On Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy vs. The Old-Fashioned "Hero"

By David Brin

What does it take to be a shining new star in Hollywood these days?

Well, if you're female, it helps to be beautiful. An ability to act? Kind of useful. Success may also come with knowing the right people. That much has always been true. But nowadays another essential trait has been added to the list of starlet requirements. You gotta be able to kick ass.

Think about it. Can you name any hot new Hollywood sensations who can’t do a leaping decapitation kick? From La Femme Nikita and Charlie’s Angels to Witchblade and Xena, the trend has been amazingly consistent. And leading the charge has been the winsome but mighty Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Oh we still like our heroines to be gorgeous. We’re still terribly sexist. But you have to admit, it’s a more respectful sexism. That’s how progress comes, in stages.

Nowhere is this progress better typified than in Buffy, with its wonderfully charming mix of the silly and the serious, the assertive and the sweet. Old-fashioned values of love and romance are retained while making it clear that women are no longer willing to be pushed around.

And it goes much deeper than that. For Buffy hearkens to the greatest modern movement, though one we hardly ever comment on—the momentous movement to change the way people view authority. A movement that pervades our culture, calling into question the whole issue of conformity and obedience. Unlike any other culture, ours has taken to saying—prove it!

In Buffy, an expert or authority  …

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