Putting The Cop Shows Back In The Cop Shows Thread (And Even a Little Deconstruction, too!)

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at yale.edu
Sun Feb 21 15:56:37 PST 1999

-----Original Message----- From: Liza Featherstone <lfeather32 at erols.com> To: lbo-talk at lists.panix.com <lbo-talk at lists.panix.com>
>as if buffy is being punished for being tempted by faith, and
>faith for being faith E.G. being the only female character on the show who
>A)EATS b)openly digs her own aggression c)digs other grrrls d) really digs
>sex in general...(Paul: I KNOW she hides behind all this appetite to avoid
>dealing with other stuff but it's still genuine!) The narrative is veering
>in this retributive direction and all I was saying is I really don't want
>to turn out that way

My two cents... I think the show is moving in a retributive direction, but not for either Faith's apetites or Buffy's temptation by those apetites, or even for Nietzean overreaching.

I thinks it's a more complicated retribution for overactive consciences (by both Faith and Buffy) combined with real personal betrayal. Faith is not over the edge because she enjoys killing too much. If she did, the whole murder thing would not have bothered her and she would not be in this deep obvious painful denial. The problem is she couldn't deal with what happened and she displaced it into real betrayal of Buffy by blaming her (and maybe the even bigger coming betrayal with the mayor).

And Buffy isn't being punished (or going to be punished) for giving into party girl appetites. She's being punished for going partying without Willow- leaving her friends behind temporarily. Poor Willow had a double betrayal given Sanders announcement of sleeping with Faith. Of course, Willow is on the edge of betrayal of her boyfriend with Sanders. And I don't think all this sexual treachery, relatively new on Buffy, is coinciding with this broader treachery of Faith. The personal usually mirrors the macro on the show.

Actually, Giles is the only one doing well on the show, in some ways having his own Nietzchean freedom after betraying the Watchers for the right reasons. He took the almost casual dismissal of the murder as "one of those things that happen"-- in fact, in all seriousness he took the line that Faith was trying to cop about casualties in the line of fire, but she doesn't have the confidence to mean it; Giles does. His saving grace is his fatherly love for Buffy which is his moral center in the middle of this war zone.

In that sense, this is not about bad girl appetites but about all the more grownup tragedies of war movies and cop shows of the bad kill: the civilian casualty and how the killer handles the tradegy. Faith is going over the edge not out of outside retribution for being a "bad girl" but inside self-destruction for not being able to put the tragedy in some personal perspective. The fact is that Faith is tempted by Buffy more than vice versa. Faith wants Buffy's moral compass (which is why she keeps hanging around despite talking about getting on the next ship) and resents that in herself, since she does not like herself enough to handle the self-judgement that would go along with that. So tempting Buffy is more a way to deflect her own temptations.

Okay, my psychobabble on the show :

--Nathan Newman

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