Facing Your Demons: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fear Nov01

Facing Your Demons: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fear...

If you’re not afraid of heights, riding to the top of the Empire State Building isn’t bravery. Facing someone else’s fear because it doesn’t bother you doesn’t mean you’re courageous. It’s when you confront your own fear, and it looms above you like a giant, horned demon, that you truly understand what it means to be a hero or a coward. In the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Fear Itself,” Buffy and the Scoobies wander through a frat house during Halloween, encountering cobwebs, spiders, and knife-wielding skeletons. But then the fears start to get real. And personal. Xander becomes invisible and unheard, because he’s afraid his friends don’t care about him and are moving forward with their lives while he’s standing still. Oz starts to turn into a werewolf even though it’s not a full moon; he runs away from Willow because he’s afraid he’ll hurt her. Willow conjures a light to show her the way out, but the spell backfires, harkening to her fear of being useless. Buffy fights vampires that erupt from the ground and tell her she will forever be alone. . . Read the rest of this article on Christ and Pop...

The Ickiness of Mistaking Obsession for Love Oct30

The Ickiness of Mistaking Obsession for Love

“I love Professor Snape,” my friend gushed. “He’s the real hero of Harry Potter. And his devotion to Lily Potter is so moving.” I simply nodded along, not understanding her fictional crush but unable to deny Snape’s good intentions; he does protect Harry throughout the series, albeit while mentally torturing the boy for being the child of a man he hated. But then again, maybe I could have denied it. In fact, maybe I could have pointed out that Snape is an obsessive, cruel stalker and not a romantic hero at all. For some reason, obsessive love is sentimentalized in books and media. And this is not a new trend. From Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Catherine, to Bella and Edward, doing anything (and I mean anything) for your lover is portrayed as a desirable feat. I raise an eyebrow when I see the image of a glowing doe accompanied by a cloaked, crooked-nosed figure and the word “Always,” Snape’s key phrase. It’s plastered on memes, throw pillows, and iPhone cases as a testament to devotion, but that’s not what it really represents. Snape is a fascinating and well-developed character, but to use him as a model for romance is a disturbing sentiment of a narcissist culture. In Snape’s eyes, Lily might as well be the doe his patronus represents: voiceless, a helpless animal to tame and protect. “He makes no effort to grow as a person,” says Hannah McGregor, one of two feminist scholars who host the podcast Witch, Please. “He ultimately supports the regime that directly leads to [Lily’s] death, and in the wake of it, doesn’t meaningfully become a better person, just remains fanatically devoted to her as an object he wanted to own and never got to have.” Though many fans’ hearts were warmed by the reveal of Snape’s history with Harry’s parents in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, a childhood feud with Harry’s dad and unrequited love for his mom doesn’t make the Hogwarts teacher a hero. It’s incredibly creepy that Snape continues to have feelings for Lily years after they stop being friends. Though he shouts something cruel at her as a teenager, which is what causes the rift in their relationship, he never tries to make amends. Instead, he holds on to his childhood feelings into adulthood—including his hatred for James—feeding the flames of his obsession with the desire to effectively own her. It’s not until her life is threatened that he rethinks giving up her family to Lord Voldemort. He doesn’t have a problem with Voldemort killing her husband or her son, just with killing her. Dismissing what is important to the other person is not a testament of true love, however; it’s the opposite. In Snape’s eyes, Lily might as well be the doe his patronus represents: voiceless, a helpless animal to tame and protect. “Severus Snape” by Ludmila-Cera-Foce (ludmila-cera-foce.deviantart.com). When someone tweeted to J.K. Rowling, commenting that “Snape held no malice against Harry (which Harry came to know, eventually),” Rowling replied, “That’s not true, I’m afraid. Snape projected his hatred and jealousy of James onto Harry.” Even after Lily’s gone, Snape isn’t moved to real love; the ways in which he mentally tortures Harry and belittles Hermione for being Muggle-born, just like Lily was, demonstrate his bitterness and lack of understanding what real love is. By treating her as an object and holding on to childlike memories of her, Snape has made Lily into something she isn’t—“When we find what we think to be a suitable ‘object’ for our idealistic affections . . . we invest more of ourselves than is appropriate—to the extent of worship. Rarely do we really know the other person well, but imagination and desire make up the difference,” writes Bruce Atkinson PhD. We’re attracted to these romances because we think it takes a special kind of person—a strong woman—to love a...

Apocalypse? We’ve All Been There Dec26

Apocalypse? We’ve All Been There...

Maybe it’s the recent American election, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the end of the world. This is not the first time in my life that my thoughts have been preoccupied with this. I recall when I was young, maybe 12 or 13, hearing about some preacher in the US who had proclaimed that the world was going to end. I remember my father, who was travelling on that appointed day, telling me, “I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not, but if Jesus comes know I love you.” This incident only occasionally comes up in therapy. As someone who grew up at the tail end of the Hal Lindsay, Thief in the Night brand of evangelicalism, I certainly remember an apocalyptic tone to some of the sermons I heard, but that was the only time I can recall, as an impressionable teenager, wondering, “is this it? Is the world as I know it going to end?” Since then, various prophecies about the coming apocalypse have come and gone. Some people were sure it was going to happen in 2000 and stockpiled food and supplies. More recently, California-based minister Harold Camping predicted the world would end in 2011 (first in May, then revised to October). I have also learned about the long eschatological tradition within Christianity—starting from the early Apostles, to the end-of-the-world cults pre-1000, to the Seventh-Day Adventists—that certain groups of Christians have been wholly preoccupied with figuring out the details. The apocalypse is not the sort of thing we should spend all our time worried about. Knowing something of this long tradition of apocalyptic thought in Christianity has not made me feel less uneasy when these “prophetic” messages make the news. In fact, it’s usually embarrassing. Some group...

Jokes to make you laugh and cry Jul10

Jokes to make you laugh and cry...

What doesn’t Tara drink? She’s not a fan of shots. What show does Boromir never seem to catch? Arrow. How much did it cost Dr. Horrible to join the Evil League of Evil? Just one Penny. What is Sephiroth’s favourite food? Shish kabobs. How do Reavers clean their spears? They put them through the...

Slayage in the silences May25

Slayage in the silences...

Arguably, faerie stories work in one of two ways. They can gesture to things in the world around us, or they can gesture to things in the world beyond us. Indeed, the key ingredient to a good faerie tale is that it gestures without giving away too much. It does not explain, but rather invites—connections, conversations, and arguments. It invites us to ignore the arbitrary division between the real and imagined; fantasy and reality are of a piece and in the best instances both point toward truth. The episode “Hush,” a masterpiece of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer canon, uses faerie marvelously. At the heart of the episode is the legend of the mysterious gentlemen, who steal everyone’s voices in a town or village, and then collect the hearts of their victims in the silence. The reason they need the hearts and what will happen when they collect the allotted seven remains unexplained, as does the rule central to the narrative: the gentlemen cannot be defeated by weapons, but only by a scream produced by a real human voice. Ranged about this Grimm-like tale are “real-world” problems toward which it gestures. Various characters are in the middle of crises of communication. Buffy and Riley are romantically attracted to each other, but are too awkward around each other to articulate anything except meaningless small talk. Tara sees in Willow a kindred spirit interested in real magic rather than Wiccan tea and bake sales, but she is too shy to speak up or initiate friendship. Xander and Anya, whose relationship at this point is primarily physical, are beginning to realize that there might be more to a functional relationship than sex—perhaps honest communication is necessary. What can save us from the silences and evasions that can...

All I really need to know I learned from COSPLAYING May07

All I really need to know I learned from COSPLAYING...

Part of being in Geekdom House is participating in the geek culture and community. This past Tuesday (because Dawn always gets in trouble on Tuesdays) was an event that we simply could not miss: Sing-A-Long with Feeling, Once More! It began as a dream of one die-hard Buffy fan, Kendra Monk, and turned into something best described as a Rocky Horror Picture Show showing, except it was comprised of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog and the musical Buffy episode “Once More With Feeling.” The night was made complete with mini-PhD degrees in Horribleness (that we were given to wave around at the appropriate time) and paper hearts that loudly snapped when you broke them (to use during those times when Spike gets rejected). The event was a smashing success. Given the relatively smallness of the event (and the promise of prizes), I decided to give my first go at this thing called cosplay. My first idea—a cardboard adaptation of the Serenity ship combined with a long black haired wig and a name tag that says: “Hi my name is River Tam”—did not work out. Plan B: I thought I could pass for Wash and it was off to MCC Thrift Store and Value Village to make that dream come alive. Along the way I learned a few things about cosplay and about life: 1) Life (like cosplaying) starts with the joy of an idea. Joy in life starts with a day that has a specific purpose and direction. 2) Life (like cosplaying) is better when you’re not comparing yourself to others. It is bad to compare your outsides to other’s outsides but it is infinitely worse to compare your insides to other’s outsides yet for some reason we all do it far too often. You will always fall...

Geek-surrection Apr02

Geek-surrection

The death of a character can be a powerful storytelling mechanism. From the death of Fives, the murder of Aerith, or Boromir’s sacrifice, death shows that there is always a price to pay and ultimately we do not emerge from our struggles without scars. However, what does it mean when storytellers defy death and bring character back from the dead? Resurrection is dangerous territory for a storyteller and needs to be handled wisely; if someone’s death needs to mean something then perhaps their resurrection needs to mean that much more. Leave it to Joss Whedon to kill off his lead not once, but twice Sometimes, resurrection is confused with other plot elements, so let’s begin by defining what resurrection isn’t. Resurrection != Respawn (or multiple lives) Most video games fall under this category. Should you actually “die” the clock is reversed and you have the chance to redo what you did (or didn’t do). The overarching story is completely unaffected by whether or not you died. Resurrection != Reanimation Zombies are reanimated, not resurrected, beings. In stories that involve reanimation (like that one episode of Star Trek Voyager where Ensign Lyndsay Ballard is reanimated by an alien race), it’s usually clear that what makes a person human goes beyond their memories, mannerisms, and corporeal being. Resurrection != Adding to 0 HP Take the latter Final Fantasy games or even Dungeons and Dragons; just because you fall to 0 HP does not mean you’re actually dead. So when that Phoenix Down hits you or your cleric finally gets their act together, it’s more realistically described as going from incapacitated to capacitated. Moving on, here are a few powerful examples of true resurrection found in geek culture. The Cylons come back, the very next day Toasters die only to wake up with all their consciousness intact in a completely new body. The cycle of death is broken through the blood of a pure innocent.To Cylons, their bodies are completely expendable and their countless “suicide” missions highlight that. Resurrection is a literal way of life for them, but take away the safety net of a resurrection ship and each Cylon has a deep crisis of faith. What it means: The intangible and unexplainable of what make us human is worth more than any physical form. Buffy dies and dies again Leave it to Joss Whedon to kill off his lead not once, but twice (and I’m not even including her “death” in Season 1, because I’m not sure it really counts as resurrection). Season 5 is a different story, however. Buffy sacrifices herself to save Dawn and she is dead. Like, dead dead. After being ensconced in the after-life, Buffy is unceremoniously ripped from heaven and returned to the land of mortality by her friends. She returns broken. Her friends write it off as damage from the after-life (thinking she had been in Hell) but the truth is, Buffy had a taste of heaven and her mortal life now seems like hell in comparison. What it means: Life after death is greater than we can comprehend. Drogo returns While Whedon seems to prefer quality deaths over quantity deaths when it comes to killing of major characters, Martin’s tactics are the exact opposite. That isn’t to say his characters’ deaths carry no weight—I mean, who wouldn’t want Ned Stark brought back? No Stark is returned though. Instead, it’s Khal Drogo who is brought back, and his resurrection is anything but celebratory. Drogo becomes a fraction of who he once was and the cost of his return was great. Daenerys wanted it all, and instead it cost her the life of her unborn child as well as Drogo’s sanity and self. What it means: The cost of life and death must be paid. Harry Potter rises above death Hit with the killing curse from Voldemort, Harry finds himself between life and death in Harry...

Characters who should have died but didn’t Mar13

Characters who should have died but didn’t

There will always be characters who just aren’t that interesting but are required to help drive the story along. Then there are the characters who do their best to burn the story to the ground. Here are our ten. 1. Delores Umbridge from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix We’re pretty sure she was more evil than Voldemort. 2. Dawn Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer It was always me me me me. Sure fine she was abandoned (in Joss’s words) by “about six parental figures” but whiny is whiny. 3. The entire Lannister line except Tyrion from Song of Ice and Fire ‘Cept we kinda like Jaime too. 4. Harry Kim from Star Trek: Voyager He’s kind of the Dawn Summers of the Star Trek universe. 5. Navi from Ocarina of Time “Hey, listen!” “You’re dead to me.” 6. The dog from Duck Hunt And now in Super Smash Bros. Wii U, he CAN die! 7. Willie Scott from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom This. 8. Slippy from StarFox Really? You’re in trouble AGAIN!? You need my help AGAIN!? How about no? 9. Rose Thomas from Fullmetal Alchemist Dress up in a frog costume and fly a space-ship already. 10. Jar Jar Binks from The Phantom Menace We made him last so you can channel all your hate there. Okay, so who’d we...

Opening a geek (not greek) pizza shop… Feb13

Opening a geek (not greek) pizza shop…...

The best pizza shops name their pizzas so we decided to give it a go. Not that we have any intention of ever opening up a pizza shop.. or do we? So what did we miss? Any further suggestions?

Real Heroes: The Morgan Grimes Theory Feb09

Real Heroes: The Morgan Grimes Theory

I am tempted to say that Chuck is NOT the true hero of Chuck. It’s hard to admit because he is one of my favourite TV characters of all time, but the more that I think about it the more I realize that Morgan Grimes is the true hero of Chuck’s story. There, I said it, and after admitting it I have come to realize that the same is true for Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, Buffy, and even the Doctor. May I present: The Morgan Grimes Theory. I’m quite certain that Chuck would not be sane without Morgan by his side, keeping him together during difficult times (like when Sarah’s AWOL and the CIA dumps Chuck like a week-old Subway sandwich). “Bag ’em and tag ’em, Sarah. I mean, Agent Walker.” —Morgan GrimesOne of the most heartbreaking moments for me in the show is not when Chuck breaks up with Sarah,  nor when Sarah won’t talk to him, nor even when Sarah hooks up with too-good-looking Shaw instead of our beloved Nerdherder. Nope, the moment that gets me most is when Morgan says these seven words (words we never dreamed he would utter): “I’m firing you as my best friend.” And it’s not getting back together with Sarah that puts Chuck at ease and reinstates his ability to flash. It’s when he’s finally able to tell Morgan everything about his spy life and Morgan instantly forgives him. Not only that, but Morgan thinks it’s awesome that Chuck is a spy. You can just feel the tension drain from Chuck as Morgan rehires him as his best friend. The real hero of Chuck: Morgan Grimes. Frodo: “Go back, Sam! I’m going to Mordor alone.” Sam: “Of course you are, and I’m coming with you!”I can’t talk about best friends without mentioning The Lord of the Rings. The true hero of this story might be overweight, easily scared, and not too bright, but he also takes on a giant, man-eating spider by himself, storms a tower full of orcs out to eat him for second breakfast to save his friend, and carries a hobbit on his back up the side of a volcano when all seems lost. NBD. Tolkien himself has referred to Sam as the “chief hero.” I like how Tolkien tips his hat to Sam by giving him the final scene and last words in The Return of the King: “Well, I’m back.” The real hero of The Lord of the Rings: Samwise Gamgee. I’ve applied the Grimes Theory to other franchises, and it  continues to hold true. Who’s the true hero in Harry Potter? Is it Harry? Or is it the one whose wit is constantly getting him out of impossible situations? The one who realizes knowledge is power and even time travels to study more, the one who helps Harry pass his Tri-Wizard tasks, the one who forms Dumbledore’s Army, the one who is always prepared to the point of packing a complete home in a handbag… I could go on. She pretty much keeps Harry and Ron alive throughout the entire series, no question about it, and Harry is lost without Hermione and, to some degree, Ron by his side. The real hero of Harry Potter: Hermione Granger. And let’s talk about that teenager who slays vampires like it’s going out of style: Buffy Summers. Who talked Willow off of her murderous rampaging ledge? “I see more than anybody realizes because nobody’s watching me.” —Xander HarrisWho survived numerous apocalypses with no slayer powers, no demon powers, and no magic? Where would Buffy be without the beloved Xander? There are two characters Buffy couldn’t do without. The two that who stayed by her side when the going got rough (and boy, did the going get rough). They even fought her battles for her when she tucked her tail between her legs and ran away to the hallowed life of working at a diner...