On Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Lions, Gazelles, and Buffy

By Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

No matter what the gazelles may think, lions are good for gazelles, as naturalists have long observed: lions cull the herd by eliminating the weak, the slow, the stupid. Without lions, the genetic quality of gazelles would diminish and the increasing numbers would over-graze the veldt; resulting in starvation and a far more radical culling of the herd than lions achieve. Of course, the lions have a big advantage: gazelles aren’t carnivorous. If they were, their battles would be a lot more hazardous for the lions. In other words, the lions would be in the same situation Buffy is, a predator after a prey that can fight back on more than equal terms. Nevertheless, Buffy is good for vampires for precisely the same reason that lions are good for gazelles. The stupid, the crazy, the ravenous all fall to her stakes, and their numbers are kept in check, preserving the intelligent, the capable, the formidable. Just as among lions the lioness is the principal hunter, the female human is the most effective vampire slayer.

And just as the relationship of predator and prey is a very close one, so is Buffy’s with those vampires who are clever enough, sensitive enough, human enough to know that she is an opponent worthy of their steel, and appreciate her as such, because of their esoteric ecological ties. She also knows that they are opponents worthy of her steel, and that, like it or not, they are deeply dependent on one another. The few  …

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