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30 Days of Buffy Meme — Day 6

Day 1: Favorite Season
Day 2: Favorite Episode
Day 3: Favorite Song Used In An Episode
Day 4: Favorite Female Character
Day 5: Least Favorite Female Character
Day 6: Favorite Male Character

Day 7: Least Favorite Male Character
Day 8: Favorite Friendship
Day 9: Favorite Romance
Day 10: Least Favorite Season
Day 11: Least Favorite Romance
Day 12: Least Favorite Episode
Day 13: Favorite Potential Slayer
Day 14: Favorite Female Villain
Day 15: Favorite Male Villain
Day 16: Episode You Like That Everyone Else Hates
Day 17: Character You Relate To The Most
Day 18: Character Who Didn’t Get Enough Screen Time
Day 19: Character You Like That Everyone Else Hates
Day 20: Best Spike-centric Episode
Day 21: Best Willow-centric Episode
Day 22: Best Xander-centric Episode
Day 23: Two Characters You Wanted To Get Together That Never Did
Day 24: Hottest scene
Day 25: Favorite Buffyverse Saying
Day 26: Favorite Scooby Moment
Day 27: Cutest Moment
Day 28: Character You Love To Hate
Day 29: Episode You Hate That Everyone Else Loves
Day 30: What You Think Made Buffy So Great

Favorite Male Character:

Spike. This turned out to be a hard one, and not because it's hard to pick a favorite. It's just hard to come up with something to say that will encompass all of why he's a favorite without just echoing things that have been said better by a heckuva lot of people.

So many facets! He's loyal, funny, smart, inventive, observant, emotionally fluent, and interested in sex. He likes to dance. He gets along better with women than with men. He has a heaping truckload of "manly" defense mechanisms to keep other (usually male) people from seeing his perceived weakness. Like many other BtVs characters, he loves language and has an enormous amount of fun playing with it.

Most of those features fit Xander as well, however, so I don't feel I've really put my finger on what makes Spike unique.

Um, he fears very little, aside from bears. He's up for a challenge. He's pugnacious and stirs up trouble for fun. If he doesn't care about something, he really doesn't care about it. Conversely, if he cares, he cares a lot. He's got buckets of joie de un-vivre. He's gleeful, bless 'im.

Lest we forget, he's also a notorious vampire, a killer, a predator, and an unrepentant (until much later), violent criminal.

Okay. So here's something I've been musing on for a while and it's bound to come out wrong, but here goes: Spike works as a sort of metaphor for awful people, a window, if you will. Here in the USA, we have an increasing tendency to respond to horrible, terrible behavior with, "That's inhuman! What a monster!" But really, the scariest thing is that it is humans that are responsible for all those things we wish to call "inhuman". By demonizing the perpetrators, we give ourselves a convenient, but inaccurate, narrative that "we" are nothing like "them". But if you dig a little, you'll find that most of these "monsters" loved their mamas, or their dogs, or Bach, or they were really good at parcheesi, or something. It's not easy to accept that horrible people are, well, people. So much easier to write them off. Spike, started off as a terrifying, dangerous threat and then developed into a complex person, eventually becoming a hero vital to the good of humanity. His is a fun story, but also a tremendously deep, complicated, and thought-provoking one.

****

Went to see the Afro-Cuban All Stars perform at SF Jazz on the weekend. Once the gals in the band kicked off their heels, the party really got started!

Coming up: the Frameline LGBTQ Film Festival leading up to Gay Pride Weekend at the end of the month. There are five films I want to see this Saturday, many of them in conflicting time slots. Talk about first world problems...

This entry was originally posted at http://rebcake.dreamwidth.org/35380.html. Please comment here or there using OpenID.

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( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
kikimay
Jun. 20th, 2014 11:40 am (UTC)
Spike is just the best. He's still one of my all time favorite male characters, maybe THE favorite. He has so many faces and I love the fact that he's in touch with his feminine side while also being very masculine in some ways. Nice description of him. I reminded me why I love him so much.
rebcake
Jun. 20th, 2014 09:35 pm (UTC)
There's a lot going on with him. I don't t think a description can really cover it. I'm so glad that we have fic, because people keep coming up with great ways to bring out all his aspects. One of my favorites was rahirah in Necessary Evils pointing out the similarity of Spike to other mythic avatars:

Tara frowned. "Ghede? That's familiar... oh! I remember! We had that in my Cultural Anthropology course last semester. It's Haitian. He's one of the Rada loa, a pretty important one, I think. Guardian of the cemetery. He's also, um, associated with sex."

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Great, like I need sex and death tied up in my subconscious any more than they already are."

"I don't know much more than that about it. Voudoun's way out of my field. I always thought it was a weird combo in class," Tara mused. "On one hand he's this dangerous scary death guy you go to for advice, and on the other he's this chaotic trickster who likes to smoke and drink and make lewd jokes and have a good time. And he's a protector of children."

Buffy shrugged. "Doesn't sound all that weird to me."

After a while Tara said thoughtfully, "No, I guess it wouldn't seem weird, to you."


Heh. Somebody you'd rather have on your side, right?
kikimay
Jun. 20th, 2014 09:48 pm (UTC)
Oh I read this! (If I remember correctly I read it in the Italian translation years ago) And I thought it was a perfect analogy and I loved to read about Haitian folkore because I know very little about it. I pretty much see Spike as "the Other", in greek-roman mythology I guess he would be Dionysos. Basically teh sex god.
rebcake
Jun. 20th, 2014 09:59 pm (UTC)
Well, Dionysus with a protective, care-giving streak. Just when you think you've got him "defined", he slips out of the box.
kikimay
Jun. 20th, 2014 10:12 pm (UTC)
But - I hope I'm not bothering you with all these replies - there is another version of the Persephone's myth in which Dionysus goes into the underworld and bleeds for men to rescue Kore, because he loves the world too much to see it destroyed (Because without her there would be no Spring) Does it seem similar to a certain British guy? XD


(And now I'm totally picturing Spike naked. For reasons.)
rebcake
Jun. 20th, 2014 10:20 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry. Did you say something about mythology? I couldn't hear you over all the naked.
shapinglight
Jun. 20th, 2014 11:48 am (UTC)
Lovely description of him, and very good explanation of what makes him so fascinating.
rebcake
Jun. 20th, 2014 09:56 pm (UTC)
It's hard to get a full description together. I don't know if I gave enough weight to his trickster aspect, the "Loki-ness" of him. But there are about 100 other aspects as well. Sigh. It's could be a life's work, trying to get it right. Heh.
zanthinegirl
Jun. 20th, 2014 05:14 pm (UTC)
Okay. So here's something I've been musing on for a while and it's bound to come out wrong, but here goes: Spike works as a sort of metaphor for awful people, a window, if you will. Here in the USA, we have an increasing tendency to respond to horrible, terrible behavior with, "That's inhuman! What a monster!" But really, the scariest thing is that it is humans that are responsible for all those things we wish to call "inhuman". By demonizing the perpetrators, we give ourselves a convenient, but inaccurate, narrative that "we" are nothing like "them". But if you dig a little, you'll find that most of these "monsters" loved their mamas, or their dogs, or Bach, or they were really good at parcheesi, or something. It's not easy to accept that horrible people are, well, people. So much easier to write them off. Spike, started off as a terrifying, dangerous threat and then developed into a complex person, eventually becoming a hero vital to the good of humanity. His is a fun story, but also a tremendously deep, complicated, and thought-provoking one.

Very well said, and very timely observation.
rebcake
Jun. 20th, 2014 10:03 pm (UTC)
I just sort of feel like we need to find a way to deal with the fact that "evil doers" aren't actually worthless, evil people. Most of the time. There are out-and-out psychopaths, of course. But it's got to the point when somebody who cuts you off in traffic is tarred with the same brush as Ted Bundy. It's ridiculous.
eilowyn
Jun. 21st, 2014 12:36 am (UTC)
I've been going way off the reservation and randomly reading a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction (I KNOW RIGHT?), and the Malfoys may be evil death eaters - but they are devoted to each other as a family. No one, except Voldemort, is completely morally black. And Voldemort was really hot when he was a teenager, so that's got to count for something.
rebcake
Jun. 21st, 2014 12:53 am (UTC)
I think Spike is a heckuva lot more nuanced than He Who Must Not Be Named, who really is a life-long psychopath. He loved his snake, though. The Malfoys are sort of tragedies of privilege, which is interesting to me. Snape is another one whose perspective you can see, but he is such a good actor that it's hard to have much sympathy until far too late. Spike is a terrible actor. It's all right there on his face. He has precious few secrets from us.
elisi
Jun. 20th, 2014 07:13 pm (UTC)
You need to read Man, Archetype, Beloved.

Edited at 2014-06-20 07:13 pm (UTC)
rebcake
Jun. 20th, 2014 09:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's really spectacular! A couple of things stood out for me:

More human than I have ever taken time or pains to be, more animal than I have ever been willing to unleash.

and

It feels much bigger than [a characterization of a fictional person] to me. Like something deeply archetypal and profound got kicked out of the pantheon a long time ago (think Gnostic Gospels), and is finally being recovered

I concur most whole-heartedly.

Edited at 2014-06-20 11:29 pm (UTC)
eilowyn
Jun. 21st, 2014 12:32 am (UTC)
I think the different between Spike and Xander is that Spike never believes he's a good guy. . . or, dare I say it? A nice guy. Xander thinks he's good and nice. He thinks he doesn't do anything morally wrong, but Spike owns up to his moral wrongness and wears it as a badge. I love characters who are unabashedly not nice people (usually male characters, but I'm loving Sarah's moral ambiguity on Orphan Black), and I always find them more likable than the morally righteous Other Guy.
rebcake
Jun. 21st, 2014 01:31 am (UTC)
Moral ambiguity is one of my favorite things in a story setting.

I do think there are differences between Xander and Spike besides their morality. For me one of the key things is the way Spike is so committed. He throws himself into things completely. Xander is brave in battle, but also very fearful in his personal life, which tends to come out in inappropriate ways. I do think Xander is a fairly accurate portrayal of a very young, but generally good guy, who still has a lot to learn.
rbfvid
Jun. 21st, 2014 04:59 pm (UTC)
They both are not nice persons to have around in real life. But Spike's "not nice" traits are mostly from him being the vampire, and therefore could be dismissed as something not real. Xander, on the other hand, is just (sometimes) acting like a regular jerk, and that's more disturbing than any 'fictional' murders Spike had ever committed.
rebcake
Jun. 21st, 2014 07:03 pm (UTC)
Xander is definitely a more realistic character. I'm pretty sure we all know somebody like him. I do feel he showed some growth over the course of the show, but after Empty Places it's hard to have much sympathy for any of the Scoobies.

That said, I just rewatched the first two seasons, and Xander was really hard to take in places. But then he really comes through in others. I'm interested in the "hard to take" parts, because I'm wondering if "acceptable" behavior has really changed in the time since the show aired and that's why his "nice guy" act grates so much, or if it's because I'm seeing it from the viewpoint of the parent of a teen girl, now. ;-)
chasingdemons
Jun. 21st, 2014 12:40 am (UTC)
I'm happy you chose Spike is your favorite character. In some ways he's such an obvious pick, that one might have a tendency to look to a more subtle character. But there is no one like Spike, and that can't be denied. One of the things that draws me to him most (besides his sexy abs) is that he always picks himself up, dusts himself off, and tries again. No matter how badly conceived his plans may be, no matter how bad his luck, he doesn't stay down too long when things don't work. He simply keeps moving forward with his eyes on the prize. This quality in people in RL is a life changer. Spike has it and so I root for him. It also really makes me laugh. Also, he doesn't take himself too seriously, like some other vampire we know.
rebcake
Jun. 21st, 2014 01:08 am (UTC)
He is tenacious, when he feels like it. When he doesn't, it's usually pretty funny: "Sod it. Your friends are in the factory."

Spike is my clear favorite, even if I can appreciate aspects of the other guys. Giles is fabulous, all warm, tweedy, and fatherly, with a spine of absolute steel behind it all. But he betrays and deserts Buffy and comes back all stressed and kind of disrespectful, so I end up peeved with him. Oz in wonderfully spare and full of good intention and self doubt. He's just gone too soon. I also have a fondness for Jonathan, Andrew, and Principal Wood! I know Spike fans love to hate him, but I think he's a perfectly justified adversary for Spike, and while not the emotionally healthiest guy on the Hellmouth, I find him interesting.
rbfvid
Jun. 21st, 2014 05:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, you managed to find the right words for him) Spike is really the most interesting character Joss ever created.

"Spike’s arc on Buffy the Vampire Slayer was essentially introducing this cliché of a “super cool badass villain” and then trampling on the cliché over and over and over again until you see that beyond the guyliner, leather coat, violent tendencies, gritty scars and standard smouldering glares, all he was ever really was deep down was a insecure loser. Because everyone’s just a insecure loser deep down.
And I always thought that was really beautiful."

via drusillathekiller
rebcake
Jun. 21st, 2014 06:47 pm (UTC)
An insecure loser who keeps trying! Heh. That's a great insight, m'dear. Thanks for pointing me at it.
makd
Jun. 24th, 2014 12:32 am (UTC)
So true about spike.

And: Yay for the Afro Cuban all stars!
rebcake
Jun. 24th, 2014 03:47 am (UTC)
Both Spike and the Afro-Cuban All Stars know how to have a good time!
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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