Quit Saying That Buffy Is Sexist

I can’t believe I have to fucking write this. I can’t believe that there are enough edgy feminazi radicals out there online claiming that Buffy The Vampire Slayer is antifeminist garbage and that Joss Whedon is a misogynistic poser, that I have to write this article. But here I am, publishing this so all those man-hating dipshits will maybe shut the fuck up. (I highly doubt it.)

First of all, I would like to say that Whedon never wrote Buffy with the intention of it being some big pro-woman crusade. But to call the show sexist is straight up ridiculous, and it pisses me off.

Now, to those of you who claim that Buffy is a “pseudo-feminist” show because the female protagonist takes on a traditionally male role as a warrior, well…you’re neither wrong nor right. Yes, a strong female character doesn’t mean a girl who goes around punching everyone. But Buffy’s role as the Slayer isn’t her defining characteristic; she is a living, breathing, three dimensional character. To reduce Buffy to just an action hero is selling her character, and the point of the show, very short.

So what makes a strong character?

Depth. And Buffy is a very deep character. She has fears and dreams and beliefs. She changes over time and undergoes real development. The entire theme is about Buffy and her growth, not killing monsters. To only see that side of the show ignoring all the deeper meaning of it. But most importantly, despite all her supernatural power, she is human, capable of weakness and flaws.

This is how you write a strong character.

Now, what about Buffy’s romantic relationships?

First off, I would just like to state for the record, once and for all:

FALLING IN LOVE WITH A MAN DOES NOT INHERENTLY MEAN A WOMAN IS WEAK, CODEPENDENT, OR SUBMISSIVE.

Glad I got that off my chest.

Buffy and Angel: did Buffy let her relationship with Angel take over her life for a while? Yes. That was the whole point of season 2 (“you can’t afford to be a slave to your passions”). But this was made obvious (unless, again, you’re ignoring the deeper meaning), and Buffy eventually realized she would have to sacrifice that relationship to get on with her life and her work, and this point is illustrated when she literally kills Angel to save the world. When Angel comes back, their relationship stays on a much more healthy level, until Buffy and Angel realize they can’t keep up the pretense forever, and part ways. See, that is not an example of a woman being weak and letting her love for a man take her over. It’s a story about a teenager and their first love affair, and maturing past it.

Buffy and Riley (I’m skipping over Scott Hope and Parker): there is a reason everyone hates Riley – he’s a whiner baby, who’s so insecure in his own masculinity, that he craves Buffy being dependent on him. And she simply isn’t. So he throws a tantrum and leaves her. Does Xander blame Buffy for everything that went wrong in that relationship? Yes. But, again, to those who are simply watching the show at the surface level and ignoring the deeper meaning, instead of really thinking for themselves, don’t realize that Xander was meant to be considered wrong. Anything Xander says about any of Buffy’s relationships should always be taken with a grain of salt. People who don’t realize that are mindless sheeple, blinding accepting what the narrative tells them to believe. Of course the breakup isn’t Buffy’s fault – it’s Riley’s. Buffy is the strong one, the independent one, and Riley couldn’t handle that. How exactly is that weakness on Buffy’s part?

Buffy and Spike: this relationship was OBVIOUSLY portrayed as unhealthy (at least in season 6), and anyone who doesn’t get that is clearly an idiot. Buffy is in a place of depression and self-loathing, and is using her physical relationship with Spike as a substitute for truly being happy. That’s the point. But when Buffy regains her strength again, she is no longer dependent on Spike – she’s able to stand on her own two feet.

Now let’s go over the role of the Slayer – it’s about power. One girl in all the world who was given the power to stop the forces of evil by a group of men. Yes, Buffy’s power comes from men. And to boot, there’s a patriarchal council of “Watchers” that facilitates the Slayer in her role. That sounds misogynistic on the surface, but look at what happens in the show. In “Helpless”, an episode all about gender and power dynamics, Buffy realizes the corruption of the Watchers’ Council, and in the “Graduation” two-parter, Buffy rejects the Council’s meddling. In season 7’s “Lies My Parents Told Me”, Buffy literally shuts the door on Giles’s guidance after she realizes she has outgrown him, claiming that he’s “taught her everything she needs to know”. And in the finale, Buffy literally takes back the power of the Slayer for herself from those men who created the First Slayer all those years ago and shares it with the rest of the Slayer line, creating strong women (both physically and spiritually) all over the world. Women taking power back from men – in what universe is that message antifeminist?

And I’ve only talked about Buffy herself in this article – I haven’t even touched Willow, Anya, Cordelia, Dawn, Tara, or Faith. Buffy is unquestionably a show that is dominated by strong female characters.

So for the love of God, quit saying that Buffy The Vampire Slayer is sexist and that Joss Whedon is the Antichrist. ~TRL

6 Pairings That Romanticize Abuse

Abuse

Every time, I swear to God, every time I fall in love with a new TV show, some asshole comes along, sweeps up the main character, and brings down the entire show, causing me to stop watching in disgust. I’m not kidding, this has happened three times this year alone.

Abusive relationships being romanticized is one of the things that I absolutely hate with a burning passion. But gone are the days where the hero dudes go around smacking their girlfriends, because if that happened, everyone would be up in arms. No, TV and movies have found sneaky ways to paint abuse as “true love” and get away with it scot free. But luckily for you, my little raspberries, I’m here to expose their malpractices with the light of truth!

For this article, I’ve avoided obviously abusive pairings, like Joker/Harley Quinn and Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham, or pairings that have been beat to death by the mainstream like Bella/Edward (seen above) and Anastasia Steele/Christian Grey. I’m choosing to focus on those pairings who are the darlings of their fandoms, who can obviously do no wrong. Oh, but they can, my ducklings! They can. I’m about to rock your world.

**Warning: mild spoilers ahead for various media, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and BBC Sherlock.**

1. The Phantom and Christine Daaé, The Phantom Of The Opera

Because every girl’s fantasy is to be stalked by a murderer in the shadows and be forced into marrying him or have to watch her childhood best friend be strangled to death. I don’t give a shit how many roses he leaves in her dressing room – that’s f**ked up.

Not to mention, Christine is 18. Eighteen! She’s barely legal as it is. She claims that the “Angel of Music” (the Phantom) has been tutoring her and watching over her since she first came to the opera house. She’s been living there since she was eight years old. And thanks to Madame Giry’s flashback, we know that Erik is only a few years younger than Madame Giry – so he’s 40, at least. This is a fully grown adult who’s been stalking a child and gaslighting her until she’s old enough to bang. That’s disgusting.

But, you know. Some free music lessons and a candlelit boat ride through a swamp make everything okay.

Gaslighting: a practice in which the abuser gains the trust of the victim and uses that trust to manipulate them into doing things against their will, all while maintaining the pretense of someone who has the victim’s best interest at heart.

2. Rey and Kylo Ren (Reylo), Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens

It honestly shocked me that this was even a popular pairing – or a pairing at all. Not as popular as Kylux (Kylo Ren and Armitage Hux), but it’s up there.

There’s not much to go on here, as there’s really only a couple of scenes between them, but what is there, is pretty frightening. I’m going to put aside the fact that Kylo straight up murdered Rey’s friend and father figure. I’ll even waive all the physical abuse in the lightsaber battles because, hey, this is Star Wars, and it isn’t exactly Star Wars without lightsaber battles.

But there is the creepy torture scene (torture isn’t a very good premise for a romantic relationship, now is it?) where Kylo is trying to get information out of Rey and threatens her with a line about how he can force her to tell him what he wants to know, and J.J. Abrams himself admits that this is supposed to be a “rape” scene. Getting inside a person’s head and violating their thoughts is mind rape. Plus there’s the disgusted, fearful look Rey makes as Kylo reaches toward her face that tells us all that Rey is in distress. Rey is trapped in the room, tied down, and can’t escape this situation, where she’s under the threat of physical violence and having her mind raped by Kylo. And that is abuse.

3. Kara Danvers and Mon-El (Karamel), Supergirl

This is what I was talking about earlier when I said TV shows often get ruined by some asshole (Mon-El) swooping in and becoming the protagonist’s “true love”. I’ve stopped watching Supergirl because my once beloved show about a strong, kind lady hero has been hijacked by this entitled jar of mayonnaise.

Upon crashing down in National City, Mon-El has done nothing by lie to Kara (not telling her that he’s the prince of Daxam), insult Kara and everything she stands for (“You fly around, rescuing people, like you’re just pure of heart, but that is crap. Because you love that attention. You love people loving you. You are not selfless.”), and go against Kara’s wishes (“You have ignored what I need from moment one today”), and generally just be a piece of shit (“I never said I wanted to save the world.” “Oh my God. You are so selfish!”). When she doesn’t return his affections, he whines and guilts her into loving him. And somehow – he ends up with her! What kind of message is that sending young girls?

Also, telling someone you allegedly love that they’re your “Kryptonite” (weakness) is NOT romantic. Love is supposed to make you stronger. If your romantic partner makes you “weak”, that’s a bad sign. Believe me, I know.

4. John Watson and Mary Morstan, Sherlock

I’ve been a little harsh on men in this list. But women can be abusers too, and this is a prime example.

Thanks to poor writing from misogynistic, self-satisfied dipshits, Mary Morstan’s characterization has been all over the place. But two things are for sure: Mary is a psychopath and a pathological liar. It eventually was revealed that Mary wasn’t as sugary sweet as she initially tasted. She was actually a killer for hire before meeting John, which she kept from him for almost an entire year, even after they were married. And the lengths she goes to keep that secret from him are outrageous. Namely, attempting to murder John’s best friend – the very same friend who had been missing for two years, whom John had been grieving over, which Mary had to know would devastate John at losing Sherlock all over again. But does she have any regards for his feelings? No. She would rather kill her husband’s dearest friend then have to come clean.

John does eventually find out, and naturally, is a little pissed off by it. So much so that he leaves her. When John finally does agree to speak to Mary again, she immediately guilt trips him – for being rightfully angry about Mary lying to him and trying to murder Sherlock. But for some reason, John takes her back and all is forgiven and forgotten.

(By the way, she never actually says that she’s sorry for shooting Sherlock in the chest. Not until she herself is dying, but honestly, series 4 is such out-of-character, bizarre, melodramatic, sloppily written horseshit that I don’t take any of it seriously. But that’s an essay for another day.)

And beyond all that…she’s just not a nice person. She makes fun of everyone, treating them all like they’re so beneath her. At one point she implies that John is so stupid, a dog is superior to him in intelligence. She’s manipulative, critical, and conniving. And yet, even though there’s little to no affection shown between John and Mary, she’s supposedly the great love of his life. His saving grace. His angel with a sniper rifle. *noise of disgust* Whatever.

5. Emma Swan and Captain Hook, Once Upon A Time

God, where do I BEGIN with these two?

Captain Hook completely ruined Once Upon A Time. He’s been sucking the soul out of Emma Swan for four seasons, and now she’s pathetic, codependent, and completely unrecognizable from the amazing, badass female protagonist that rolled into Storybrooke in a beat up Volkswagen seven years ago.

Hook started off, appropriately, as a villain. He gets into a sword fight with Emma right off the bat and makes lewd, rapey comments towards her. Emma was sensibly repulsed.

Then in season three, Hook decides he’s going to become the guy everyone loves – especially Emma. “I will win your heart,” he growls in her face. Again, another line that’s supposed to sound romantic, but is actually really gross.

Eventually, Emma was hooked (get it?), and her character development was sacrificed for makeout scenes with this guyliner wearing piece of shit. Like Mon-El and Mary, he lies to her constantly, doesn’t respect her wishes, manipulates her, and verbally abuses her when his world isn’t going perfectly ducky. In season 5, Emma saved Hook’s life by using dark magic, turning him into a Dark One (long story). She erased his and everyone else’s memory, but he does inevitably find out, and boy, does he drop that sweet boyfriend act fast. He hits Emma right in the emotional chink in her armor – by saying that all she’ll ever be is an orphan. He knows Emma’s trigger and uses it against her in the most brutal fashion possible. But are there ever any repercussions? Nope. Because Hook is the love of Emma’s life, and he can do no wrong!

Luckily, Jennifer Morrison, who plays Emma Swan on OUAT, has announced her retirement from the show after the end of season six, and this godawful romance can die a festering death. Let’s just pray Colin O’Donoghue (Hook) gets fired and the show is left to be run by the only two likable characters left, Regina and Henry Mills.

And number six…

6. Severus Snape and Lily Evans, Harry Potter

I get it, Internet. You pity him. He never got the girl of his dreams. It’s the age old love story: boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy calls girl a racial slur – wait, what?!

There was no fucking excuse for Snape to EVER call Lily a Mudblood. James was bullying him, Lily stepped in to defend Snape, Snape got his sensitive little male ego bruised and had been hanging out with a bunch of wizard white supremacists, and called Lily the worst word possible. She was his best and only friend, and he called her that. So no, I don’t feel bad for Snape at all. Especially since he carried his butthurtedness against her and James past their deaths and onto their orphaned child who had endured domestic abuse for the last ten years of his life. Snape gets no sympathy from me.

Okay. Rant over. Hopefully next post will be something more cheery. Thanks for reading. ~TRL

Why The Star Trek Reboots Annoy Me

Image result for new star trek

Don’t get me wrong, the 21st century Star Trek movies have some good things going for them. I love Simon Pegg as Scotty, and Karl Urban as Bones is just so on point (seriously, if they’d given him blue contacts, I would’ve sworn it was DeForest Kelley).

But the problem for me is that James Kirk and Uhura are completely wrong.

I’ve always loved Chris Pine, and Zoe Saldana is a kickass actress. But they don’t much convey everything I love about Shatner’s Kirk and Nichols’s Uhura. Pine!Kirk is not actually Kirk. He’s the Kirk stereotype.

Everyone gets Kirk wrong. People always see Kirk as this machismo, arrogant, gun-slinger womanizer, but that’s selling his character really short. James Tiberius Kirk is so kind and caring, and actually pretty brilliant. He loves classic literature and can recite Shakespeare and poetry by heart. His crew adores him because he shows them respect and is a good captain. And yes, fine, he is a lady-killer. But it’s not like Kirk’s just lookin’ to get laid. He’s a romantic, and he really does care about the women he woos. Or, alternatively, he uses his sex appeal against villainous ladies to disarm and defeat them. If this were a woman charming men like this, we would call her a femme fatale. It’s the same thing for Kirk. I kinda dig it. It’s resourceful, and subversive.

But truly, Kirk respects women. In the episode “Charlie X”, Kirk tries to explain to a young man why one shouldn’t objectify women (and go around slapping their asses). There’s a scene in “Tomorrow is Yesterday”, where a fighter pilot from 1960s Earth gets accidentally beamed onto the Enterprise. As Kirk is showing him around the ship, a female crew member passes by. The pilot says to Kirk, awed, “A woman?” Kirk gently corrects him: “A crewman.” Gene Roddenberry wanted to paint a future where people of all types are equal, so it wouldn’t exactly do for the main hero to be a misogynist, would it? I’ll grant you, it’s not perfect feminism, but it was the ’60s, after all.

And unfortunately, the reboots portray Kirk as the Han Solo type that he is exactly not. (This is a Tumblr post that perfectly illustrates my point.)

And Uhura. Darling sweet Uhura. I think it was the writers’ misguided attempt at feminism to have Zoe Saldana play Uhura as tough, emotionally distant, and alpha female, but honestly, Uhura from the original series was gentle and serene. She sang pretty songs for her crewmates on her off-duty hours. And she was still totally awesome. I think it’s great that Uhura plays a more active role in the reboots instead of just sitting at the comm station relaying transmissions, but filmmakers need to learn that writing strong female characters doesn’t necessarily mean making them more like men. Not every feminist icon has to be Buffy. Saldana!Uhura is basically just a not-green version of Gamora from Guardians Of The Galaxy.

Plus…why the fuck is Uhura with Spock when she and Scotty are already together in the original series?

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LOOK AT THEM! THEY ARE ADORABLE AS HELL! I AM SO ANGRY ABOUT THIS!!!!!!!

Also, everyone knows Spock and Jim belong together. They are literally soulmates. “This simple feeling” doesn’t mean friendship, sports fans. Their love is so powerful, it literally created the concept of shipping at a time when shipping wasn’t even a thing. It’s 2017 and Spock hasn’t been allowed to kiss Jim Kirk onscreen yet and both I and William Shatner think this is a disgrace. See, this is the kind of bullshit that happens when you put a man like Jar Jar Abrams in charge. He doesn’t even LIKE Star Trek; he said it himself!!! *raging*

Uhura being with Spock was the most out-of-left-field romance I’ve ever seen in a movie. There’s literally no development. I think they have like, one conversation before macking in the turbolift. All we know about their relationship is that he was a professor at Starfleet Academy and she was his star pupil. Then all of a sudden…they’re in love? Because…heteronormativity, I guess?

A LOT of Uhura’s motivation for Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) stemmed from her romantic involvement with Spock. This is the exact opposite of writing a strong female character. When 95% of her actions revolve around a man, especially a romantic attachment, that’s not good. That’s just enforcing the idea that a woman is only an object in a man’s life, and not an actual person. (To be fair, Star Trek Beyond does wayyyyyy better in this respect. Thank you, Simon Pegg.)

You wanna show an interracial couple? PLEASE, GOD, DO IT. But for the love of Surak, respect the goddamn canon. Like I said, Scotty and Uhura were already together, why didn’t you just do that? To block me from shipping Spirk? Too bad, motherfucker, how bout I do anyway?

If the reboots weren’t reboots, if they were totally original, I wouldn’t have that much problem with them. But they’re based on content that I’ve recently come to know and love, and it annoys me.

And one more thing, why they got Benedict Cumberbatch’s lily white ass playin’ Khan when Ricardo Montalbán was from Mexico? Helloooooo? ~TRL

Buffy Best To Worst – Season 2

**Spoilers for season 2 of Buffy if you haven’t watched it.**

#19: “Go Fish”: ugh. It’s so bad. It’s probably the worst episode of Buffy – or anything – ever (except for maybe “Where The Wild Things Are”). I mean…fish rape????? Uuuuuuuugh. For such a good season, it’s such a turd. It’s totally skippable, if y0u’re not OCD about seeing every episode.

#18: “Killed By Death”: this episode is just unnecessarily gross. Der Kindestod is even more horrifying than certain grinning, suit wearing floaty monsters from season 4. And the child acting is a little too convincing. Plus, Buffy’s fear of hospitals just seems to have been made up for the sake of the plot (although, if you’re reading ahead, say, in season 6, it makes a little more sense). It’s pretty mediocre; it only stands out because of the horrifying monster of the week. The two shining moments are Cordelia, as usual, hitting the nail on the head about Buffy “needing a monster to fight so she doesn’t feel so helpless” (Cordelia is so understatedly brilliant), because tact is just not saying true stuff, and a defenseless Xander standing up to Angelus to defend Buffy. Yes, it was another faux-white knight moment for the Xan-Man, but remember, this was more than just Xander’s racism/jealousy at play here. Angelus had just killed Jenny Calendar in the previous episode. No doubt the rest of the gang was still mourning her and feeling a bit bloodthirsty. I get so pissed off with Xander sometimes, especially in season 3, but I have to remind myself, going back over the high school seasons, that Xander grows as a character and won’t always be that awful, mean high school boy.

#17: “Some Assembly Required”: this episode and the next one are the episodes I consider straight up filler. It’s an interesting idea, obviously a play on the Frankenstein monster and his bride, but it was just such a cheesy episode. It would have belonged in season 1 better, I think.

#16: “The Dark Age”: this one is just like SAR above; an interesting premise, poor execution. It is nice to get some insight into Giles’ life as “Ripper”, but this episode just didn’t do it for me. Probably a matter of taste.

#15: “Ted”: now we’re getting into the episodes that are bad but in a funny way. Let me put it out there right now: Joyce’s new boyfriend, old Jack Tripper…is a robot. There. That’s the twist. And if you’re older than seven, you probably saw it coming from a mile away. However, it does touch on a topic that will be revisited in all seriousness in season 3: what if a Slayer, a supernaturally enhanced superhuman, killed a normal human being? What would be the repercussions? Buffy, being a moral individual, immediately feels regret for what she’s done and confesses to the police. Now, granted, Buffy probably didn’t intend to murder anyone, she just wanted to rough Ted up a bit. And to be fair, he was a grown man getting physical with a sixteen year old girl. If Buffy wasn’t the Slayer, she might not be able to defend herself. But Buffy, having the advantage (Ted being a robot aside for the moment), doesn’t have the right to manhandle a normal person like she did. Luckily, Ted wasn’t really dead – or human – and Buffy gets a pass. This time.

#14: “Bad Eggs”: if the plot of this episode seems familiar, it’s because it’s basically a fusion of Alien and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. I like this episode. It’s amusing, and a little bit suspenseful. And the Gorch brothers are fun idiot villains. By the way, if the running theme of sex for this season wasn’t clear before, it should be fairly blatant in this episode. Buffy misses Sex Ed and the lecture on the consequences of teen sex, for one, and the monsters of the week take the form of eggs, the symbol of human fertility, and the big mama is basically a giant vagina with teeth that swallows a man whole. Meanwhile, Buffy and Angel are getting cozier and cozier. They make out against a headstone reading “In Loving Memory” that the camera lingers on. Yikes.

#13: “Reptile Boy”: this episode is fluffy and light and just a bit of fun. Cordy and Buff invade a college frat party, Xander get dressed up in drag, and Buffy kills a giant snake monster. Again, the sex theme is heavy here. Buffy and Cordy getting drugged and chained up in the basement for the Makita demon to eat by the frat boys is an obvious parable about date rape. Not to mention that the Makita (named after a brand of tool, aptly) is a giant penis that Buffy, er…circumcises. But rape undertones aside, it’s a fairly fluff episode. Also, it goes to show that whenever Buffy acts like Cordelia (representative of her past “normal” life before Slayerdom – metaphorically speaking, like a child), bad things happen.

#12: “When She Was Bad”: after watching Passion of The Nerd’s review of this episode and then reading Mark Field’s in-depth guide, Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Myth, Metaphor, and Morality, I understood the point of the episode I’d missed the first time through I watched. Buffy returns from a summer away from Sunnydale and is inexplicably acting like a bitch to her friends. She’d been killed by the Master in the last episode of the first season, and had gone through trauma she needs to confront. But remember, Buffy’s self-sacrifice is symbolic of her committing to her destiny: Slayerdom. Growing up. Xander and Willow are still in their “kid” phase and Buffy sees them, and Angel (because remember, Angel, being a vampire, can never “grow up”), as not understanding what she’s going through, which is why she tries to push them away. Meanwhile, Giles (her mind) is what Buffy sees as having pushed her into her destiny before she was ready to accept it. And the one who forces Buffy to face her issues is none other than Cordelia, her mirror, the symbol of her old life. So now I get the point. This episode still isn’t as resonant with me (even though I’m a 20 year old college student), but I ranked it higher on the list because I feel like me not getting it is my bad, not the writers.

#11: “Inca Mummy Girl”: Oz! Hooray! IMG, like “Reptile Boy”, is another fluff piece which I enjoy. I gotta say, Xander gets some of the best centric episodes, as you’ll see when you get to my number five item. It’s fun, it’s a little heart wrenching, and Buffy saves the day in the end. Nuff said.

#10: “Passion”: I’m surprised Passion ended up so low on my list. I feel like it should be higher up because it’s so important, but this is due to my own preferences, so whatever. Anyway, so it’s just after Valentine’s Day (when Angelus is notorious for wreaking especially sadistic havoc), and Angelus decides to toy with Buffy and her friends. The whole drawing people as they’re sleeping thing is super creepy, but I think what officially wigged me out was Angelus’s assault on Willow’s fish. I’d like to mention: I like fun villains. And Angelus is fun. He enjoys being evil; he gets off on it. And in the end, he kills Jenny Calendar – doesn’t even drink her, just heartlessly snaps her neck – and arranges her in Giles’s bed as the final offense. I feel like I should have been sadder about Jenny, but the fact is, she was an underdeveloped character. I didn’t care when Spike roasted the Annoying One, and I didn’t really care about Jenny. She was cool, but she was little more than a plot device. I only mourned her because Giles did. The significance of her death only makes Angel a corporeal killer in the eyes of the viewer. There will be no coming back from this. By the end of the episode, Buffy declares that she thinks she’s ready to do what she has to do.

#9: “What’s My Line”, Part 1 and 2: these episodes, once again, explore the idea of Buffy’s identity as the Slayer, a topic we will revisit over and over (buckle in). WML contains a lot of golden moments: Willow and Oz finally meeting, Xander and Cordy making out in Buffy’s basement, Buffy kissing Angel in vamp face (which Darla said she would never do); I even kind of liked the scene with Dru torturing Angel. Not that I want Angel to suffer, obviously, but you think about it from Dru’s perspective: this is the man who killed her entire family and tortured her until she became a creature of pure evil like himself, and now he’s good and fighting against her and Spike. Of course she’s pissed. And then, of course: “I om Kendrah. Te Vampeer Sleeyir.” (Okay, I’m sorry, but that accent is so fake. I mean…”cheek fie-eet”!) It brings up an interesting idea: Kendra is here now, and is obviously more dedicated to the cause than Buffy, so why couldn’t she take over and be the Slayer and let Buffy live a normal life? Well, it’s like Kendra says just before she leaves: “You act like Slayin’s a job. It’s not – it’s yah life.” And it’s true. Buffy can’t escape her destiny, no matter what. Growing up isn’t optional. The only thing we can do is accept it or we become objects in the universe. Accepting unchangeable facts of life isn’t weakness. It’s what we do to deal with those facts is what makes us truly strong. There’s two really great quotes about choice in this season that you should pay attention to: Buffy’s speech in “Lie To Me”: “You have a choice. You don’t have a good choice, but you have a choice“; and a line from the demon Whistler’s line that I’m posting at the end of the post under “Becoming”, Parts 1 and 2.

#8: “School Hard”: this is a FUN episode, in which we get the introduction of Spike and Druscilla. The whole episode is just brilliant. It’s good pacing, action packed, and obviously an homage to the movie Die Hard. I can’t pick what I like more: Spike’s swagger, his and Dru’s creepy yet tender affection, Angel pretending to be Angelus and offering up Xander to Spike as a snack, Buffy and Spike’s “will we need weapons” scene, Joyce finally standing up for Buffy…but I think my favorite part was Spike throwing a caged Annoying One into the sunlight. I actually cheered at that part.

#7: “Lie To Me”: this is such an important episode in the whole series. Like I mentioned above, it sort of sets one of the mission statements for the show: “You have a choice. You don’t have a good choice but you have a choice.” Buffy’s friend Ford is an important avatar for Angel and his character arc later in the season, but the words Buffy tells him will come back and resonate in a pivotal moment for her. Plus, it’s a Spike and Drusilla heavy episode, which are always fun. Okay, so the vampire wannabe cult is a little bit lame, but for me, it’s a enjoyable episode over all. I crack up every time at the scene where Angel is dissing the groupies, then one dressed exactly like him walks past. And Chanterelle, the blonde girl from the wannabe gang, will be a sort of important character later on, in the first episode of Buffy season 3, “Anne”, and later on Angel: The Series.

#6: “Phases”: I love Oz-centric episodes, and they’re few and far between. Oz is such an intriguing character. He’s the most relaxed of the Scoobies, but inside him he’s got this raging monster. Some people think this one falls flat after the emotional circus that was the “Surprise”/”Innocence” two-parter, but it’s one of the ones I look forward to personally. Kane the werewolf hunter is pretty lame with his stock character sexism, but otherwise this is a great episode. And the last scene between Willow and Oz is so adorable.

#5: “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”: like I said with IMG, Xander has the best one-offs (with the exception of “Teacher’s Pet”). This is definitely one of them (it’s a close contest between this and “The Zeppo” in season 3 to be totally honest). I always love the love spell trope (as long as no one gets used against their will and the spell caster learns their lesson, of course). Amy from “Witch” is back, and Cordy continues to reveal her hidden depths. The only complaint I have is that, according to Giles, Angelus is his most sadistic and destructive on Valentine’s Day, but Angelus doesn’t actually really…do anything? Yeah, he tries to kill Xander, which would have been really cruel to Buffy, but he originally went to the Summers’ house with the intention to kill Buffy. So what’s so special about that, exactly? It’s not the great act of pure evil I expected from Angelus. One would think some torture would be involved first, like the stalking he does in “Passion”. I think they were scared about making our pal Angel too evil, only giving him a few sparse moments like when he snapped Jenny’s neck, or crushed Buffy’s heart in “Innocence”, or tortured Giles just for fun. Angelus is supposed to be all big and bad, and I would have liked to have seen more of that.

#4: “Halloween”: this is one of the most iconic Buffy episodes, and for good reason – it’s awesome. It’s on most people’s lists for “favorite episodes”, mine included. It’s just pure fun. Soldier!Xander, ingenue!Buffy, ghost!Willow, Oz making another cameo, and of course, Cordelia in her cat suit. I don’t have much to write about this one, but it’s just really good.

#3: “I Only Have Eyes For You”: since this is a list being made according to my personal preference, and I’m a sappy romantic at heart, IOHEfY naturally ranks high on the list, and in my opinion is one of the best one-offs of the whole series. It’s one that I’d gladly go back and watch just for the hell of it. It probably doesn’t hurt that it’s bookended by the two clunkers of the season, “Go Fish” and “Killed By Death”. The metaphor for the episode, the ghost lovers being mirrors for Buffy and Angel, can be a little in your face, but not in a bad way. It’s totally logical, and you don’t really understand the poetry of it until the culminating scene taking place in the school with the possessed Buffy and Angel. The only complaint I have really is the parameters of James’s supernatural powers. Telekinesis and possession are par for the course for ghosts and poltergeists, but where did James get the power to summon the bees? Or transmogrify the students’ lunches into snakes? In this sense, it seems like James has whatever superpower the writer gives him so that it’s convenient for the story. But I’m willing to overlook some silliness or plot holes if the episode is overall good, and this episode overall is very good.

#2: “Surprise”/”Innocence”: now we’re finally getting the meat of the season. The arc of season 2 is Buffy sleeping with Angel, Angel losing his soul, and Buffy being forced to essentially take down the man she loves. Now, I don’t think Joss is trying to send any negative messages about having sex, or even having underage sex (because technically Buffy is only 17, and Angel is an immortal 20-something). I think he was trying to make commentary about losing yourself in your passions and losing focus on what is truly important. Take the arguably two most iconic teen romance stories, Romeo and Juliet, and Twilight. In both stories, the teenage lovers completely lose themselves in each other and their relationship. Being in love is fine, but when being in love with someone is your only character trait (*cough, cough* Molly Hooper *cough*), you as an individual disappear. Instead of taking agency and trying to resolve the conflict between their families, Romeo and Juliet are so wrapped up in their tragic love for each other, that it ultimately leads to their self-brought demise. William Shakespeare says it in the very beginning of the play: “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes/A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;/Whose misadventured piteous overthrows/Do with their death bury their parents’ strife.” The whole point of R+J is that teenage love is hormone-fuelled idiocy. And similarly, Buffy loses herself in her passion for Angel. The back half of the season is about Buffy having to rebuild herself now that she no longer has her boyfriend. This isn’t to say that Buffy is weak when she’s with Angel – a woman loving a man isn’t inherently weak. But she neglects her responsibilities (“Bad Eggs”) because she is too absorbed by him. Season 3 is more about Buffy finding herself again, but everything post “Innocence” gives her the building blocks for that reclamation, culminating in her ultimate sacrifice in “Becoming, Part 2”.

And the episodes are both so well done, “Innocence” more than “Surprise”.  The scene where Buffy finally finds Angel(us) again after sleeping with him feels like a gut punch, the way Angelus slyly uses every tool at his disposal to utterly destroy Buffy. Angelus is my favorite Big Bad of the entire Buffy pantheon because he’s so diabolical and all the time while wearing the mask of our beloved Angel. It’s the third greatest landmark of the whole series, in my opinion, apart from the end of season 5 and the next item on the list…

#1: “Becoming”, Parts 1 and 2: season 2 contains two emotional wallomps (three if you cared about Jenny Calendar), and this is the one that totally breaks me every time. I’m of course talking about Buffy being forced to murder her true love. Having to kill Angelus would already been traumatic for her, but having to kill Angel is just so much more brutal. So much more in fact, that she runs away from Sunnydale, since she’s been thrown out by her mother, kicked out of school, and it seems to her that her friends are rooting for her to murder Angel. Admittedly, I don’t much care about the vampires’ evil plan, but as always, the greatness lies in the characters: Angel’s backstory, Angelus torturing Giles, Spike and Buffy’s reluctant collaboration, Willow’s creepy sudden possession by magic, Buffy “coming out” to Joyce as the Slayer and her monologue about how she’d prefer a normal life but that’s simply not in the cards, Xander’s Lie, and of course the heartbreaking scene of Buffy having to kill a newly-resouled Angel. Also, one of the most adorable and unusual friendships in all of Buffy, Spike and Joyce.

There are two things that always stand out for me in this two parter – the part during Buffy and Angelus’s epic duel where Angelus seemingly has Buffy defeated, with his sword to her face.

Angelus: No weapon. No friends. No hope. Take all that away, what’s left? *pauses, then makes to stab Buffy*

Buffy: *calmly grabs the sword and looks Angelus in the eye* …me. *butts Angelus in the face with the pommel of the sword*

(God, I just want to stand up and cheer at that scene.)

And then, Whistler’s voiceover, which I mentioned above:

Whistler: Here’s the thing: there’s moments in your life that make you, that set the course of who you’re gonna be. Sometimes they’re little, subtle moments. Sometimes they’re not. Bottom line is, even if you see ’em comin’, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So, what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.

Feminism in Media (Ghostbusters Edition)

Once again I’ve gotten into an argument over the new Ghostbusters film coming out, this time with my mother. She doesn’t understand why it’s such a big deal to me that there’s a movie with four semi-diverse women as the heroes. When I pointed out to her [note here that I love 1984’s Ghostbusters; it’s one of my favorite movies of all time] the sexist flaws of the original (the date rape implications about Pete and Dana and the thorazine, yeesh), and some other classic movies besides, we broke out into a full fledged fight.

See, my mother, like most of the Baby Boomers and Generation X don’t get why we, the millennials, fight so hard to change our society. They don’t see the systemic sexism/racism/exclusion of minorities in mainstream media because they’ve been conditioned by it for so long, and they just don’t care. My mother doesn’t see the flaw in only having only two semi-large female roles in a major motion picture, especially when their characterizations boil down to “generic love interest/damsel in distress” (sorry, Sigourney) and “generic, monotone, vaguely Jewish, dowdy secretary” (which is stupid because Annie Potts is beautiful; she could have gone ‘busting instead of sending out that loser Louis Tully). I don’t think the makers of the original film were trying to be malicious towards women, but it’s 2016. The time for reform in media over the representation of women has come.

The world has enough Snow Whites, Bella Swans, and Anastasia Steeles. It needs more Princess Leias, Ripleys, Buffy Summerses, or hell, even Sarahs from Labyrinth. Strong, independent women. I don’t see why women have been simplified to just objects in the media. We have hands and minds and voices – we should be allowed to be shown using them! Women did not come from a man’s ribs: men came from women’s wombs. I’m so glad I live in an age where people are just beginning to see that.

*sips from a wine glass filled with the male tears over the Ghostbusters remake*

New Ghostbusters Sucks???

Hey, guys, happy June! It’s almost summer, and that means it’s almost time for the summer blockbuster of 2016, Ghostbusters! (The remake.)

I’ve been excited about this movie since the first trailer came out. In fact, I’ve been excited about this movie since I was born. But apparently, not everyone shares my zeal for the franchise reboot.

This is the Dark Age of the Remake, where Hollywood is tapped out of fresh ideas and is instead recycling concepts from the vast well of culture from our childhood (how dare you suggest a Labyrinth reboot on the coattails of David Bowie’s death! No one can ever play the Goblin King except Ziggy, damn it!). So it was inevitable that a new GB was going to be made. And who better to lead the endeavor than some of today’s comedy royalty? So you have a remake of a well beloved movie that been asked for since the ’90s, and starring some of the biggest names in entertainment. Formula for a box office hit, right?

And yet, the trailer is one of the worst rated videos on YouTube in history. Why all the hate, Internet? This is what you nerds wanted, right? I mean, what’s different about this movie than the 1984 version?…oh. Yeah. Girls.

Oh, don’t gimme that look! Ask yourself, honestly, would anyone be getting their hackles up if four boys were the stars of this movie? The fake nerd boys are just pissed that “their” franchise has been “stolen” by women, calling it a “studio cash grab” and a “gimmick” and saying that the makers are just profiting from “Tumblr SJW girls”.

No one complained when Robocop, Terminator, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Spiderman got shitty and/or pointless remakes or sequels. But when the long-awaited Force Awakens came out with Rey as the hero, the neckbeards were all shouting “Mary Sue” and whining because none of the new protagonists were white males. When Steve Rogers (Captain America) was rumored to be in a relationship with Bucky Barnes or possibly turn over his shield to Sam Wilson, the nerd boys were up in arms, yelping about “tradition” and “changing characters”, but when the hideously anti-Semitic “Hydra Cap” story line was introduced, not a word was said. Guys lobbied tirelessly for a Deadpool movie, but then whined when Ryan Reynolds stated that his portrayal of Deadpool would be pansexual-Deadpool is canonically pan in the comics. And when I brought up the baseless, sexist critism of the new Ghostbusters in the comment section on YouTube, I was called a c**t and a bitch because of my opinions. And if that doesn’t prove systemic prejudice exists in nerd culture, I don’t know what does.

Ladies and gentleman who are not woman-hating pigs, I urge you to go see this movie. If not to support the movie, than just for the pure enjoyment of it. It’s freaking Ghostbusters, for the love of God! It’s going to be great! Okay. Rant over. ~TRL