Dr. Durrell’s Spiritual Prescriptions
We Still Need Buffy
"Do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea how lonely it is, how dangerous? I would love to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or... God, even studying! But I have to save the world. Again." Buffy (The Vampire Slayer)
Joss Whedon’s "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (Mutant Enemy Productions, 1997 – 2003) was one of the smartest television series in the history of television. It was full of action, occult thrills, philosophy, wit, humor, fantasy, and romance. It was complex and thoughtful and I watched it with religious devotion (and even though the series ended a dozen years ago, I still watch the old episodes with a sense of nostalgic delight).
I would like to think that I loved “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” because I'm smart and witty, or because I possess a combination of depth and whimsy. I might have liked it because there is something erotic about vampirism. Maybe the youthful cast members made me feel young again. But I suspect it was Buffy herself that appealed to me the most.
Buffy was special. She was born different than other people, but she didn't discover who she really was and what it meant until she was in her late teens. She came to realize that her difference was powerful and the world was actually better because she embraced her truth. Her unique gifts were needed in the world; and, her courage in accepting her role in life improved the lives of others. And yet, some were afraid of her difference. Others hated her for her difference. She often felt the need to "hide" her gifts from those who might not understand. And, because she was different, she often felt lonely, misunderstood, and unappreciated.
Buffy was a queer character, or at least she resonated with this queer viewer. She was not only different from the majority of society but her love interests were sometimes "forbidden" even though they were consensual and caring. Her friends were also "queer." Her close friends and companions included a couple of vampires (her “slayer” vocation notwithstanding), a "watcher" (a sort of wizard/scholar), lesbian witches, a werewolf, a reformed vengeance demon, and a non-corporeal energy field that was given human form and became her mystically adopted sister. Who wants to be limited to the mainstream in a universe of infinite diversity?!
Even while being different, Buffy was strong. She was also kind (as truly strong people usually are). She was an embodiment of the gift of queerness, difference, specialness. She didn't choose what she was, but she embraced it and lived it with integrity, and the world was better because she dared to be herself.
Every queer identified person could see their lives reflected in Buffy's, and the life they saw was one of power, dignity, and accomplishment.
The conservative backlash to marriage equality makes me think that we need Buffy to return to the small or big screen. We still need a s/hero to remind us that being different, being special, being queer may not always be easy, but those of us who embrace our truth can prove that our queer lives are a gift to the world.
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins is the Senior Minister of Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale.
Published in the Florida Agenda