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Was Spike almost raping Buffy really necessary?

Lovetheearth

Townie
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
7
Age
30
I do think S6 was about the characters overcoming real life 'monsters' found in humanity: Buffy with bills and depression; Willow with drugs and hubris; Xander with commitment issues. I think Warren is the most disturbing villain in the whole series because his desires stem from the darkest pits of humanity. The AR is another human battle Buffy faces and (crucially) one she conquers. It is deeply upsetting and distressing to watch. Comparing it with descriptions of other rape scenes in film and TV (I haven't seen that many) I don't think it is intended to be voyeuristic, nor playing to grotesque sensationalism as argued about rape scenes elsewhere. Interestingly, despite that, the reception of the episode seems to focus much more on James Marsters' discomfort and disgust. Essays have been written defending Spike. What about Sarah Michelle Gellar having to act Buffy's part?

I can't comment on Noxon's personal experiences influencing the scene, but I think the show always wanted to push the boundaries and explore what other shows did not. As you'll all no doubt know, Whedon said: "The first thing I ever thought of when I thought of Buffy, the movie, was the little...blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed, in every horror movie. The idea of Buffy was to subvert that idea, that image, and create someone who was a hero where she had always been a victim." The walking down the alleyway and getting killed in a horror movie is synonymous with rape in real life. I think the reason behind the scene was quite simple: in the world of Buffy, Buffy fights back and wins, and the audience are supposed to feel 'relieved'. The writer and director are both male on this episode. They may well have misjudged depicting it in the first place, but I think their intention was for our Buffy heroine to fight back against a threat felt by all women, and one in which victims are disproportionately female, in a season that deals with real life 'monsters'.
 

LemonBanana

Scooby
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
78
Sineya
I really would have preferred him not to! He was one of my FAVE characters until then, and it took a while for him to redeem himself in my books. I don’t think Spike really understood the concept of it, I think it was just an ‘I want I get’ sort of situation, but nevertheless he still realised it was wrong when it was too late. Joss said that one of the reasons were because everyone was forgetting that Spike was ‘bad’, and also to show that Buffy, with all her slayer strength, couldn’t get him off earlier which makes her more like other teenage girls so the audience can relate. I hated this episode, however part of me is saying that it is vital. Their relationship wouldn’t have been so gripping if it was just them breaking up and possibly getting back together again. I still would have preferred if he tried to kill her instead though 😂. Loved your post 😊 💕
 
L
Lovetheearth
Thanks :) Agree with him being 'I want, I get'. There's a moment where he says "you should have let him kill me", looks up, with hope, and Buffy says she couldn't. I think this is the moment where he interprets a 'chance', & the 'I want, I get'

AstridDante

Potential
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
158
Age
41
I personally agree with James Marsters on his that the plot point didn’t translate very well with genders reversed, given that it was supposed to be based on Noxon previous experience trying to convince somebody to stay in relationship with sex. With genders reversed it came across very differently I think and I feel it really was a bit of a character assassination on Spike which was hard for him to come back from. In particular I didn’t like how the rest of the Scoobies, particularly Dawn now viewed him when he had started to form bonds with them to a certain extent
 

DeadlyDuo

Scooby
Joined
Jul 29, 2016
Messages
8,233
Age
29
Interestingly, despite that, the reception of the episode seems to focus much more on James Marsters' discomfort and disgust. Essays have been written defending Spike. What about Sarah Michelle Gellar having to act Buffy's part?
It would've been worse for JM to act out the scene than it would be for SMG. SMG knows JM would never hurt her, and she was constantly having to reassure him that she was fine and wasn't hurt, whereas JM had to be the one to pin her down as she's crying and screaming and telling him to stop. That scene actually sent JM to therapy and he had it put into his contracts that he was never ever doing a scene like that ever again.

Joss said that one of the reasons were because everyone was forgetting that Spike was ‘bad’,
JM has always been quite open about playing Spike as sympathetic (because he wanted to keep his job, Spike was supposed to be killed off in Season 2 but he became a fan-favourite so was kept alive). In Season 6, if people were "forgetting" that Spike was supposed to be bad, that either indicates a failure in writing over the seasons or a failure in direction eg telling JM not to play Spike so sympathetically. In my view, Spike adds depth to vampires and shows them to be more emotionally complex rather than just creatures for Buffy to kill. We saw this with Spike and Dru in Season 2. Spike's "grand plan" wasn't world domination but just to get Dru better, we see them be affectionate to each other and they also look after each other when one of them is sick or injured. In Season 6, Spike wants an emotional connection with Buffy but is settling for whatever scraps of affection she gives him (using him to make herself feel better). Neither are happy with the "relationship" but it is what it is (a more accurate representation of an addiction storyline than Willow's storyline).

Spike may struggle to understand the nuances of Buffy's behaviour due to his lack of soul, and sometimes he can come off as a bit of a jerk, but he is not a "bad" guy. The problem is the writers wanted to put Spike in a position where he needed to redeem himself with a soul (whereas he'd been coping fine before) and they thought attempted rape would be the way to do that. Unfortunately they didn't take into account the "rape is a special kind of evil trope" and "moral event horizon" trope. Basically, in film and television, rape is often used as shorthand to tell the audience that a character is evil and beyond redemption. Even bad guys draw the line somewhere with the "even evil has standards" trope to show that a character is absolutely beyond evil. The problem with the AR is that it could've made the audience hate him which would've been counter-productive to Season 7 when the writers wanted the audience to feel sympathy for him (which is why I think the AR was kind of swept under the rug in Season 7). It is only because of JM's portrayal that Spike maintains any likeability after the AR.

There were ways to push Spike to get a soul that didn't involve attempted rape, but I don't think he should've been given a soul at all. I dislike the notion that Spike has to change a part of himself that he had no issue with before (being soulless), all so that he would be considered "acceptable" to Buffy. He essentially commits an act of self-harm and then is ultimately rewarded for doing so. That is not a great message to send to the audience, neither is the fact that Buffy, a supposed role model for young girls, falls in love with a man who tried to rape her.
 
LemonBanana
LemonBanana
I totally agree, nice to hear your opinion, love your post! 😊 💕

katmobile

Scooby
Joined
Jun 17, 2018
Messages
1,308
Age
48
I do think S6 was about the characters overcoming real life 'monsters' found in humanity: Buffy with bills and depression; Willow with drugs and hubris; Xander with commitment issues. I think Warren is the most disturbing villain in the whole series because his desires stem from the darkest pits of humanity. The AR is another human battle Buffy faces and (crucially) one she conquers. It is deeply upsetting and distressing to watch. Comparing it with descriptions of other rape scenes in film and TV (I haven't seen that many) I don't think it is intended to be voyeuristic, nor playing to grotesque sensationalism as argued about rape scenes elsewhere. Interestingly, despite that, the reception of the episode seems to focus much more on James Marsters' discomfort and disgust. Essays have been written defending Spike. What about Sarah Michelle Gellar having to act Buffy's part?

I can't comment on Noxon's personal experiences influencing the scene, but I think the show always wanted to push the boundaries and explore what other shows did not. As you'll all no doubt know, Whedon said: "The first thing I ever thought of when I thought of Buffy, the movie, was the little...blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed, in every horror movie. The idea of Buffy was to subvert that idea, that image, and create someone who was a hero where she had always been a victim." The walking down the alleyway and getting killed in a horror movie is synonymous with rape in real life. I think the reason behind the scene was quite simple: in the world of Buffy, Buffy fights back and wins, and the audience are supposed to feel 'relieved'. The writer and director are both male on this episode. They may well have misjudged depicting it in the first place, but I think their intention was for our Buffy heroine to fight back against a threat felt by all women, and one in which victims are disproportionately female, in a season that deals with real life 'monsters'.
I don't think it's chauvinism but it's more Sarah hasn't felt compelled to talk about it specifically whereas she has been vocal about more general directions of season six and possibly the sex scenes but it seems to be more Buffy is OOC which shows maybe she doesn't understand depression.

It's entirely possible Sarah needed therapy too and it can't have been fun for her but she hasn't spoken about it publically in the same way. I get the impression she's a more private person than James which is a judgement on neither of them. I actually think that the way in the patriarchy and toxic mascalinity hurts men is that men don't talk about their traumas enough so I think a situation where a dude does and admits therapy helped them is good - actually I like that Buffy both in the show and in the comics has a positive view of therapists that is rare in media.
 
L
Lovetheearth
Where did I say chauvinism? But yes, agree that it's great JM has talked openly about therapy.
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