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Welcome to the Hellmouth: Postmodernism and Buffy HUM 3085: Television and Popular Culture Spring 2014 Dr. Perdigao March 21, 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Welcome to the Hellmouth: Postmodernism and Buffy HUM 3085: Television and Popular Culture Spring 2014 Dr. Perdigao March 21, 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Welcome to the Hellmouth: Postmodernism and Buffy HUM 3085: Television and Popular Culture Spring 2014 Dr. Perdigao March 21, 2014

2 Quality Television Robert J. Thompson’s list of distinctive tendencies/characteristics: 1.“Quality TV usually has a quality pedigree.” 2.“Desirable demographics notwithstanding, quality shows must often undergo a noble struggle against profit-mongering networks and non- appreciative audiences.” 3.“Quality TV tends to have a large ensemble cast.” 4.“Quality TV has a memory.” 5.“Quality TV creates a new genre by mixing old ones.” 6.“Quality TV tends to be literary and writer-based.” 7.“Quality TV is self-conscious.” 8.“The subject matter of quality TV tends toward the controversial.” 9.“Quality TV aspires toward ‘realism.’” (xxi-vviv) Wilcox, Rhonda V. and David Lavery. Introduction. Fighting the Forces: What’s at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, xvii-xxix.

3 Renaming Buffy as postmodern heroine—counter to stereotype in horror genre Play with her name: Buffy Summers Fin de siècle mentality On Naming: Xander Cordelia Spike (William) Dawn Willow Angel/Angelus Faith

4 Destabilizing “characters’ identities in BtVS are constantly blurred.... Characters can rarely be defined by the modernist binary of Good and Evil; instead they are complex and their actions often ambiguous. Identity is never fixed, and the modernist quest for the authentic, or essential, self is generally revealed to be the illusion that postmodernism contends. The self, in spite of attempts to understand one’s ‘true’ nature... is instead contingent, multiple, and perpetually in flux.” (Daspit 125) Daspit, Toby. “Buffy Goes to College, Adam Murders to Dissect: Education and Knowledge in Postmodernity.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. Ed. James B. South. Chicago: Open Court,

5 Hidden Identities Exchange student from South America=Inca Mummy Girl Frat boys=secret society sacrificing teen girls to demon-snake Billy Fordham (Max from Roswell )=vampire-wannabe cult Buffy’s mother’s boyfriend=killer robot (John Ritter!) Oz=werewolf (Seth Green!) Jenny=gypsy tracking Angel Giles=Ripper ( ) (Big) Addition: Dawn=Key Little, Tracy. “High School is Hell: Metaphor Made Literal in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. ” Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. Ed. James B. South. Chicago: Open Court,

6 Postmodernisms Heteroglossia, polyphony (multiple voices, no authoritative account) Indeterminancies (gaps, ambiguities) Fragmentations (collage rather than unities, cohesion) Hybridization (mixing genres, frame-breaking) Metafictions (self-conscious, self-reflexive, fiction about fiction)

7 Simulated Realities s/080619/buffy-the-vampire-slayer_l.jpg etail/images/prophecy.jpg amazon.com/images/I/41zdBvGQW4 L._SL500_AA280_.jpg

8 Silence and Action “Hush” is the only BtVS episode to be nominated for an Emmy for its writing (Wilcox 147) No dialogue for at least 29 minutes Professor Maggie Walsh: “Talking about communication. Talking about language, not the same thing.” Hierarchical world of the fairy tale: Giles, the wise man, states the need for the princess and the characters and audience assume it’s Buffy (148) Giles’ performance in the lecture hall: Gentlemen’s applause The Danse Macabre as diegetic music vs. the musical score as non-diegetic Old music, old technology (overhead projection)—return to earlier times (148)

9 Apocalyptic Apocalypses? Buffy assumes the role as princess Heterosexual couple end up together and save the world from the Big Bad Experimentation with identity—but here tradition reinstated at the end ( Sex and the City ?)

10 The sense of an ending Episode complicates the fairy tale—surface vs. depth “Instead of being the princess imprisoned in the tower, Buffy literally breaks into the tower.” (Wilcox 149) “Instead of being swept off her feet to be saved by the hero (cf. Errol Flynn, or Luke Skywalker swinging on that rope with Princess Leia), Buffy herself grabs a rope and swings through the air feet first in battle” (149). The scream—over-dubbed—not as a “girly scream” Gentlemen=dead white males Patriarchal order Phallic tower—source of power Formal gestures, performance; Victorian era characters; as a “class” (contrast to their henchmen) Destruction—explosion

11 Subtexts Sexual content Escaping censoring—gestures vs. words Implicit and explicit sexual content Psychology class, dream Psychology professor Maggie Walsh, directs the Initiative—ideas about gendered power As institution and control over the young adults Whedon’s statement “As soon as you say something, you’ve eliminated every other possibility of what you might be talking about” (qtd. in Wilcox 161)

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