This is a good one, this one. Someone searched for “Jesus Buffy” and wound up here. Nice. I’ve been waiting for a reason to bring that show up again. My goodness, what a great show that is. I’m glad Joss Whedon didn’t quit when the movie failed to live up to expectations and took a stab at revamping (har!) the storyline for television.
For those unfamiliar with the point of the show, Buffy Summers discovered she was something called a Vampire Slayer during the movie and was annoyed to learn that her duty to the world was to kill the undead rather than lead cheers and be cool and popular. After burning down the gym at her old school to defeat Paul Ruebens (still one of the silliest campy deaths ever), and her parents divorcing, Buffy and her mom move to Sunnydale, which is where the show begins. Buffy’s hoping for new start with the popular kids when, lo and behold, a body is found in the girls’ locker room. Buffy’s alarmed for all the right reasons (vampire) and watches her chance to be normal get sucked away, just like the poor guy’s blood was.
Whedon has said in interviews and commentaries that he wanted to turn the blonde bimbo victim genre on its head with Buffy, which he did pretty well. It winds up being a very smart show with a lot of surprising levels. On the surface it looks like any teen comedy-drama and many of the episodes deal with teen issues like popularity and fitting in and the pitfalls of relationships. True, they also throw a bunch of monsters into the mix for Buffy and her friends to defeat while they’re at it, but below all that runs a current of ethical/moral issues and touches on a lot of philosophical ideologies, more than most programs aimed at teens would try.
Religion, though, not so much. Yes, crucifixes are utilized as a weapon against these demons who rise from the dead, but not in any specifically Christian way. Like holy water, they’re just part of the arsenal, an agreed-upon recognition that vampires would be repulsed by the implied holiness of such a thing. Buffy doesn’t have to believe in God for them to be effective. I’d argue that the vampire wouldn’t have to have been Christian initially either but that the power of the cross is such an all encompassing idea that it’s capable of permeating all levels of rational and irrational thought, much in the same way that monkey cartoon raised hackles all over the place.
There’s more interesting stuff if you want to keep reading and I can tell already I’m going to wind up making this a two-parter. I found a list of Christian-aimed questions relating to the show that are work a look at but it’ll spoil plot points if anyone hasn’t watched the whole show yet, so keep that in mind.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a parable, a postmodern morality play in which Buffy is a Christ figure, her Scooby Gang is the church and the vampires and demons represent the variety of temptation and moral hazards we all encounter in life.” — The Door magazine, on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series
A gang can’t be a church. A congregation, sure, but a church is a building so really, the school where a lot of the show occurs would be the church environment in this scenario, specifically the library where all the major exposition happens. I’ll agree that there’s a morality going on in the show, and that comparisons of Christ and What would Buffy Do? are not unexpected. But the messages of ethics and morality that the show provides are all-encompassing ones that don’t require a specific religious view in order to validate them.
It’s worth mentioning that it’s not always the fault of the monsters when bad things happen in the show. A lot of sinister stuff goes on with the humans, too, and anyone can be a bastard when given the opportunity. It doesn’t take a magic spell to ruin a friendship or end a life.
1. In Season 1’s premiere episode, who gives Buffy a case containing a cross and chain?
Angel does. He’s a 200+ year old vampire by the time Buffy meets him, although she’s unaware of that at the time. We find out later that gypsies cursed him 90 or so years earlier after his vampire self brutally tortured and killed one of them. He called himself Angelus back then and wound up being one of the most villainous vamps ever, insanely ecstatic about inflicting torture and pain on his victims every way he could invent. Hence, the curse. To make him pay for the torment he wrought on this gypsy girl and her family, the gypsies gave him his soul (and therefore his conscience) back so he’d be forced to remember every horrific thing he’d ever done and feel the pain of it for the rest of his undead life. Suffice it to say, he broods a lot. But, while he’s hyper-aware of his history, he credits his meeting of Buffy as the reason to continue existing – not just because he wound up in love with her, but because he sees her strength and dedication and realizes he’s in a good position to help her keep Sunnydale safe.
2. Buffy’s Watcher, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), explains: “This world is older than any of you know . . . For untold eons, demons walked the earth, made it their home, their hell. In time, they lost their purchase on this reality, and the way was made for mortal animals. For man. What remains of the Old Ones are vestiges: certain magicks, certain creatures . . .” What biblical passage suggests Lucifer walked the earth before Adam and Eve were created?
Apparently the answer’s in Ezekiel and Revelations for that question but I’ve pointed out in a few posts the history of the idea of Lucifer and how that evolved. It’s all together likely that there never was a being, demon or otherwise, called Lucifer. It all comes down to interpretation and translation.
The Old Ones were, according to folks like Thomas R. Horn, the fathers of the Nephilim (the mothers being the daughters of men). I will agree with Giles, though. The world is older than any of these Creationists know. I never did buy into the Eden mythology (although this find in Turkey suggests an intriguing possibility). Considering that God only made Adam and Eve and they had two boys, where did the wives come from? If the garden existed, it wasn’t the only thing in the world that did, then, by logic. They’re cast out of the garden and then where did they go? Was there a village nearby or something, filled with people wondering what was so damned great about that gated community down the road aside from the fertilizer?
3. In the Season 1 finale, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) dies. The Master, an age-old vampire, tells Buffy: “You still don’t understand your part in all this, do you? You are not the hunter. You are the lamb.” Where does the Bible suggest the same image for Jesus Christ?
John 1:29, apparently. Of course, the Master turns out to be totally wrong here, because the prophesy that allows him to rise from his buried church prison is also what gives Buffy the chance to kill him. Buffy is a very unique vampire slayer because she insists on trying to be as normal as possible and rather than devote her entire life to her time-consuming duty, she insists on having friends and it’s this difference that ultimately saves her life. The Master leaves her for dead in a pool of water but Angel and Xander find her in time and Xander gives her mouth to mouth resuscitation, something the Master would never have known was possible.
4. Spike (James Marsters) overhears another vampire say: “When I kill her, it’ll be the greatest event since the Crucifixion. And I should know. I was there.” What is Spike’s reply?
Essentially, he says that if everyone who claimed they saw the crucifixion happen was actually there, the place would have been like Woodstock. “That was a weird gig. I fed off a flower person, and I spent the next six hours watching my hand move.”
Spike’s an interesting character. Over the course of the show, his character evolves quite a bit. When we first meet him, he’s only come to town looking for a fight but discovers it’s not easy to take down a slayer who doesn’t work alone. Buffy’s own mother clocks him a good one, actually. He winds up forging an alliance with Buffy late in season 2 in order to help save the world, and in season four he finds himself in a position where he needs Buffy’s help again. She reluctantly offers him sanctuary and as the rest of the seasons progress he’s given chances to rise above the typical/stereotypical vampire behaviours. Much of the time he fails utterly, but still he tries, even if the only reason he’s attempting to be a better person is out of the wasted hope that Buffy will appreciate it. At least he makes the effort.
5. Who played Jenny Calendar, Sunnydale High School’s computer science teacher?
Robia LaMorte. Jenny was a cyber wiccan and also happened to be a descendant of the gypsies who cursed Angel. After he loses his soul and gets all evil, they realize Jenny’s underlying purpose for being in town (to make sure Angel didn’t fuck anything up, curse wise) and lose faith in her because she wasn’t honest and up front with them in the first place. Just as Jenny discovered a means of returning Angel’s soul, Joss and company arranged for Angelus to kill her off. It’s been suggested (although I can’t recall where) that Joss chose that angle not just because it fit with the arc of season two but because they were getting sick of listening to her peddle her brand of Born Again Christianity.
I’ll answer the rest of the questions tomorrow.