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Critiquing Dark Willow’s hair

MissChristina

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Just spent the last three days re-watching Season 6 of BtVS, and just finished the last 3 episodes tonight. Tara dying, and the transformation of Willow to Dark Willow and back. Phew. Such an emotional roller coaster.

But.. I have one style critique though: When she became Dark Willow and her hair turned black, I wish it was longer. Like, a LOT longer. Jet-black waist- or butt-length hair would’ve been so bad-ass. Similar to Aluwyn’s long white hair in the comics, Dark Willow should’ve had super long jet black hair that whipped around her in the magick wind gusts. It would’ve looked incredible. Cuz the short black wig Alyson Hannigan wore was not flattering at all. I guess network TV budgets only go so far..
 

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I definitely wouldn't have liked that. I mean, the whole point is that her natural hair turned black; magic making her hair grow from nowhere would have taken me out of the moment completely.
 

AnthonyCordova

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I don't know, thinking about it now I think I could be fine if Willow had long hair after her transformation. I don't know if it really changes anything for me though. I like Buffy s3 hair better than s4, but I don't know if that changes anything for me either. But I'd say she'd look good with longer hair.
 

MissChristina

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I definitely wouldn't have liked that. I mean, the whole point is that her natural hair turned black; magic making her hair grow from nowhere would have taken me out of the moment completely.
Eh. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Guess I’m just trying to think of any other possibility aside from the very-not-attractive black wig Hannigan had on.
 
AnthonyCordova
AnthonyCordova
You have a point there

WillowFromBuffy

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Dark Willow's look is stylish and minimalist. She's supposed to look cold, not wild. She's not Bayonetta.
 
AnthonyCordova
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What seems cold and wild though are a matter of perspective. Highly variable depending on the person.

WillowFromBuffy

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@AnthonyCordova If Willow, who's had relatively short for years, suddenly grow hair down past her butt, it would leave a very strong impression. Find me a person who would describe hair past someone's butt as looking stylish, minimalist or cold compared to straight hair that doesn't reach the shoulders.

There's a reason why Aluwyn has very long hair that always flows in every direction. If people weren't able to recognise these types of cues, then we couldn't have art. It's like white hats and black hats. There's gotta be some rules.
 

AnthonyCordova

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@AnthonyCordova If Willow, who's had relatively short for years, suddenly grow hair down past her butt, it would leave a very strong impression. Find me a person who would describe hair past someone's butt as looking stylish, minimalist or cold compared to straight hair that doesn't reach the shoulders.

There's a reason why Aluwyn has very long hair that always flows in every direction. If people weren't able to recognise these types of cues, then we couldn't have art. It's like white hats and black hats. There's gotta be some rules.
You make good points. I posted that and then immediately thought twice about it. Still, philosophically speaking I'm definitely not an essentialist, so to speak, and I think cultural markers, which are contigent, definitely play a role in what we think, and personal taste and the uniqueness of one's individualism and taste is obviously variable.

But also I don't necessarily think the hair style has to communicate one thing so strongly, because I think I could imagine the way it's dealt with and presented by the writing, cinematography, characterization, body language etc. could have a profound effect on how we receive a hair style change. Willow could be presented differently and the effect would change. Willow had long hair in the early seasons and the only thing she communicated physically was meekness. It was the opposite of implying a wild character, or a strong impression or whatever. And that was because she was presented meekly. So when I think of it this way I think I'm inclined to disagree with you. But I'm in a knot now because my original post contradicts me, so yeah. Lol. So I guess I'm torn.

@WillowFromBuffy Also, maybe this is silly (and it's late now) but long hair is one thing, and how the hair is styled is something else. Wouldn't the style of the hair have a stronger effect than the mere fact it is long? How will the long hair be styled? Maybe absolutely straight and neat with long hair could be cold too(?!?).
 
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WillowFromBuffy

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Of course. It is the whole impression. But Willow's hair didn't go past her butt in S1. It was regular girl-length hair. After she cuts it short, she experiments more with her style, signifying that she is not as meek as she was.

Illyria is quite similar to Dark Willow personality-wise. Her hair is much longer, but it is also straight. Illyria wouldn't work with curls or with messy hair. Nor would it suit her to have hair that fell past her butt.

This is of course culturally dependent, but I think it is one of those culturally dependent things that is pretty universal across all cultures. Someone who has shockingly long, natural, uncut hair will always create a different impression than someone with short, straightened hair.
 

AnthonyCordova

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Illyria is quite similar to Dark Willow personality-wise. Her hair is much longer, but it is also straight. Illyria wouldn't work with curls or with messy hair. Nor would it suit her to have hair that fell past her butt.
Hmm. Well, when I think long hair I had something more in mind like early Willow, so there you go. But like in the quote I mentioned above, with all due respect of course, I don't see how you're entitled to say that. By what objective rule or measure do curls or messy hair always necessarily mean what it means for you? Personally I think curls of a certain style could work. It might mean how Illyria presents herself and her body language might have to be adjusted (for example) to fit, or who knows what. Maybe this belief about Illyria is your belief only because you've seen how they worked with it in the show and it convinced you. But maybe this also prevents your imagination from envisioning different possibilities and a different approach. I don't think that curls (especially depending on the style) necessarily implies anything by itself. Not necessarily.

Does anyone feel me here, or am I alone about this?
 
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WillowFromBuffy

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Hmm. Well, when I think long hair I had something more in mind like early Willow, so there you go.
The OP was specifically asking for hair that falls past the butt like Aluwyn. Having long hair is common for a young girl, so I think most people would see Willow's S1 hair as "neutral." It doesn't signify anything at all. It is the default setting.

Having hair past your butt is a fashion statement. And having a character spontaneously grow her hair that far would create a very strong impression, especially when it is a character who has kept her hair relatively short for the majority of the show.

It might mean how Illyria presents herself and her body language might have to be adjusted (for example) to fit, or who knows what.
Exactly. Illyria's super straight, blue hair, pale skin and blue eyes is a very specific look that fits that exact character. She is like the polar opposite of Glory, both in her look and in her personality.

And the significance of the colours isn't all that culturally dependant. We all associate red with flushed skin, liveliness and health, while blue and white signify the opposite.
Maybe this belief about Illyria is your belief only because you've seen how they worked with it in the show and it convinced you.
But what is the "it" that you speak of? If Illyria was the first time colour, hairstyle, tone of voice, etc was used to create this impression, then it would be intelligible to me and everyone else.



Take Trinity from the Matrix as an example. Black hair, pulled back, no colour in the cheeks. Her entire look screams restraint. If her hair fell naturally or if it was done up in luxurious curls like Glory, it would create a very different impression.
 

AnthonyCordova

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@WillowFromBuffy

Right. Short hair to long hair leaves a strong impression. What that impression might be is exactly what to me begs the question. Or maybe I'm begging the question. I can't really respond the way I'd like to since I am doing this on my phone and I am without my laptop, unfortunately. You make some good points as always but I'm not convinced. I'd also admit you are right about the original post. Maybe I could come back to this later. I'll let it go for now.

For some cultures the moon is a feminine metaphor and as westerners we understand why. But there are also many cultures that ascribe masculinity to the moon. I don't believe in givens. To speak by way of an analogy.
 
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WillowFromBuffy

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For some cultures the moon is a feminine metaphor and as westerners we understand why. But there are also many cultures that ascribe masculinity to the moon. I don't believe in givens. To speak by way of an analogy.
I don't strictly believe in givens ... and I am not an essentialist. But some many experiences are universal, so different culture ascribe the same meaning to certain markers.

Gender is a fairly flexible construct. But the qualities that we associate with our two celestial orbs is probably pretty much the same. That is at least my experience. So if there are cultures that connect the moon to masculinity, I think that says more about how they understand masculinity than what qualities they associate with the moon.

A God for fertility or for harvest would never have the moon as their symbol.
 
AnthonyCordova
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Fair enough. We may as well part ways here

Ethan Reigns

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I think they did it right. The change in hair colour (and added veins) is the indicator of which Willow you are dealing with. A greater difference in hair style would be distracting in a sense that would intrude on the story elements. This change lasts for three episodes and Dark Willow has to be recognizable as Willow. When she returns to normal after Xander saves her, do we really want to see hair that retracts like the landing gear on a plane or is it only necessary to see the colour change? If long hair changed back to short hair, I think more viewers would see it as a downgrade to Willow's style. The transformation to Dark Willow was never meant to be an improvement in appearance and the return to normal was never meant to be seen as a downgrade.
 
MissChristina
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Great points, thank you!!

AlphaFoxtrot

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Yeah, Dark Willow should just be the black version of whatever stupid, childish outfit Willow would have worn that day. Grief fueled rage. If Dark Willow had been a permanent heel turn, like she left the group in January, set up a lair, and spent the next four months scheming, then sure, her hair and clothing should become more elaborate, written off as the vestments of the She-Demon. But that's not what Willow was.
 

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Sounds like something that would happen in a comic book or even anime...along with the bigger breasts that get shown off more.

The only way I'd accept it as a dramatic moment rather than an unintentionally amusing one (though I would not want to be amused at that point) is if she merged herself with a demon, and the merging creating the longer hair (and perhaps longer nails, maybe give her a more demonic appearance than she already had, not like a vampire, but just as obviously a demonic essence within her).
 

Taake

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Judging by Buffy's "Gone" wig they definitely didn't have a good wig-budget!

As for Dark Willow's hair getting longer - I could get into it. I think it could look really cool, I still picture it quite sleek and "neat" looking though. Not sure that wig would've been anymore flattering though, lol.

I do like it as it is, I love the scene when her hair turns black, very effective.
 

MissChristina

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Sounds like something that would happen in a comic book or even anime...along with the bigger breasts that get shown off more.
Yeah, maybe I’ve been immersed in the comics for a bit and envisioned something more dramatic along the anime lines. The clunky 90s TV version, while very much beloved, can use some touch-ups in the hair/makeup/costuming department.

I also agree with Deadly Duo’s comment that perhaps it’s Dark Willow’s outfit that should be changed, and not her hair.

And... sorry to the commenters debating about impressions and essentialists, I’m lost in that debate. I only mean that stylistically speaking, Dark Willow’s short straight black wig looked so stiff, awkward, and (for me, at least) detracted from the notion that she’s become this very scary, power-absorbing, hell-bent on seeking vengeance type of being. The veins and black eyes were great, but the hair (or maybe the outfit) were not great style choices. And it definitely took me out of the story a bit cuz I kept wondering how to improve it. Maybe the short wig could have been styled differently, I dunno. Anything so she didn’t have to look like Nick Cage on a bad hair day:


But considering this was a network TV program (and Season 6 aired on UPN after WB didn’t want to renew, and was treated like an unwanted step-child on the new network) it’s possible that the hair/makeup/costume budgets got even smaller. 🤷🏻‍♀️
 
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Taake
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That Nick Cage pic ❤😂

DeadlyDuo

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Given that Dark Willow is supposed to be a homage to Dark Phoenix, may be they should've gone for something more this style.




I think the main problem with Dark Willow's outfit is that there is too much black. There's no colour to make the outfit pop. She's literally black hair, black eyes, black shirt, black trousers, black shoes, she's a block of black.



With the other female "big bad outfits (Glory, Drusilla, Darla), there is colour to break up the outfit eg Drusilla wears predominately red but her hair colour and the way the dress is cut to show some skin breaks it up. She also wears black tights. Likewise, Glory's hair colour is different from her outfits and her skin breaks up the colour. Darla also wears dark outfits in contrast to her hair colour and again shows some skin.

With Dark Willow's outfit, the problem is the shirt. If the sleeves were shorter or the neck line lower so that some skin could be shown to break up the black, it would be better. Likewise maybe splash some red in there.
 
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