Archive | January, 2013

The Best Couples in Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV

21 Jan

I’m going to warn you right now that this list changes drastically depending on my mood, whether or not I’m wearing pants, and the amount of time I’ve spent staring at pictures of Harrison Ford online.

Yet not even a picture like this could make me say that Buffy and Riley were a good couple.

Now, if we’re going to talk about the sexiest couplings that sci-fi/fantasy has to offer, we’ll end up with a different list, which I will provide for you at a later time. This list is about compatible, romantic couples. And you should just know that romance, to me, is more about this

sad

and somewhat less about this

Not a lot less, but…sorry, what was I saying again?

So. The List. And speaking of David Tenant’s beautiful face…

5. Doctor Who The Doctor and Rose Tyler

The Doctor and Rose get put at the bottom of this list, and I think we can all agree on the reason.

This.

The reason I love Rose Tyler (and I do love Rose Tyler,) is not that she’s brave or the slightest bit clever or particularly witty or even amazingly attractive. I love Rose Tyler because the Doctor loves Rose Tyler. And that’s the only reason anyone loves Rose Tyler. Want proof? A spin-off was greenlit after “Doomsday” called Rose Tyler: Earth Defence starring Billie Piper. Here’s a screenshot of the pilot episode.

The project was cancelled because Russell T. Davies felt that it would cheapen Rose’s last appearance, but I think the real reason is that no one would care about Rose without the Doctor, and that show would flop anyway. But that leads me to why I like this couple at all.

Usually I’m against “shipping” a couple when only one of the characters is interesting, but actually in this case they kind of make each other better. He’s bitter and angry and genocidal and lonely and she turns him into a romantic. She’s a small-town girl wearing too much make-up and an entire year’s worth of peroxide, and he makes her a badass. The whole point of the Doctor seems to be that he must always be alone and apart from humanity. This romance blew that right out of the water. It showed us a side of the Doctor that we don’t get ever again, and it was both beautiful and heartbreaking to see him so invested in a single human being.

Rose: “I love you.” The Doctor: “I know.” No, wait. That’s a different movie. Harry Potter or something, I think.

This romance is about as close as you get to a happy ending with the Doctor. You get a lot of beautifully devastated expressions from David Tenant, Billie Piper cries unattractively a lot, and you learn that a character not saying the words “I love you” can be the best damned line in a show.

4. Firefly, Zoe and Wash

Zoe and Wash are the couple that everyone loves, but no one really knows why. By all accounts, the relationship doesn’t make sense. She’s a tough, military-minded ex-soldier who could be categorically defined as “terse.” Hoban “Wash” Washburne is precisely none of those things.

No one wearing a shirt like that will ever be described as “terse.”

Okay, so we don’t ever get a really good reason why these two people are so great for each other, but that’s part of the beauty. Instead of establishing a will-they-or-won’t-they drama based on their differences and probable misunderstandings, Whedon introduced them as a loving, married couple.  That is so amazingly unusual in television, it deserves special recognition. Most of the time television makes it seem like getting married to someone you actually like is the most statistically unlikely event in the history of the universe. Then, once you’re married, you cease to be an interesting character with an interesting relationship, possibly because all TV writers believe that marriage is horrible and that an honest portrayal would lead to divorce (which you can never have.)

Unfortunately.

Zoe and Wash are both great characters, and their relationship is in no way diluted because of their stable commitment to each other. They’re unusual, intriguing and complementary. Joss “I’m a Filthy Liar” Whedon even said that Zoe and Wash were the one couple he would never ever break up. They are the couple that makes you want to just see two characters being happy together, instead of the traditional whirlwind romance.

Although I imagine that Zoe is usually the big spoon.

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Is Buffy the Vampire Slayer a Feminist Text?

5 Jan
buffy

Compared to some things, YES.

The new bandwagon to jump on appears to be refuting Joss Whedon’s self-proclaimed feminism. A lot of very intelligent people have posited that Joss is not truly a feminist and they’ve had some good reasons and some bad ones. A few examples can be read here and here. I’m not going to respond to them point by point, but I am going to tackle the question myself.

Is Buffy the Vampire Slayer a feminist text?

I’m going to relieve you some tedious reading and say yes. Not unequivocally, but definitely yes. The main arguments against this conclusion basically come in three categories: the universe created is misogynistic, the female characters are not feminists, and the show treats certain subjects in an anti-feminist way. So let’s dive into these questions and see what we find.

Wait, what was I talking about again? Crap, feminism. Right.

1. The Buffy Universe is Misogynistic

Agreed. This universe is totally misogynistic. Vampires represent a brutal and violent form of sexuality, much of it tied up with rape or even pedophilia, since Spike says he prefers “veal” in the second season. The Watchers are primarily a bunch of bullying and manipulative old men, and they originated as a bunch of old men that forced an unwilling girl to merge with a demon essence. So Buffy’s very powers are the resulted of a fully-body, full-essence rape. Her powers themselves are forced upon her, even though she doesn’t want them.

So what about this could possibly considered feminist?

Surprisingly enough, it’s not just this.

Well, firstly, feminism does not mean that you create a story that does not involve patriarchy, chauvinism or sexual predators. That would be a world entirely unrelated to the American life that so many of us women grew up in. Instead, Whedon gives us a world that looks very much like ours. A swimmer tries to feel up Buffy in the parking lot in Season 3 and she defends herself, only to get in trouble by Principal Snyder, who always takes the athlete’s side. That’s life. That’s happening right now. Vampires are usually male and usually prey on beautiful girls. That’s a metaphor for sexual violence and coercion and it’s also happening in our world. What Joss Whedon did was take the victim of every typical horror film, and he allowed her to fight back. He equipped her with not only the physical ability to fight rapists and predators, but a strong personality.

And no acting capabilities whatsoever

Even though she’s a whiner, Buffy makes her own decisions, leads the group wherever she wants them, and quits the Council when she disagrees with them. Her anger, (typically ascribed as a male attribute in film) does not force her into foolish decisions that must be fixed. Her anger gives her power. The world Whedon created is dangerous for women, and he created a female character that could defend herself against that danger. Don’t blame the circumstances for being “unfeminist.” A truly, ideally feminist world is one we wouldn’t recognize in today’s society, and it would have little relevance on the ordeals that women go through every day.

2. The Characters Aren’t Feminists

You’ll notice I didn’t pose the question “Is Buffy a Feminist?” In many ways she is not. First of all, she fights against the attributes that make her strong and capable. She doesn’t want her powers and she doesn’t want responsibility. She wants to be a vapid cheerleader and wear girly clothes and get noticed by all the boys. Also, she’s involved in quite a few unhealthy relationships that tangle up sex and violence. Buffy’s not a feminist paragon.

Obviously.

But that doesn’t mean that the text isn’t. Continue reading