Monday, November 28, 2011

Everything is Life or Death

In reading, I came across some pretty intriguing posts. Although the site was misleading as far as the essay, it had some good aspects in its own right. I found one of Daniel Erenberg's articles, entitled "Finally There is Clarity," particularly interesting. This post discussed love as it is portrayed in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: a matter of life and death. Which figuratively it is - or at least that's how it feels.

From the very first season we see this theme, especially in Xander's quest for Buffy's affections. When he finally asks her out and she turns him down, it is the end of the world for him. However, it is coincidentally also actually the end of the world. As Erenberg writes, "There was even a scripted scene (never filmed) in which Xander quietly walked around campus as the sky rained stones on him. A sign of the apocalypse. Just as Buffy turning him down, was a sign of a personal apocalypse for Xander Harris."

The life-and-death nature of love shows up again and again throughout the series. In season 2, Buffy loses her virginity to Angel and he turns evil, breaking her heart. Spike constantly falls prey to the enormity of emotion and pain love can elicit, becoming "love's bitch." Anya and Xander experience this as well, from their engagement on the eve of the apocalypse to Xander leaving Anya at the altar, causing her to become a vengeance demon once again.

But despite the literal apocalypse appearing in these situations, we viewers are always able to relate to the characters. Even Erenberg discusses how Buffy helped him through the experience of his girlfriend cheating on him. Even in the context of vampires, demons, and apocalypses, (as Riley once said, I find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse...) we can see ourselves in these characters, and in the Scooby Gang's end of the world we can see our own daily apocalypses.


  1. Much like how Buffy the Vampire Slayer has the theme of high school as hell, it wasn't surprising to see that it also contains this idea that love has a life-and-death nature. The show itself has a tendency to exaggerate emotions and fears into literal physical villains to fight against. Love itself is often seen as the most powerful emotion we know- it's irrational, sudden, and unpredictable. I think the audience are actually more aware of the hurt that the characters are feeling when these physical apocalypses are shown, as it shows the extreme extent of their emotions in a more tangible manner. Rather than assuming that Xander is hurting through the actor's expression, we can see the explosive power of the hurt he is feeling instead, literally having his world falling apart.

  2. This makes a lot of sense especially since the characters are young teenagers, at least in the beginning. Teenagers are known to dramatize things, especially when it comes to emotions. Buffy makes things that are figurative, like high school being hell, a reality so it's not surprising at all that it would do that with other aspects.

  3. Something I've always loved about Buffy is its ability to make all of these supernatural elements relatable to "normal" viewers. Paradoxically, it also puts things in perspective for the viewers and makes us question what is actually important in life. For example, if you're upset about your homework, imagine how upset you'd be if you were being pursued by a evil vampire. It goes both ways, which is something I love about Buffy.


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