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[personal profile] valancy_jane
A bit back, I read R's entry about her feelings about Superman, her identification with him that ran on a deep level. It was perhaps not too surprising that she linked to an article discussing the disservice the latest Superman movie does to the character, as it links him with violence as a solution for the first time--basically the antithesis of Superman--and shortly thereafter discussed her renewed respect for and commitment to nonviolence. It made me think about my own heroes. Unsurprisingly, I feel very proprietary about Buffy.

It's a little funny that my chosen character is, at least on the surface, pretty much Superman's opposite. Sure, they're both committed to saving the world, and there's a certain amount of superstrength in common and a longing for a normal life and human connection. But it pretty much stops there. Buffy's not just accepting of violence, she's committed to it. She works in a team, not alone; she worked under the tutelage of a teacher for much of her Slayer career; and she has a habit of sleeping with the enemy. Even in the mythos of TV and comics, Superman is forever rebooting, forever young; Buffy has steadily aged, and death is always around the corner.

But almost from the first time I saw her, she's been my girl. Not because it's my formative fan experience, though it is, or because of the actress (SMG frequently drives me crazy), or even because of the writing--after all, I don't even think Buffy is Whedon's strongest series. It's because Buffy, the character, is an incredibly rare creature in fiction.

Buffy is everything Superman isn't: average. She's smarter than she seems at first glance, but not by too much. She's not the most compassionate, either; in fact, Buffy's selfishness often bites her in the end. She's not even the best leader; she makes many bad decisions (partly abetted by some strange writing decisions). Buffy is the could've-been-popular girl that wasn't, and pretty, but not beautiful, with a hit-and-miss home life that's not ideal but not so bad you can really applaud her for overcoming it. Even her superpower life is unexceptional: she's strong, but never strong enough that it really helps her in a fight against the Big Bads. Sometimes it's hard to see why she's a hero at all; certainly there was never any indication she was chosen because she was tougher, braver, etc.

Which is the point. The real reason Buffy is a hero is because she shows up.

I love that. For all that she's supposedly the chosen one, she could pretty much walk away. She doesn't. Buffy shoulders the responsibility, takes the blame, and fights the battle. Not because she's the best person around to do it, not because she's the smartest, and not even because she's the bravest, but because she sees the need, and she shows up.

I know Buffy. She's pretty average--but she tries anyway. And that is great.
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July 2015

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