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Things I Don't Like About Oz and Woz

W

WillowFromBuffy

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This is not an anti Oz post. I like Oz, and I have often called him the perfect boyfriend. I just wanted to write down some grievances I have with Oz and the Woz-saga.

What attracts Oz to Willow? When we first meet Oz, he tells us that he is unimpressed by the “hot girls” that Devon likes. We are supposed to be impressed by this, because it shows us that Oz is not as shallow as most boys. However, I have to wonder, what is Oz attracted to? He does not say. He simply berates Devon for not having standards when it comes to women. He does not tell us what those standards should be. If Oz had simply told us that he liked confident, passionate or funny girls, then I might have been moved by that. Instead, Oz simply comes across as a snob. The fact that he distances himself from Devon's lecherous objectifying doesn't really impress me all that much.

Later that evening, Oz spots Willow for the first time and is immediately taken by her. It is hard to understand what impresses her so much. Is it the cultural insensitivity of dressing up as an Eskimo? Is it the stupidity of wearing an outfit that is way too hot? I admit Willow looks kinda cute, but that is mostly because we already know her and because she looks so forlorn. Later, on Halloween Oz spots Will again. This time with a miniskirt, a mid-riff bearing top and raccoon eyes. Once again, he is smitten by her. Why, though? We as viewer know this is an important moment, because Will has just found the confidence to wear such a revealing outfit. Oz does not know that, and I thought he liked girls dressed as Eskimos.

In Innocence, we get a sweet scene where Oz refuses to kiss Will, because he figures she still loves Xander. Oz admits to having a crush on Will. I like this scene, but it starts off a power dynamic in their relationship that I am not too happy about. Oz expresses moral superiority, because he is in love with Willow only, while Willow is thorn between Oz and Xander. I can't really tell if I think Oz is being sweet or if he is being prideful. He still hasn't said a word about why he likes Will.

Phases
is not a good episode, but it is my favourite Woz episode, because Will is the one with the initiative. She bemoans the lack of physicality with Oz to Buffy, she later goes to confront Oz about it, she forgives Oz for hiding the werewolf curse and she runs back to kiss him. Good stuff!

Then comes season 3. Will cheats on Oz. Oz wants space, which is understandable. Then we get to Amends, in which Will finds it is time to consummate their relationship physically. Oz surprises Willow and all the viewers by turning her down, much as he did in Innocence. Oz is afraid that Will is only seeking to prove his love to him, after having cheated. I am pretty sure Oz is wrong. Will has been ready since before Phases. She may be nervous – who isn't? - but when she says she is ready and that she wants it – repeatedly – I think Oz should believe her. Oz is of course free to turn Will down, but I don't like the way he questions Will's motivations. It feels as though he is uncomferatble with Will taking the initiative. It would have been such a great moment for Will as a character to let her be the instigator of her first sexual experience.

Will and Oz finally do the deed in Graduation Day. This time, Oz takes the initiative. I am not sure what Oz feels has changed since last time. How does he know that Will is now ready to loose her virginity? If he was worried about Will feeling pressured by her guilt before, should he not be equally worried about Will feeling pressured by their impending deaths at the hands of the Mayor?

I don't know... What do the rest of you think?
 

thrasherpix

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Cordy and Devon were made for each other, at least at that time of their life. They had similar criteria for who they went after.

But Oz wasn't being preachy to Devon, he seemed to be easy going and humorous about it.

As for what attracted him to Willow (which may have been more intrigue at first), it's probably because Willow stood out in such a costume, an icon of seeming individuality, or at least going against the flow. It's not that he thought it was "cultural appropriation was hot" (ridiculous, btw), or that it was impractical, nor is it that he has a fetish for Eskimo stereotypes, but that it probably excited his imagination because she was a cipher to him, and that got him to wondering (a lot of attraction is based on what one imagines about the other, which can be inspired by what one is wearing), and that could lead to attraction. Seeing her in a hot Halloween costume (and it really does seem to be the rule that people can dress as they otherwise can't, including sexually provocative) then makes her seem more complex and intriguing given how much it contrasts the Eskimo costume.

As for Innocence. He wants her to kiss him for being himself, not to make Xander jealous or to pretend he's someone else or whatever. It's no different than when Willow refuses to go with Xander to the dance after Buffy turned Xander down. Neither Oz nor Willow expressed moral superiority in their respective situations. Guys aren't abusing their power by standing up for themselves.

I personally did not care for Willow barging into Oz's home to confront him then and there (ever notice that Buffy's advice almost gets Willow killed more than once, including the first episode?) as that's her disrespecting him, and he deserves respect just as she does (I'd take it ill if Oz barged into her home against her wishes to have a talk as well). (I was just thinking of this ep, btw, and I do have problems with this episode--story telling problems anyway--like where Wolf Oz has Willow cornered, about to pounce, and then gets distracted by a scent, leaving Willow to run away, which is just one of the reasons I wished it got edited more, but that's another topic. I still like it overall.)


I'd have to watch Amends and Graduation Day again before I comment on this (though I'm pretty sure Oz could be expected to pull away if Willow did anything other than eagerly embrace the course of action in Graduation Day), but yes, I'm sure the lesbian was completely wanting to have sex with her boyfriend rather than for any other reason. :p
 
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Scooby Corps

Fly! Be free, little bird, you defy category!
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What attracts Oz to Willow? When we first meet Oz, he tells us that he is unimpressed by the “hot girls” that Devon likes. We are supposed to be impressed by this because it shows us that Oz is not as shallow as most boys. However, I have to wonder, what is Oz attracted to? He does not say. He simply berates Devon for not having standards when it comes to women. He does not tell us what those standards should be. If Oz had simply told us that he liked confident, passionate or funny girls, then I might have been moved by that. Instead, Oz simply comes across as a snob. The fact that he distances himself from Devon's lecherous objectifying doesn't really impress me all that much.
Hmmm, I don't think we're supposed to be impressed or anything. IMO, the best way to watch this show is to ignore the (implied) authorial voice and to regard all characters as unreliable narrators. I do think you're having a point in indirectly referring to Oz's lack of ambition and direction which is a part of his character and a reason why Willow (who is ambitious and *seemingly* with direction) is attractive to him.

However, what attracts Oz to Willow? Well, initially he is wowed because she defies category which reflects his lack of "standards" as you call it.

Eskimo!Willow who wears a thick, unsexy, too warm and uncomfortable costume at a high school costume fest in California, apparently putting much emphasis on authenticity by even thinking of sticking a small plastic fish on the spear. And look at that cute face! Who's that girl?

Tramp!Willow, who looks like the average nineties alley cat walking the town's streets at night looking for the next client (I know Buffy meant well, b-but...). But then, something's off, not quite right. Her posture and body language (kind of dorky, unfeminine and unsexual tread, hunched shoulders) and facial expression (soft, innocent, happy) contradict her attire. But she seems so confident! Who the f*ck is that girl!?

Potential-Computer-Corporate-Suit!Willow. WTF? Um, Canape?

I'm not surprised that Oz's first remarks of Willow and her character initially boiled down to "You have the sweetest smile I've ever seen." and "You're quite the human." because... what else is there to say?

In Innocence, we get a sweet scene where Oz refuses to kiss Will, because he figures she still loves Xander. Oz admits to having a crush on Will. I like this scene, but it starts off a power dynamic in their relationship that I am not too happy about. Oz expresses moral superiority, because he is in love with Willow only, while Willow is thorn between Oz and Xander. I can't really tell if I think Oz is being sweet or if he is being prideful. He still hasn't said a word about why he likes Will.
There is a dysfunction in Willow/Oz (like in all relationships). Oz can be patronizing and be parenting. He's the one who makes the decisions; he initiates the first kiss, the first sex, leaves Willow "for her own good" etc. That's where he pretty much mirrors Angel in Bangel. Willow, on the other hand, rests too much of her identity on him and their relationship (which invites parenting).

However, I don't understand why the unbalanced power dynamic in Willow/Oz (Oz making decisions over her head because he doesn't take her seriously) bothers people while it doesn't bother them in Willow/Tara (Tara's never-ending criticisms, lectures, and political manipulations in their social enviroment, because she's scared of Willow's power *and/or* doesn't take her seriously).

Phases is not a good episode, but it is my favourite Woz episode, because Will is the one with the initiative. She bemoans the lack of physicality with Oz to Buffy, she later goes to confront Oz about it, she forgives Oz for hiding the werewolf curse and she runs back to kiss him. Good stuff!
Agreed on Willow/Oz though I disagree with your judgment of the episode.

Best quote: "Well, I like you. You're nice, and you're funny and you don't smoke, and okay, werewolf but that's not all the time. I mean, three days out of the month, I'm not much fun to be around, either." :)

Then comes season 3. Will cheats on Oz. Oz wants space, which is understandable. Then we get to Amends, in which Will finds it is time to consummate their relationship physically. Oz surprises Willow and all the viewers by turning her down, much as he did in Innocence. Oz is afraid that Will is only seeking to prove his love to him, after having cheated. I am pretty sure Oz is wrong. Will has been ready since before Phases. She may be nervous – who isn't? - but when she says she is ready and that she wants it – repeatedly – I think Oz should believe her. Oz is of course free to turn Will down, but I don't like the way he questions Will's motivations. It feels as though he is uncomferatble with Will taking the initiative. It would have been such a great moment for Will as a character to let her be the instigator of her first sexual experience.
I don't agree with everything re: Amends but you're making a good point about a long-term dynamic of Willow/Oz.

I think Oz is mostly right with his assessment of Willow and her plan in Amends. We know from Beauty and The Beast that she could "barely handle" half-Monty. Back in S02, she's worried that making the first move of kissing makes her a slut. She saw how Buffy (Willow's prime role model for growing up) was devastated by her bad first time. As of Amends, it was pretty clear to me that Willow didn't want to have sex, that she was really afraid (I dunno, AH acted unambiguously afraid to me) and not just nervous. I don't think that Willow is selling off her body because she thinks low of Oz. Neither does she think her betrayal with Xander is calling for an extreme action to win back Oz's trust. I think *Willow* thinks she doesn't have anything else to offer, and gives up her body as a Hail Mary Pass, with her body itself being a commodity to be exchanged which is actually a long-term dynamic of Willow, reflecting both her self-loathing and pragmatism. Oz is not ready for sex either and recognizes the whiff of (unconscious) emotional manipulation and that Willow is undervaluing herself/her body in thinking of it as such a crass commodity.

But, as mentioned above, you have a point on a longer time-scale than just Amends re: Oz. Willow offers to kiss him and he turns her down. Oz makes the call to spend an extra year at Sunnydale High to be around her without talking to her first. She offers sex and he turns her down. Oz initiates the first sex, without actually talking about it first. Oz doesn't tell her he's a werewolf-> Oz doesn't tell her about Veruca-> Oz doesn't give her any say in whether he leaves-> Oz doesn't tell her he's sending for his stuff-> Oz doesn't send word he's about coming back to town. When it comes to intimacy and the dynamics in their relationship it's pretty much Oz who makes all the calls; because He Knows Best, and that sort of gives Willow less space to maneuver and be herself. However, that's just one (dysfunctional) dynamic in their relationship with both participants contributing.

Will and Oz finally do the deed in Graduation Day. This time, Oz takes the initiative. I am not sure what Oz feels has changed since last time. How does he know that Will is now ready to loose her virginity? If he was worried about Will feeling pressured by her guilt before, should he not be equally worried about Will feeling pressured by their impending deaths at the hands of the Mayor?
Well Oz is Literal Guy right? ;) I don't think Oz thought in such terms-> balancing the pros and cons whether Willow is ready or not. He reacted impulsively because Willow was panicking and reproaching his seeming detachment.
 

DeadlyDuo

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I dislike how Oz "tests well" yet doesn't put much effort into graduating since he had to repeat a year. He's not stupid but he just can't be bothered. I find his character frustrating in the sense that, when he's on screen, there's nothing particularly wrong with him (unlike Kennedy) but he's just there and doesn't really do anything. He serves no purpose within the story. With the exception of the werewolf centric episodes, you could take Oz out of an episode and it will barely alter the episode.
 

DeepBlueJoy

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I have mixed feelings about Oz. I do like him a lot and I know people like him. A lot of valuable points have been made, however. He did make a lot of the decisions, including the one about leaving, but a lot of really self contained people are like that... they process, then the decisions come out whole... which isn't always fun for those they're in relationships with. That said, he's three dimensional. I think the times Willow offers herself -- and it really does feel like that, rather than something organic, which first kisses and first sex should generally be -- I feel that he may actually feel a bit hurt/used by her... she has a need to prove something to him and to herself -- she may have wanted sex before, but this sex is sex on offer as a consolation for cheating. The first attempts at getting with him felt like rebound, and she was clearly hurting. No one likes to be the rebound person. If you let it go forward then, you always wonder if you won because you started out when that person was in a bad place, or you won because YOU won. So, while I do see that Oz does act parental and is (oddly) very much a product of the patriarchy. He doesn't even think about whether 'they' should discuss things, in those two instances, I would have turned her down too. A lot of people, particularly those who aren't certain of themselves, use involvement with someone to reassure themselves that they can move on from an old relationship.

When he left over the wolf... I think he was running headlong away from himself, his life, from just having killed something. I don't think that was high handed. I think he was terrified, and he was more a bolting horse, racing away from the fire behind him, than anything well thought out or remotely adult.

There's also something else about their relationship that seems there in retrospect. I think Willow was always less interested in men than even she may have realized... so the natural cues that people have of being attracted and excited -- they just may not have been there. Therefore, she CHOOSES times to advance the relationship rather than going with the flow of passion (that might have been nonexistent toward any male, even though she wanted to lose her virginity and try out adulthood). She also wants to please and keep Oz, who she deeply cares for, and who deep down she suspect may be the only man who's ever gonna look past her not being a very heteronormative girl, putting out the right clues*. She wants to have someone, and all around her everyone else is pairing off with the opposite sex.

I think some of her long held interest in Xander is that he's safe, he's male and she knows he cares.

I believe a lot of Willow's interest in Oz is that he is interested in HER. She hasn't really had that happen before. Intellectually, they are probably compatible, and had nothing interrupted the flow, they just might have muddled through with a caring but not so passionate relationship. I do seriously wonder if the relationship would have survived Tara even if there had been no Veruca, though. Tara might have been the catalyst for her understanding her sexuality. We often don't acknowledge in ourselves that for which we have no precedent. Girls with girls wasn't really a 'thing' until she saw her dopplevampire self. But she might have tried to stay away from Tara, had Oz stuck around.

btw, I think the fluke could have been all about Willow's need to try and test out her heterosexuality and her fantasy for Xander.. and Xander being a horny hormone addled boy, of course.
________________

*If you have any experience dealing with people who aren't heterosexual, you may recognize that (if you're female) gay men look at you quite differently from straight men. They don't really see you as a sexual being -- and most adults can feel that lack of sexual tension or interest, even if it's on a subconscious level. Yes, a gay person will be able to tell objectively if you're attractive, but if you've interacted with someone who is straight, even someone who might never act on that with you, you can tell that they 'see' you very differently, from (for example another straight woman). Similarly, (I have noticed) lesbian women tend to see me... and look at me more the way a straight man looks at me than the way my straight female friends look at me.

Although the wires do get crossed, it's less likely a healthy person will cultivate an interest in someone who doesn't seem interested. Most healthy people tend to back off once they get no feedback. So, a lesbian like Willow... may be a challenge to a certain kind of cretin, if he knows she's lesbian, but in general, guys looking for a relationship, won't find much 'feedback' there, and so, they just won't find her that interesting for a second look.

Therefore, it's my theory that part of why Willow couldn't get a date in high school? She really wasn't looking at the guys with any kind of 'hunger'. She wasn't sending out the right signals. Most teenagers are randy beasts... and they recognize their fellow randy beasts. Oz recognized a fellow smart person, and for him, that was a big part of the attraction... then, she knew about and accepted his wolf... and that cemented it.
 
I dislike how Oz "tests well" yet doesn't put much effort into graduating since he had to repeat a year. He's not stupid but he just can't be bothered. I find his character frustrating in the sense that, when he's on screen, there's nothing particularly wrong with him (unlike Kennedy) but he's just there and doesn't really do anything. He serves no purpose within the story. With the exception of the werewolf centric episodes, you could take Oz out of an episode and it will barely alter the episode.
I always think he stuck around so he could be with Willow. Some of his lack of graduation may have been with dealing with the fallout from becoming a werewolf too.
 

crazysoulless

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I didn't like the way he punched Xander without having the facts in Bewitched Bothered & Bewildered, stood back and let Willow talk shit to Buffy in Dead Man's Party, didn't question Willow helping Cordelia (her former bully) instead of helping Buffy (her best friend) in Homecoming, and was much too gentle discouraging Willow doing dark magic to the point he didn't object to her accusing him of being a traitor for having concerns about her safety.

He wasn't oblivious to the danger like Kennedy, who didn't take magic seriously and hero worshipped Willow because she mistook guilt, a loss of identity, and grief as just the behavior of a timid wallflower.

Oz only confronted Willow when he was the one who felt hurt. Tara confronted Willow on Buffy's behalf and whenever she felt Willow's behavior was out of line. The first several times it showed Tara disagreeing with Willow and actually being annoyed with her were in s5 and not s6.
 
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