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The Xander

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Black Thorn
#1
Reposted, in part, from Paste

Television owes so much to Buffy Summers. A game changer in both the horror and high school genres, she taught a generation of girls to stand up even when life feels like literal hell. The series has inspired countless shows with strong, complex women. But we need to talk about the legacy of Xander Harris.

If there is a woman who fights the forces of evil, then right behind her will always be a nerdy everyman trying to get out of the friendzone. Maybe it’s Jake from Crazyhead, Winn from Supergirl, Boyle from Brooklyn Nine Nine. Whoever he is, he owes it all to Xander.

Let’s call this archetype “The Xander.” The Xander is more than the funny kid with a crush. He is the boy without powers who follows around a powerful woman, specifically in the hopes of wearing her down into dating him. He might not be able to help in any way, and he may only be heroic in the hopes of getting sex, but at least he is… on screen a lot.

I’m not suggesting Xander is a villain, but he’s not an amazing friend. In the episode “Surprise,” Xander (Nicholas Brendon) shows exactly what he thinks of Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) during the height of his crush on her, when he and Willow (Alyson Hannigan) discuss Buffy’s boyfriend, Angel, possibly leaving:

Willow: Poor Buffy, on her birthday and everything.
Xander: Hmm, it’s sad, granted. But let’s look at the upside for a moment. I mean, what kind of a future would she have really had with him? She’s got two jobs—Denny’s waitress by day, Slayer by night—and Angel’s always in front of the TV with a big blood belly, and he’s dreaming of the glory days when Buffy still thought this whole “Creature of the Night” routine was a big turn-on.
Willow: You’ve thought way too much about this.
Xander: No, no. That’s just the beginning. Have I told you the part where I fly into town in my private jet and take Buffy out for prime rib?
Willow: [sees Buffy come in] Xander…
Xander: And she cries!

That is a detailed revenge fantasy about a woman he claims to care about. Yet our strong female role model views this treatment as normal friendship. “The Xander” undermines “The Buffy” in her own narrative. A show creates a character without powers to be the audience’s point of view, and then we watch the hero repeatedly reject him. It distances the viewer from her. Furthermore, it either gives her an emotional burden to bear or makes her look unfeeling.

An excellent example of the uncomfortable emotional burden that comes with supposed heroic sacrifice can be found in Brooklyn Nine Nine’s “The Bet.” Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) has a rather pushy crush on his co-worker, Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), that she can usually shut down. After he’s shot saving her life, Rosa, a take-no-shit hard-ass, resorts to hiding from him. She can’t bear rejecting someone she owes her life to. Boyle has to directly tell her that when/if they go out, it shouldn’t be because he did what any good cop would do. Even though Rosa has made her feelings clear, it still weighs heavily on her how far Boyle might be willing to go for her. It’s a hard-to-watch scene in a comedy, and it is even harder to watch in horror shows—to the detriment of the hero.

It’s disturbing to see literal superheroes ignore a civilian throwing himself into the path of death only to impress them. I can give Buffy a pass for not stopping Xander from getting himself killed for her because she was a teenager and everyone in Sunnydale is in danger at all times. Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist), on the other hand, admits in the Supergirl pilot that she involves Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) in her super capers only because she wants someone to be happy for her. Winn immediately breaks some major laws—hacking into a police scanner, getting involved in vigilantism—to help her, which is the same behavior she gives him shit about when he does it for the hero Guardian. In Crazyhead, Jake (Lewis Reeves) only gets involved in thwarting the apocalypse because Amy (Cara Theobold) needs someone “extremely gullible” with a car to give her a ride and they happened to run into demons on the way. At one point, Jake offers his life up to save Amy from some demons, removing any ambiguity that his feelings for her put his life at risk. Amy feels uncomfortable about it for a while, but keeps involving him.

When the supposedly kind and brave hero of a show allows this dangerous behavior to continue because she pretends not to see the signs, does not want to have a direct confrontation, or simply does not question the ego boost it gives her, it makes her look dumb, cowardly, or cruel in a way that diminishes the entire show. If this storyline is intended to show how deserving of love the nerd is, or how lovable the female hero is, it ends up making the opposite point.

It’s no coincidence that The Xander is always a white guy. There is an unspoken assumption that an audience will most relate to an awkward white man, even if the main characters are women. Even if the black man on the show happens to be Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), an iconic everyman. (In Supergirl season two Olsen is so out of place as a hapless sidekick he takes on the superhero mantle of Guardian.) On Crazyhead Jake even calls Amy’s black boyfriend, Tyler (Arinzé Kene), “Coldplay” because he’s boring, as if there is anything more “Coldplay” than a mediocre white guy who is just sort of around all the time. This clearly indicates that The Xander isn’t about showing a real underdog; it’s about catering to a specific presumed audience.

It’s also no coincidence that if the badass woman’s loyal companion is a man of color, suddenly the crush element will be gone. Wallace from Veronica Mars, Ravi from iZombie, Malcolm from Marvel’s Jessica Jones, and Harris from Sweet/Vicious are all great examples of why unrequited love isn’t necessary for these dynamics to work. Television thinks only white (straight) men need an incentive to be friends with a woman. The double standard of what white men can get away with can’t be ignored, either: If Malcolm (Eka Darville) gave Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) a speech about how she’s his hero that ended with “Sometimes when it’s dark and I’m all alone, I think, ‘What is [Jessica] wearing?’” he would get punched, not thanked. So why would it be cute if the guy saying it looks likes Nicholas Brendon?

There are parts of this archetype that work if a show can learn to step away from the entitlement and obsession. The Xander is always a better character post-crush anyway. Winn has been nothing but delightful since getting over Kara. He’s been a more supportive friend to everyone in his life. He’s having his own adventures while still contributing to the missions. In the recent Valentine’s Day episode, he went on a date with another strong alien girl and made a point to be direct with her about his feelings and seeing her as a person.

I don’t know what Crazyhead will do with Jake down the line, but I suggest they model him more after the Buffy the Vampire Slayer character who, like him, only got roped into saving the world because she owned a car: Cordelia Chase. Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) started as a comic foil who occasionally dropped a necessary truth bomb, much like Jake now. As Amy and Raquel get further into the world of the supernatural, they could probably benefit more from an abrasive voice of reason than a try-hard sidekick.

So, in the iconic words of Cordelia Chase, Xander? Stay away from me.
 

Carrie Hopewell

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Sineya
#2
Thanks for sharing. Great article!

I definitely agree with the writer's view of The Xander. I can separate asshole Xander with a crush from hero Xander, but I don't like the white male characters on a show that keep being rejected by the hero either. It gives off the vibe that Buffy doesn't love Xander, but loves Angel, because he's powerful and hot. Xander, the "normal" teenager feels sad because he's not desirable enough, which sometimes does make the woman look vain and insensitive.

For example, in Gilmore Girls, Luke is in love with Lorelai for years but only asks her out in season 4 of the show. Meanwhile, Lorelai dates richer, smarter men that she really doesn't fall in love with, and it's implied by all the characters that Luke is *just standing there*, waiting for Lorelai to come to her senses and realize that the boy next door is right for her. Luke actually makes speeches about having been "forced" to watch Lorelai go from man to man, as if his inability to ask her out is her problem.

These Xander type characters are usually insecure in their masculinity and fragile. They pretty much represent white, young, average males who envy the Angel types and resent the Buffy types, and are meant to be pitied by the audience. They can't actually get the girl because it's not entertaining enough and because the Angel types are part of the women's fantasy, but the Xander types are always there to make their crushes feel a bit creeped out.
 
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#3
Reposted, in part, from Paste
I’m not suggesting Xander is a villain, but he’s not an amazing friend. In the episode “Surprise,” Xander (Nicholas Brendon) shows exactly what he thinks of Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) during the height of his crush on her, when he and Willow (Alyson Hannigan) discuss Buffy’s boyfriend, Angel, possibly leaving:

Willow: Poor Buffy, on her birthday and everything.
Xander: Hmm, it’s sad, granted. But let’s look at the upside for a moment. I mean, what kind of a future would she have really had with him? She’s got two jobs—Denny’s waitress by day, Slayer by night—and Angel’s always in front of the TV with a big blood belly, and he’s dreaming of the glory days when Buffy still thought this whole “Creature of the Night” routine was a big turn-on.
Willow: You’ve thought way too much about this.
Xander: No, no. That’s just the beginning. Have I told you the part where I fly into town in my private jet and take Buffy out for prime rib?
Willow: [sees Buffy come in] Xander…
Xander: And she cries!

That is a detailed revenge fantasy about a woman he claims to care about. Yet our strong female role model views this treatment as normal friendship. “The Xander” undermines “The Buffy” in her own narrative. A show creates a character without powers to be the audience’s point of view, and then we watch the hero repeatedly reject him. It distances the viewer from her. Furthermore, it either gives her an emotional burden to bear or makes her look unfeeling.
He was joking. While there MAY have been a passive aggressive element to it, he was cracking jokes as he did through the episode, and as he does from seasons 1 to 7, often at his own expense as well as at the expense of others, but nearly always making fun of a dire situation or some other sort of gallows humor, as that's how he dealt with stress. Granted, there were other times he was a jerk (as they all were at one time or another, as Cordelia was to him in this episode), but saying that was his revenge fantasy is too much of a leap for me.

And I can't say it distanced me, as a viewer, from Buffy. Maybe white male viewers? That would surprise me, but I can see that, especially as Xander does seem to be into the scifi and comics that most who would get into Buffy when it first came out would probably be (though I thought it was actually more of Joss inserting himself in a non-Gary Stu way, just as self-depreciating as Xander is). At least for me (not a white heterosexual male), Buffy doesn't seem unfeeling toward Xander. Quite the opposite, though she doesn't see him "in that way." Just as Xander doesn't see Willow in that way, but it's obvious that Xander loves Willow, just not "in that way" (save for season 3 at the worst possible and WTF time).

That said, I do wish Joss could've been more subversive when it came to Buffy's romances rather than inserting the dark, brooding bad boy or dangerous male, which probably is Joss's view on what women want (to be fair, some women do like that, but many don't). Come to think of it, I vaguely recall JM sharing a story about how Joss was somehow jealous of him because now women would want him (JM) for having played Spike, but I can't recall the details of that (but such a view would show it influenced how he arranged Buffy's romances).

And after reading the above, I do find myself curious how fans would've reacted differently had Xander been cast as black, but otherwise exactly identical (personality, interests, his crush on Buffy, making out with Cordelia, being a demon magnet, etc)...I don't know if it would've made a big difference in how fans perceived and reacted to him (and Cordelia, etc), but it wouldn't surprise me if it did.
 
I'm currently watching Surprise right now...as Willow says, "What, only Xander gets to make dumb jokes?"

And I was reminded once again about how many mothers would NOT accept their boy "studying all night long" with a girl (when Xander calls his mom to say that's what he's going to be doing with Willow all night). She must've been drunk, as he knew she would be. :rolleyes::D
 

GraceK

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#4
Wow. I think that article is a bunch of bullshit. Seriously...it's articles like these that make me understand why some people assume feminists are man hating bitches.

Xander IS a good friend, and he doesn't resent Buffy or her power. He also doesn't help out with the intention of trying to sleep with her. I find that extremely offensive and it's obvious this writer has not actually watched the show.
Willow was in love with Xander too, crushed on him for years...but no one is accusing her of being a creepy "nice girl".

And Xander didn't hate Angel for being dark and brooding and hottter than him. He was jealous that Buffy liked him yes, but he hated Angel because he was a vampire...a species that murdered his friend Jesse. People seem to forget that...that he killed his own childhood best friend when he became a vampire. That was one of his motivations for wanting to fight demons. He was made aware of the world that was going on around him and braced with that knowledge he couldn't NOT do something, even though he had no powers.

He eventually got over his crush and moved on, and also, he had no problem getting women. Willow, Cordelia, Anya...whenever he applied himself he was attractive to girls. Not to mention, in season1 he put aside his hurt and saved Buffy's life, which she threw in his face later and purposely tormented him...which I notice no one who writes these articles seem to mention. I am so sick of the biased hatred Xander gets. He's a little douchy in high school and no one gets over it, no matter how much good he does or what a great friend he is. Is he perfect? No.. he can be an ass, but no one on that show is an angelic being! Most have been evil at some point. And even though I myself am a Spike fan, I love how people will defend Spikes actions, whether it's attempted rape, stalking or assault to the death...but Xander is mean to a girl and oh no!!' He's a woman hating "nice guy". Please.
 
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#5
It gives off the vibe that Buffy doesn't love Xander, but loves Angel, because he's powerful and hot. Xander, the "normal" teenager feels sad because he's not desirable enough, which sometimes does make the woman look vain and insensitive.
This might have worked better if they had chosen an actor less good looking than NB. TPTB have actually admitted NB was too attractive to play Xander. Early Seasons Xander was quite attractive in the looks department and quite a few found him hotter than DB/Angel.

And Xander didn't hate Angel for being dark and brooding and hottter than him. He was jealous that Buffy liked him yes, but he hated Angel because he was a vampire...a species that murdered his friend Jesse. People seem to forget that...that he killed his own childhood best friend when he became a vampire.
Xander hating Angel for being a vampire because vampires killed his best friend might have worked better if they had ever mentioned Jesse again after the pilot. But Xander treated Angel no different after the vampire reveal than before. He was generally an ass.

He eventually got over his crush and moved on, and also, he had no problem getting women. Willow, Cordelia, Anya...whenever he applied himself he was attractive to girls.
Except he didn't ever go after any woman. It either happened out of nowhere (Willow), developed out of mutual antagonism (Cordy) and Anya pursued him.

I am so sick of the biased hatred Xander gets. He's a little douchy in high school and no one gets over it, no matter how much good he does or what a great friend he is. Is he perfect? No.. he can be an ass, but no one on that show is an angelic being! Most have been evil at some point. And even though I myself am a Spike fan, I love how people will defend Spikes actions, whether it's attempted rape, stalking or assault to the death...but Xander is mean to a girl and oh no!!' He's a woman hating "nice guy". Please.
Fully with you on this one.

However I find his Buffy fantasies quite demeaning. Whether it's the one mentioned above from Surprise or his dream in S1 where is the shining hero and Buffy the besotted bimbo gazing at him dreamily. But at least they stopped with those post-Surprise. My main problem with Xander has always been how he treated Buffy like a comic book hero come to life. She was always that hero first and a person second. He had different expectations of her than everyone else. Which is why when she failed his super hero standards things turned nasty. He expects her to be better and make better decisions than us mere mortals.
 

Carrie Hopewell

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Sineya
#6
This might have worked better if they had chosen an actor less good looking than NB. TPTB have actually admitted NB was too attractive to play Xander. Early Seasons Xander was quite attractive in the looks department and quite a few found him hotter than DB/Angel.
Well, to each their own obviously, but I don't find NB extraordinarily good looking. He looks weren't very polished, he were terrible clothing, etc. Angel fit more the stereotype of tall, dark and handsome which is part of the "typical" female fantasy.

Wow. I think that article is a bunch of bullshit. Seriously...it's articles like these that make me understand why some people assume feminists are man hating bitches.
Why do you assume that the author is a man-hating feminist? Just because the author hates "The Xander", or even Xander, hating one male character does not make you a man-hating feminist. Actually, I wouldn't particularly care if people called me one. Accusing women of hating men is a criticism that goes way back - it's about men being afraid empowered women would be a threat to them, their roles in society and patriarchy in general. I'm not concerned about feminists hating men - very few do, and this author is certainly not extremist enough for that. Calling a feminist man-hating is like calling a woman a slut - entirely meaningless.

Willow was in love with Xander too, crushed on him for years...but no one is accusing her of being a creepy "nice girl".
The point isn't about Xander, it's about The Xander, the type of role a white, male character carries out in a female led show. Willow being in love with Xander, which sometimes made Xander look unsympathetic, doesn't make the author's point any less valid.

And Xander didn't hate Angel for being dark and brooding and hottter than him. He was jealous that Buffy liked him yes, but he hated Angel because he was a vampire...a species that murdered his friend Jesse. People seem to forget that...that he killed his own childhood best friend when he became a vampire. That was one of his motivations for wanting to fight demons. He was made aware of the world that was going on around him and braced with that knowledge he couldn't NOT do something, even though he had no powers.
Again, I do love Xander, but I recognize the part he plays in the first seasons and how Xander is the white male who imagines rescuing a helpless Buffy in his fantasy (twice, once in season 1 and once in Surprise), who actually considered taking advantage of his spell in BB&B with Buffy, who imagines teen potential slayers having pillow fights and his lesbian friends making out in seductive outfits in front of him.

No.. he can be an ass, but no one on that show is an angelic being! Most have been evil at some point. And even though I myself am a Spike fan, I love how people will defend Spikes actions, whether it's attempted rape, stalking or assault to the death...but Xander is mean to a girl and oh no!!
This is a fantasy show. Vampires being evil, witch Willow trying to destroy the world...it's all fantasy so it doesn't bother people. Xander represents often misogyny and the male gaze - that's a very real problem that triggers people.

He's a woman hating "nice guy".
Xander doesn't hate women, the author doesn't say that. But misogyny runs deep and people often don't realize this. It's in all of us, it's a societal problem. Cordelia accuses women of being sluts and accused a rape victim of giving off a "sexual vibe". Xander was young, immature and, yes, jealous of Angel and resenting Buffy a bit for not liking him. He moved past this, he respects and admires his friends' strength, but The Xander is still very much a problem, just like The Angel types are. Xander and Angel are more than these stereotypes, but I can't ignore what they do represent in the show.

An example of Xander being everything the author accuses him of being. From Prophecy Girl:

Xander: You know, Buffy, Spring Fling is a time for students to gather and --oh, God. Buffy, I want you to go to the dance with me. You and me. On a date.
Buffy: Xander, I don't know what to say...
Xander: Well, you're not laughing, so that's a good start. Buffy, I like you. A lot. I mean, we're friends, and we've shared experiences, we've fought blood sucking fiends together, and that's a good time, but... I want more than that. I wanna dance with you.
Buffy: Xander... You're one of my best friends. The best friends I've ever had. You and Willow, I mean, I love you guys so much --
Xander: Well, Willow's not looking to date you. Or if she is she's playing it really close to the chest.
Buffy: I don't want to spoil the friendship we have.
Xander: I don't want to spoil it either. But that's not the point, is it? You either feel a thing or you don't.
Buffy: I don't. I'm sorry. I just don't think of you that way.
Xander: Well, try. I'll wait.
Buffy: Xander...
Xander: No. Forget it. I'm not him. I guess a guy's gotta be undead to make time with you.
Buffy: That's really harsh.
Xander: I'm sorry. I don't handle rejection well. Funny, considering how much practice I've had.
Buffy: I never meant to --
Xander: You know what? Let's just not.
 
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#7
who actually considered taking advantage of his spell in BB&B with Buffy,
When did that happen?

who who imagines teen potential slayers having pillow fights and his lesbian friends making out in seductive outfits in front of him.
Both are dreams. A person can't control what they're dreaming about. And even if he did imagine them, so? I have fantasies, too. I have fantasies about two men getting it on together. But they're fantasies. I never acted on them and neither did Xander.
 
Amber Bunny Slippers
Amber Bunny Slippers
My God, this is an incredibly well thought-out post!

thetopher

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Sineya
#8
Let’s call this archetype “The Xander.” The Xander is more than the funny kid with a crush. He is the boy without powers who follows around a powerful woman, specifically in the hopes of wearing her down into dating him.
Was that really Xander's 'specific thing'? I know that he initially went after Buffy in 'The Harvest' to save his friend Jesse. I'd simply call that being a brave and loyal friend.

He might not be able to help in any way, and he may only be heroic in the hopes of getting sex
Yeah, Xander was pretty crucial in saving Buffy's actual life in S1. 'The Harvest' and 'Prophecy Girl' How is that 'not helping in any way'?

Yet our strong female role model views this treatment as normal friendship. “The Xander” undermines “The Buffy” in her own narrative. A show creates a character without powers to be the audience’s point of view, and then we watch the hero repeatedly reject him.
Nope, especially in the early years Buffy is the audiences POV. She is the character we are introduced to first, she is the one we spend the most time with and get to see her trials and so forth. She is 'the relate-able teen' struggling with the burden of destiny, superpowers and crushing on a vampire.

We get some Xander-centric stuff later on- BB&B for instance.

Also tere are plenty of people without powers in those early days- Giles and Willow and Xander and Cordelia, so why is Xander targeted as the 'designated audience pov'?

Xander is only meant to be the everyman character, but that doesn't make him the default audience pov.

It distances the viewer from her. Furthermore, it either gives her an emotional burden to bear or makes her look unfeeling.
I can give Buffy a pass for not stopping Xander from getting himself killed for her because she was a teenager and everyone in Sunnydale is in danger at all times.
So if a female sidekick wants to support the male character and act on her own impetus then she's being strong and empowered, doing her own thing and not relying on the man.
But if a male sidekick does it then he's just raining on the heroine's parade and making her look weak?
Yeah Xander, why don't you just stay at home and knit. Saving the world is clearly women's work.
...
I mean, Jesus Christ. This is like Bizarro-world and it is not okay.

And also, if Buffy gets a pass for being a teenager- and therefore a fallible, relate-able character- then why is Xander judged so harshly? He's a teen too.
Right, right, he's the one who happens to be a guy. Got it.

It’s no coincidence that The Xander is always a white guy. There is an unspoken assumption that an audience will most relate to an awkward white man, even if the main characters are women.
I think there is a 'wacky black sidekick' trope. It's actually something of a tired old cliche that many TV and film people try and get away from.

It’s also no coincidence that if the badass woman’s loyal companion is a man of color, suddenly the crush element will be gone. Wallace from Veronica Mars,
Wallace completely and totally had a crush of Veronica Mars!
I mean, it was subtle but it was there dammit, especially in that first season. He got over it, so did Xander. It doesn't make them awful guys, or somehow entitled.
You wanna look at an entitled male character crushing on Buffy- look at a different character much later on.

The double standard of what white men can get away with can’t be ignored, either: If Malcolm (Eka Darville) gave Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) a speech about how she’s his hero that ended with “Sometimes when it’s dark and I’m all alone, I think, ‘What is [Jessica] wearing?’” he would get punched, not thanked.
That guy wasn't a 'sidekick' in any real sense; more like a 'damsel' Jimmy Olsen type that Jessica Jones had to rescue from the clutches of the evil villain.

Jessica's sidekick- if any- was Pasty Walker, her adopted sister. She's the one who- like Xander- gives Jessica pep talks and wants to get involved in her adventures. She even envy's Jessica's superpowers.
But because she's the 'correct' gender I guess that's okay?

This is just more 'Xander = nice guy' syndrome. Nothing that I haven't read before and simply a very narrow, flawed reading of his character, even his high school persona.
 
sosa lola
sosa lola
OMG I didn't read the article because I knew it's filled with Xander hate crap but "Xander helped Buffy because he was after SEX????" REALLY? Urgh!!!
GraceK
GraceK
Seriously that whole article was rage inducing .

Xanderectomy

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#9
God the Xander hate is ****ing unbearable.
he's just a dude.
Does he make some bad decisions? Yeah.
But who the **** doesn't,it's like every comment the guy makes is analysed ridiculously.
Do people not realize he's comedic relief and that his character is written as such so.
Can people stop taking every single thing he says as adamant proof that he's the worst person alive.
 
GraceK
GraceK
Couldn't agree more.
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#10
When did that happen?
I believe that's a reference to "C'mon, Buffy, I couldn't take advantage of you like that. Okay, for a minute, it was touch and go there..." A joke, though I do expect he had an ignoble impulse right along with his better ones. Using season 4, it would be explained that Xander's superego won out over his id, and his id didn't have a chance. In case it needs to be said, being attracted to a woman is not misogynistic or evil, that would be forcing a woman to serve one's own interests as if a woman was an object rather than a person. Xander saw Buffy as a person and respected her as such, so he's not misogynistic there, though I'm sure his id wanted to take advantage of the sitch.

Perhaps I'm too cynical, but I think Xander was better than about 90% of other guys would've been (especially at that age). I also think that if love spells worked like they do in the Buffyverse (or love potions in the Potterverse) then plenty of females (especially at that age) would be making frequent use of them as well, both for selfish desire and personal revenge (and plenty of females would seek out more dire revenge if they thought they could get away with it).

But in any case, where Xander deserves his scolding was blackmailing Amy into doing that spell for him out of revenge. It was a petty and cruel thing to do (even if his only goal was to put Cordelia through the same heartbreak he was feeling rather than raping Cordelia using the magic on her mind as plenty others would've done as well), and he quickly came to regret his actions as he saw how many people were hurting. And it wasn't just how this was endangering him, but how it was hurting the people he cared about, and he even rescued Cordelia from a lynch mob. All in all, Xander screwed up big by getting Amy to cast that spell, but he's still a (pretty) good kid (of course he has his flaws), and not some misogynistic sexual predator.
 

Taake

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Black Thorn
#11
Well, I think it's a good article. While Xander has redeeming qualities, "The Xander" is problematic. That doesn't mean that I'm raging Xander-and-man-hating feminist, ... some of the comments in this thread really seem disporportional to the article itself, it's like not seeing the forest for the trees.

These parts in particular were interesting

It’s no coincidence that The Xander is always a white guy. There is an unspoken assumption that an audience will most relate to an awkward white man, even if the main characters are women. Even if the black man on the show happens to be Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), an iconic everyman. (In Supergirl season two Olsen is so out of place as a hapless sidekick he takes on the superhero mantle of Guardian.) On Crazyhead Jake even calls Amy’s black boyfriend, Tyler (Arinzé Kene), “Coldplay” because he’s boring, as if there is anything more “Coldplay” than a mediocre white guy who is just sort of around all the time. This clearly indicates that The Xander isn’t about showing a real underdog; it’s about catering to a specific presumed audience.

It’s also no coincidence that if the badass woman’s loyal companion is a man of color, suddenly the crush element will be gone. Wallace from Veronica Mars, Ravi from iZombie, Malcolm from Marvel’s Jessica Jones, and Harris from Sweet/Vicious are all great examples of why unrequited love isn’t necessary for these dynamics to work. Television thinks only white (straight) men need an incentive to be friends with a woman. The double standard of what white men can get away with can’t be ignored, either: If Malcolm (Eka Darville) gave Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) a speech about how she’s his hero that ended with “Sometimes when it’s dark and I’m all alone, I think, ‘What is [Jessica] wearing?’” he would get punched, not thanked. So why would it be cute if the guy saying it looks likes Nicholas Brendon?

There are parts of this archetype that work if a show can learn to step away from the entitlement and obsession. The Xander is always a better character post-crush anyway.
Winn has been nothing but delightful since getting over Kara. He’s been a more supportive friend to everyone in his life. He’s having his own adventures while still contributing to the missions. In the recent Valentine’s Day episode, he went on a date with another strong alien girl and made a point to be direct with her about his feelings and seeing her as a person.
 
Spanky
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Right. I think some of the comments could not see the forest thru the trees. It wasn't so much about Xander but the archetype.
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#12
Reading through this I couldn't help but think there's a whole massive thread on Gilmore Girls on this forum. I haven't posted a single essay in that thread yet. That's because I've not watched the show and I'd look like a right tool if I went in there and tried to do some character analysis. Which leads me to this:
He might not be able to help in any way, and he may only be heroic in the hopes of getting sex, but at least he is… on screen a lot.
A show creates a character without powers to be the audience’s point of view
Xander saved Buffy's life in Season 1 and the world later on. Season 1, Buffy has powers, everyone else goes without. Complete drivel right from the start and it doesn't get any better.
 

Carrie Hopewell

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#13
Reading through this I couldn't help but think there's a whole massive thread on Gilmore Girls on this forum. I haven't posted a single essay in that thread yet. That's because I've not watched the show and I'd look like a right tool if I went in there and tried to do some character analysis. Which leads me to this:
Yup. We already filled up one thread and the current one is going to be in the Sunnydale Cemetery soon! Gilmore Girls is very much alike Buffy in the sense that it has a huge cult audience, is still talked about 10 years later and is mostly known for its unique characters and quick banter. It doesn't surprise me that Gilmore Girls is so popular here. A lot of what makes Buffy addictive also applies to GG.
 
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#14
But in any case, where Xander deserves his scolding was blackmailing Amy into doing that spell for him out of revenge. It was a petty and cruel thing to do (even if his only goal was to put Cordelia through the same heartbreak he was feeling rather than raping Cordelia using the magic on her mind as plenty others would've done as well), and he quickly came to regret his actions as he saw how many people were hurting. And it wasn't just how this was endangering him, but how it was hurting the people he cared about, and he even rescued Cordelia from a lynch mob. All in all, Xander screwed up big by getting Amy to cast that spell, but he's still a (pretty) good kid (of course he has his flaws), and not some misogynistic sexual predator.
See my main problem here, aside from the Amy blackmailing, is that Xander never came clean to Cordy about his actual intend regarding the spell. While they are barricading the cellar door Cordy tweaks to the fact that Xander's love spell was meant for her so they could be together again. But that was not Xander's intend.

The reason I come to that conclusion (Xander not telling her the truth) is simple really. Because Cordy and Xander get back together after this. No woman in her right mind would have taken him back knowing his actual goal. He basically wanted to rob Cordelia of her free will just to hurt her. Who would want to be with a guy who does that you?
 
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#15
He basically wanted to rob Cordelia of her free will just to hurt her. Who would want to be with a guy who does that you?
Xander's reason IMO is less problematic than making Cordelia love him unwillingly so they could be together forever. He did say, he just wanted her to hurt and feel humiliated the same way she did to him and that he wanted her to love him temporarily. It's wrong, but less wrong than taking her free will forever.

I do think Cordelia at that time in the series wouldn't have dated him if she knew the truth, Xander putting a spell on her to make her love him is "romantic" in the Midsummer Night's Dream sense. A lot of girls found that sort of thing romantic in the olden days, heck even in the 90s.
 
Well, I think it's a good article. While Xander has redeeming qualities, "The Xander" is problematic.
"The Xander" is named after Xander Harris, hence it's Xander the character that is problematic. I don't get why those people believe Xander was the invention of the Nice Guy tm. There were way too many white male characters before Xander who were worse than Xander. IMO, Will Smith's character in the sitcom Fresh Prince objectifies women endlessly and treats them much worse than Xander ever did. And he's black.

When you say "The Xander" is problematic, you're also saying a guy who supports the female heroine and follows her lead willingly and heck calls her his hero and is contented with being the sidekick to powerful women is "problematic".


it's like not seeing the forest for the trees.
Or maybe we just disagree. I see what the writer is saying and I disagree with it.
 

Taake

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#16
]

"The Xander" is named after Xander Harris, hence it's Xander the character that is problematic. I don't get why those people believe Xander was the invention of the Nice Guy tm. There were way too many white male characters before Xander who were worse than Xander. IMO, Will Smith's character in the sitcom Fresh Prince objectifies women endlessly and treats them much worse than Xander ever did. And he's black.

When you say "The Xander" is problematic, you're also saying a guy who supports the female heroine and follows her lead willingly and heck calls her his hero and is contented with being the sidekick to powerful women is "problematic".
Yes, Xander is problematic at times to me. There is a lot I like about Xander, but the fact that he
supports the female heroine and follows her lead willingly and heck calls her his hero and is contented with being the sidekick to powerful women
doesn't mean there is zero problems with his character. I don't even think you'd say any of the above makes him flawless?

I can find a "you're my hero" followed up by "I touch myself thinking about you" to be problematic without hating Xander.*

Also he may not be the invention of the Nice Guy but he can still be a stand out representation which may be why people remember him better than others. And Will Smith's character is hard to compare in this case because he doesn't have the same function, he's a completely different character. No one said that black guys can't objectify women, but that in the shows mentioned, when a sidekick is black there is no need to push the 'he has a crush on the heroine' theme which is seen in the white guy sidekick.

I guess there's not much point in carrying on the discussion, I feel like anything I say will automatically be called "Xander hate" :rolleyes: And I don't hate Xander, but there are representations of him and his archetype that trouble me in the sense that they legitimize certain male behaviors. That doesn't mean that I think he's the worst character ever, or worse than any other male characters, it just means that to me this article had interesting observations and that The Xander is a real thing, no matter what you want to call it.


* Because I'm sure there'll be follow up questions to that statement:
Xander: always think, 'What would Buffy do?' You're my hero. Ok, sometimes when it's dark and I'm all alone, I think, 'What is Buffy wearing?' ...

I guess one could interpret the follow up to be that Xander is just lying alone in the dark thinking about Buffy's mad accessorizing skills, or just blow it off with a "haha, what a funny joke" but the point is, to some (including Buffy who asks him not to tell her about that) it's not a funny joke, it's uncomfortable. If you can be her friend and accept that she wants nothing more, then great, but don't insinuate her into your fantasies about her. And the fact that it's supposed to be funny that when she's sad and vulnerable and he's comforting her... then a sexual innuendo has to be included... well to me it undermines their friendship. So yes, to me, Xander is a much better character post-crush.
 

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#18
First, I do apologize for using the term man hating feminist. That was an overreaction, and I hope you guys/girls realize I was not saying that about any of you!

Articles like these get me mad because I feel they seek out misogyny, and create misogyny where there isn't any. Xander IMO is one of the most picked on and accused of sexism guy in the Buffyverse and it's irritating.The PC culture has gotten so extreme that a joke can't even be said anymore without someone screaming sexism.

That's it really. I like Xander and I'm a woman and I have never in my life felt uncomfortable by anything he said onscreen and I have never felt offended. But that's just me. :)
 
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#19
Xander's reason IMO is less problematic than making Cordelia love him unwillingly so they could be together forever. He did say, he just wanted her to hurt and feel humiliated the same way she did to him and that he wanted her to love him temporarily.
Except for the part where he never said that to Cordelia. We know what his real reason was. Cordy however thought he did the spell so they could be together. No way would she have taken him back if she knew the real reason.

It's wrong, but less wrong than taking her free will forever.
Taking someone's free will away is wrong, period. It really doesn't matter if it's for 1h or 10 years. And taking their free will away with the expressed purpose to hurt them makes it even worse.

I do think Cordelia at that time in the series wouldn't have dated him if she knew the truth, Xander putting a spell on her to make her love him is "romantic" in the Midsummer Night's Dream sense. A lot of girls found that sort of thing romantic in the olden days, heck even in the 90s.
While Cordy might have fallen into that romantic trap there is no way she would have taken him back if she knew his actual intend. Not Cordelia freaking Chase.
 
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