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Today I was reading the BAPS (Bloody Awful Poets Society) list and pondering an interview (or perhaps series of intercut interviews) which was posted there where James Marsters was going on and on about how the audience didn't seem to understand that Spike was evil in Season Six of "BtVS."

It's really hard to tell if Marsters is toeing the Company Line (i.e., Spike is Evil, Buffy + Angel = Tru Luv F'ever & ever), if the comments were printed in context at all, or if he honestly thinks or believes his fans are a bunch of hormone-charged women living in a fantasy world where rapists can be redeemed through the power of Tru Lurve and "I believe in fairies" hand-clapping. The topic of the bathroom scene at the end of the episode "Seeing Red" has been hashed and re-hashed into the ground for over a year, so there's no point going back through all that. My personal opinion was that the entire scene was hugely out of character for BOTH of them, and the writers screwed up something that could have been awesome in trying to force their percieved storyline on their dimwitted public. Be that as it may, I do take offense at being called an idiot by writers of a television show who apparently wanted me to believe that "Spike Is Evil," and yet persisted in writing him as good. Take away Marsters' "too sensitive" acting and the lines and script actions are still there -- Spike stalwartly taking a pretty deadly beating from Glory to keep "Dawn is the Key" secret; Spike patiently helping the insane Tara, even when she opened the window to allow full sunlight to burn him; Spike "obtaining" the RV to take them to safety; Spike catching the sword in his bare hands to save Buffy; Spike being knifed and thrown off the tower in an attempt to save Dawn; Spike working with the Scooby Gang during the summer of Buffy Death, with no thought of reward as he was certain she was permanently dead; Spike keeping his promise to the dead woman by taking care of Dawn throughout said summer; Spike counting the days that she was dead; Spike gently taking care of the disoriented Buffy; Spike stepping in when Buffy was about to spontaneously combust and stopping her dance; Spike, sans memory, assuming he was a good vampire on the side of right; blah, blah, blah, etc., etc. These weren't just Marsters' expressive face or body -- these were character bits written into the script. The tender dialogue spoken, the heroic actions taken, this was the CHARACTER showing strength, courage, honesty, and goodness, not the actor making odd acting decisions. Did Spike backslide sometimes? Sure, he did -- but, hello, vampire here. Spike fought against the basic elements of his demon instinct and nature to become a better person. Like all people who struggle to do right, sometimes he did wrong. Hence, the elephant-in-pajamas bathroom scene only showed a deeply confused and hurt man bumbling once again in his long and arduous fight against himself; worse, it showed a previously strong and self-sufficient heroine reduced to whiney tears and begging (which didn't happen a few years previously, when Xander-as-hyena-boy tried to rape her).

They tell us that in the world that is "Buffy," an evil vampire can't change his nature, so they had to shoehorn this guy who didn't fit that ideal back into his round hole, because to all eyes, Spike WAS doing just that -- changing his nature. As such, the bathroom scene stands as a testament to writers who either didn't know their own characters and refused to let them evolve and grow, OR writers who were so stubbornly attached to an outdated idea they refused to see what they had actually wrought and tried to force the story back to what they had originally envisioned (something that might have worked if they hadn't already published the previous chapters and could haul them out for a re-write).

What I don't understand is why I, and many others I respect, saw the story of "Spike is trying to become good" while others did not; I defintely never saw a "Spike is a selfish monster" story, but I understand that's how many people saw it. I try, I really do try, to see things from opposing points of view. I understand the evils of rape/date rape/sexual assault. I know what Spike did is, in the real world, completely unforgiveable. I can understand Marsters' point of view on having played the scene and hated it, and wanting to warn young fans about real world bad men. I'm old enough to understand; other fans may not be. I get that. I'm also not totally blinded by Marsters' good looks -- I liked Spike before I noticed the actor's physical appeal. I'll be truthful here, DB is more my physical "style" under normal circumstances... Marsters' looks grew on me because I came to like Spike.

So I get all that. Something I can't get is why the writers, and apparently the actors, continue to blame the audience for their blunder.

I ran across this same thing recently with Dwight Yoakam, a singer/songwriter whom I admire greatly. On his most recent album, "Population Me," he wrote a song he titled "Fair to Midland." The song is about a man seeking FARE to Midland, Texas. It's supposed to be a play on the phrase "fair to middlin'," duh. I couldn't figure out why the misspelled title. So when I recently had the opportunity to interview Dwight's lead guitarist/producer, Pete Anderson, I asked Pete about the misspelling that was so tormenting my grammarian's soul. Pete's response boiled down to "Dwight didn't think the fans would get it." (If you're interested, you can read the whole interview here: http://countrymusic.about.com/library/blpeteandersoninterview.htm ) There, I know Dwight's a pretty intellectual guy, but it burns my bacon to have him assume I wouldn't get the play on words, "fare to Midland" = "fair to middlin'." Not once in the song is there any reference to FEELING fair, every usage should be "fare." And, indeed, in the lyric sheet, the correct "fare" is used throughout... except in the title.

It's a small thing, but it annoyed me hugely -- and then more when I got Pete's response. What soothed me was that I got the distinct impression that Pete agreed with me, and Dwight should have called the song "Fare to Midland."

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
wildrider
Aug. 6th, 2003 09:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I could have come up with many, many more (as you know!), but I was just coming up with examples off the top of my head while musing at work, and didn't have reference materials to hand.

In many ways I agree, the story "ended" at "The Gift," but my personal Buffyworld/canon goes to "Tabula Rasa." It was after that when things started to go horribly wrong (and that way, I keep the musical).
(Deleted comment)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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