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Buffy: Does it ever get easy?
Giles: You mean life?
Buffy: Yeah. Does it get easy?
Giles: What do you want me to say?
Buffy: Lie to me.

Giles: Yes, it's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.

The episode "Lie to Me" marks the transition between the more black-and-white world of moral clarity and the complication, depth, and moral murkiness that would give us something to chew on for the next...decade.

But did it go too far? In presenting sympathetic and/or alluring bad guys, and the often fruitless struggles of "good guys," did BtVS lose its moral bearings all together until the message was just...muck?


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 11th, 2008 11:43 pm (UTC)
I don't think the show went "too far" in portraying moral complexity, but that it attempted to do so in ways that were on occasion unfocused, simplistic, and poorly executed.

In particular, I don't think the problem is the "alluring bad guy" or even "fruitless struggles of being good" that lead things to fail. Many stories feature these elements and continue on course. It's almost a stock element of Noir fiction.

My personal peeve, was that the moral vision of the show was ultimately consumed by a creeping solipsism. That, over time we saw less and less of the community these characters live in, and were locked more and more into their living rooms and their heads.

And you really can't tell a story and do an coherent examination of morality while frequently neglecting to consider the universe within which this examination occurs.
Sep. 12th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
In re-watching BtVS, I notice anew the ever-present absurdity of the ignorance of the community. Parents conveniently forget their teen's supernatural misdeeds. Cops don't know about demons. People go about their lives as if walking in Sunnydale after dark wasn't an extreme sport.

They make it quite clear in Season 3 that the Mayor actively conspired to keep the demon presence in Sunnydale a secret to both the community and the police. But he was gone by the end of the season. And, having just rewatched Gingerbread, an active grass-roots organizing by the community disappears in a puff of smoke once the demon's spell wears off Joyce.

This is one of the absurdities of the Buffyverse you just have to accept: that demons are fought by rugged individuals, or small groups; social institutions don't know about them or when they know, don't seem to care, or if they care, don't organize efficiently to fight them.

It's Joss's bias.
Sep. 12th, 2008 01:52 am (UTC)
you just have to accept: that demons are fought by rugged individuals

But it's not just that. It's also that none of his heroes are community minded. After awhile, one wonders why they fight. Yes, you fight against monsters because that is what heroes do. But what they fight for?

Intentional or no, starting with a lush town and ending with a depopulated crater is powerfully symbolic.

I know it's Joss's bias. I think it hurts his overall efforts.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )