There were many days during the Trump Dark Nightmare Interval when I felt like we were living out an episode–hell, an entire season–of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One of the many messages hard-wired into BtVS was that the Slayer was…wait. Okay, there may be some folks who aren’t familiar with this television show. I mean, BtVS ended in 2003, almost two decades ago, so I suppose I should recap the…no, never mind. You either know about BtVS or you don’t. If you don’t, then I advise you to correct that failure.
Anyway, one of the many things I liked about Buffy is the way the show ended. Instead of…okay, damn it, I guess I do need to explain a little bit about the show. Bear with me a moment. The premise of BtVS is that 1) there are vampires, 2) there is a vampire Slayer, and 3) the Slayer is always female. Got that? Lots of vampires, one female Slayer. Not just vampires, mind you; there are lots of other forces of…well, wait. Here’s the show’s intro:
Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.
So, again, lots of vampires, one Slayer* (yes, there’s an asterisk to appease BtVS fans who know better, but y’all don’t need to fret about it–just accept one Slayer-many vampires). If you do the math, you’ll see the shelf life of a Slayer is generally pretty brief. But when one gets killed, another is ‘chosen’. Don’t ask about the selection process; it doesn’t matter. Just accept it. A Slayer dies, all her power and abilities get transferred to some other poor girl. And yes, they say ‘girl’ because the new Slayer is always a teenager. Again, don’t ask why; it just is what it is. What matters is that this girl/young woman is then stuck with the thankless job of killing vampires. There’s a large pool of ‘potential’ Slayers out in the world–girls and young women all over the globe who are unaware and unsuspecting, but standing in an apparently arbitrary queue to become the next Slayer.
Them’s the rules. Buffy had no choice; some Slayer died, and she got drafted into a career she didn’t really want–and tried to avoid. Who could blame her? One day she’s picking out what to wear to prom, then next she’s supposed to fight demons? And eventually be killed by them? Who’d sign up for that? Wait, here, watch this. It’s a scene in which Buffy learns about a prophesy that she’s going to die.
“I’m sixteen years old,” she says. “I don’t want to die.” Doesn’t matter that another Slayer will be born; she’s sixteen and she’s going to be killed (and don’t forget, there’s a HUGE difference between ‘dying’ and ‘being killed’) just because she won a lottery she hadn’t even bought a ticket for. “They say how he’s gonna kill me? Do you think it’ll hurt?” She just wanted to go the fucking prom like a normal person.
Okay, now back to the point I wanted to make at the beginning. We’re closing in on what we hope is the season finale of the Trump story arc. He’s been sidelined, but he’s still a threat. So are all the lesser marauding TrumpDemons out there in the community, spreading Covid and insurrection. I find myself thinking about the way BtVS ended. Until Buffy, every other television/movie superhero story in the world ended in pretty much the same way: the superhero finds a way to stop the Big Bad (whatever it happens to be) by being a superhero–by using superpowers in an heroic way.
But not Buffy. She stops the Big Bad largely by changing the rules–by ending that “one girl in all the world, a chosen one” business. Buffy stops the Big Bad by giving up the very thing that makes her special. She finds a way to make ALL the potential Slayers into actual Slayers. Teen-aged girls all over the world can now do what Buffy does.
And they need to. Because the Big Bad–in whatever form it takes–can be stopped, but it never dies. It always keeps coming back. Which, obviously, is why Slayers have to keep showing up and kicking its ass. Which is why Buffy’s prom keeps being interrupted.
My point–my goofy, sappy, obvious point–is that even though the current Hellmouth has collapsed in on itself, there’s still a LOT of ugly shit in the world and the threat is still active. So it’s up to all of us, to each of us, to step up and be as strong and determined as teen-aged girls. So to speak.
We don’t have to stake anybody (and really, we shouldn’t, even if we want to); but we DO have to put in a little effort. Vote, of course. But also call your members of Congress. Donate (if you can afford it) to candidates who share your values. Attend a demonstration. Buy and wear a t-shirt proclaiming your views. Seriously, wear a t-shirt. Being public about your opinions is not only empowering for you, but also encourages other folks to be public. It’s a way of recognizing and supporting other vampire slayers.
It’s okay to be scared–even by little things, like making a phone call or wearing a t-shirt in public. Ask yourself, “What would Buffy do?” Then put on your t-shirt or prom dress and don’t let your fear make you silent. Go to the prom, dance and have fun, slay a monster or two while the band is on break, and return to the prom. Keep dancing. Make your voice heard.
Make your voice heard.