On Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Unseen Horrors & Shadowy Manipulations

By Kevin Andrew Murphy

On television, Buffy and her gang must contend with unseen horrors, unspeakable evils, and the dark and shadowy manipulations of secret organizations bent on reshaping the world in their own image. In reality, the writers, producers, and cast of the show contend with much the same.

The names are different, of course, but the objectives and methodologies are remarkably similar–as are the tools at their disposal, the main ones being censorship and pressure. Censorship to remove thoughts and images they find offensive, and pressure to incorporate ones they deem desirable. The degree of success in achieving these goals depends on the power of the entity.

Starting with some of the most powerful beings, in the Buffyverse, the Powers of Darkness are opposed by the mysterious Loa, the Spirit Guides, and the Powers That Be–benevolent entities that guard, protect and shepherd, but not to be trifled with lightly. In the real world, there are the various corporate sponsors, whose advertising dollars pay the bills of commercial television, keeping shows safe from the dreaded cancellation. Both rarely speak, but when they do, the pronouncements are dire.

As Joss Whedon remarked in an interview with Zap2it.com, “Double Meat Palace was the only thing we ever did to make advertisers pull out. They did not like us making fun of fast food.” Consequently, Buffy got a new job for season seven and the Double Meat Palace storyline was scrapped.

At the same time as the advertisers would have been making their displeasure known, there’s an exchange in the  …

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