Constance September 20th, 2006
Considering the idea that genre fare is ‘merely’ entertainment, and therefore we who create it and consume it aren’t bothered with real world issues.
Yet, you know?Â it does seems that often genre looks at real world issues more successfully than some other forms do, sometimes, for us who are living with these issues, experiencing the conflicts and terrible troubles as they are developing and creating consequences in real time and our real lives.
Last night I watched the last episodes of Buffy’s last season, season 7.Â What happened is that I watched the last episodes back-to-back more than once.Â Why?
Partly because so much was going on, it’s hard to parse it all at one go, and I was trying to get a handle on it all, finally, and for once.
Partly because the events resonate deeply now, post Katrina.Â The scenes that were of Sunnydale’s population evacuating, without any official assistance or order, or seemingly any notice from anywhere else of what was going on, were particularly affecting, as were the scenes of the aftermath of the evacuation: Squatting in somebody’s home, who is defending it with his shotgun; the power going out, because those who kept the infrastructure functioning also had to leave.Â None of this had yet happened to a major American city when these episodes were shot.Â But all of it did happen, 2 years later (Season 7, ep 19, Empty Spaces, broadcast in April of 2003), and more too.Â At least no one forced the poor ofÂ Sunnydale to stay inside to die of flood, thirst, hunger, exposure, lack of medical facilities, as was done to so many trying to get out of New Orleans.Â
Sunnydale’sÂ evacuation rather mirrors Buffy’s situation.Â Â Her Champion, Spike, hasn’t returned from his mission. She is all alone, without support,Â as is Sunnydale, ignored by the national power structure. Buffy’s beenÂ expelled from herÂ Summers home because even herÂ sister DawnÂ concurred that she wasn’t trustworthy to lead the Potentials and the Scoobs against the 1st Enemy.
Chosing Clem be the one Buffy talks to out of the evacuees was a good choice toÂ dramatizeÂ Sunnydale’s population.Â ClemÂ is a type similar toÂ a significant portion ofÂ New Orleans’ population.Â He’sÂ a demon who isn’t all that good (a yen for eating kittens and all), but not ambitious or vicious enough to be all that bad either, pleasant enough company when no obligation or effort is involved.Â Sunnydale’s a good place to a be a slacker demon, like New Orleans wasÂ a haven for certain sorts of slackers, who alsoÂ were neither that good, nor that bad either — withÂ their preferred lifestyleÂ of not working so hard thatÂ it would interfere withÂ daily consumption of drugs, alcohol and orÂ foodÂ that were no better or worse for them and the community thanÂ Clem’s preference to have aÂ non-stress job andÂ consume kittens.
Like Sunnydale’s Hellmouth, New Orleans’Â historic legacy of slavery,Â shipping and corruptionÂ also attracted as it does now more than its fair share of the most vicious andÂ violentÂ types (while there is either no way or very little way for the decent people to live there nowÂ – no place to live, no schools, no hospitals, etc.).
I dunno about the finalÂ shot.Â Did you all feel that Buffy was free at last, and happy with the prospect?
After all, she hadÂ returned to hell from heaven, the last time she died.Â Â Because the Hellmouth had cratered didn’t meanthat heaven had been established on earth.Â Angel’s Season 5 makes that clear.
Do you think Buffy’s really free at last?Â And what does that mean for a Slayer in a world full of Slayers,Â ’free?’
Thank you for your patience withÂ greyishÂ thoughts on a greyish afternoon.