Coming up next, we have a rant about the episodic media that I read and or watch. For the first time in history, I’m employing the cut text option on my blog, because there are spoilers for Buffy, Strangers in Paradise, and X-Men (the comics) herein.
I have reached my tolerance level for each of the three titles mentioned above, not coincidentally, in the order they’re listed. I have reached my tolerance for a lack of resolution; I have reached my tolerance for angst, and I have reached my tolerance for being jerked around.
Let me begin with the X-Men, which is the least offensive (at least at the moment) of the three. Given that the X-Men is a forty year old comic book, I understand that in most cases, there will be no resolution. At the moment, however, in X-treme: X-posse, we’re being fed what is actually a pretty damned good storyline. A get-the-dirt TV host wants the real story on the X-Men. The X-Men are interviewed. They say nice things, generally, which are then taken by the producer and twisted around to make it look like the X-Men believe in mutant supremacy and mutant domination of the globe.
And it disgusted me. I think it disgusted me primarily because it seems so painfully typical of news media. It wasn’t shocking. It was disappointing, and it was disappointing because it seemed so incredibly likely. I am _tired_ of being lied to. I know enough to take news reports with a grain, or more often, a truck, of salt. Many people do not. If a TV anchor says it, it must be true. This is why Muslims in America are being treated like second-class citizens. This is why half of America is convinced that anyone with a gun permit is a raving lunatic. This is why, and you may fill in your own examples. You all know what I’m talking about. And I’m tired of it. So tired of it that coming across it in escapism media doesn’t feel like a commentary on society, it feels like another goddamned time I’ve been lied to.
Strangers in Paradise. Strangers in Paradise is a 10 or so year old comic book. It is, by and large, excellent. It focuses on three main characters: Katchoo, Francine and David. David’s in love with Katchoo. Katchoo’s in love with Francine. There was one brief mention that Francine might be in love with David, but it didn’t go anywhere, and anyway, the important relationship is Francine and Katchoo’s. Francie’s straight, Katchoo’s not, and for years and years and years they’ve gone around on this topic of what love is and what gender and sex have to do with love. Francine, who has committment issues, finally decides Katchoo really is what she wants, in this latest issue. Only Katchoo doesn’t come home that night, and Francie arrives on Casey’s (a mutual female friend of theirs) doorstep the next morning, hysterical, worried, and discovers Katchoo on Casey’s couch. They are both very guilty, and it’s clear they’ve slept together.
This precise scenario hasn’t happened before in SiP, but for some reason it broke the camel’s back. I went “Augh,” a little bit, as I was supposed to, but mostly I went, “Oh, for *Christ’s* sake, can’t we just get this fucking relationship together or not? I’ve had enough.” They lost me; this reiteration of the We Can’t Get Together clause lost me. At this point I no longer really care which way it’s resolved: I just want some goddamned resolution.
Which brings me to Buffy.
Buffy screwed up beyond belief with the episode on Tuesday the 12th (“Conversations with Dead People”). And look, at this point, if you’ve come this far blindly and don’t want Buffy spoilers, stop reading. Okay? Okay, you’ve been warned.
Because, see, they had me through the whole episode. The Cassie/Tara stuff, that was nice. I like the girl who plays Cassie a lot. Willow’s distress was very nice, and I’ve been tired of Willow all season, so they actually got me there. That was good. Buffy’s conversation with the former classmate/shrink vampire was great. Enjoyed it a great deal. Dawn’s stuff with Joyce was — the house stuff was over the top, but the last few moments, with Joyce telling her that Buffy wouldn’t choose her, that was creepy and devastating and I liked it. The moments with Spike were interesting and he seemed so *human* that my heart ached. It was good.
And then they killed Jonathan.
I’ve said to many people that I found Riley to be a dull, unsympathetic character until the moment he said, “She doesn’t love me,” about Buffy, and then he became incredibly sympathetic. Well, BtVS had me through that whole episode. I was sympathetic. I was there with them. I was in the moment.
And then they killed Jonathan, and it all went away.
It takes a lot, once I’m a fan, to get me to stop watching a tv show, but Buffy may have done it. See, I know that life sucks (no pun intended) in the Buffy universe. I know that you play your hand and you take your risks. If you’re a bad guy — the Master, Angelus, the Mayor, Adam, Glory, Warren — you’re gonna die. That’s what happens when you go up against the Slayer & Co.
I know that if you’re in Buffy’s inner circle, you’re fair game. Joyce. Tara. Angel. Hell, Buffy herself, not once, but twice. And that’s fair.
Jonathan didn’t exactly have clean hands. He’s done plenty of things wrong, made plenty of mistakes. But his biggest flaw was wanting to belong. Jonathan, at heart, was one of the good guys.
But even more, he was one of us. He was somebody Buffy was supposed to protect. He was always part of the story, right from the very first episodes. He even knew who Buffy was: the Slayer. But he wasn’t privy to the inner sanctum. But he wanted to be: if you have to be *aware* of the world as it really is in the Buffyverse, isn’t it better/cooler/more fun to be One Of Them? One of the good guys, one of the blokes in the white hats who save the world? He *wanted* to be part of Buffy’s circle. He wanted to belong.
Jonathan was just like us. We’re the outsiders, the ones who get to see how the world works, without getting to be part of it.
Jonathan was the audience.
And now we’re dead.
I’m honestly not sure if I’m going to keep watching the show. Jonathan, all unknowing to me, was the in. I knew I liked the character; I knew I was tremendously disappointed last season when he didn’t casually say, “I read Sanskrit,” and thus step into the role of witch left empty by an insanely grieving Willow. I knew the Jonathan the Vampire Slayer episode was one of my favorites; what I didn’t know was that without Jonathan, the Buffyverse left me cold.
Without Jonathan, what link is there to these characters? He’s me. He’s me, he’s you, he’s all of us who don’t fit into the Scoobies. We’re not Buffy, we’re not vampires, we’re not even relatively ordinary Xander with his insider status, and we’re sure as hell not Spike or Willow. Yeah, they’ve all got degrees of humanity — all of them more than Buffy herself, in fact — but for me, at least, Jonathan was the audience.
And Buffy didn’t rescue us.
So why bother?