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.


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


"Winged Buffy" banner, a gift from the fantastically talented and generous [ profile] comlodge, (June 2013, not snaggable)

*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 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.



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" - [ 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.)


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.
* 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.


I Walk Alone, another beautiful gift from [ profile] comlodge based on her FFL picspam series for Round 18 of [ 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: (Buffy Katniss gift from Fassy)
To celebrate her 10th anniversary as an icon artist, [ profile] fassy offered to make icons for a certain number of folks, and I was lucky enough to be the last person to make the deadline for requests.  I asked for Buffy and/or Katniss (two of my favorite fictional ladies).  I loved Catching Fire (the movie) and felt that Katniss was Buffy's spiritual heir.*

All icons below by [ profile] fassy / [ profile] destruction_box ;  #1 - 4 not snaggable.
    1 - 4
All the icons have now been posted at her graphics comm [ profile] destruction_box. Check out all 156 gems. Icons # 1- 4 are the ones she made especially for me and I LOVE them.  I wasn't very specific about what I wanted; apparently I mentioned a maternal vibe (see the "spiritual heir" comment above)? She went with that, but in such a way that 1 & 2 are very open to interpretation. The vibe I get could be read as parallels, as mirrors; as sisters, even in a romantic sense, if one wanted to.  I love the light, the glow and the softness of all 4 of these.  The way Fassy balances softness with sharpness to avoid a hard, aritificial, hyperrrealistic quality is stunning. I love the warm/cool color balance in #2. And with 3 & 4, I'm an absolute sucker for work that can make monochrome palettes glow. And you know my love of sepia tones and effects.

#1 - 4 are not snaggable; but 5 - 7 are; I couldn't resist snagging these alts as well:

  5 - 7

* Close, loving and fiercely loyal relationship with a younger sister who is really smart and cool in her own right? Check. Willing to die for said sister? Check. Skilled fighter? Check? Emotionally traumatized reluctant warrior who "soldiers on" regardless because she is needed? Check. Frequent thoughts of running away from her duty? Check. Uncomfortable relationship with a "sister warrior" who is far more comfortable with her own sexuality, the dark to the protagonist's light? Check. In the middle of a romantic triangle/quadrangle? Check. Turning against the patriarchial institution that tries to control her? Check. Am I forgetting anything?

P.S.: I haven't read the books, but I'm not bothered by spoilers.

P.S.S: For the record I'm actually a Katniss/Finnick shipper. I mean, their tension was off the charts in Catching Fire (the movie) and reminded me of a certain Slayer her bleached blond vampire lover.  Ok, I know Finnick marries Annie - but there's still something of Spike in his devotion to the women in his life, particularly his "mother/mentor", as well as his bad boy persona that's just a cover for a heart of gold.

Whereas Peeta is kind of Riley - the decent guy who is the "college" romance, as opposed to the childhood sweetheart (Angel/Gale.) Ok, it's not perfect match but close enough. It's inspiration, not a carbon copy.
red_satin_doll: (Buffy IWRY golden glow RSD)
Poster for [ profile] aliceinkinkland's "Show You the World" for [ profile] buffy_genfic Round One "Buffy's Stuff  (2015), inspired by [ profile] spuffy_luvr's prompt: Joyce’s Jeep, a road trip, car trouble, and muggle hitchhikers, and didn’t want vamp!Buffy or angst without some measure of hope.

Unlike [ profile] velvetwhip and [ profile] spuffy_luvr's stories this round, I didn't read Alice's story until yesterday when she posted it to the comm but I knew as soon as I read it that I'd want to make artwork for it. Summers sister bonding is my jam. Call it corny and nonsensical but I loved it when Buffy and Dawn fought side by side in Grave; when S7 began I was looking forward to more Summers Sister screentime and the season started promisingly enough in Lessons but Dawn was soon shunted off to the side. Alas.
For once there are no alt versions (fancy that) because the final product turned out pretty much the way I envisioned it. I knew I wanted an open road in the daytime, with "Joyce's jeep" seen in the distance, lines from a map fading as they melted into the sky, and the "ghost images" of Buffy and Dawn above. I wanted this to be different to my two previous posters, for "Who's That Girl" and "Come Out Come Out"; something light, fun, reminiscent of a movie poster.

For once I used a stock image for the road instead of one of my own photos; but I did photograph a close-up of a map I have at home and expanded it over the base image. I couldn't find a map of the west coast in my house so I pulled out one of...South Carolina. I gave it a warm, golden tonality to try to evoke the look of the open road to Sunnydale in Becoming and Chosen. There are no images of Joyce's jeep at a distance on a desert road or highway; the jeep here is one I digitally masked from a separate stock photograph and layered here. I made sure to feather the edges of the mask so that there would be some shadows from the jeep on the road itself; I think it looks fairly convincing.. Warm-tone filters give the entire poster a sunny but also slightly faded look.

The image of Dawn in Help is from Leave Me the White; the cap of Buffy in Him is from the sadly-defunct Broken Screencaps. Finding images of the girls that conveyed the right tone, especially Dawn, was the hardest part of the projects. The story takes place during the summer between S6 - 7, and possesses a lovely sense of humor and whimsy interlaced with heartbreakingly rendered observations about the trauma Buffy and Dawn are trying to push through and get over with the help of no one but themselves and each other to rely on.
The image of Dawn isn't perfect perhaps but it had the advantage of not being a well-known image (Help is an underrated episode IMO but then the entire first half of S7 is highly underrated) and I prefer to work with lesser-known caps when I can. Plus she's smiling, god love her and you can actually tell that yes, her eyes are blue. The image of Buffy from Him is probably better known simply by virtue of the sunglasses she wears. But I simply liked that image of her and I loved the breezy California-girl sophistication.

Thank you [ profile] kwritten for hosting this commuity dedicated to gen fics for us to enjoy! Check out the masterlist of fics for this round here.  Sign ups for Round Two for Willow Rosenberg will begin August 15th, until then, the next four days are a "free for all" period for more fics and artwork dedicated to the Round One theme. Also check out Kelsey's opinion poll.
red_satin_doll: (Buffy Joyce IWMTLY The Body Glow)
Congratulations to the winners of [ profile] whedon_elite Challenge 117, [ profile] sweet_lyri and [ profile] starry_night; THANK YOU to [ profile] setentpet for the Mod's Choice Award for my #4 entry and to everyone who participated in the voting. Banners by your's truly; click on the banner to see all the winning icons and banners.


My entries:  1. 2. 3. 4.
Mods choice banner, alts and thinky-thoughts after the cut :


For the banner I was inspired by design of [ profile] tempertemper's gorgeous banners for [ profile] slayerstillness Challenge 43 and her use of "radial blur" to try it for myself. The font isn't specifically "period" but it has a slightly vintage feel and reminds me of fonts I've seen on the covers of early 20th-century magazines. A photo or screencapture of the Summers' home exterior set provided the base image. I confess that I don't recall where exactly I found this photo; my apologies to whoever posted it originally. (Or for that matter, whoever shot/taped the original image.)

The icon [ profile] setentpet chose is my favorite of my four entries for this round, and the only one I made multiple alts for. I kept fiddling with the color, sharpness, glow, added floral layers; tried to make it look more like a pencil drawing, etc. before finally deciding on one of the earliest versions. I'm not sure it's the very best alt I could have submitted, but I liked the softness and glow, and even that tiny touch of color reflected in Buffy's hair.

Alts:   5.  6. 7. 8. 9.

         10. 11. 12. 13.

1, 9 - 13) [ profile] kikimay encouraged me to keep experimenting with floral textures after my fourth entry for Challenge 116 also won Mod's Choice.
With #1, I simply liked how the flowers echoed the pattern of the wallpaper, and the colors of Anya's hair, lipstick and clothes; so there was really no particular "meta" meaning there. (Although if you want to read meta meaning into it by all means do!)  With the Buffy/Joyce icons I think I was trying for a sense of the banality of domesticity, as well an echo of the flowers Joyce received from Brian that we've just seen, and a suggestion of funeral flowers. I don't think it worked and at any rate it distracted from the main image. Fun to experiment with, though.

2, 4) Yeah, it's the latest in my "Buffy and dead Joyce" series and I have to say, one of my favorite things about my most recent [ profile] btvsats20in20 entries is that I made two - count 'em, two! - icons of Joyce, by herself and alive.  That said - I will always maintain that Joyce's death is the single most traumatic thing that happens to Buffy, aside perhaps from being resurrected. Even above killing Angel, although that's certainly in the mix.*

I've said it before - the men in Buffy's life are important to her but Joyce is at the core of her being, her constant.  Even if Joss never quite got that and Joyce was shunted to the sidelines. For someone who "gets it", check out [ profile] velvetwhip's  WIP, Answering Prayers. If you feel about Joyce's neglect in canon the way I do, Answering Prayers makes everything better.**

3) If you didn't know what that image is, you probably wouldn't know what that is? I tried other images from Forever, an unjustly overlooked episode because it follows the Body.  If it were a masterpiece in and of itself it would still be overlooked and it isn't, but it deserves better than the neglect it tends to get. Several folks voted it best light use this round, and thank you to those who did. The caps in this last scene in Forever are terribly dark and difficult to work with.

* I started making a list of the traumatic things Buffy endures and gave up when it got really, really long. And then I started thinking about Dawn and the list got exponentially longer Instead of hating on them for what they don't get right, I'd rather hug them, congratulate them and marvel that neither one ends the series in a catatonic state for the remainder of their days, utterly ground down beneath Life's Heel. I don't think I could endure a fifth of what Buffy and Dawn do with any semblance of sanity.

** Who's with me on the Summers Women lovefest?
red_satin_doll: (Buffy Helpless Hairporn RSD)

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

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 [ profile] teragramm.

MANY thanks to the wonderful [ profile] starry_night for extending the deadline (twice); and I cannot heap enough praise on my beta-Muse [ 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, [ 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" [ profile] starry_night's rules for my own artwork
~ Take what you like for personal use but please credit if used :)
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments are appreciated :)
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 [ profile] xclaire_delunex and [ profile] kwritten - to be considered anywhere near the same distinguished company is amazing.
Thank you again to [ 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 [ 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 [ 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 [ 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 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?

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. [ 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 [ 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)

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 [ 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 [ 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. [ 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!
*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)


"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: (Tara Buffy Bargaining)
ETA: Additional screencaps added below cut - which has also been added. (Post in haste, repent at leisure.)

Take a Moment: by   [ profile] lanoyee. Gen, Buffy, Tara, Dawn. A "deleted scene" , post-"Grave"; Buffy bids a friend good-bye. Spare, elegant and melancholy, it's a scene I wish had been in the show.  One of the things I love best about BtVS is how unsentimental it is generally, but sometimes, what I want and what I need are one and the same; no one else can determine that for me. This story gives me both, and it honors one of the most overlooked friendships in the Buffyerse: Buffy and Tara.

[ profile] lanoyee  recently began transferring some of her female-centric & Buffy-centric meta from her tumblr to her LJ because I begged at my request. In our conversations about one of our favorite shared subjects, the interrelationships of the women on BtVS, the same words kept coming up over and over: overlooked, underestimated, underappreciated, etc. When it comes to Buffy especially, her relationships with other women generate a lot less ink, as far as I can tell, than her relationships with the men in her life; it's easy to forget how central Joyce, Dawn, Willow, Faith etc are to Buffy's story, to her heart. Spike and Angel may be in her heart; Joyce and Dawn are her heart, they are her blood. And yet at the same time the show demonstrates that importance of "not in blood but in bond" relationships, to quote Kikimay's recent comment.

"Take a Moment" was written shortly after a conversation [ profile] lanoyee & I had about Buffy & Tara in particular, i.e. Why doesn't anyone talk about their relationship? About Tara's role in Buffy's story? Because it's not something I need to fanwank out of thin air, or squint to see: It's right there onscreen; they have a connection to one another that Buffy never shares with Anya, or at least until "Selfless" brings the "Xander's Lie" arc full circle. [ profile] pocochina thankfully mentions their connection in her 2011 meta character study of Tara, summing it up in quick, vivid strokes in just two paragraphs.

I'd call Buffy & Tara my OTF (one true friendship) except that's bullshit: aside from Buffy being my favorite character in the 'verse (and possibly in fiction, period) when it comes to this show, I may prefer certain things but I don't "OT_" anything. But FUFAW (Favorite Underappreciated Friendship Among Women) is pretty unwieldy, and sound like either a disease or something two cats would do in an alley.

Tara may not get a lot of time on the show, and she and Buffy rarely interact directly but she plays a key or essential role in some of the best episodes of the series, and when she does, she not only sings, she soars: "Hush", which both mirrors and flips Buffy and Willow's first encounters in "WTTH"; "Who are You", in which she is the only character to realize that Faith isn't really Buffy, and she's never even met Buffy before; "Restless", as a dream guide to Buffy her connection to Dawn, as a sister, becomes explicit; "Family" begins with Buffy verbally committing to protect Dawn from Glory after learning that Dawn isn't "real", and ends with Buffy and Dawn protecting Tara from the Maclays and naming her as one of their own: "Who do you think you are?" / "We're family."  (I recently rewatched that episode waiting for a conversation between Buffy and Tara at the end at Tara's birthday party, and was shocked to realize it wasn't in the episode at all, but rather from [ profile] snowpuppies's  fic "Here Comes the Sun" )
Speaking the words: "family" "sisters" "Summers blood" makes the commitment as physical and as real as mixing her own blood with Dawn's in BT.

Not in blood alone, but in bond.

The relationships between the women of the Buffyverse aren't an afterthought, something set to the side, they are absolutely central to it; and unlike most tv and movies shows I grew up with, the women of the Buffyverse don't relate only to the men, who in contrast enjoy rich friendships with one another. (Remember the popularity of the "buddy movie" esp in the 1980's?) That, for me, is one of the strengths of the Buffyverse. The women matter, and they matter to one another, as literal and metaphorical mothers, sisters, daughters, rivals, friends, and allies. They love, and choose to love, even when it's painful and difficult to do so.

And this may be behind my frustration or impatience with Angel, Riley and Giles. Yes, they have to leave, yes I get it, blah blah bitty blah. They can't stand the "fire" of love, so they get out of the kitchen, out of "women's space" literally and figuratively. I could devote an entire meta just to "Joyce's kitchen" as symbol of the Mother Principal, of Mater. The room where Buffy fights to protect Joyce in "Angel" and "Ted", where they have their worst fight in "Becoming Pt 2", where Joyce reaffirms her admiration and pride in Buffy in "Helpless", is also the room we associate with Tara's pancakes, and Spike fights for Buffy in "Touched". (The Mother Principle is not about literal gender.) It means something. They "chose" Mater and reaffirm the importance of love - raw, real, and messy love in all it's aspects, not the illusion of "romance". They bear witness to one another: you're important. You matter. I love you. I believe in you. Yes you fucked up, but you can do better next time. I understand you - or maybe I don't, but I can offer you comfort.

It's why we don't see Angel and Riley in the final battle in "Chosen" nor should we. It's why Giles absolutely has to "bend his knee" to the Warrior of the People, the Queen - and thank the stars that she is a benevolent one - if he expects to stand next to Buffy at the end.  Or rather, behind her, in the final scene.

And it's one reason - of many - why Tara's absence in "Chosen" hurts so deeply; she earned the right to be there. Not as Willow's lover, not as a "perfect, faultless human being" (which she isn't, despite the tendency to canonize her as saint), and not even as Buffy's friend but as a powerful woman in her own right.

If I don't go into the politics overmuch here it's because I have a LOT more to say on the subject and am saving it for the moment; but also because it's dominated the discussion re: Tara for over ten years. Rage or silence and little in between the two. If I focus on her death, then I fail to celebrate her life, and it's worth celebrating. Her very existence as the first three-dimensional lesbian character in a realistic lesbian relationship is worth celebrating. And deserves a much better legacy than shameful silence and lack of any such characters that still exists  - or rather, doesn't exist - in US television ten years later.

As long as we share her story she'll never lack for mourners and lovers, but if we fail to do so then she "dies", utterly and completely.

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