A Look at the Fantas Magoria Livejournal Buffy and Angel Fanworks Community

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Interviews by Fans
Title: A Look at the Fantas Magoria Livejournal Buffy and Angel Fanworks Community
Interviewer:
Interviewee: Rebcake
Date(s): April 17, 2012
Medium: online
Fandom(s): Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel the Series
External Links: A Look at the Fantas Magoria Livejournal Buffy and Angel Fanworks Community; archive link
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A Look at the Fantas Magoria Livejournal Buffy and Angel Fanworks Community is an interview with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer focus.

It was conducted by, and posted to, Legendary Women, Inc., an organization devoted to promoting the empowerment of women, both in the media and in their everyday lives and endeavors.

"We sat down with Rebcake, one of the moderators of the fantas_magoria community on livejournal to talk about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, their legacy, and why even after almost a decade off the air, people love doing fanart and fanfiction for these programs."

Excerpts

What can you tell us about yourself and how you became interested in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the Series?

It was inevitable that I would be bitten by the “Buffy” bug. Genre stories have always appealed to me, and I love the way that the fantastic can often highlight what is true and meaningful better than a story with a realistic setting. Feminism and pop culture interest me in equal measure. For example, my American Studies undergraduate thesis subject was Lois Lane, Superman’s Girlfriend. I’ve done work as a writer and editor of underground comics, as well as playing drums in an all-female “alt” band, and writing the occasional essay on various cultural phenomena. I briefly worked with Alison Bechdel of the “Bechdel Test” fame. Girl power is catnip to me.

Nevertheless, I was both early and late to “Buffy”. I saw the original movie in the theater when it first came out, as it sounded just about perfect. It was…not that thrilling. I was therefore on the fence when the television series was announced. For a variety of reasons, the primary one being child-rearing that didn’t allow for TV watching at 8PM, I didn’t get around to watching the series until it was off the air, in spite of hearing good things. I treated myself to the BtVS Season 2 DVDs when my daughter turned 10. What was supposed to be a bit of escapist fun turned into an obsession in just a few hours. It had everything I’d always wanted: the fun-loving girl designed to slay demons both real and metaphorical with a quip and the help of her trusty friends. The black humor appealed to me, as did the way it toyed with viewer expectations. I devoured every episode of “Buffy”, continuing on to “Angel” Season 5 before backtracking to the beginning of AtS. I’ve seen all of Buffy multiple times, though there are sections of Angel that I’ve only seen once.

You help co-moderate the fantas_magoria live journal community. What can you tell our readers about that?

The community is set up to review every episode of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel the Series, in order. We highlight one episode of each show each week. We post a short reminder about the episode’s themes and ask the members to put up anything pertaining to the episodes in focus — ideas, essays, or meta; stories; artwork; video; poems; or reports from behind the scenes.

The originators passed it on to the current moderators just as the community was getting ready to review the BtVS Season 3 episode “Lovers’ Walk”. It was a great place to start, as it brought back a villain from Season 2, Spike, and used him in a whole new way to highlight the situations of the regular cast of characters. It’s a pivotal episode, featuring a divisive character, and lots of our members had something to say about it.

It is wonderful to be able to shine a spotlight on every single episode. Not all of them are equally well-loved by the fandom, but each one contains something noteworthy and frequently quotable. We enjoy pointing out the good bits of less-rewatched episodes, as well as the less-appreciated characters or moments in the very popular episodes.

The neat thing about the fantas_magoria community is that it still produces fic and art for shows that have been off the air for nine and eight years, respectively. How do you keep fans coming back to participate?

The richness of the source material means that there are multiple ways to interpret the motivations and actions of the characters both beloved and less so, and that makes it easy to engage people, even after all this time. Different people are drawn to different aspects of the show, but many creative people are interested in the part of the story that went untold on screen. Some revel in uncovering the back stories of the villains, others delight in filling in what happened between scenes or episodes, others examine the world of the Buffyverse through the eyes of people that are barely mentioned.

We use a variety of tools— such as prompts, challenges, and polls — to spark discussion and creative work. We also try to make the community a safe place for people to participate. Minority opinions are welcome, but we discourage comments about other fans, unless it’s to say something unequivocally nice.

What are some challenges involved with running the community?

As you said, these shows have been off the air for a long time. The fandom was definitely more active when the shows were “fresher”. Partly, that’s because so much discussion has already taken place, and people don’t feel the need to repeat themselves, although there is still an openness to new interpretations. In addition, some of the material is very emotionally difficult, particularly in the later seasons. Some fans just want to have fun in their fandom, and there are certain places that they’d rather not revisit. We try to tread lightly without shying away from the hard stuff

What about the women of the Buffyverse or Buffy herself do you find empowering and feminist?

The often overlooked thing about the Buffyverse women is that there are so many of them. When a female character is presented as powerful and heroic in the media, I’m happy to see it. But the Buffyverse has women and girls in every conceivable role and that makes me even happier. The very first woman we see in the first episode seems to be the typical, young, blonde, horror movie victim — though she turns out to be the opposite of those things, except for the hair color. And she’s not even the main character!

Women are everywhere in the Buffyverse. They are the heroes, the villains, demons, moms, sisters, friends, girlfriends, enemies, frenemies, students, damsels, hard working intellectuals, achy-footed service workers, lawyers, assassins, and everything else. They are straight, gay, young, old, thin and — okay, they’re pretty much always thin, overwhelmingly white, and able-bodied. (I suspect the shows would be more representative if they were made today.) All this variety means that the women get to be more than tokens or representative of a type. The heroine can have issues with depression. The sweet, shy girl can also have a controlling streak. The moms can be good moms, and still fail badly at times. The villains often have compelling reasons for their villainy. The women of the Buffyverse are feminist to me not because they are shining beacons of perfection, but because they are first and foremost complicated human beings, just like all the fascinating women that I know. Also, the message that runs throughout “Buffy” — that more can be accomplished within a cooperative community than by a single individual — has strong feminist resonance for me.

References