Hollywood actress SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR’s hit show BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER has been blamed for 50,000 women abandoning traditional Western religion to study paganism.
According to the recent British study published in Women and Religion in the West, young women have taken an increased interest in practising witchcraft after Gellar’s hit U.S. TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer hit the mainstream.
The study’s author Dr. Kristin Aune says: “Because of its focus on female empowerment, young women are attracted by Wicca, popularised by the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In short, women are abandoning the church.”
The Church of England has declined to comment on the study.
The link is just the proof that I quoted verbatim. It wasn’t much of an article. I’ll have to see if I can get a hold of her work. I love Buffy Studies and how the characters on the show reflect cultural identity and ideas. I’ve wanted to write an article focused on Willow Rosenberg’s evolution from Jewish science nerd to Wiccan super goddess for years, actually. I was going to call it “Image of a Mage: the rise of Willow Rosenberg, the witch”.
I was going to mention Willow’s parents; her father was mentioned but never seen in the show and her mother (appeared once in Gingerbread, season 3) was too absorbed in her research to reach out and understand her own daughter’s interest in witchcraft:
Sheila: There’s a rumor going around, Mr. Giles.
Giles: (suddenly worried) R-rumor, about us?
Joyce shoots him a look of dismay. Giles gets the hint.
Giles: A-a-about what?
Sheila: About witches. (Willow and Buffy exchange a look) People calling themselves witches are responsible for this brutal crime.
Giles: Indeed? How strange.
Willow: (laughs nervously, trying to play it off) Yes! Strange! Witches.
Sheila: (goes into lecture mode) Well, actually, not that strange. I recently co-authored a paper about the rise of mysticism among adolescents, and I was shocked at the statistical…
Sheila and Buffy’s mother, Joyce, become part of a group designed to hunt down and destroy the witches in town that they think are the cause of two murders. When Sheila discovers her own daughter might be one of them:
Willow: Mom, I know what this looks like, and I can totally…
Sheila: (interrupts) Oh, you don’t have to explain, honey. This isn’t exactly a surprise. (turns over the picture)
Willow: (fidgets, confused) Why not?
Sheila: (shrugs) Oh, well, identification with mythical icons is perfectly typical of your age group. It’s a, a classic adolescent response to the pressures of incipient adulthood. (set the picture down)
Willow: Oh. Is that what it is?
Sheila: (picks up a bag of herbs) Of course, I wish you could’ve identified with something a little less icky, (shrugs) but developmentally speaking…
Willow: Mom, I’m not an age group. I’m me. Willow group.
Sheila: Oh, honey…
She puts down the bag and gets up to go over to her daughter.
Sheila: I understand. (sits next to her)
Willow: No, you don’t. (faces her) Mom, this may be hard for you to accept, but I can do stuff. Nothing bad or dangerous, but I can do spells.
Sheila: You think you can, and that’s what concerns me. The delusions.
Willow: Mom, how would you know what I can do? I mean, the last time we had a conversation over three minutes, it was about the patriarchal bias of the Mr. Rogers Show.
Of course, it turns out the victims of the apparent crime are really a demon in disguise who wants to stir up fear and persecution. Righteous mobs are his kind of fun. When the demon’s spell on Sunnydale is broken, everything goes back to normal and Sheila’s interest in her daughter’s life wanes once more.
Willow starts in the show as a geeky science nerd who is kind of shy and only has one friend, the equally lame Xander. Buffy’s arrival in town stirs everything up and the three social outcasts form a very strong bond. Willow’s spellcasting develops as a way to help her friends which helps her feel like she fits in.
I had a partial Catholic upbringing and read Starhawk’s Spiral Dance in university. I bought the bells and candles and incense but I felt just as silly following a spell as I ever did praying in my bed at night and quit doing it. I had no faith in either of them.
Without reading the study, I have no way of knowing how the author concluded a television character was to blame for girls leaving mass en masse. Why has the church lost its grip on the social upbringing of these young women? What do the girls want and why isn’t the church providing it? I’m not advocating that these girls need to return to the fold and be good Catholics. I applaud their desire to see the world the pagan way instead of limiting themselves to church approved thinking. The church has stifled paganism long enough, in this minion’s opinion, crushing many smart and decent men and women in the process. There are many paths one can walk in the world and if a lot of girls choose to walk as Wiccans, well…
“Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, An’ it harm none, do what ye will.”
I was just wondering – if BTVS did influence American women towards paganism, why is that a problem, and if so, then to who?
I’d be tempted to say that the base of the concern comes down to control. These days, laws are made that reflect cultural/societial trends that don’t lend themselves to traditional church-approved views. Church leaders would like to dictate every facet of life from conception to afterlife but there are many people in the world who disagree with them and their assumed influence. Churches are crippled by tradition and change, if it happens at all, takes generations. I expect these young women want change now, different choices now. More freedom of thought, more freedom over their bodies. More freedom to be whoever they can become. Not limited by a narrow, traditional view that fits people less and less the more and more they learn and grow. But, that’s just one minion’s opinion.
I need to find this study…