Sunday, February 10, 2013

30 Days of Buffy and Feminism Day 2

Day 2: Favorite Season

Oops!  I mixed up the first two prompts--I was definitely supposed to do this one yesterday.  But oh well, the two of them tie together so it works fine.  So!  Here we go.

Season 3

Honorable mentions go to Season 5, Season 1 and Season 2.  I really love the high school seasons, guys.

First, the non-feminist reason for liking 3.  It has a great story arc, one of the best Big Bads, and introduces some of my favorite characters and actually gives them stuff to do (Faith!  Anya!).  Plus it has some great episodes, like Band Candy, Enemies, and The Prom.  This season is like chicken soup for me--when I'm sick or feeling down this is the automatic re-watch season for me.

Now, onto the feminist reasons.  I talked yesterday about the Madona/whore dichotomy as relates to Buffy and Faith.  That's a big huge theme throughout these episodes.  But today I want to talk about another aspect of this show's feminism: patriarchal figures and institutions.

We finally see the Watcher's Council in full force this season in a number of different ways.  In "Revelations" we see the first female watcher we are aware of and her subsequent evilness and downfall.  In "Helpless" we see one of the many ways in which the Council attempts to control Slayers, and even put their lives in danger.  And then Wesley shows up--another male Watcher that means to control the Slayer--and his actions as a surrogate of the Council causes Buffy to finally say she's had enough and break with them.

We also see the very obvious father-daughter relationship between Buffy and Giles this season.  "Helpless" is an especially relevant episode here.  When Buffy's father breaks tradition by not showing up to take her to the Icecapades for her birthday, she implies a desire for Giles to take her instead, revealing that she sees him as a father figure.  He later betrays this trust by revealing to her that he aided the Council in temporarily taking away her power to test her.  But, in the end of this episode he is fired by the Watchers Council.  It is indicative of Buffy's trust in him that she not only keeps her on as her Watcher after this, but also after she denounces the Council in "Graduation Day Part 1".

Another father-daughter relationship fostered within a patriarchal institution is the development of familiarity between Faith and the Mayor.  The Mayor here--a metaphor for oppressive government institutions throughout the whole season--does have a fondness for Faith and a trust that is very much mutual between them.  It is interesting--and ironic, perhaps--that the Madonna in the Buffy/Faith Madonna/Whore complex does end up standing up against her patriarchal institution while Faith--the whore--does continue to work faithfully (no pun intended) for the Mayor until she is put into a coma.
 Of course, Buffy gets a two-fer here.  She breaks with the Council over tradition and kills the Mayor in a span of a few days.  Score one for the powerful ladies!

The Watchers Council does show up again in Season 5 where Buffy shuts them out for good, but after being told by several different members of the Council (Wesley and Quentin Travers) that things have been "done this way for millennia" she does decide to no longer recognize their authority.  Guess what else has been doing the same thing for millennia?  The patriarchy!

All in all, I love this season because it gives us a few different dynamics to feminism and how it can screw people up.  I also love it because we get to see Giles listening to Cream and smoking cigarettes.  But that's neither here nor there. 

No comments:

Post a Comment