Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reading Buffy Synoptically: Musings on Buffy

In “Lie to Me” (2007) Buffy is self aware enough to recognise that she is “immature”. In the early years of the show Buffy’s mise-en-scene emphasises the simultaneous older than her years maturity and teenage immaturity of Buffy. As Joss Whedon has noted in his commentary on “The Harvest” (Commentary: “The Harvest”, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Complete Second season on DVD) the chest that Buffy opens before she goes to the Bronze to fight the Master’s forces emphasises and symbolizes the fact that Buffy is a teenager (a normal girl) with all that entails and the Vampire Slayer with all that entails at the same time. In the top portion of the chest are things that one would expect a teenager to have. But underneath this lies the things of a Slayer: holy water, stakes, and wafers. She is as Joss says (Commentary: “The Harvest”, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Complete Second season on DVD) a normal girl who has things lying beneath this exterior.

This dialectic between Buffy the teenager and Buffy the Slayer is also emphasised in other ways: Buffy’s room with its stuffed animals (including Mr. Gordo), her closet full of clothes, her photos of her Dorothy Hammel phase, her posters, and the furnishings of the room emphasise Buffy as teenager while the hidden weapons in her desk, weapons hidden in her chest, emphasise her Slayerness. As the series progressed Buffy’s room became less that of a teenager and more that of an adult reflecting Buffy’s growing maturity. Additionally, as we learn more and more about the darkness at the heart of Slayerness, her clothes became darker. This movement from teenager to adult can also be seen in other aspects of the show as well: the movement of the Scoobies into the daylight of public spaces like college and work in seasons five and six, for instance.

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