Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Buffy the Vampire Slayer... Redux?

My name is KC, and I recorded a skype-cast on Buffy the Vampire Slayer right after watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And I am an Anomaly.

Okay, so there has been a little rumor flying about the interwebs over the last year and it has finally been confirmed:

There would indeed be a rebooted Buffy the Vampire Slayer film. And that Joss Whedon, the man who created the blonde, shoes-lovin' chosen one, would neither direct, write, or produce the feature.

Joss himself wrote a blurb about his feelings toward the project for E! Online, and was very mature (and sad) about it. But it was the fans who got the most publicity as they wrote about their rage on their Twitter accounts, blogs, and Facebook statuses. Even I am guilty for writing about my negative feelings about a Buffy film without Joss Whedon. For hell hath no fury like a fan scorned.

It is most likely due to the fans' responses that the Warner Bros. public relations department released a statement that they had approached Joss to be involved with the film, but he declined to "pursue other projects" and thus they turned to newly minted writer Whit Anderson to write the film. There is a nice reaction to the statement here at the MTV blog.

Now, I am no Angela. I have yet to achieve the status of Buffy fan that she has achieved. I'm not going to lie when I say that I have a bit of bias towards the project already because I love the show and the characters that were established over the course of seven seasons of television programming. Plus, I can't help but feel that the combination of what I consider the "reboot fad" and "vampire craze" is the coal to this film's train engine. But after the vampire dust settled about the news of the reboot film, here's what I have to say. Do I think it's a good idea to re-do Buffy without Whedon? Not really. But then again, some of my favorite episodes are not just written by Joss--remember the wonderful Jane Espenson and "Tabula Rasa" or "Earshot?" So it is possible that someone else can handle the material. My problem is re-doing Buffy, period. Reimagining the universe, reimagining the language that's layered and silly simultaneously, and more importantly, possibly reshaping the character herself.

The character of Buffy is inspired by two sources: X-Men's Kitty Pryde, who dealt with teen angst and superpowers, and the hot blonde girl who always died at the beginning of every horror movie. She was created to fight against the stereotype of the horror genre in which the blonde cheerleader--or many of the female characters in horror films--could not do anything to save herself. Actually, it's a trope that still being used today in films and TV, with the exception of the single female character who has a grip on almost everything, including a weapon. In the original Buffy movie (which I tried to watch once and nearly died from bad quality), no one knew how to handle this topic. So they turned it into a comedy in which Buffy cartwheeled and backflipped everywhere she needed to be during action sequences. Not really a successful attempt, in my opinion.

And then you look at female heroines today. Sure they can handle themselves, but there still seems to be a separation between heroine and bimbo. The smart, strong heroines are almost always extremely serious, armed, and brunette. The bimbos are a combination of comic relief, curvy, and blonde. There is not much gray--or, for the sake of a bad joke, there's not much of a dirty blonde area in there. So will Buffy return to her bimbo with a stake ways? Will she totally serious in what could turn into a straight action movie to attract male audiences? Or worse... will she turn brunette? The thought makes me shudder.

Then there are the outside forces within the original plot. Will the vampires remain demons or will they be Twilight-ified? Who would they have as the Big Bad who plots against Buffy? Will they force a love interest in there? And then, most importantly, what about her friends? Her Watcher? What about how they portray her family life? There was so much care and importance placed upon the relationships that Buffy had with others, even in the 1990's movie that hurt my eyes. I'll miss Xander, Willow and Giles, all of whom were the key characters to the Buffy-verse and the beating of the show and comic book's heart. It makes me scared to think that their existence will be muted briefly during the press junket for the film.

Now let me turn to the subject of the public relations aspect. I'm sure that there are reasons outside of money that studio execs are interested in a Buffy movie for a new generation. I'm not an insider, and I will never claim to be as I live in Texas. However, I can't help but feel that the statement released about Joss Whedon being approached to be involved with a Buffy film and turning it down is a little misleading. In what capacity was Joss going to be involved with a Buffy film? Was he approached to be involved in it from a creator, director, screenwriter, and producer's standpoint, or was it just one of the four? Or was he merely approached to give his blessing and then get acknowledgment in the "Special Thanks" section of the film's end credits. Because he would simply be avoiding history repeating itself since he was unable to control his vision for the original film version.

In addition, if producers had approached him, they would have been asking him to "reboot" Buffy. This would mean asking Joss to re-create a world that is very dear to him. Yes, another film of Buffy as directed by Joss would be great. But asking the creator of Buffy to "reboot" his own work? Buffy is his first project. As an artist, that's like telling your first child that he or she needs to change who they are completely because the other kids won't like him or her. If that is the case, I can completely understand that.

Is a new Buffy minus Joss Whedon going to completely and utterly fail? I don't have any right to answer that as I have no visions of the future. (And if they're anything like Cordelia Chase's, then I don't want them!) Do I have my concerns? Of course I do. I know that there have been some decent reboots and remakes within the last few years, but there have also been really bad ones. At least J.J. Abrams and Ron Moore, who have established themselves as significant persons in the "reboot fad," paid homage to the original material. I don't know if these studio executives will even honor the original vision that Joss had for Buffy.

Under the stakes and vampire-slaying and physical strength that can rival a body builder, there's a girl. You might consider her a feminist icon. You might consider her a cultural phenomenon. But I agree with something Joss once said...

"She's my hero."

Treat her with respect, Warner Bros.

Staff Writer for Anomaly
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1 comment:

Archangela said...

As the official dyed in the wool Buffy fan around here, I feel I need to comment on your fabulous and thought provoking post, KC. First of all, as you can imagine, I hate this idea on general principle. But I feel I need to clarify two issues. 1. The evil business people who corrupted this work in the first place and because of that luck and foresight happen to have botched the movie and still hold rights and receive money from what Joss has created and made successful....they are the ones who want to reboot. So it sucks on principle. 2. If I forget about 1, I can look at Star Trek and Battlestar and I can say that it is possible to take something loved and make it better or just as good or an addition to the original. I honestly think it is a matter of timing. It is simply too soon to think about this. There was 20 or 30 years for the above mentioned to simmer and for new modes of storytelling to come around so they could be retold. Many of the good stories we love are going to eventually be retold when the industry gets to that next stage of development. I just don't think we are there yet for Buffy. One day it could be done right and I will take Russell to see it.