buffy at pylduck.com

(Spoilers inevitable in posts. Be warned.)

Sunday, March 17, 2002
Posted by shadowy duck.
[Shyaku] makes an interesting comment about Xander attempting to use a macho identity to cover a more essential shy identity. Seeing some of the reruns of the first season on FX, though, I think that Xander has always been a jerk. He's always had an overblown sense of his macho-ness, covering his failures as a "man" with his comic facade. So, I guess in some ways I would say that Xander used to act shy and stuff as a cover for his more innate jerkiness. I just don't like him. Nyah. ;)


Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Posted by shadowy duck.

I haven't written about the last couple of episodes because I've not been really inspired by them. In fact, I've not been very inspired by this whole season so far. But WOW! This week's episode, "Normal Life," really pulled together things, spun them, and shook things up. Finally we have the reassertion of Buffy's intense engagement with suffering and pain. (And lots of great analysis from Spike.)

I'm fascinated by mental illness as a trope in film/literature as well as mental illness as a medical discourse. I planned on writing my senior thesis in college on madness, but freaked out when I saw how much literature there was out there on madness in fiction (especially on madwomen). I'm thinking just about what I've read this semester -- things like Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" and Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw" -- stories that exist in this strange polarized space of madness/extreme clarity. Like the Buffy episode, these stories cast main characters in the role of heroine/crazy woman. And in the end, we're left with outright uncertainty about which standards of "reality" to believe.

I'm interested in how discourses of madness often rely on saying things, on performative utterances of truth, as the first step to mental health. In the episode, the doctors and others in the institution kept encouraging Buffy just to say that she realizes she is delusional. The simple act of stating a reality makes it real.

I am so so happy with this episode.

It is kind of gimmicky and twilight-zone-y. But it works for me. It would be very interesting if the show had gone into the world of the mental institution. What if Buffy became the story of a madwoman who believed herself to be the Slayer? I'm not sure if that would've been a particularly interesting move -- to have the past five-and-a-half seasons cast into a delusion. But I could see it working. Of course, the problem then is that the complex engagement of the supernatural as metaphors and rearticulations of social problems then becomes epiphenomena of a schizoid delusion. Still, that doesn't mean their force as analytical tools is any less incisive.

(Xander is stupid, by the way. I can't believe he ran away from Anya. What a wimp. As if being afraid that he'll hurt her is really an adequate excuse for leaving her at the altar. The best way to protect against hurting her is to be a good man, a good husband. Not to run away.)


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