My daughters came back from their trip to Victoria asking to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After hesitating for a moment (knowing that the only thing that has scared them in the past has been movies with bad production values) I borrowed the first few discs from my library.
After watching a couple of episodes, they are now full fledged Buffy lovin’ fanatics. Especially my youngest one who insists on listening to the theme song each time (she has this crazy Buffy dance she does). Yes, it does get a bit scary, but in that delicious Hallowe’en way. Usually I just have to answer yes to the question, “Is Willow in the next episode?” and they can handle it.
But the more I think about it, the more I see Buffy as the perfect role model for teenage girls. And I have been thinking about it for a while because I watched them by borrowing the discs from the teenage daughter of a colleague.
Let’s look at the evidence, shall we?
- With great power comes great responsibility– She’s got this power that she doesn’t want but has to deal with. And after the first couple of episodes, she realises that she can’t just sit around and not do anything. So although it is hard and means that she has to sacrifice a normal life, she accepts that that is what she has to do. But the best part of this, is that it never gets any easier. We see her struggle with this from season to season and although she has moments where she wants to give up she never does. She does what’s right. I see this as a metaphor for all of us. We all have the power to act (well, maybe not by drop kicking evil, but by other more subtle means like saying something when someone’s being a jerk or like that guy who got beaten to an inch of his life by coming to the rescue of a girl being harrassed by two men on a city bus).
- Friends– From the beginning, Buffy chooses to hang out with Willow and Xander even after seeing that they are the persona non grata at the high school. This is a choice she makes even after the peer pressure from the popular girl Cordelia. It proves to be a decision that stands her in good stead, as they find out about her vampire slaying, accept it and help her.
- Fashion– just because you have to save the world, does not mean you can’t look good doing it. And I mean this. I have not given much thought to fashion, although I like good design. I don’t even brush my hair, let alone accesorize or wear make-up. But my daughters like fashion. More and more I see my older one choosing her outfits carefully, brushing her hair a certain way in the morning. I want her to know it is totally acceptable to like these things and still do something meaningful. The way I see it, it is just another manifestation for our need for beauty in the world. It is totally wonderful as long as you can still kick butt in those shoes.
- Boys– Unlike the other vampire chick Bella, Buffy nevers gives up herself to be with the vampire she loves. She’s got a mission and he can’t get in the way. It is hard, but it is also the reason Angel loves her so much- she is completely her own person, not easily swayed and focused on what she needs to do. As opposed to Bella, who gives her life repeatedly for her love (like that does anything).
Okay, I can’t think of any other reasons, but feel free to add some in the comments. Another reason why this is so prescient is that my oldest daughter at ten has just entered the crazy twilight realm of tweendom. She is in that weird stage where childhood and adolescence coexist so naturally within her. She has asked for her first bra, which she wears everyday, yet she also plays with dolls and dresses up. She does not feel abashed by any of this, it just being what she is going through. Her friends are already into the Twilight craze (which freaks me right out) but she has not climbed on to that particulay bandwagon. She thought the movie was boring (I am pouring ablutions to all the gods I can think of in thanks). Still, she is gravitating to love stories. She is more and more aware of her body. She is growing up. And if the question she asks herself while she is navigating the narrow, windy roads of adolescence is, “What would Buffy do in this situation?” Well, I can’t think of a better guide. Unless she takes to staking people she thinks are vampires, in which case we will seek help.