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ANTiFangirl: Female Protagonists #2: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I recently did a Buffy re-watch the other day, and thought that I would pull the Buffy lever on Female Protagonists. I grew up watching Buffy while it was on TV. Buffy was the first female on TV that I actually could relate too. The only other female protagonist that I can remember being on TV at the time was Xena. Also the only other teenage females who were on TV was on the science fiction show Dawson’s Creek. Yes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a more realistic interpretation of high school than that of the Creek, where girls and boys seem to whine about sex. A lot. Like a whole lot. Like maybe if they were having more sex, they wouldn’t have been whining about it so much? You know what I mean?……Anyway……

I thought instead of just talking about Buffy and the characters on the show I would talk about some of my favorite episodes. So Buffy is going to be broken down in a couple of different blogs. This entry is going to be about the episode entitled “Earshot” from Season 3 Episode 18.

The episode opens where Buffy is fighting two very scaly fish like creatures with no mouths. She kills one, but not before some of it’s blood seeps into her skin. The other monster runs off.

The next day, Buffy meets Giles, her Watcher, in the library to discuss the fight. For those who are not familiar with the show, a Watcher is a Slayer’s trainer, mentor, and her source of demonic information. The two discuss the no mouthed demons, and eventually it comes up that the blood seeping into Buffy’s skin will have an effect on her. She will receive an “aspect of the demon.” Buffy goes through some of the episode believing that she will receive horns or a tail, but she eventually inherits telepathy.

Buffy at first uses her new found ability for personal gain as she reads the mind of her teacher and outsmarts a fellow student while also being able to listen in on her friends. At first, she is only able to hear one or two minds at once but as the episode progresses she begins to be driven crazy by all the voices in her head at the same time. Eventually coming to a climatic halt while in the cafeteria where she manages to focus in on one scary voice announcing that he or she is going to kill everyone in the school the next day.

The only way to reverse her telepathic ability, is for her to eat the heart of the other monster who ran away at the beginning of the episode. At the same time that Buffy is being driven crazy by the voices, which is putting her in a weakened state, she is also feeling the weight of hearing the voice in her mind that told her everyone in the school was going to die. Her friends take up the responsibility of attempting to hunt down the potential guilty party which includes the editor of the school paper, the shy kid, and the popular jock. One of her friends, Xander, jokes that he’s thought that the lunch lady has been trying to kill the kids forever.

Eventually Angel, Buffy’s vampire with a soul boyfriend, hunts down the other monster and removes it’s heart placing it in a glass vile for Buffy to eat. Once eaten Buffy regains her full strength and returns to school to find who the person is who is planning to hurt everyone.

Cordelia, one of Buffy’s friends and the most popular girl at Sunnydale High, finds a letter written to the newspaper where a student apologizes for something terrible he is about to do. It is revealed that it is the shy student, Jonathan, who has written the letter so Buffy and everyone else assumes that he is going to attempt to hurt someone. While on pursuit to finding him, Xander gets sidetracked when he realizes there is jell-O in the cafeteria.

Buffy finds Jonathan in a tower above the school holding a gun and she talks to him in one of my favorite Buffy speeches which I think is very prevalent for high schoolers and people in general:

BUFFY
Okay, Jonathan, you wanna point
that somewhere else?

JONATHAN
You better not try and stop me.

BUFFY
No. No stopping. I’m just here for the
view. Hey look, city hall.

JONATHAN
Go away.

BUFFY
Never gonna happen.

JONATHAN
You think I won’t use this?

BUFFY
I don’t know, Jonathan, I’m just —

JONATHAN
Stop doing that!

BUFFY
Doing what?

JONATHAN
Stop saying my name like we’re friends.
We’re not friends. You all think I’m an
idiot. A short idiot.

BUFFY
I don’t.

I don’t think about you much at all.
Most people here don’t. Bugs you,
doesn’t it? You’ve got all this pain,
all these feelings and nobody’s
paying attention.

JONATHAN
You think I just want attention?

BUFFY
No, I think you’re in the bell tower
with a high powered rifle because you
want to blend in. Believe it or not, Jonathan,
I understand. About the pain.

JONATHAN
Oh, right. ‘Cause the burden of being
beautiful and athletic, that’s a crippler.

BUFFY
I’m sorry, I was wrong. You are an idiot.

(This stops him.)

BUFFY
My life happens very occasionally to
suck beyond the telling of it. More than
I can stand sometimes. And not just me.
Every single person down there is
ignoring your pain because they’re way
too busy with their own. The beautiful
ones, the popular ones, the guys that
pick on you… everyone.

(She comes around to look down at the courtyard. He looks as well, his grip on the gun loosening.)

BUFFY
If you could hear what they’re feeling –
the confusion, the loneliness… It looks
quiet down there. It’s not. It’s deafening.

(They stand side by side for a moment, looking down.)

BUFFY
You know I could have taken the
gun by now.

JONATHAN
I know.

BUFFY
(holds out her hand)
Rather do it this way.

(Slowly, he hands her the gun. Her hand is shaking a little as she takes it and unloads it.)

JONATHAN
I just wanted it to stop.

BUFFY
Well, mass murder is not actually
doctor recommended for this kind
of pain. And by the way, prison? A
lot like high school, only instead
of noogies —

JONATHAN
What are you talking about?

BUFFY
Actions having consequences, stuff
like that —

JONATHAN
I wouldn’t ever hurt anybody. I came up
here to kill myself.

Source: http://www.buffyworld.com/buffy/scripts/052_scri.html

Eventually it is revealed through Xander’s hilarity about finding jell-O that he spots the lunch lady pouring rat poison into a vat of food revealing that she was the voice Buffy had heard in her mind the whole time.

I think that the episode helps in revealing that, yeah everyone is so busy in their own heads that they might not notice a person in pain, or notice a person who is feeling unwelcome. It also brings up the idea that for people who are too much in their own minds may take the time to notice the people around or not be so cruel to others.

This was one of my favorites because it actually dealt with a realistic situation through mystical means, but when it gets down to real moments it reflects on Buffy’s character to be a protector first before anything else. So I think it’s a really great character episode for her and I like the idea that she kept him from killing himself just by revealing that you’re not the only one who has problems or challenges to face. Everyone does.

Thanks for Reading!

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Michelle

HI! My name is Michelle and on Twitter I am @RicksRightHand! I love reading comic books from mainstream superhero to indie books. I am an avid film and television watcher. I have blogs on Tumblr; http://www.tumblr.com/blog/sourgrapesonline- a fun blog full of nonsense- http://www.tumblr.com/blog/femaleprotagonists- dedicated to get the world excited about female protagonists in pop culture- http://www.tumblr.com/blog/11nineteen11- which I share with @stin where we post the nerdiest of things. I am looking forward to posting about recent comic books and also comic book collections I have read. :)