Jessica's May Pick
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (The movie)
In August 2018, Kelly’s monthly pick was all about Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the series) and her absolute love and adoration for it. As for myself, my introduction to Buffy Summers was through the 1992 film written by Joss Whedon and directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui. The funny thing is, I didn’t see the film until after I read the novelization of it.
I remember picking up this awesome book called Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the library. I was already a young girl attracted to the paranormal and weird things like monsters, ghosts, and vampires. And to be quite honest, my love of vampire lore and the idea of fighting against them only grew because of this book. I was entranced by the story about a young woman being ‘The Chosen One’ to fight against the forces of darkness in the form of the ancient vampire. When I found out there was a movie, I begged my mother to let me see it. Seeing the story come to life before my eyes with Kristy Swanson as Buffy and Donald Sutherland as her Watcher Merrick was amazing. I was hooked.
I enjoy all aspects of this film. The pure early 90’s of it from the clothing and music, to the atmosphere and language. I love listening to the 90s slang and early teen speak. It brings me back to my childhood. I enjoy the seriousness but also the sheer campiness of the film. It does not take itself too seriously, which I find is a strength of Joss Whedon - he is able to give us the seriousness, mixed with humour and scenes full of emotion. This is something I realized after I got over my prejudice towards the television series and started to watch it a few years back.
Also, I have to mention Luke Perry (RIP). He was my first “bad” boy crush. Luke Perry as Pike, the boy from the other side of the tracks helping Buffy to fight the vampires…. *swoon* He was able to play a character that went from being a goofy slacker to being motivated to get his act together and help protect innocent people. Also, he is just hilarious… “Look, Air!” he says and then punches the distracted vampire. He has many good one-liners throughout the film.
But what I really love about this film is Buffy’s transformation. Throughout the film you watch Buffy transition from being this shallow Beverly Hills type teenage girl who is only concerned about boys, clothes, and cheerleading to a serious young woman concerned about the fate of the world. However, as she is transitioning into her role as the Slayer, she struggles between her fate and trying to be a regular teenage girl. She is trying to find a balance in living her life as the Slayer in the modern world. As she becomes more grounded and impacted by the world she is stepping into, she finds herself outcasted by her superficial friends. It becomes one of those situations that as people change you begin to find out who your friends truly are. We really see this when she takes one more attempt to be a regular teenage girl again at the prom. She shows up all dressed up, trying to interact with her friends only to find out they have outcasted her and her boyfriend broke up with her via the answering machine. But then, our handsome, cleaned up Pike shows up to not only enjoy the dance but be there to support her when vampires ultimately crash the party.
When Pike says to Buffy, “Buffy, you're not like other girls” and she responds “Yes, I am”. This scene says to me that while she may be the Chosen One, she is no different from other young women who also could have been the Chosen One. Buffy is a strong character. She’s not afraid to admit that she’s still figuring out her life, while at the same time accepting her destiny. She is not afraid to protect herself and others as seen when she pushes Pike behind her when the vampires attack the gym. This is a power move and one very different from the usual “damsel in distress” narrative. Even when he tells her she can't go outside by herself, she tells him “I am and don’t piss me off”. Hell yeah! She is not afraid to speak her mind and kickass at the same time. But not only does Buffy show how strong she can be but just as vulnerable. And to me, that is the sign of an empowered woman. Someone who is not afraid to be strong when she is called upon but also shows when she is hurt and may need some guidance. Buffy is an empowering female character and while Sarah Michelle Gellar was able to give Buffy more depth in the series, in the film Kristy Swanson was able to bring her to life. From this movie, we started to see a trend in the 90s of women breaking social and gender norms. An empowered woman who would become a fictional role model for other young women finding their own identities.