Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Name: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Abbreviation(s): BtVS
Creator: Joss Whedon
Date(s): July 31, 1992
March 10, 1997 – May 20, 2003
Medium: television series, movie, books, comics, videogames
Country of Origin: US
External Links: at IMDb (Series)
at Wikipedia (Series)
EpGuides (Series)
at IMDb (1992 Film)
at Wikipedia (1992 Film)
Buffy Poster by MonicaMcClain (2011)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a television series created by Joss Whedon, based on the 1992 theatrical movie of the same name. (Whedon wrote the screenplay, but did not direct the film, and he was not fully satisfied with it.[1])

History

It premiered on the WB network in March 1997, although an unaired pilot was created before that. The first season ran for 12 episodes; it was a marginal success for the fledgling network and was brought back for a second season beginning in September 1997. It ran for five seasons on the WB before moving to another small startup network, UPN, for its final two seasons. Star Sarah Michelle Gellar was eager to move on from the show, and after some controversial developments and character arcs, ratings had deteriorated.

After the third season of Buffy, in 1998, one of the series' primary characters, vampire-with-a-soul boyfriend-of-Buffy Angel, was spun off into his own series on the WB.

Buffy is considered by many critics and viewers to be one of the best television series ever made. It combined horror, fantasy, drama, humor, teen angst, and action in a way no other series ever had. Buffy Summers was created as a sort of anti-archetype by Whedon; the small, seemingly defenseless blond girl who turns out to have enormous power—and enormous responsibility. The initial seasons began with a prologue that included information about what a Vampire Slayer was: "Into each generation, a Slayer is born. One girl, in all the world, a chosen one. One born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires, to stop the spread of evil..." to which Buffy responds, in the first episode, with: "...blah blah, I've heard it, okay?" This was typical of the way the series skewered even its own seriousness. Most of the time, Buffy simply wanted to be a regular American teenage girl, like her friends Xander Harris and Willow Rosenberg, and not the one carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. In the season finale of the first series, she even rejects her calling when she finds out a prophecy predicts she'll die that night, weeping that she never wanted to be the Slayer, and that she was "only sixteen" and too young to die. Nevertheless, like all true heroes, Buffy does do her job.

The series continues officially in the "season"ed comic book adaptations, starting with Season 8, as well as the one-shots Tales of the Vampires and Tales of the Slayers. It also has been continued in virtual seasons through a number of fanfic projects. Fray, a graphic novel published in 2001-2003, concurrent with seasons five, six, and seven of the television show, is also part of the canon.

Merchandising products associated with the show and with Angel include a large number of episode adaptations, novels and short story collections (generally considered not to be canon), many non-canon comics, script books and other factual material such as guides to the monsters, collectible figures and other toys, board games, computer games and a tabletop role playing game.

Fandom

As one of the first shows to have an active Internet presence, fannish participation was a virtual smorgasbord for fen, with multiple fannish websites, email groups, and forums.

Spoilers & Episode Transcripts

Thanks to satellite programming and wildfeeds, some fans had an early jump on the show, before its regularly scheduled air time and date, and posted spoilers, reviews or episode summaries online. Spoilers were a prominent feature of Buffy fandom, with trustworthy spoiler sources gaining BNF status. There were several spoiler sources within the fandom that appeared to have sources within the production.

Other buffistas transcribed their own scripts, often with detailed disclaimers, from recording and rewatching the episodes. As one of the first online fandoms, having access to complete scripts was important for reasons beyond theorizing or discussion. In a time before streaming, the sharing of scripts allowed fans to catch up on missed episodes, but it also allowed fans new to the series to enter the fandom. They also allowed fans outside the US to stay up to date when the series would not be aired in their country until months after the original airdate.

Initially TPTB, namely Joss Whedon, were supportive of these fan activites. However many of these websites were subject to cease & desist letters during FOX's crackdown on fan sites, often resulting in transcripts, spoilers and other fannish content been taken down.

A (very incomplete) list of fans and websites affected:

Fan Campaigns

Fan campaigns were another feature of Buffy fandom. Fans of particular characters or ships sometimes engaged in letter writing campaigns or bought ads in publications to thank TPTB and of course, highlight the importance of their favourite character or ship.[4] B/A fans took out this full page ad in the Hollywood Reporter to thank cast and creators for their depiction of the Buffy/Angel romance.

Full page ad. A black banner contains a stylized black and white image of Buffy with her hands on her hips, in between white text, The Fans Stand Up for Buffy. Why doesn't The WB?
The Stand up for Buffy advertisement

Many other campaigns were reactions to actions taken by the network. Stand Up for Buffy was a campaign that was organized after the postponement of two episodes, Earshot and Graduation Day Part 2, following the Columbine School massacre. Fans organized under the tagline “The Fans Stand Up for Buffy. Why doesn't The WB?" and raised funds for a full page ad in Daily Varity.[5]

In the early days of internet fandom, Buffy fans were very aware that they risked legal action as a result of their online activities. Several years earlier, FOX had begun its crackdown on X-Files sites and by 1999, several well known Buffy sites were shut down following cease & desist letters. This led to several campaigns and fan actions. Operation: Blackout was the shutdown of multifandom fansites for one day, to highlight the networks heavy handed actions against fansites. Another group, Buffy's Bringers offered support to at risk fans and websites, from multiple fandoms. While it's difficult to measure the success of these campaigns, they did promote discussion of fair use (which wasn't yet law) and existing copyright laws within the fandom.

Fanlistings

The fandom is the reason why thefanlistings.org exists. The Fanlistings Network was originally founded by Janine, a Buffy fan who is credited with creating the first online fanlisting. Her site Slayer's Empire was opened on May 3, 2000 and connected Buffy fans. The Fanlistings Network was also founded by Janine in 2000, and aimed to connect fans from multiple fandoms. Janine later stepped aside in 2002 to focus on her other sites.[6]

Conventional and Unconventional Shipping

While fans had been shipping characters for decades, BtVS was one of the first fandoms, whose source material had a large cast of characters, to engage in shipping online. The noun shipper was a recent addition to fandom's lexicon. It has arisen in X-Files fandom, as fans who wanted to see a canon Mulder/Scully relationship were called relationshippers, and then just shippers. The verb "to ship" wasn't in use when Buffy premiered.

Some fans recall wank during season 2 of Buffy, when it was suggested the term shipper should only be applied to B/A fans, and not B/X or W/X fans.[7] Although unsuccessful, this was in keeping with fandom norms at the time, wherein canonical and non-canonical ships were labelled differently within fandom. In Buffy and later Roswell (1999) fandom, canon ships were referred to as Conventional Pairings, and non-canon ships were called Unconventional Pairings.

Within Buffy fandom, this practice largely went out of fashion as the series progressed. This could be due to the prominence and popularity of some unconventional ships. However in some corners of fandom, there was also a push for a freer approach to pairings and greater acceptance of rarepairs and slash. The UCSL (Unconventional Relationshippers) list is one example; accepting fanworks featuring slash and het for any unconventional pairing.

This was not the norm for fanfiction archives of the time. Many Buffy fanworks were hosted either on personal websites or small, often pairing-specific archives. Most archives had submission rules, that varied widely depending on the focus of the archive, and stories were accepted or rejected at the whim of moderators. On pairing specific archives, only works in that pairing were accepted. Stories could be rejected if they included poor spelling and grammar, or bad formatting. It was also common for archives to not accept works featuring rape, non-con, RPF, incest, slash or underage characters in sexual situations. There could also be a rules against Human AUs on archives focused on a vampiric character.

Many archives also required authors to include appropriate disclaimers, warnings and ratings.

Archive restrictions, and the financial and technical barriers to hosting one's own fics, may have contributed to the increasing number of fans who were posting their work on multi-fandom fannish sites, like Fanfiction.net and Livejournal. These sites were initially accepting of adult content and both were used by Buffy fans in the early 00s.

Common Tropes & Storylines in Fanfiction

  • Magic Gone Awry fics can include Time Travel, Body swap, Magic made them do it, Memory loss or accidental bonding. Some of these works were often canon divergent due to the number of canonical magical mishaps. Some Buffy fics also used prophecies as a plot device.
  • Curse, What Curse? is a trope that often appears in works pairing Angel and a human character.
  • Post NFA works are set after the season finale of Angel the Series, and sometimes overlap with Shanshu fics.
  • Claiming is a trope that originated in BtVS fandom, and originally referred to vampire mating rituals.
  • Pastfic and pre-canon works were common for older characters, vampires and demons.
  • YAHF or Halloween costume fics were often Xander-centric. These fics were so prevalent that they got their own acronym; YAHF, or Yet Another Halloween Fic.

Ships and Pairings

Het Pairings

Slash Pairings

Femslash Pairings

Threesome and Moresome Pairings

Joss Whedon and Buffy Fandom

In the early days of Buffy fandom, creator Joss Whedon was involved with his fanbase more than most showrunners and was viewed very positively by fans. He frequently interacted with fans on the site devoted to his work, Whedonesque, and earlier was active on other boards such as The Bronze Posting Board.

He was very supportive of fan created works and has frequently shown his appreciation for fan-made vids of Buffy and his other series. He was also supportive of transcripts and other fan created works. Joss says he has an ambivalent relationship with fanfiction, both liking it and also feeling concerned about it.

One of his most famous instances of support for fans came in 1999. The Columbine school massacre had recently occurred, and the WB decided to pull both "Earshot," which dealt with Buffy's sudden ability to hear people's thoughts—one of which is someone planning to kill people on the Sunnydale school campus—and the season finale, "Graduation Day Pt. 2" (because of violent activities—including blowing up the school library). When the series was aired in Canada on schedule, bootleg copies of the latter episode became widely available, and Whedon was quoted as encouraging people to get it, saying "Bootleg the puppy."

Whedon spoke out against Fox's attempts to shut down fan web sites devoted to Buffy and other Fox shows, such as The X-Files. Fans blamed the network rather than Joss, for legal actions taken against individual fans and fan sites. One example in 2005, involved an attempt by Fox lawyers to stop the live-action showing of the musical episode "Once More, with Feeling," despite the fact that Whedon had publicly stated he had no problem with the event.

Whedon became so infamous for introducing surprising (and often heart-wrenching) plot developments and character backstories in Buffy that fan writers invented a term to describe this phenomenon. Jossed describes a situation where new canon contradicts what fan writers have written. The more heart-wrenching plot twists also resulted in the oft-repeated mantra "Joss is evil."[8]

Criticisms

In the years since the series ended (but also during series 6), there has been a re-examination of the series and criticisms have been leveled against Joss as the primary showrunner and writer. These include (but are not limited to):

  • The depiction of characters of colour, who are few in number, often stereotyped, under-developed and usually die. (See, Kendra and Robin Wood)
  • The use of the Dead Lesbian/Evil Lesbian cliches in season 6, when Tara dies, and her partner Willow turns evil.
  • More generally there has been discussion of how characters (in both Buffy and Angel) are often punished for having sex. While the series and Whedon were hailed as feminist revelations when the show originally aired, in the years since then, more critical analysis has challenged the interpretation of Buffy as feminist media.[9]
  • The lack of queer male characters and in particular, the lack of canon confirmation that Andrew is gay. Whedon only provided Word of God confirmation for this character's sexuality, and that appeared to be retconned in Angel series 5.

Academic Fandom

Many academics were/are fans of Buffy and devoted enough scholarly attention to it with papers, edited collections, and conferences that the term "Buffy studies" was coined. See The Encyclopedia of Buffy Studies (archive link).

Some have accused the early Buffy conferences of being fan conventions in disguise.[10] The first international Buffy conference, "Blood, Text & Fears" was held in the UK before the series had finished, and before season 7 had aired in the UK. Guest speakers who referenced the season were often greeted by protests from fans who did not want to be spoiled. Screenings of the first three episodes from that season were in such high demand, that organizers struggled to find a room large enough to show them.[11] Some also questioned the use of video clips and images to add weight to academic arguments. Academics were aware and sometimes uncomfortable with the fannishness of early Buffy conferences. At the Tennessee Slayage Conference in 2004, a spoiler policy was put in place as the series finale of Angel had yet to air.[12]

A very small number of attendees at conferences have also been dismissive of fans activities at conventions, in an effort to distinguish themselves from those fans and events.

[I attended] the international Slayage conference (an academic conference, not a fan convention with costumes, just to be clear. I wanted to talk about it, not dress up as Willow. I have some standards.)[13]

See also, Buffy the Patriarchy Slayer: many links to academic articles.

Communities & Challenges

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Yahoo Groups

Older communities:

Awards

Links are here.

Vidding

The Buffy and Angel fandoms had a strong digital vidding community. Among them:

The Buffy vidding community also offered vidders numerous awards, some of which are archived here.

For a list of Buffy vids on Fanlore see Buffy the Vampire Slayer Vids.

Mailing Lists

For a list of Buffy mailing lists see List of Buffyverse Mailing Lists.

Archives

For a list of Buffyverse fanfiction on Fanlore see Buffyverse Fanfiction.

For a list of Buffy archives on Fanlore see Buffyverse Archives.

Fanzines

Neither Buffy nor Angel fandoms were fanzine-centric and the majority of the fan fiction and artwork is published online. There are several e-zines in the form of fan fiction publications and/or newsletters. A partial list can be found here.

For a list of Buffy Zines on Fanlore see Buffyverse Zines.

Fansites

Various fansites were created for the Buffy fandom. For a list of Buffy fansites on Fanlore see Buffyverse Websites.

Fan Interviews

See Category:Buffy & Angel Fan Interviews.

Meta/Further Reading

See also Buffyverse Meta on Fanlore.

References

  1. ^ "That character had been brewing in me for many years. I finally sat down and had written it and somebody had made it into a movie, and I felt like -- well, that's not quite her. It's a start, but it's not quite the girl." Interview with Whedon on Dark Horse website linked via the wayback machine. (Last accessed August 2, 2009.)
  2. ^ Buffy Shooting script site, Cease & Desist announcement from Rayne shared at Existential Scoobies, Aug 2001.
  3. ^ Attn: All Spoiler Fans, undated post by Angel X (2002)
  4. ^ For example,Support Spike campaign (archived link)
  5. ^ The Stand Up for Buffy Ad, ran in the June 18th 2000 Hollywood Edition of Daily Variety.
  6. ^ TFL 101 on fanlistings.org, accessed May 17, 2019.
  7. ^ Comment by deannab on shippers's essay, You Might Have Post-Traumatic Joss Syndrome, 2010
  8. ^ For example, see Joss' Evil Plans for Xander (Spoilers up to 7.18). April 24, 2003, post on BABoards. See also this Flickr image by Which Witch, joss is evil, uploaded May 7, 2006
  9. ^ Feminism and Joss Whedon: Sex and Punishment by s.e. smith, posted on 2 July 2009]
  10. ^ A Weekend With Buffy, Vampire Slayer and Seminar Topic by Charles Taylor, posted NOV. 24, 2002, accessed 8 June 2019.
  11. ^ Deconstructing Buffy: Scholarly Buffy-philes gather at an English university to discuss by STEPHANIE ZACHAREK, posted NOVEMBER 9, 2002, accessed 8 June 2019.
  12. ^ SCHOLAR/'SHIPPERS AND SPIKEAHOLICS: ACADEMIC AND FAN IDENTITIES AT THE SLAYAGE CONFERENCE ON BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER paper by Vivien Burr, 2005
  13. ^ Buffy and me: a year-long project blogpost by Naomi Alderman, June 10, 2012, accessed June 8, 2019.