Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale, edited by James B. South

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale   Probably everyone has had the experience of coming across some show/movie, song or book and thinking this was made for me.  This particular piece of art isn't just another disposal entertainment product (not that there is anything wrong with enjoying disposable entertainment), this will last.  This means something, something that I'll remember ten and even twenty years from now, something that I will come back to, probably more than once.  That's how I feel about Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV show, not so much the movie).  It was an amazing show where your worst fears were real.  In fact, they were worst than you imagined.  Somehow the show took teenage/young adult problems seriously, while being funny (most of the time), and perhaps more importantly, it made those problems seem survivable, which I think is especially important when you're in your teen years.  In any case, when I saw this book I had to read it.

What is so great about the pop culture and philosophy books is that they allow fans to further explore the deeper meaning of the art in a way that non-fans might find annoying.  Plus there's the bonus of learning something new, which I almost always do when reading these books.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy was no exception.  Not surprisingly, several chapters discuss matters of justice and when violence is acceptable or unacceptable in a society.  Other chapters focus on morality and religion.  Of course, there couldn't be a philosophy book about a show where the heroine dies to save the world literally and more than once without discussing the concepts of sacrifice and redemption.  This is just a sample of the topics covered in this volume. 

Some of my favorite chapters were
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Feminist Noir by Thomas Hibbs
  • Feminism and the Ethics of Violence: Why Buffy Kicks Ass by Mimi Marinucci
  • Between Heavens and Hells: The Multidimensional Universe in Kant and Buffy the Vampire Slayer by James Lawler
  • Prophecy Girl and The Powers That Be: The Philosophy of Religion in the Buffyverse by Wendy Love Anderson
  • High School is Hell: Metaphor Made Literal in Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Tracy Little

My only (mild) complaint is that many of the authors refer to the same scenes in their chapters, making the book annoyingly repetitive at times.  But this is small complaint.  If you're fan of Buffy you'll get pass this, as I did and well likely enjoy this almost as much as watching the show.  Now, time to go re-watch Buffy!

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