawn Summers / High Watcher. (Dawn)
Title: Five Views on Breaking and Entering
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Characters/Pairings: Faith/Dawn, Giles, Samantha, Willow/Kennedy
Rating: R
Timeline/Spoilers: Set in the summer of 2006. Spoilers for pretty much everything.
Summary: Dawn breaks the laws of God and man, amidst Faith, hope, and angst.
Notes: For [livejournal.com profile] cadence_k in the Have a Little Faith ficathon. The request was for hope and angst with Giles friendship and some plot, post-“Not Fade Away.” The italicized epigraphs are from the poetry of A.E. Housman which is always good for moralizing (if little else). Sorry, Cady, that this is so late.

I. Faith )

II. Dawn )

III. Giles )

IV. Samantha )

V. Kennedy )
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
So [livejournal.com profile] nemo_gravis replied to my previous post with a thoughtful and intelligent post on the way that morality functions in fictional worlds the same way it does in the actual world. (Okay, that paraphrase is pretty heavy in my philosopher-speak, but that was the main thrust of Nemo's argument.) I agree with Nemo insofar as talk of the "attraction" we feel towards evil characters was opened up to allow for more than just sexual desire, but thinking about things there helped me to clarify my ideas here.

The voice of a fic is not the author's, but that does not mean the fic does not speak with a moral voice. This voice is instead rooted in the dialogue between the reader and the text, a dialogue over which the author has little control but which nonetheless exists. Furthermore, there are parameters within the sociolinguistic context which provide (predictable) boundaries for that dialogue; this is what separates "good" readings from "bad" ones. I find it difficult, as someone skilled (not by any fancy education, although I have that too, but simply by living in the culture and speaking the language) in various relevant narrative conventions, and even with imaginative resistance and assuming that the same moral rules apply in the fictional world as in this one, to interpret Buffy as not endorsing the actions of Buffy (even when she's clearly wrong, like late season 7) or Giles, or Battlestar Galactica as not endorsing the actions of Roslin. The narrative conventions make it clear who is in the right and who is in the wrong. Spoilers for BtVS S7 ) Furthermore, I can see people finding this message communicated via the aesthetic work persuasive--Alixtii being political some more )--even when a logical argument would not be able to accomplish this end. (Anyone remember the article "Also Sprach Faith" in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy?)

So what? )

In addition to my feminist politics, I subscribe to feminist theologies, feminist metaphysics, feminist epistemologies, and so forth. I positively revel in what might be seen by intellectual conservatives as the oxymoronic nature of their backwards-seeming approach (putting political commitments before the search for "Truth"--whatever that is). But I hit a brick wall when I consider feminist aesthetics. Part of this is because, as I noted in my previous post, that when I put on my writer hat I become more of a Platonist/Moorean. Anyone who writes fiction so as to speak to the contingent aesthetic standards of a specific spatiotemporal location rather than enduring truths is, in my mind, at worst a propagandist and at best a hack. This is despite my philosophical conviction that said enduring truths don't actually exist--when engaged in aesthetic creation, we must believe in them. (I've nicknamed this phenomenon the "artist's antinomy"--which explains how a group as bright as the Bloomsbury authors could have fallen for Moore's quack metaphysics.) When I write, I have to write what I feel, not what I believe--even though what I feel is often deeply influenced by my socialization as a white het male in a patriarchal society.

(That aesthetics resists my radical feminism in this way implies to me that a retheorization of the way in which I concieve of the relations between these disciplines is necessary. Perhaps ethics and aesthetics are co-primitive? Still the quasi-foundationalism here is disturbing and in some senses deeply anti-feminist.)

But then, once I have produced a text, what am I to do with it? My own moral beliefs are irrelevant to an interpretation of the text; to take them into account would be to commit the intentional fallacy. But when I construct an author-function based solely on the fanfic, I find that his moral views are at places diametrically opposed to me; in "his" glorification of the will to power, "he" seems to be expressing the belief that it is acceptable to sacrifice freedom for liberty, that a betrayal of our principles is in some way justified when there are vampires at the gates. (But if vampires, then why not terrorists?) So, pursuant to the process of feminist criticism I described above, I speak out about the ways in which the texts perpetuate patriarchal modes of thought--the sort of feminist speaking out which I supppose I am doing now. But isn't there something vaguely hypocritical about denouncing the moral dynamics of a text which I have written? Am I hiding behind the intentional fallacy to ignore the fact that I am disseminating modes of thought which I find distasteful?

Does my commitment to my art trump even my feminist commitments? )

The best solution is pragmatic, I suppose. (Isn't it always?) A radical feminist like me can problematize anything. The question that needs to be asked isn't what would be the ideal text in the feminist utopia but what is empowering to these people at this time on the ground? (Turning to praxis is always a good idea when one has become bogged down by theory.) Empirical questions like these tend to bore me (I am much more the abstract theorist), but I share with much of fandom the conviction that fandom as a community of women writing is empowering to them (laugh of the Medusa, anyone?)--and perhaps the segment of fandom with which I am involved, in which women write about women is even more so. (In any case, I write for an audience which is more predominately queer, and thus ius more radically disempowered by our patriarchal society even compared to an audience of heterosexual women.)

I can't control who will read my fic (unless I flock it, as I have done in a couple of instances), but I can have a pretty good sense of the sociolinguistic parameters within which it will be interpreted by the community for which it is written, and I know none of you, flist, are going to decided that the president's actions are acceptable because Dawn treats herself as above the law when she sends Slayers to kill vampires. (Indeed, the very fact that I as a het male were am women as objects of desire in the way I do would be somewhat problematic were it not for the fact that I do it as a member of this community and for this audience.) But what if that weren't the case, and the interpretative lens which I knew would be brought to my fic might engender disseminating disempowering modes of thought?

Well, I suppose that is a moral dilemma for another day.
alixtii: Dawn Summers, w/ books and candles. Image from when Michelle hosted that ghost show. Text: "Dawn Summers / High Watcher. (Dawn)
Mark Liberman at [livejournal.com profile] languagelog has made a post discussing the use of the phrase "harm's way" in which he actually mentions the season 5 Angel episode. Also relating to linguistic issues, I've had a long discussion today [this part of the post was written a couple of days ago--ed.] with an international student who was visiting the appartment over our frustration with any and all attempts to parse sentences of the type
Who(m) was spoken to?
Yeah, I'm a geek.

[livejournal.com profile] ajhalluk has a post that was metafandommed on how literary characters aren't real people, and thus our moral obligations to respond to them aren't the same as they would be to real rapists, child molesters, etc. This links in to a flocked discussion [livejournal.com profile] cathexys has been hosting on ethical responsibilities in literature, especially in response to Holocaust depiction. It also connects to my flocked post in which I answer "Whom would I shag" with TMI and overthinkiness, the upshot being (for those I haven't friended) that treating fictional characters as real people (even just to question whether one would sleep with them) results in a lot of unforseen complications.

What I found most interesting about [livejournal.com profile] ajhalluk was the way in which her(?) post parallels the whole train of thought I've had recently over the concept of "monsters"--i.e. those characters who do evil in the service of good. "[H]eroes can get away with murder," she notes. "And frequently do." Jossverse canon is full of examples: BtVS Season 5 spoilers ) And I know that Battlestar Galactica isn't lacking in that category either; nor are Firefly and Serenity.

By writing about monsters--indeed by glorifying in their will to power--am I condoning their actions? Am I condoning that is acceptable to infringe on human freedoms in the name of security, in defiance of the one principle which I hold most dear? The answer to that strikes me as unequivocately no; none of these stories come with disclaimers saying "The behavior in this story is morally acceptable." They are fantasy and wish-fulfillment, not how I really want the world to be but how I sometimes like to pretend it is (or could be). But neither do they (nor should they) come with disclaimers saying "The views expressed by this fic are not necessarily those of the author." We should take responsibility for our creations.

Ethics and aesthetics interact in complex ways, a fact that was reinforced for me as I was doing my reasearch for my thesis. Our moral commitments determine how we approach a text; this is the entire problem (or pseudo-problem) of imaginative resistance. I literally cannot watch police procedurals, for they invariably contain scenes of police personnel cutting corners or not going to extremes to protect their suspects' civil liberties, and the invitation to imagine our world being like that provokes not only resistance in me but outright paranoia and hysterical fear. Monsters like Giles or Buffy are larger-than-life and thus safe; these creatures are far more urbane and thus in their way much more scary. (How do I know these things--which the texts seem to treat as perfectly fine--aren't being done on a regular basis? What could I possibly do to stop it, beyond renewing my ACLU registration?) Me being political )

As a critic and a writer, I am two minds of how my ethics should affect how I approach a text. My politics, metaphysics, and theology are all radically contingent upon my feminist ethics. It seems odd that aesthetics should be exempt, but grounding aesthetics in ethics just rubs me the wrong way in a way that grounding theology in ethics just doesn't--in analytic philosopher-speak, it contradicts my intuitions.

I guess the real problem is that when I am writing I become, in contradiction to everything I consciously believe, a Platonist or perhaps even a Moorean. I can feel aesthetic Good as if it existed outside of me; therefore it is free of all commitments, including moral ones. This is perhaps a necessary antinomy for the sake of artistic production; but once I have taken off my writer's hat and, as critic, approached what I have created, what is my responsibity to it?

* * *

I wanted to say more, but I graduate in a couple of days (note to self: return library books) and I have a dozen other things to do. [Thus the update window sitting open on my computer since Sunday morning--ed.] I actually have two ficathon stories due on the day I graduate, which shouldn't have been a problem since I've had this entire week off, but I just can't come up with a suitable plot for one of them. And the story is actually for one of y'all, and you deserve the best, flist.
alixtii: Mal and Kaylee, from Serenity the Movie. Text: "I Love My Captain." (iluvmycaptain)
Even with my Lenten restrictions on flist reading, I've managed to do catch up on a lot of people.I've found that doing less reading allows meto more writing--some on more thesis, and some meta.

I saw the Battlestar Galattica season finale, and my thoughts went right to my meta on monsters. Which is hardly surprising, because--as I note in that post--the category which I call "monstrous" is the same that [livejournal.com profile] jennyo calls "on the very outside edge of ambiguous." She places Laura Roslin and Rupert Giles in this category, and I added the Operative from Serenity. These are characters who knowingly do evil while willing good, because someone has to do the dirty work.

Spoilers for the BSG episode, and Buffy S5 )
alixtii: Dawn Summers, w/ books and candles. Image from when Michelle hosted that ghost show. Text: "Dawn Summers / High Watcher. (Dawn)
So I was watching the rerun of last night's Colbert Report, and I saw this segment which fit in with some of my recent thoughts: Colbert v. Colbert ) Now, I don't buy that argument--I tend to side rather with these students. But my point isn't to bring up my politics so much as my ethics, although the two can't really be separated. I'm not going to be talking about President Bush in this post. I'm going to be talking about Dawn Summers and Rupert Giles.

The point is that I don't think it's morally permissable to set aside one's principles because of extrenuating circumstances. Doing so is tempting, as Colbert ably demonstrates using his Superman metaphor. If the only way to stop the world from ending is doing something morally reprehensible--for example, taking a life--isn't that necessary? Commendable, even?

Capt. Kirk Logic )

The twist is, what if the Huns at the gates aren't Islamofascists, but vampires and demons?

I remember reading someone recently complaining (in a review of Serenity, I think) that Joss Whedon's characters are never held accountable for their actions. ThI think they might have missed the point (I like that about his characters, and I'll explain more in a bit), but they are right, of course. Buffy's the Slayer, and as such as works behind the scenes, never being held answerable to Sunnydale's clueless (or in the case of the Mayor, evil) authorities. (Although, sometimes she does hold herself answerable to them.)

As I pointed out to [livejournal.com profile] hermionesviolin in the comments to A Watcher's Work, Dawn and Giles, while they run the Watcher's Council, are accountable to no one but themselves. There are no checks and balances to restrain their power. And this makes them very, very dangerous, especially since they allow themselves the freedom to utilize that power. Sure, they angst about it--I've written a good number of ficlets on the subject--but they still do it.

In her post on moral ambiguity, [livejournal.com profile] jennyo called Giles' (and President Laura Roslin's from Battlestar Galactica) moral paradigm "on the very outside edge of ambiguous, in that he is basically on the side of good, but is entirely capable of being not morally conflicted about doing evil or wrong in the cause of good. Like, it's the lightest shade of morally ambiguous: being willing not to go to heaven for the cause."

And this is basically a description of the Operative in Serenity. He, like them, has no illusions that what he does is evil. He is a monster. So are they. To continue to quote [livejournal.com profile] jennyo (who is still referring to Giles and Roslin), he "has humanity's back" but has "done scary shit to have humanity's back." He has Serenity spoiler ), but the difference between Serenity Spoiler ) and what Giles does to Ben in "The Gift" is merely a difference in degree, not quality.

Now I've said before that Dawn Summers is my Mary Sue. Certainly I return to the character again and again. How do I manage to see myself in a character whose paradigm I find morally repugnant. Or to look at it the other way, why have I given this moral paradigm to a character in whom I see myself, since when we finish canon Dawn isn't quite like this (although it is a plausible development)?

The Allure of Evil )

I can see my Dawn and Giles ordering the illegal wiretaps that Bush ordered. I can also see them ordering the Serenity spoiler ). I can see them giving the order for (what I call) Project Pandora, to cut into River's brain and make her an assassin. The fact that they could do these things and still believe in a more perfect society, that they were doing what they were doing to protect humans, that is what makes them endlessly fascinating to me.

But I don't particularly want to see them outside of my (and Joss's, and your) fiction. Because that's where monsters belong, in bedtime stories.
alixtii: Player from <i>Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?</i> playing the game. (Default)
Quotes )

It's Bufferverse Day 2005. So. . . .

Why do I love the Buffyverse? Well, why do I? ) Buffy allows me to vicariously live out the adolescent fantasy without ever treating me like a child: it assumes that I'm culturally literate and can get a joke about Sartre or Arthur Miller, that I can follow a complex plotline drawn out over several years, that I'm interested in the depths of human emotion, and that I care about the characters as more than just fighters of evil. That I am prepared to face some of the darker sides of human nature. That I will notice the gender and racial politics at work within the show. That my desire for knowledge, my desire for power, and my sexual desire are all intertwined and that it is possible to engage them all at once.

Buffy is intelligent television.

The show isn't afraid to blur the line between hero and villain. Angel, Spike, Darla, Drusilla, Amy, Willow, Faith, Wesley, Giles, Anya, Lilah, Lindsey, Eve, Quentin, Roger, Illyria, and even Buffy herself challenge the clear and easy distinction between hero and villain and make it extremely clear that "normative" is not always the same as "good." In doing so, the show flirts with the fascination I and others feel for the villain, recognizing it as not essentially something belonging to the Other (the monstrous, the vampiric), but something which is essentially human. We empathize and identify with Faith and Willow as they go evil--and as we confront them on the screen, we confront ourselves.

Read more... )

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