red_satin_doll: (Default)

Click on all images below to view full-size (They don't look at all right downsized. 'tis most distressing.) All artwork by me unless otherwise noted.



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Gift from my amazing friend and a jewel of this fandom [livejournal.com profile] spikesredqueen for my birthday (Feb 2015, not snaggable)




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"Winged Buffy" banner, a gift from the fantastically talented and generous [livejournal.com profile] comlodge, (June 2013, not snaggable)
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*My LJ is Hugs Central (mostly.)  Appropriate and consensual ones, of course. Safety and fun are at a premium here, so play nice with one another. Leave the weapons at the door, wipe your feet on the mat, and help yourself to some tea and homemade cookies.
by any other name 700square
...by any other name. (June 2014)



* Buffy is my Big Damn Hero and my #1 HBIC - because she's flawed and human and real. Because she loves deeply; she falls down but still fights, she grieves and endures, again and again. Because she breaks the rules and finds another way; because of her intelligence, intuition and wit. Because in watching her I identify with my own issues and strengths, and have a renewed appreciation for my mom as well.

* Because in talking about her with other fans, in telling my story through her, in voicing my truth, I discover that I'm not alone in my challenges, faults, and grief; that I don't have to be imprisoned by secrets and shame; and in sharing this, I can bring comfort to others. And because at the end of the day, Buffy gives me hope; and sometimes that's enough to make getting out of bed in the morning worthwhile. And because she is just so freakin' adorable, y'all.

 
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Keep Her Safe (alt 1) (March 2015)


* I love intelligent discussion of , and appreciation for , the ladies of the verse and their complex interrelationships  at the core of the 'verse: mothers, sisters, mentors, students, friends, lovers, enemies, allies. The Buffyverse without it's women would be a cold, barren place:  ("that bright optimism that becomes a great, raw wound-red in The Body" - [livejournal.com profile] the_royal_anna ). They bear witness to one another, the hurt one another when they don't mean to, they love even when it's difficult and painful to do so.


* And yes, this also includes Kennedy. No vitriol. No joke.  (Tara would not approve of the hate. A lot of the complaints I've seen about her are suspicously close to those lobbed at Buffy, btw.) Entitled? Yes. Arrogant? Uh-huh - and also loyal, courageous, stubborn and gentle. She's a "queer woman of color..that is allowed to be the hero."

* The Buffy & Tara friendship/connection is one of the most underappreciated aspects of the 'verse IMO. This WILL be rectified. I don't ship Buffy/Tara, but if that's what it takes to get fandom talking about them? A fangirl's gotta do what a fangirl's gotta do. (ETA 2014: I have seen the light of the true religion: Buffy/Tara shipping. I ship those girls so freakin' hard. Now say amen, somebody.)


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My OTF/P (August 2014)


*In fact, let's just say "No bashing female characters, period." There's plenty of other places to do that, if that's your thing. The show's failures in terms of the depictions of women, of female sexuality, the lack of mature female characters, the massive fail in terms of race and class? Always up for intelligent, civil discussion and examination.
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* OTOH, I do reserve the right to bitch about call out their shit criticize objectively analyze and take issue with certain whiny, self-absorbed males on the series and their collective patronizing jackassery. Don't get me wrong, I can understand them, sympathize with them, and so forth. Xander trying to be a "better man" than his father? Even when he gets it wrong? I heartily approve. (I'll still call him out on his shit, though.) It's simple math: Grow up, get real or go home. Also I welcome any and every opportunity to make fun of Angel.  Particularly when penguins are involved.  As well they should be.
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I Walk Alone, another beautiful gift from [livejournal.com profile] comlodge based on her FFL picspam series for Round 18 of [livejournal.com profile] seasonal_spuffy.


 
* I 'ship Buffy&Spike S7 . Love in action is the hardest, most painful and most worthwhile work we can ever do - and IMO it trumps "true love" romantic fantasies every time. (That said, I fully support the right to ship Buffy with anyone you damn well please.) But he is not my central focus here. Nor are any of the men of the 'verse, except in terms of how they serve Buffy's story.  It turns out the protagonist of the "Buffyverse" is some gal named Buffy.  Weird, huh?
red_satin_doll: (Summers Family Portrait S5 RSD)
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Congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] tempertemper, [livejournal.com profile] sweet_lyri and [livejournal.com profile] teragramm on your winning entries for [livejournal.com profile] slayerstillness Challenge 45, "Potentials". Click on the image above to see all banners with winning icons. This was the first time I'd seen the Potentials as an icontest theme; and when making my own icons I was surprised by the possibilities the  much-maligned girls offered in just one season (half a season?)  My own entries below. I kept textures and effects to a minimum this round because it didn't feel right for the images; I wanted to keep the focus on the girls themselves as much as possible. And in the case of 2 & 3 - being hunted down and murdered in the street ain't pretty  :

    1 - 5


Some alternate icons and thinky-thoughts beneath the cut:


When making my own entry icons I set out with the goal of doing at least one Kennedy icon because I think the character gets a lot of hate, unfairly (and I say that as a Tara fan). I also wanted to make an icon with the "Trailer Park Girl".


I always see the baseball girl (white, presumably middle class - those uniforms ain't cheap, as I know from my siblings experiences) used in fanvideos, linking her visually to Buffy; Trailer Park Girl (TPG) is rarely utlilized but I'd be lying if I didn't say that the moment she stops her attacker is THE moment in the "Ready to Be Strong" sequence that gives me chills every time I watch it because it's something I lived as a girl: the fantasy of being able to stop the monster you live with. Technically we're seeing her when she's a Slayer, no longer a "Potential" but I wasn't going to let a little thing like technicalities bother me.

In both cases (Kennedy and Trailer Park Girl), I failed. I didn't give myself enough time to make a Kennedy icon; and I spent a lot of time trying to make one of TPG but the caps of her tend to be very poor quality, on top of the fact that the shots of her are already very dark. Oddly enough, the caps from Lessons and Beneath You (2 - 3) are also very dark but brightened and cleaned up beautifully.

The only entry with TPG that I liked well enough has her hand stopping her assailant's arm (#5); her face isn't in the frame. This bothers me a lot because I'm implying, unintentionally, that she's not "pretty" enough to be seen; and btvs is yet another American television show where all the important girls are small and pretty. (Amber Benson being an exception and she was hired over Mr Potato Head Joss's intital objections over her size.)

So I decided to make her the focus of these banners and treat her to the same soft glowing effects and light leaks that I've lavished on SMG or Aly Hannigan without making her any less "herself" or minimizing her difference.

My alt icons:



          6 - 11

         12 -16

 

Icons and banners by yours truly, 2015. All icons snaggable, please credit; feedback is welcome and much appreciated. DO NOT claim as your own, hotlink, or repost to other websites/archives without my permission.
red_satin_doll: (Buffy Helpless Hairporn RSD)





Finally it's here (after two extensions graciously granted by [livejournal.com profile] starry_night)!  My Season 5 (BtVS) set for [livejournal.com profile] btvsats20in20 Round 9.
TEASERS:
   














10 Themes
Half and Half Rotate 90 Frame Lemon & Lime Shocking
Blood Close Crop + Two Love Lips Group
5 Category |HUSH
Cat 1 Cat 2 Cat 3 Cat 4 Cat 5
5 Artist's Choice
AC 1 AC 2 AC 3 AC 4 AC 5


Screencap Sources: Bloodqueen, Pretty as a Picture , Leave Me the White, SMG France. Wooden frame in Frame icon from Your Picture Frames. Texture in Cat 2 snagged from [livejournal.com profile] teragramm.



MANY thanks to the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] starry_night for extending the deadline (twice); and I cannot heap enough praise on my beta-Muse [livejournal.com profile] velvetwhip for once again whipping me and this set into shape - her screenname is very apt because the "whipping" was a most gentle one but she provides what I need time and again. I nearly gave up on this round and three or four days ago I was ready to. That I didn't is due largely to her generous assistance, guidance, ideas, meta analysis, and encouragement to motivate me.



Alts & Extras:

1 - 7

8 -14

   

15 - 21

15 -21) Image from Buffy vs Dracula, this set is, appropriately, very German Expressionist cinema (Nosferatu, Pola Negri, etc.) Also, [livejournal.com profile] kikimay asked me to post more close crops of Sarah's face so here you go.



The only guideline or focus I had going in to this was my usual: "Women of the Buffyverse".  I consciously focused on the ladies and very much wanted to make some decent icons of Joyce and Dawn, who have been difficult for me to icon for some reason. I also tried to use images from the show I haven't seen capped often or at all.  So for example, "Group" is the Maclays because I've seen a lot of icons of the opposite image, the Scoobies protecting Tara, from that episode. I've seen tons of Spike in FFL icons but precious few if any focused on Drusilla herself. And et cetera.



The relative absence of Willow here (in relation to her importance that season) isn't planned or meant as a snub of the character; I think because I've done a lot of Willow icons I ended up "giving her a break". I meant to make an icon of Glory, and also of Joyce and Dawn together but didn't get to those. I have meta thoughts about quite a few of these - the Drusilla one deserves it's own post  - but for now I'll let you folks and the images do the talking.







I am "borrowing" [livejournal.com profile] starry_night's rules for my own artwork
~ DO NOT RE-POST TO OTHER SITES (INCL. FANPOP) OR LJ COMMUNITIES WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!
~ Take what you like for personal use but please credit if used :)
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments are appreciated :)
red_satin_doll: (The Gift - Trailing Clouds)
Banner Gallery HERE for [livejournal.com profile] tempertemper, [livejournal.com profile] clockwork_hart1 and [livejournal.com profile] juliet316, including a Banner Maker's Choice. Congratulations to all the winners of this round!
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This was my second time making awards banners and someday oh someday I will make it easier on myself by having a preset design and placing icons atop it like sensible people do. Until then...each of the banners was individually made and ipiccy has no way for me to size the font exactly. Still, I think they came out pretty good, and relatively consistent when standing side-by-side. (Minor flaws are part of the charm, of course, like the slubby weave on a raw silk blouse. So says I.) Your feedback is always appreciated and valued - what say you, Gentle Reader?

If I had known that awards banners existed and that someday I'd be making such, I'd have picked a shorter screenname two years ago. Think of the banner makers, people, think of the artists!
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FYI: the deadline for Challenge 29 of [livejournal.com profile] slayerstillness is Friday August 1st, (ETA: deadline extended to August 8th per [livejournal.com profile] starry_night) midnight at your time zone. The prompt this time around is "The Freshman" (btvs S4.01) and you know what I'm thinking, don't you?


WHAT THE HELL WAS YOUR PROBLEM WITH "MATURE" WOMEN, JOSS WHEDON?
red_satin_doll: (Dawn Thinky Thoughts)
Do your groove thang right HERE m'dears. 15 entries to choose from in the Angel Investigations prompt (images strictly from AtS.)

I voted kind of quickly for me (all things being relative) but I still had to sit a few moments and consider the icons in front of me, because something "unfolded" in me - or they unfolded before me, I'm not sure which. Perhaps a better way of putting it is that I had to take a moment to engage with them - a moment well worth taking.  (There's one icon in particular that I nearly overlooked, literally, until I looked again.)

It's impossible to overlook the female-centricity of these icons, dominated by Cordelia, Fred, Illyria...with Lorne as beloved gentleman-in-waiting to the queens. The fandom taking back the Buffyverse - all of it - for the women who form it's heart and it's very reason for being? The Patron Saint of Icons is greatly pleased with this and bids ye continue with this worthy endeavour.

BTW? None of them mine. (So not a crumb of self-pimage in sight. SO FAR.)

Deadline for voting is Tuesday July 22.
red_satin_doll: (Smile)
Your Madame Ambassador of Meta (according to [livejournal.com profile] punch_kicker15) and Patron Saint of Icons (per [livejournal.com profile] eilowyn, and when the heck did this happen anyway?) has been remiss in her duties. And is speaking of herself in third person. This cannot stand. So herewith:

** Foz Meadow's essay, Gender, Orphan Black and the Meta of Meta says everything I want to say, beautifully, cogently and eloquently, about our cultural aversion to supposedly "unlikeable" female characters, how we hold them to harsh judgements whether as protagonists/heros or villians, how we protect male characters and tend to forgive all their sins (Buffy gets a mention, of course, but so do Darla and Dru) Required and necessary reading for anyone who cares about the subject. Contains mild spoilers for all of S1 Orphan Black.
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"And the more I watched, the more I found myself thinking: why is this quality, the idea of likeability, considered so important for women, but so optional for men – not just in real life, but in narrative?"

** Entries for [livejournal.com profile] otherworldlyric Challenge #175 are due TONIGHT, Friday the 20th midnight EST US.   [livejournal.com profile] dragonydreams says that they could use a couple more entries for this challenge. (My beta-muse-god [livejournal.com profile] wickedbish has thankfully NOT been remiss in his duties, quite the opposite, and so I may be able to pull one or two out of the hopper, we shall see. )

** Deadline for [livejournal.com profile] slayerstillness Challenge 26 "The Same but Different" is tomorrow night, Saturday the 21st, midnight in your respective time zones. There are four sets so far from three people, which isn't very much. Remember, you can enter two sets in this challenge! However, due to RL stuff and lack of reminders [livejournal.com profile] starry_night is willing to extend the deadline a week if folks ask.


And here be some icons, musings, prayers. verbiage and bonus questions for the final round of the home game version after the teaser and the cut:







Speaking of icons, I made some during the same session that produced "...by any other name..." and thank you everyone who stopped by to comment! Also thank you to everyone who responded to my silly Get it Done poster inspired by [livejournal.com profile] infinitewhale's infinite wit, and turned my journal into a coffeehouse. Tis great fun!

    01-03

04-05


(Can I get a job in this? Maybe at the Sears Photography Studio? Is Olan Mills still around?)
 4 & 5 are *AHEM* not great, to say the least, *COUGH* but combining that light effect with the "snow" effect in ipiccy as fun and worth giving another try sometime.

Dear Powers that Don't Actually Be or At Least I Don't Believe You Be But How Would I Know, I Could Be Praying to a Bunch of SIngle-Celled Plankton or the Flying Spagetti Monster for All I Know:

Please don't let me look on this two months from now and only see the flaws and feel embarrassed, the way I now do about the Spuffy banner I made for [livejournal.com profile] comlodge's birthday that I was so proud of at the time  - and definitely the one I made for [livejournal.com profile] velvetwhip's birthday because gee whiz I thought that was decent?- and 98% of the icons I've ever made - but now I want to tear up and start from scratch because I can do better than that.

Please let my VampWillow set for Round 2 of [livejournal.com profile] btvsats20in20 be as good as my friends think it will be, and not in a "gee that's nice, you tried honey" kind of way.

And please don't remind me that moaning about how ashamed I am of an artwork whilst simultaneously linking to it and self-pimping is, well, definitely sending a mixed message and hypocritcal at best. Because I already know. And please don't take me too seriously when I pray that my ex-boss' product be half-rotten by the time he gets to the market.  Or do, your choice.  Thanks bunches!


PS: I'm already embarrassed by #4  & 5 above anyway. Do I need to pray harder? Do you want cake?

And now, questions for those of you playing along with the home version:

1) Don't I have the BEST f'listies? I do. My peeps totally rock. (So technically that was a statement disguised as a question. Moving on...)

2) Should there be a law against white, middle-aged, college-educated, working or middle class suburban women using phrases like "my peeps totally rock"? Or at least a stern warning?

3) New LJ feature I LOVE: I start typing in a friend's name and LJ now brings up options for me to chose from NIFTY! Feature I hate: The new friends feed page:  the whole damn thing, basically.  Anyone else agree with me? What are you lovin'/hatin'/mehin' on with the changes?

3) If the world actually had been created by single-celled plankton, do you think it would operate more efficiently?

4) If the Powers that May or May Not Exist actually exist, would they eat cake?

red_satin_doll: (Chosen One - purple)

Congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] rua1412 and [livejournal.com profile] kwritten for their winning icons in [livejournal.com profile] otherworldlyric challenge #171 ("Origins")!  Two of the three winners were my personal vote-getters and I'm not saying which. (Unless you ask nicely and offer bribes.)

The deadline for the current [livejournal.com profile] otherworldlyric challenge #172 "Watching Me Fall" is Friday, May9th - which is tonight in my part of the world. With apologies for the very late reminder. But the folks who work best under tight deadlines will relish the challenge (right?)

Many thanks as always to my awesome beta-Muse, [livejournal.com profile] wickedbish for his sharp eye, gentle guidance and record-time response with my OWL entries. He picked out the top three of the lot and there was no quibble on my end. My entries:


1)  2)   3)

And here's some of the icons I made for the challenge but didn't submit. #4 probably would have been my fourth choice to submit. 5 and 8 don't have text; I never got to that point and decided they didn't need it.

4) 5) 6) 7) 8)

9) 10) 11) 12) 13) 14)

15) 16) 17) 18) 19)

Things I have learned in this round:



1) That there's not a lot of Tough Love icons out there.

2) That making TL icons was in some ways more painful or difficult for me emotionally than making Bargaining or After Life icons. Which is probably why there are not a lot of TL icons out there...."Oh Tara, baby..." *sobs*

3)...OTOH it's still easier to make TL icons of Willow than Villains icons. I. JUST. CAN'T.

4) The easiest way to do icons of Willow and WIllow/Tara? Do what I do with Buffy and focus on what I love in the characters - which is to say, focus on their capacity to love. (Which is not to be confused with "being nice and ladylike" or "getting it right".)

5) I thought about using the lyric "inquisitive mind" with an early seasons cap of Willow but am not familiar enough with S1-3 to think of something off the top of my head. Which I already knew. But it's harder to do caps of seasons you're not as passionate or knowledgeable about. (Ok, so I already knew that too. Moving on....)

6) I love the set of Aly's mouth in the cap I used for #1, her pale face and dark eyes, even the strange monkey-fur collar that implies "base" impulses, the hunter...she has an utterly fierce beauty here.

7) I have more screencaps of Willow than I remembered.

8) For all my capacity for snark and irony, I seem to have an internal "sensor" when I'm working on icons that tells me from time to time in no uncertain terms "That really isn't funny. Don't go there." Hence #14 & 15 - I was trying to deconstruct the lyrics of the song and the additional phrases popped into my head; Buffy is "made to live", "made to serve" as a Slayer. Then I made 15 and felt like I was making fun of her and that felt gross under the circumstances.

9) So I decided that the phrase more accurately fitted the Buffybot who is, as [livejournal.com profile] lanoyee has pointed out to me, a metaphor for the Slayers themselves, "manufactured" at the whim of the Shadowmen and the WC, used up and then discarded for a newer model (#19)....Which really isn't funny. At all. No matter how you slice it.

10) In fact the more I think about the Buffybot, the more disturbing the entire situation becomes.  Including the fact  that "she" looks to be in pain, by whatever metric you want to measure that for a robot, in the cap from Intervention. (3, 16-18)

11) But as it happens anyway, the rules of [livejournal.com profile] otherworldlyric specifically state that you can ONLY use words that are contained within the song. Which meant 14-18 were a no-go as entries, but made for some interesting contemplation. It also meant that #3 didn't have quite the same impact/irony as I'd intended. (The plain and rather shitty looking font in #3 didn't help matters; HOW did I let that pass that way? What was I thinking?)

12) Wrapping text around an object is possible in Photobucket is only truly possible by making a new text box for every letter and manipulating each one of them individually - position/spacing, angle, size, etc. (#2, 9-10). Wrangling 18 individual text boxes at 100 or 200 pixels square is a bitch. Not really worth the work. That said....

13) If you are going to do something so foolish as to wrangle 18 individual letters around Buffy's bloodied hands within an image, it's easier to do it in a single continuous line or flow, even if one of the words needs to be read backwords than place some words left to right at the top, then start again with the rest of lyric from left to right at the bottom. (#19, Kendra icon) Trust me on this one.

14) Sometimes fancy effects in pixlr-whathaveyou or piccy-yaddayadda (11, 16, 17) aren't really superior to "Brighten", "Contrast" and "Saturation" in Photobucket (everything else) in terms of final results. It's the user, not the tool, that matters. BUT - they're a helluva lot of fun to play with.

15) Every once in a while, I care less about "legibility of text" than I think I do. See # 7 - I was going to remake it with a different font, then realized it didn't bother me the way it was.

16) I do wish however that I'd save images before putting the text in more often because I do wish I had a version of #7 without.

17) Something I actually learned working on Spuffy icons recently is the importance of a point of physical contact to connect two characters in an icon whether or not they are looking at one another. I made #6 before #4-5, but the image is stronger emotionally and compositionally with WIllow's arm and hand visible in the frame, curling around Tara, clutching her jacket.

And FINALLY the most important thing I learned this round:

18) NONATTACHMENT! Do not, under any circumstances, think for even one fraction of a second, "Well, mine aren't the greatest, but I could possibly win something because...." THIS WAY LIES MADNESS AND BADNESS - or at least a momentary sense of irrational disappointment! SYSTEMS ABORT! DETACH! FIND THE ZEN!

Just trust me on this one.

red_satin_doll: (Chosen One - purple)
1) That [livejournal.com profile] otherworldlyric extended it's current icon challenge  #170 for one week (aka, until Friday the 25th) because there was only one entry? Normally I'm begging for extensions on these challenges so I should be all over that, except...the prompt is George Thoroughgood's "Bad to the Bone"and I'm not moved or inspired in any dimension. This is probably another case of "familiarity breeds contempt" - and in this case, possibly testosterone poisoning. I've read the lyrics multiple times trying to find inspiration to subvert it, to remove it from the familiar context - and I only need two consecutive words from the lyrics. Gotta be something I can do with it:

was born

the day

to the

bad to

before I

woman beg

girl squeal

tell ya


Nope, I'm just not feeling it this time around. But maybe some of y'all can find what I'm missing and embarrass me with your brilliance.  (I'll just be over here washing down the aftertaste of testosterone with a bottle of estroge....and a Samuel Smith's organic double chocolate stout for a chaser.)

2) That my my recent post after a longish absence (moving! packing! tired! busy! Excuses: get your red hot excuses!) has over 100 comments in the thread, which is funny and wonderful because I thought no one would respond to it that silly thing. My f'listies are made of awesome. Further proof? Y'all made Vastra and Jenny a part of my life. Victorian interspecies lesbian detectives? Samuri swords and bifurcated tongues? BEHOLD THE AWESOME WHICH IS, WAS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

Either I need to do more polls, or I need to talk about Orphan Black and interspecies lesbians more often. Maybe both. Speaking of OB, did I also mention....

3) ....that I forgot to credit the lovely [livejournal.com profile] eilowyn for encouraging me to watch Orphan Black, which is my New Favorite Thing. Because she said kind and loving words that flattered my soul and she's one of my personal heros and role models - one of my real life Buffy's - so how could I resist? My first reaction to the pilot was "Ringer meets Dollhouse." But much, much better.

4) And that I've only seen the first three episodes of S1 and Tatiana is my New Favorite Actress and Cosima is my New Favorite Character - along with Felix. (Felix is LOVE.) And that Cosima is*BIG SPOILER FOR OB* a lesbian and my heart is EXPLODING WITH JOY. (And OMG what the hell is that - not who, what - at the end of S1 ep 3? the bleached blond who looks like a cross between an anime villain and a prehistoric leviathan? What is this even?)

6) Even BIGGER explosion: kikojutsuka (aka [livejournal.com profile] lanoyee ) linked to a Reddit convo with OB creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, and Graeme said this: "The Cophine relationship, we really loved anyway and to see it get that much support and to see that people thought that it was an important relationship to be on TV made us want to continue it and bolster it. And yeah, why the hell is that? Why do lesbian characters always die in TV? RIP Tara."


Oh fuck YES and THANK YOU FOR GETTING IT, Mr Manson. And thank you for honoring Tara.

 

Now I've got a serious hankering for some crossover fic.  And hey, speaking of crossover fic...

7) [livejournal.com profile] clockwork_hart1 is accepting/filling multi-fandom fic prompts - femmeslash, gen, het, threesomes, you name it - and knocking it OUT OF THE PARK every single time. She has stories for fandoms and characters I'm not at all familiar with, or characters I am but wouldn't ship together otherwise except her writing is so lovely and universal in moods and themes, so evocative/poignant/sexy/funny/yummy that it doesn't matter. I can think of exactly three other times I've experienced that in fanfiction, and the other times were some ten years ago.

8) FYI: when your heart explodes with joy, hardwood floors are a lot easier to clean up than rugs or "vintage" linoleum. Trust.
red_satin_doll: (Chosen One - purple)
I really can't say this enough: Thank you to everyone who voted for my entries in OWL's Challenge #165!

Congratulations to the other winners [livejournal.com profile] xclaire_delunex and [livejournal.com profile] kwritten - to be considered anywhere near the same distinguished company is amazing.
Thank you again to [livejournal.com profile] wickedbish (Ryan) for your time and opinions - and for being a better judge of my own work than I am. BETAS DO NOT GET ENOUGH LOVE. There needs to be a national "Hug A Beta!" holiday. (I'm just throwin' it out there, plantin' a seed....)

Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] dragonydreams for banners that makes my icon look better than it did before. (The careful color-matching you did for each of the banners? Gorgeous.) And for all the time, dedication and work of running [livejournal.com profile] otherworldlyric because I'm having way too much fun with it.  Sarah McLaughlin's "World on Fire" was a terrific choice for a song prompt; any fragment of the lyrics is applicable to BtVS in about a million directions. Coming up with ideas this time around wasn't the problem; the problem this time was having far too many ideas. Most of them never came to fruition but I want to return to those projects later.

And by "fun" I mean "a helluva lotta pain and angst and lady-love for both the Summers Sisters and oh Willow no come back to the light and OMG their faces! Their expressions! Their courage and love and effed-up-ness I can't even!" **sobs and makes 40+ icons** In other words, my kind of fun. If I can't "crack out an axe" (to steal a phrase from [livejournal.com profile] clockwork_hart1 ) in defense of my beloved characters, at least I can crack out some icons:



THE SUBMISSIONS: And now I will show off ALL my babies and TALK about them! A lot! You have been warned!

1)  2) 3)



1) I was really surprised when Ryan singled out #1 of the 40+ I sent him for consideration. This was the first time I almost argued with his choices; it's still not my favorite of this set by a long shot.  All I can see is the flaws. The image isn't sharp enough to my liking; the font is one I've done too many times before. It doesn't have the emotional punch for me personally that the other two entries do. I wanted the moment in Grave that got more of Dawn and Buffy equally in the frame, holding their swords back to back, but didn't have the right cap for it. Et cetera


That moment may be corny and make no sense but screw logic and sense; it's one of the (very) few moments in the last three episodes I remotely even liked. I freaking cheered when Dawn picked up the sword, not that her courage was any surprise whatsoever (Listening to Fear, The Gift, Bargaining...etc). Watching the late seasons I wanted to watch more of that, of those sisters and warriors fighting and growing up side by side, the same and yet very different people than they were in S5. I hoped that Season 7 would focus more on the two of them. I wanted more Summers sisters interaction as intensely as I wanted more mother-daughter interaction S1-5. And for a little while it seemed like S7 was going that way....and then....it didn't; just as S5 delighted me with Joyce's increased presence...and then she was killed off. *le sigh*


2) I actually like the Dawn-Buffybot one to a terrible degree, even though it's the simplest and least "artistic". Dawn's face kills me - that moment is so sad and understandable and yet a bit creepy. Her mother and sister are dead, her "real" father is absent and her symbolic father figure is lost in his own grief? She has no one to cuddle up to but a freakin' robot? Break my heart NOW.  And maybe it's just my sick brain but there's almost something slightly incestuous about the image, if you don't know that's the Buffybot? Or is it just me?


4) 5)


In hindsight though I wish I'd submitted #4 above instead of #2: Dawn standing on Glory's tower in Bargaining, trying to prevent her sister from committing suicide (again). Season 6 ends with Xander "talking Willow down" and that moment gets all sorts of fandom love. But it starts with Dawn talking Buffy down and WHERE is the love for that moment? For the de facto orphan, a 15(16?) year old girl who  has NO "special powers", no training or experience, and is armed only with determination, courage and fierce love? Anything less than absolute RESPECT for this incredible girl in that flawless moment will not do here.

But as far as the icon itself goes, this time I wasn't happy with the placement of the text. I'm sorry I didn't make a version without text because the moment doesn't really need it.  #5 is completely "meh" by comparison. I feel nothing. I can't tell you why I just know it doesn't work.


3) My favorite of the three entries is Buffy on the stairs in After Life. I like the way the cropping, frame and the text work together to close in around her, echoing her gesture. She's out of that coffin physically but psychologically is another matter altogether. I think the red on her knuckles is just enough, not overplayed. I did an entire series of this scene and oddly enough her hand looks more realistic, like raw meat, in the sized-down icons than it did on the tv screen or the larger caps.

I have a crazy stupid amount of love for Bargaining/Afterlife, which I tend to think of as a single unit (just as I lump the last three eps of S6 together - except with loads of seething hate.) The expression of shame on her face - not guilt, there is a degree of difference - her awkward posture and gestures, her silence, her bloodied knuckles, everything about her in that moment wrenches my heart no matter how many times I see it. I can barely even look at her then. So of course I made multiple versions of it. (Below)


This moment, and the scene before it with Dawn tenderly cleaning and dressing her in the bathroom, calls back to pre-Sunnydale "bitty Buffy" in Passions. She's standing before a mirror, listening to her parents argue in another room with a similar expression of shame - shame for who or what she inherently is, as opposed to "guilt" for something she has done. That's an emotion I know only too well. Once it slithers inside of you, it becomes such a constant that half the time you don't even recognize it; or you try to fight it, to make it go away; you indulge in excesses, you take actions that you feel guilty about afterwards, and thus more ashamed, so you do something else you feel guilty and ashamed about until the two are insparably intertwined with one another.


What must she think, what can she be thinking, in Bargaining and After Life? She's lived one of her greatest fears for the second time in the series (Nightmares, S1), crawling out of her own grave like the demons she has to kill, in this war she was drafted into as the lone soldier.  Is she therefore unclean, monstrous? Was she rejected by Heaven, spat out from it because she was unworthy of it? Even after she knows the truth, might she ever wonder if the spell worked because Heaven let her go because she didn't deserve to be there after all?
6) 7) 8)
9) 10) 11) 12)

13) 14)



I wish I had more icon space in my userpics for one of these. I submitted #3 because Ryan picked out, but I could have submitted any other instead in a heartbeat, with the exception of the last two. #14 has the same problem as #5 - my ability to manipulate text within and around an object in Photobucket is extremely limited. Or maybe I'm just lousy at it and/or the concept sucked to begin with. Your thoughts, Gentle Reader?
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But I really didn't go into this intending to do Buffy or Dawn icons. No, really, I swear to you. I wanted to stretch myself a bit and work with Willow. I had plans for images from Bargaining, Smashed, Anne, New Moon Rising and Wild at Heart; Willow by herself, with Tara and Oz...LOTSA ideas. Few came to fruition.

I really appreciate it when someone in fandom who doesn't particularly love Buffy nevertheless focuses on her in art or fic and gets her right, for all her wonderful and not-so-great qualities. (Likewise, I appreciate it when someone who considers themselves a "Bangel" or a "Spuffy" is nonetheless able to give the other guy and her relationship with them it's due, without feeling the need to deny or diminish one at the expense of the other.)

And I want to be able to do the same myself for other characters. Willow was the first character I identified with in the series, although I never felt in love with her the way I did with Buffy. That I identified more with Willow in the early seasons, when her self-esteem is lowest (barring S7) and more with Buffy in the late season when her self-confidence declines, probably says something about me I'm reluctant to fully contemplate. But I want to find that appreciation for Willow again. And there's a lot of folks on my flist who are Willow fans who help me remember the good and even great things about her character. But I didn't get excited by the images of Willow, even though I had the ideas, the way I did with Buffy and Dawn.

I really wish the Willow set had come out better. Maybe it's easier for me to work with a subject I have a lot of passion and emotional connection to. Give me time. [livejournal.com profile] kwritten captured exactly what I wanted and more with her entry #5. Check out her flawless post for her analysis of her Willow icon along with the rest of her icons for this challenge. (Then check out [livejournal.com profile] spikesredqueen's post with her entire set of beauties for this challenge including the second-place winner. So many choices and this is part of my pain, don'cha see?)


15)   16)  17) 18)

19)
20)  21)



I nearly submitted #15 or 16, and I still like them both quite a bit. The ironic contrast of "fire" with the water from the shower, a llteral and symbolic "waterhose" in this image from Smashed is more interesting than my original plan to use a cap from Willow in Rack's den. If Buffy "wants the fire back" then Willow, by contrast, tries to control a conflagration that threatens to burn her up from the inside.


#17 - 21 OTOH are "meh" for me. I kind of like the composition of #17 in theory but this is a very important "point of no return" in Willow's arc - and I focus on her bosom? What am I, a lezzie or something? (Oh. wait...)  19 & 20 are interesting mostly as bookends in terms of comparison with one another, with how much Willow has changed in three years, rather than interesting in and of themselves. The difference between Willow in Anne and Bargaining is enormous: the distance between "playacting" the role of a confident Slayer, putting on a "role" instead of a costume; and actually taking on the responsibility (and headaches) of leadership. The power is now "her's alone to wield"  but it's still an impossible position for any one person regardless of who wields it.


I had to give up on the Willow idea because it just wasn't working. I felt like I was "dissing" her in some way, and that wasn't what I wanted. What I wanted to depict was how hard she was trying, how much she was trying to bring to the fight with almost zero guidance, how she was bringing everything she had to bear "to the table". I absolutely believe that she thought she was doing the right thing when she resurrected Buffy; she had no reason to think Buffy wasn't in Hell, suffering endless centuries of torment the way Angel had after Buffy killed him. (I'm not arguing right or wrong here, and I don't deny other motivations but as much as I want to throttle Willow sometimes, I can't get into the Willow-hate any more than I can the Dawn/Buffy/Joyce/Kennedy/misc female character hate. But I can't get into the Glory-hate either, so take that as you will.)


And is it a surprise that it all goes awry, that her moral compass doesn't point true north? No. Look at her parents, at their benign neglect, at the way they encourage her intelligence and achievement but discourage her from asking too many questions: live up to your potential but don't go beyond it. And by "parents" I don't just mean Sheila and Ira Rosenberg. Rupert Giles had decades of history and experience with the demon world and magic (if we ignore the Witch in S1). He could have steered Willow to mentors to groom her, train her; he certainly could have payed more attention to her - to all the SG, for that matter. How much Xander might have blossomed from the encouragement of an interested adult male role model, which he so very desperately needed, we can only speculate.


In both Anne and Bargaining we see the one parental figure of the group - Giles - absorbed in his pain, his guilt and grief, and in both episodes the SG - young children from dysfunctional homes, every one of them - are more or less left to their own devices. He doesn't abandon Buffy and Dawn only in S6; he abandons all of his "children" - but then again he'd always been "blind" all along, perhaps willfully so. Willow's accusations in Something Blue and Grave are not without merit - and will be echoed by Spike in Touched.


Before you think I hate Giles (which I don't), I'm also aware of that his upbringing was perhaps not at all unlike Willow's, or Buffy and Dawn's for that matter. He came from an educated family that took care of his physical needs to the exclusion of his emotional ones.  They attempted to control him and raised him to be a Watcher as his father was, without regard for the boy's own needs or desires. We learn very little about his family but what we do hear from him, and his own personality, suggest a detachment or distance from his parents, as with Willow to her own. It's not the physical abuse we associate with the Harris or Maclay families but rather an emotional rather than physical "abandonment". (Let's set aside for a moment the fact that the show stereotypically assigns certain types of abuse or neglect to certain socio-economic strata.) And so the abandoned child abandons their own children who abandons their children in turn and so on...until someone finally breaks the cycle.


So it's also no suprise, IMO, that Willow is uttery unprepared for what she "unearths" when she resurrects Buffy; she is not prepared to play the part of "sire" to her "childe", who is left to her own defenses. And the cycle continues.....

Speaking of:
22) 23)  
Another disappointing failure IMO. Ryan liked the first one more than I did; I think Willow looks like an elf - maybe a missing character from LoTR? Everyone has feelings about this scene in All The Way and it's aftermath, and so do I. One of which is that this arguement, like many others in this series, are so much more incredibly believable as actual arguements than what I've seen on most tv shows. And holy cheese on a cracker do I know arguements, inside and out: the sudden snap of rage, the irrationality, everything spiralling out of control and all parties bunkering down in their positions, everyone talking and nobody listening.


Two girls from abusive and/or controlling families who have never seen or experienced anything resembling a happy, healthy functional love relationship between partners (children learn what they are modeled); both with pedantic or conservative  streaks in them, by nature and nuture - it's no wonder things start to "fall apart" rather rapidily between them, not once but twice in the series. Especially when initial haze of infatuation and romance or, in S6, the "second honeymoon", wears off and the real power struggles begin. You cannot have two people occupying the same position of power within a relationship at all times or, if it's possible, I've yet to see it.


See, I can see all the things that go wrong in their relationship, and all that is wrong in Buffy and Spike's, in S6, I can see it all and not condone the worst of it - but I understand every bit of it. It's painful to watch it all play out and it should be. It was painful to watch as a child in my family, and painful to live it now. Because on some level I see myself, my mom and her husbands, and my own relationship with my partner* in all four of those characters and both those relationships although the dynamics differ in each case.  I honestly wish I didn't understand. So what, then, do I do with it? "Keep trying" is the only answer I've got.

(That said - Tara and WIllow are very different dynamics than Buffy and Spike. Please do not tell me they are exactly the same, or that Tara is somehow partly responsible for Willow's actions in S6. I have a lot of tolerance for diverse opinions but that's a line in the sand for me and I will take away the tea and cookies. So just don't go there, okay? Great. Thank you. Have a cookie?)


THE ALSO-RANS: Some of the other icons I almost submitted - I really like all of these, but again I have an emotional attachment so YMMV.      
   

24)     25)    26) 27)


I don't even know what to say here, actually, especially about #24. Do I NEED to? (And at this point you are no doubt screaming "NO! STOP THE MADNESS!" Sorry, too late.) Basically, what I said above about the After Life set? All that. I'm especially pleased by the emotional impact of #24-25 as well as the final result. #25 is one of my favorite icons of any I've ever made. I even made a version of it without the text and it works just as well. I really bumped up the saturation brightness and toned down the saturation for a very different look from the original cap.  #26 OTOH I only had to manipulate slightly - I believe the scene is of the demons and a chained-up Buffybot from Buffy's distorted POV. I think if you squint hard enough you might still be able to see Buffybot just left of center.



Also what I said about Willow being unprepared to look after her "childe" applies here - and not that she possibly could be, given her upbringing and her distant parents! No one was prepared. Not even my beloved "perfect, saintly" Tara; the person who saw that Faith wasn't Buffy in Season 4 without having met either one of them, never notices that anything is amiss in S6 until she's all but smacked in the face with it, twice (OAFA, Dead Things.) But I hurt so much for Buffy anyway. Watching her scream and cry, then claw her way out of her own coffin - an experience she's already lived through once - is one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen in any tv show or movie, bar none.



28) 29)
Yes, I did a Spuffy icon. Permission to scoop your jaws off the floor granted. (Sexual or romantic "shipping" really isn't the primary lens by which I view this series, just one many.)  I hate that episode but oh god that scene - and again, her face! So raw, so painful...things can't possibly continue the way they have and she knows it; deep inside she knows. Another one I almost submitted, and am really happy with the result.

I enjoy manipulating photographs until they look like drawings, paintings, or perhaps book illustrations/covers from the first half of the 20th century. The best way to achieve that look in Photobucket, I find, is to continually push saturation, light and contrast to eliminate some of the fine details and focus on outlines. I didn't realize the framing device overlapped the bottom of  "we become" until after I finished them, but I'm not terribly bothered by it because it suits the idea of being diminished by one's own actions. (And oh god my heart is twisting again. Those beautiful, foolish children dragging themselves and one another to Hell. Ugh.)



FINALLY, THE "MEH" GROUP, aka "They were never contenders".


30) 31) 33)

Ryan said #30 didn't quite work. He was not wrong. Although my reasons for thinking that probably differ from his - thematically for him, aesthetically for me. Sarah looks gorgeous in the original screencap, from Flooded; her profile reminds me portrait paintings of Italian women from the 15th century, such as Domenico Ghirlandaio's Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni, c. 1488. When I sized it down her face just looked odd to me (esp around the mouth and cheeks) and the outline of her face is pixelated. Too bad.
32) 34) 35) 36)



#36 is Dawn leading Buffybot around at the school fair in Bargaining. In that episode I'm really struck by the fact that Buffybot essentially "extends" S5's theme of illness, incapacity, and how the burdens of caretaking in families fall disproportionately to women.  Earlier in the episode Willow has to prevent Buffybot from walking into a wall because her "circuitry" is damaged, which is a very interesting metaphor for someone who is mentally or neurologically incapacitated, such as someone suffering from Alzheimer's or brain damage - the role Tara took on in S5. This is obvious in the original cap but the meaning was lost when I cropped the image.


Also, #32? Just to be clear, I don't "ship" Buffy/Giles. (You know that, right?)  To me (and, um, a little thing called "canon") they are absolutely father-daughter....and speaking of, have you read [livejournal.com profile] il_mio_capitano's harsh, tender, stunning re-write of Tabula Rasa, "Holding On"? If not, you simply must. It's probably one of my all-time favorite BtVS fanfics.
37) 38)



Whenever I do an icon from Anne it's always a nod to [livejournal.com profile] norwie2010 - and this shot of Buffy in Anne has already been "done" a hundred times before. But I love it anyway - just as I love that entire episode; it's one of my favorites to play with image-wise. I brightened the cap quite a lot, bumped up saturation and the colors emerged beautifully, as did the light framing Buffy's hair and arm. The passivity implied by the lyrics, however, contradicts the action in the image.


And the Anne was is - "not my best work" is an understatement. But her expression of disbelief is fantastic, and she's a great "minor" character - what an arc! She starts out dependent on her boyfriend, constantly redefining her identity according to what other people want, and makes the transition to confident, powerful person in her own right in a way that poor Anya never does, IMO. Another idea to return to later. [livejournal.com profile] kwritten also did an Anne icon (not submitted to the challenge) that's a 1000 times better than this - But I want to return to the idea because she has an amazing arc, and the way she more than lives up to Buffy's confidence in her is a key moment in the series long theme of "sharing power".


And that's it, kids!  If you got this far, congratulate yourselves - I do! - have some more cookies and stretch your legs a bit, and join me again for the next episode of RedSatinDoll Blathers Incessantly. Stay tuned!
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*Oh, one more thing: Just to be absolutely 100% clear: In terms of my sweetie and myself, there is NO physical violence or violation, nothing on the level of what happened to my mom or happens in Season 6. None whatsoever. It's a lot of arguements, harsh words and anger that we apologize for later; a dull grey haze of mutual mediocrity and power struggles some days, brightened and punctuated by moments of mutual love, respect and moments of deep love. Seesawing back and forth between resentment and affection in equal intensity.

Now that that's settled: Have some cake?
red_satin_doll: (Chosen One - purple)
#1 - Thank you to whomever gifted me with a temporary paid account last month. Now I can create polls! Oh wonderful Anonymous Benefactor, you have no idea what you have unleashed upon this fandom.
#2 - Thanks also the the lovely [livejournal.com profile] velvetwhip for coming up with the insanely awesome title/tag phrase "tsunami of polls" and allowing me to snag it.

***************



The other day I was having a conversation with [livejournal.com profile] wickedbish in which I may have mentioned that most fandoms and fandom activity, in my experience, are focused primarily on the male characters. I assumed this was common knowledge. Except that he didn't know that. Because, you see, Ryan's favorite character is Willow (see #2 in his list of "13 Witches I Fucking Love"); he still mourns Tara (as do I; shared grief is comforting) and Buffy is one of his heros. The Gift has convinced him to not commit suicide "so many times". He's all about the ladies, bless.

You know what they say about "assuming".

Oops.

 Then [livejournal.com profile] clockwork_hart1 (Lucy) popped into the conversation and in her brilliant, enthusiastic way suggested the idea of a comm dedicated to Buffy, the other women in the 'verse and their interrelationships - complete with a name (Summers Blood) and a banner (she's working on it - is there no end to the young woman's talents?) and three-part harmony. What that might actually look like or what interest there would actually be in such a thing was a matter of conjecture. So I'm channeling my inner Willow (Research Gal) for my very first poll.

What say you, Gentle Reader? Based just on the title of this post, you probably know who you are and how you stand.

(And as this is my first poll, please let me know if it functions ok. And I apologize for the wonky formatting. The LJ instructions for poll-making are vague and confusing at best. So says I.)

[Poll #1955410][Poll #1955410]
red_satin_doll: (Chosen One - purple)

   




"Before all else, we [women] are daughters. Our relationship with our mother is one of the most influential in our lives and it is never simple. Even when we have been separated from our mother at birth - or later by death or circumstance - a deep and inexplicable bond connects daughter to mother, mother to daughter....









"As adult daughters, this bond may be one of profound ambivalence. We may still be blaming our mother, trying to change or fix her, or we may be keeping our emotional distance. We may be absolutely convinced that our mother is 'impossible', that we have tried everything to improve things and nothing works....






"The problem is that these are cardinal signs of being stuck in this key relationship. They are signs we have not negotiated our ultimate separateness from our mother, nor have we come to terms with her separateness from us. If we are still blaming our mother, we cannot truly accept our self. If we are still fighting or distancing, we are reacting to the intensity in this relationship rather than working on it.







" And if we fail to carve out a clear and authentic self in this arena, we won't have a clear and separate self to bring to other important relationships....whatever goes unaddressed and unresolved in our first family will go underground - and then pop up somewhere else, leaving us in a more shaky, vulnerable position with others.


 







"We hear much about how a mother impedes her daughter's separateness and independence. We hear less about the daughter's own difficulty in experiencing her mother as a separate and different "other", with a personal history of her own."   -- Harriet Lehrner, Ph.D. The Dance of Intimacy (1989)












red_satin_doll: (Chosen One - purple)

Originally posted at the Jossverse Big Damn Love Fest: http://big-damn-fest.dreamwidth.org/3818.html


RUNNER-UP: Best Meta (Not Fade Away) category of the Wicked Awards Round 10
banner by [livejournal.com profile] angelus2hot


r10redsatindollnotfadeawayrunneruppngoriginal_bannerbyangelus2hot

***
Warning and Disclaimer: I have thoughts - and a lot of feelings - about "Ted".  This is quite serious, and more than a little personal; some very triggery subjects will be discussed. I’m not kidding. If this isn't your thing, by all means feel free to hit the back button right now, and no hard feelings.  If you chose to continue otherwise, considered yourself welcome as well as forewarned. But please leave your weapons at the threshhold before you come in. Then wipe your feet on the mat, and help yourself to cookies.  (Or hot cocoa with extra marshmallows.) Also, I apologize for the formatting but LJ is being very disobedient tonight.

Joyce_Buffy_Sad_ Ted_LJ_500pixels

And then there's the simple truth that when you engage in violence, accidents happen. We aren't robots. We can't turn off and turn on with the flip of a switch--and if we could, then we'd be okay with murdering people to gain our own ends. That fact that Buffy's violence is motivated by love is essential; it is both dark and light--she dances on the razor edge and she only has her instincts to guide her. - [livejournal.com profile] angearia
http://2maggie2.livejournal.com/33960.html

***
In 1958 Lana Turner’s 14 year-old daughter Cheryl Crane stabs her mother’s boyfriend to death, allegedly in an effort to protect her mother.  (The man, Johnny Stompanato, had gang connections and a history of violence behind him.)  The court rules it justifiable homicide.


***


Thirty years later another teenage girl, oldest of four siblings, reads about Cheryl Crane, admires Crane’s courage, and wonders if she would be able to do the same, if the need arose. Her (second) stepfather is a large and powerful man; her mom is barely 5’3”.  Would a baseball bat be sufficient?  A kitchen knife? She decides on a rusty WW1-era bayonet and hides it by her bed. Her mom finds it and removes it without a word.


***


In the end, it’s unnecessary anyway; her mom divorces her husband and her daughter can breathe again, a little, and home becomes a safe place to be for the first time in years. It’s not that the girl wanted to hurt her stepfather.  She knows that would be a horrific act; she also knows that there are people out there, other girls, for whom such things are unimaginable.  But she’s been surrounded by violence her entire life, and so it’s not off the table. What is unimaginable in all her dark reveries, risking death for the sake of her family, is the notion of defending  herself from her stepfather. Not once does that occur to her.
***
In 2012 the same girl, now a woman, finally watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time. She enjoys the cleverness and subversion of the “high school is hell” metaphors, the witty dialogue, the genre tropes and subversions. She is entertained and amused, even moved at times, but she doesn’t really identify with the pretty, perky ex-cheerleader at the center of the story.  It doesn’t really touch her own experiences, and isn’t remotely scary, even when Buffy goes down to meet her death at the hands of the Master for the first time. (There are a total of seven seasons, after all; ergo, nothing to worry about.)


***


And then the woman watches “Ted” and for a few moments, she is terrified - for Buffy, and for the girl who hid a bayonet by her bed all those years ago. Memories she’s (thought she’s made) made peace with and packed away tumble out unbidden, like an overstuffed dresser drawer.  She knows that her experience is not identical to Buffy’s, after all, and there’s a relief in that; the girl she once was couldn’t fight back, couldn’t protect her herself much less her family, and never even dared to protest or sass back; Buffy can, and does. She has resources that girl of long ago, and most abused children, can never dream of - confidence, physical strength, strength of character and will, resourcefulness, as well as devoted friends who come to her aid.


***


But Buffy Summers is just a girl, after all, a 16 year old girl operating on instinct. She’s been given a “license to kill” (demons) and almost zero guidance in how to use it.  The Watchers’ Council cares nothing for her welfare, or for the countless girls who have preceded her; what matters is that the Slayer does her job properly and follows the arcane rules imposed upon her, traditions handed down through the centuries.
BuffyFrightened_Ted_LJ_300pixels
Ted Buchanan, as it turns out, would make an ideal Watcher by the Council’s standards, barring his use of physical violence, and even that’s not a sure thing. After all, the original Shadowmen chained a girl and forced the power of the demon upon her; the Watchers' Council may be more “civilized” on the surface, but they uphold a terrible tradition. The Slayer is used, discarded and replaced when she rebels or no longer suits the councils needs. Surely more personal abuse and violations of Slayers by individual Watchers is not beyond the pale.


***


Likewise Ted demands obedience from a string of women, discarding and destroying them when they disobey him or are no longer useful. How many Slayers throughout time have come before Buffy (later Kendra and Faith)? How many other people has Ted hurt or killed, women who wouldn’t follow the program, in addition to the four wives in his closet?  The Watcher’s Council and Ted both operate within closed systems; they may allow minor changes and adjustments so long as the original paradigm is preserved.


***
Of course Buffy defeats Ted, motivated not just by her Slayer instincts but the instincts of a daughter and friend to protect the people she loves. She’s the Hero, after all. And yet she suffers for her actions; social ostracization, guilt, and shame. Heros may not end up in court charged with justifiable homicide but there are still consequences to bear. (There are always consequences.)


***


Or at least there are if the Hero is a teenage girl. Violence from men is so common as to be unremarkable; violent acts committed by women are still considered shocking. It’s no accident that at the end of the episode Buffy and Joyce agree to a rewatch of Thelma and Louise, a movie that disturbed and polarize audiences because two female protagonists commit violent acts against male characters onscreen; the same violence by male protagonists is a commonplace in movies, and a guarantee of box office sales.


***


So Buffy succeeds but at a cost.  Her mother is safe but heartbroken and terribly lonely, unable to even look her daughter in the eye. Whatever her personal animosity towards Ted, much of it justifiable in light of his behavior, the last thing on earth Buffy ever wanted to do was to hurt her mother. The bond between them, one that suffered fissures long before “Ted Buchanan” came into their lives, is further damaged.  And yet they love one another, deeply, no one questions that, and there’s the rub.  The anger and love are warped and woven into one another so tightly that what poisons their bond also strengthens it.


***


And so it is with her best friends, with her mentor, with everyone who comes within her circle. Violence begets violence. It stains and spoils everything it touches; it cannot be put back into a tidy little box, locked up and tossed away.  We can atone for it but we cannot undo it.


***


But this a fictional story and in fiction, unlike real life, there must be some catharsis for the viewer, a chance to release the anxieties the story has provoked, to relax and breathe again. And so it is for the characters themselves, or at least it seems at the moment.  The episode ends happily, one might say conventionally, enough. More dramatically than the story of girl with the bayonet, perhaps (real life has no resolutions, remember); but Buffy and her mother come to an uneasy, unspoken peace on the back porch, their home (women’s space) reclaimed, and they can breathe again, for a time. Rupert Giles and Jenny Calender share a passionate kiss for the first time, Xander and Cordelia giggle while Buffy averts her eyes. It’s an ending worthy of Shakespearean comedy: All’s well that ends well.
JoyceGiles_Kiss_Ted_Cropped_LJ.Brknscrncps

Except, of course, that we’ve seen the entire series, and we know too much. The moments that made us smile and cheer when we first watched are painful now. (Not as painful as the memory of that bayonet and all it represented, but certainly poignant.) The characters onscreen have the luxury of perpetual innocence; they can’t know yet that Buffy will hesitate to kill her lover and it will cost Jenny her life, and Giles his only chance at love; that Buffy will eventually run a sword through her lover’s heart. The truth of Buffy’s calling will be forced upon Joyce at the worst possible hour and their relationship will be very nearly destroyed.


***


Much has been made of Buffy’s “daddy issues”,  at the cost of the complex mother/daughter relationship, and so scholars and fandom inadvertently repeat the sins of Ted Buchanan, and of the Watchers Council.  We forget, dismiss or overlook the fact that it always comes back to this: the love between a girl trying to grow up in an uncertain and frightening world, and a lonely mother so deeply in denial she cannot see what’s in plain sight before her eyes.


***


And Ted’s fingerprints (do robots have fingerprints?) can be found in the final hours of Buffy’s story when Giles and “General Buffy” and their friends represent the last vestigal traces of the WC, haunted by ghosts and locked into a closed and destructive paradigm. Violence begets violence.


***


In 2012, Buffy became my Hero - by which I mean my fictional hero, my avatar, as opposed to real life heros such as my mother.  (Make no mistake - in her capacity to love and endure, I consider my mother heroic.) My brothers grew up with Spiderman and Batman and Hans Solo; with countless tales of soldiers and kings throughout the ages. I had to wait until I was in my 40’s to find her.


***


Was it worth it the wait? Yes, it most certainly was. Yet I can’t help feel a little wistful that Buffy Summers wasn’t around in the 1970's or 1980’s; I certainly would have loved her then as I do now, if perhaps for different reasons. I can hope that in the years since that at least one other girl or boy, etched with anger and violence, haunted by dreams of murder that are so common as to be unremarkable, has felt just a little less frightened and alone because of her.

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