Now this episode—this episode isn’t very good for the men. And hey, I’m sorry, guys, but you kinda acted like jerks and so you deserve to be called out on your jerkish behavior.
I’m not talking about the frat guys, because well, those guys get a paragraph or two of their own in a bit.
I guess we can start with how Giles, Angel, and Xander treat Buffy during this episode.
Now admittedly, especially in the context of the show, Buffy can’t afford to be as frivolous and carefree as your run-of-the-mill stereotypical teenage girl. She has the weight of the world on her shoulders, and one misstep could fuck her and the world right the fuck up. I get that.
She’s still a teenage girl, with all its attendant hormone surges and desire for normality. Sure, she can’t blow off Slayerdom completely and have her entire life revolve around cute boys and dances, but dammit, she deserves some of her life to. Did we forget “all work and no play”? That shit leads to creepiness and mass murder. And also, this:
And no one wants crazy Nicholson eyes. I mean, really.
I get the responsibility thing, trust me, but there’s every indication that Buffy does, too! So why is Giles so… totalitarian about it?
And don’t even get me started on Angel!
…Don’t you give me that look, mister. You were infantilizing her, and you know it! And what’s worse, it’s not the first (and also regrettably not the last) time you do it! I don’t give a fuck how many centennials you’ve had, you’re being a—well, I’ll let George Takei say it:
Buffy’s a kid, sure, but she’s not a stupid kid. And she does have the right to make mistakes. I mean, how else is she supposed to learn? I’m also pretty sure she knows how she feels, and while still a bit far from adulthood, she has a pretty good sense of how to run her life.
…. I hope you’re paying attention, Xander, ‘cause that also goes for you. Your jealousy and macho competitiveness is starting to get a little annoying.
Anyway, what I like about this episode is that even though Buffy does make a mistake by acting rashly, the men aren’t painted as being “right,” either. They were all mistaken, and they all learned a lesson. Well… Hopefully. Not very convinced Xander pays that much attention to lessons.
A quick note on the frat guys: a lot of noise has been made about Buffy being a feminist show, and it has its pros and cons there, but this episode is—I think—on the pro side. Sure, the cutting of the phallic monster (of which there are a metric fuckton on this show. Okay, “shitton” might be more accurate) in half is maybe a little too far on the symbolism side (not too mention a just plain mistaken portrayal of feminism, but we’ll leave those rants for another day), but a very specific *ahem!* point is made.
I’ve found that fraternities in general suffer from the same problem that religion does: there’s moderate and there’s extreme, but the extreme gets, by a fucking lot, the most media attention. It’s slightly unfair, but perhaps it’s indicative that something is broken with the system?
Anyway, the fraternity seen here is both ridiculous and scary because a lot of the things the show highlights about it are uncomfortably close to the truth. The hazing of pledges (by forcing them to wear women’s clothing, because that’s so gay, dude! *sigh*); the viewing of women as conquests; the emphasis on power and hierarchies… It’s all kind of chilling when you take into account the real-world implications. Which is why I believe—when the show makes an effort to destroy these images and portray them as wrong—that the show means well, and its missteps in the whole feminism thing aren’t malicious or calculated, but actual missteps. Easily corrected with a little education and honest dialogue. So… good job, Buffy! Keep fighting the good fight.
Okay, disturbing soapbox rant/sidenote over.
Here’s pouty Buffy:
- Wow, that girl can just run through glass like that?
- Willow, on Angel’s being a vampire: “That doesn’t make him a bad person. Necessarily.”
- “And if there was a god, don’t you think he’d keep it that way?” Cordelia’s in top form in this one. See title.
- Buffy doesn’t really have much luck with older guys, does she? Or History majors, as we’ll see.
- Haha, Buffy wore black anyway. How did Cordy not punish her for that?
- Notice how every problem Xander’s had until now has to deal with not being masculine…
- “When you kiss me, I wanna die.” Now, do you mean “die” in the Shakespearean sense?