Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Buffy Excursus: Community

One of the major themes in traditional vampire literature and story is the importance of the community of faith. It is not always highlighted in film adaptations and interpretations, but the novel Dracula accentuated the need for a group of people to band together to resist the evil threat.

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has always made a point to stick to this theme. Even when most see the core idea as one of feminism and inverting the damsel in distress trope; the thing that makes Buffy the most successful in the long line of slayers preceding her is the fact that she has a group of friends and family that help her in her quest. She does not stand alone against evil.

In season six we see once again but on a larger scale the danger that the forces of good face when community is broken. In particular the episode “Once More with Feeling” highlights the way such community is destroyed. All of the lack of trust, the doubts and the way characters are relying on others to do for them things they should be doing themselves is brought to light when the spell forces the characters to sing their thoughts. However, exposing such problems is not dealing with them. Instead of being transparent with each other, without prejudice, and dealing with the problems that have arisen; the group basically disbands and ceases to be the community they need to be.

Consider lyrics such as these sung at the end of the episode:

Where do we go from here?
Why is the path unclear
When we know home is near?
Understand we’ll go hand in hand
But we’ll walk alone in fear.
Where do we go from here?

This is very different from the tone at the beginning of the episode:

What can't we face if we're together?
What's in this place that we can't weather?
Apocalypse? We've all been there.
The same old trips. Why should we care?
What can't we do if we get in it?
We'll work it through if there's a minute.
We have to try. We'll pay the price.
It's do or die. (Buffy) Hey, I've died twice!
What can't we face if we're together?
What's in this place that we can't weather?
There's nothing we can't face...

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