Tag Archives: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Doctor Who vs. Angelus

A few weeks ago, someone got to my blog by searching “Doctor Who vs. Angelus.” I had never even thought about a post on that topic, but now I’m inspired because that is the perfect topic for a Whedony-Whovian geek to ponder. So here it is: The Official Doctor Who vs. Angelus post.

I’ve decided to consider three scenarios – what if Angelus met up with the 9th, 10th, or 11th Doctor? Now I’m not saying that he would encounter all three, but rather, what if Angelus came up against the 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) OR the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) OR the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith)?

 9th Doctor vs. Angelus:

 Doctor: You think it’ll last forever. People and cars and concrete. But it won’t. One day it’s all gone. Even the sky. My planet’s gone. It’s dead. It burned like the Earth. It’s just rocks and dust. Before its time.
Rose: What happened?
The Doctor: There was a war and we lost.

Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor

Angel

The Doctor is a scarred and angry timelord. He survived the Time Lord war, but now is the only Time Lord left in existence. And yet, he is just beginning to let people in again. He teams up with Rose and begins the process of letting someone “in” to his life.

The Doctor and Rose meet Angelus in the 1860s shortly after Angelus had turned Drusilla. Angelus did more than turn Drusilla into a vampire, he first turned her insane by tormenting her and killing her family. Fresh off of that “triumph”, Angelus is seeking his next conquest. The Doctor and Rose arrive, as is usually the case, unintentionally. The Doctor was planning to take Rose to the 1960s but missed it by a century.

Angelus spots the Doctor and Rose in a tavern, and is intrigued by the power and confidence the Doctor exudes. He stalks them for several days, leaving a trail of bodies conspicuously in the path of the Doctor so that he is forced to investigate. Angelus kidnaps Rose and holds her hostage to torment the Doctor. When the Doctor comes to rescue Rose, Angelus kills her spectacularly in front of the Doctor. The Doctor loses it, and flies into a vengeful rage. He decapitates Angelus, but before he disintegrates into a pile of dust, Angelus smiles knowingly. He succeeded in turning the Doctor into a dark, angry, soulless Time Lord who will never again seek out companionship or volunteer to save humanity.

The Doctor leaves earth, never to return. He never takes another companion. Pleas for the Doctor to come and help planets in need go unanswered. The Doctor doesn’t care. He is not a hero. And to ensure that he will never again help, he destroys the TARDIS with no shred of remorse.

Summary:
Victor: The Doctor
Dead: Angelus, Rose, the TARDIS

****

 The 10th Doctor vs Angelus:

 You need to get yourself a better dictionary. When you do, look up “genocide”. You’ll find a little picture of me there, and the caption’ll read “Over my dead body”. ~The Doctor, episode 4.6 The Doctor’s Daughter.

David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor
angelus

 

 

 

 

 

The Doctor and Donna are traveling when the Tardis breaks down and they land in California in 1998. Angelus has returned, having been de-souled after having succumbed to the teenaged-passion of Buffy. Jenny Calendar has been killed. Buffy and her Scooby Gang are attempting to come up with a plan to beat Angelus while at the same time balancing the demands of high school life. The Doctor and Donna come across Angelus feeding on Theresa, who will deliver a message from Angelus to Buffy when she rises as a vampire. The Doctor rescues Theresa, and Donna exclaims in typical Donna-fashion that she can’t believe that vampires are really real. Angelus escapes, but the Doctor takes up the mission of tracking him down.

Two nights later, Angelus tries to kidnap Donna, who refuses to be a damsel in distress and does her best to fight him off. The Doctor arrives, to see Donna pulling a vial of holy water from her pocket and throwing it at Angelus. The Doctor is impressed with her quick thinking and asked her where she got the holy water. She replies, in her typical flippant matter, that she has seen Dracula movies and since vampires are actually real, thought it would be prudent to arm herself.  Angelus, slightly singed from the holy water, turns his attention to the Doctor. The Doctor barely flinches, steps one step to the left, causing Angelus to fall forward, impaling himself on the white picket fence that was directly behind the Doctor.

Buffy and the Scooby gang never find out what happened to Angelus, and assume that he must have left town, even though that would have been out of character for him, as he was dead-set on besting the slayer. The Doctor and Donna leave in the TARDIS to travel back to the 1920s to meet Agatha Christie.

Summary:
Victor: The Doctor
Dead: Angelus

******

The 11th Doctor vs. Angelus:

Bowties are cool.

amy and rory pond

angelimmortal

It’s 1894 and Angelus, having been imprisoned by the Immortal, is on a rampage through Italy, angry that the Immortal had (successfully) seduced Darla and Drusilla. The Doctor and the Ponds have arrived in 1894 looking for the opportunity to rest after the chaos of trying to vacation on Apalapucia. The Doctor declares that he wants to take them back to Victorian London. The TARDIS, instead of dropping them in 1894 London, drops them in 1894 Rome, which Rory declares is not funny given he spent two thousand years as a Roman centurion. The Doctor swears he wasn’t trying to be clever, and that he really must get around to adjusting the geo-locator on the TARDIS.

The Doctor and the Ponds come across the remains of a family on whom Angelus had taken out some of his frustration, and realize that nothing human could have done this.  They investigate and track down Angelus, who is angrily sulking alone in an abandoned house, having stormed away from the other vampires (especially Darla) in a fit of pique.  The Doctor swears to Angelus that his rampage is at an end, Angelus grins darkly and says, “Look, another set of chew toys.”

The Doctor evades Angelus’ attacks by running and leaping about, looking rather like a hyperactive walking-stick, while the Ponds grab whatever makeshift weapons they can.  Amy holds a broken piece of window lattice that is shaped like a cross, and Angelus shrinks back snarling.  Angelus throws a heavy book at Amy, shattering the lattice, and advances toward her, saying “You think you have a chance against me?  I was slitting throats when Frederick the Great was invading Prussia!”  A heavy blow strikes Angelus on the back of the neck, and the return stroke sends him flying head over heels.  Rory stands over Angelus, holding a table leg as a club: “And I was slitting throats when Emperor Trajan was invading Northern Thrace.”  Amy has one of her rare moments of genuinely appreciating Rory.

The moment, however, is short-lived, as Angelus lashes out, shattering Rory’s shin with a vicious kick.  As Rory crumples (wishing that he was still made of plastic so that wouldn’t have hurt as much), Angelus backhands Amy across the room and swipes up Rory’s club.  The Doctor, finally outraged enough to take decisive action, adjusts his bow tie and looks very cross.  As the Doctor begins a stern speech about how he, the Last of the Time Lords, scourge of the Daleks, besieger of Demons’ Run, bane of the Cybermen, will stand for no more, Angelus furiously bashes him over the head repeatedly, decorating the walls with Gallifreyan brain matter.

Angelus stands over the doctor, enjoying the sight of blood and carnage. Suddenly, a length of wood protrudes from his chest as Amy impales him from behind with a chair leg.  With a shocked expression, Angelus collapses into a cloud of dust.

Amy turns to the fallen Doctor.  Angelus had killed him far too quickly and the Doctor was unable to regenerate. The regenerative powers that had been given to him by River Song, leave his body, travel across time and space, and re-enter River Song. River Song breaks out of prison and takes up the mission of the Doctor. She travels throughout the galaxy in the Doctor’s TARDIS, and the show is renamed “Professor Who.”

Summary:
Victor: Amy and Rory Pond
Dead: Angelus, The Doctor

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Vampires, Zombies and Theology

The Undead and Theology. edited by Kim Paffenroth and John Morehead. Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2012.

The Undead and Theology was, I thought, my best find at the ETS book exhibit this year. I was really excited about buying this book. And then I started to read it. My enthusiasm was quickly deflated as I read the first two essays, and I was seriously reconsidering my purchase (which for me and books is very rare). To put it bluntly, the first two essays were dreadful. But, I persevered, and if you ignore the first two essays, this book is fantastic.

The book is divided into three parts or themes:  vampires, zombies, and other undead. (For the sake of brevity, I will only be discussing the sections on vampires and zombies. I hope to interact with the “other undead” in a future post).

In the first section there are four essays. The first two essays, “Vampires and Female Spiritual Transformation: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter” by Vicky Gilpin and “Crossing the Spiritual Wasteland in Priest” by Joseph Laycock function no so much as essays looking at the intersection between vampire-lore and theology, but instead are more like essays on religious themes in vampire-lore. These essays were weak, focusing more on describing the story rather than analyzing them in relation to some theological tradition. When they do touch on “theology” it’s more to point out “look here, a religious allusion.” The second essay by Laycock is even worse because on top of it spending most of its time just describing the movie Priest, it is riddled with typos and grammatical errors. The worst example of this, one that calls the author’s expertise into question is his repeated reference to the lead actor in the movie Priest as “Paul Brettany” (his name is Paul Bettany). Frankly put, these first two essays are not even worthy of being published as a series of blog posts let alone being chapters in an edited book.

BUT, saying all of that, there is a dramatic jump in quality in the essays after the first two. Jarrod Longbons’ essay “Vampires are People, Too: Personalism in the Buffyverse” looks specifically at the character of the vampire Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And while I wish he would have included the last of Spike’s arc after Buffy season 7 that occurs in Angel season 5, the essay is strong, engaging and actually engages with theology and not just religious themes.

W. Scott Poole’s “The Vampire that Haunts Highgate: Theological Evil, Hammer Horror, and the Highgate Vampire Panic in Britain, 1963-1974” was a fascinating read. Here, Poole looks at the theological and pop-culture factors that led to the very real vampire panic, including the influence of the rise of British evangelicalism including the preaching and writing of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John Stott, as well as the popularity of the Hammer Studios horror movies that were produced starting in 1957. This essay immediately created a new “to do” to add to my list of further reading, namely to read up more about the events that took place at the Highgate cemetery.

The second section on zombies includes four essays. All of these essays are strong, and starts off with a creative essay by Jessica DeCou “The Living Christ and the Walking Dead: Karl Barth and the Theological Zombie.” Now of course, you may say that of course I’ll like this essay because DeCou focuses on Barth, but it is more than that.  Instead of a point-by-point analysis, DeCou chooses to instead put herself into the story of the Walking Dead, creating a first-person narrative of a theologian who is trying to survive the zombie apocalypse and her reflections of the events that have happened. Specifically, DeCou’s narrator explores the ethical implications of killing zombies. Are they human? When did they cease to be human? Is it okay to kill them even though at one point they were fully human?

John Morehead’s “Zombie Walks, Zombie Jesus, and the Eschatology of Postmodern Flesh” looks at the rising popularity of zombies and what it represents for our North American culture that is increasingly secular in orientation. John Morehead suggests that one of the reasons for the fascination with zombies is the sanitization of death, in that “eventually Western culture shifted from a time in which death was an intimate part of daily experience, to the present period, where most people die in sanitized places removed from the presence and experience even of loved ones.” (pg. 109). Morehead suggests that the phenomenon of Zombie walks “represents an expression of the postmodern eschatological imagination. It draws upon the Christian metanarrative…but also subverts it. The result is that the dead reanimate, but the form of resurrection is one in which personal identity is lost…” (pg. 118)

In “When All is Lost, Gather ‘Round: Solidarity as Hope Resisting Despair in the Walking Dead”, Ashley John Moyse looks at the themes of hope and despair as presented in the t.v. show The Walking Dead.  Moyse argues that the key to defeating despair and cultivating hope is the importance of community. Moyse looks at despair and hope by engaging with not only philosopher Friedrich Nietzche but also with philosopher Gabriel Marcel, and theologians Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Kim Paffenroth’s contribution, “Apocalyptic Images and Prophetic Function in Zombie Films” is a reprinted essay, which may be familiar to readers, but is still a strong addition to this anthology. Here, Paffenroth focuses on the George Romero zombies of the “Night of the Living Dead” series, and argues that what makes zombies so scary is the fact that they are “overwhelmingly ordinary…they are terribly and fully human. This ultimately, I think, is their appeal, for they seem so much more “real” to us than more superhuman monsters, such as vampires and werewolves.” (pg. 147).

The final essay in this section is J. Ryan Parker’s “Negotiating (Non) Existence: Justifications of Violence in Robert Kirkmans’ The Walking Dead”, where he too looks at the ethics of killing zombies, though here he focuses not on the t.v. show, but on the graphic novels that were the inspiration for the popular t.v. show. This essay is the weakest of the zombie essays, but provides a good overview of the graphic novel series and points the reader to several other essays on zombies and violence that are must-reads.

So would I recommend this book? If you skip the first two essays yes. Though, I will say that, in general, the book is in need a more thorough edit, as I found typos even in several of the strong essays. Stay tuned for a post interacting with the last three essays in this book that looks at other examples of undead.

 

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The Princess Bride — Whedon Style

One of my biggest pet peeves is Hollywood’s insistence on sequels, reboots or remakes of perfectly decent movies. There are some movies that should and must be off limits from Hollywood’s lack of creativity. The Princess Bride is one of those movies that must not ever be touched. Ever. But the writer of TPB has been talking about how he’s been trying to write a sequel.

So I’m going to give Hollywood a hand. The only way the Princess Bride should be done again, be it reboot or sequel, is if it is left in the hands of Joss Whedon. And so, I’m putting on my “casting director” hat and give you all the official and only cast list for The Princess Bride reboot. This is largely inspired by the brilliant casting of the soon-to-be-released Much Ado About Nothing.

Westley: Alexis Denisof

Alexis has proved that he can play comedic and swashbuckler. This rogue demon hunter also demonstrated that he can play the lead, as can be seen in his upcoming turn as Benedick in Much Ado.

Buttercup: Felicia Day

Given that Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker have great chemistry, it would have been easy to choose Amy Acker for this role. But at the end of the day Felicia is the better choice. I mean, can’t you picture her saying the epic Buttercup line, “when I say you’re a coward, that is only because you are the slimiest weakling ever to crawl the earth.”

Vizzini: Fran Kranz

Fran has proven that he can play the “brain” in his turn as Topher Brink, and his twitchiness and quick wit (see both Dollhouse and Cabin in the Woods) would help bring Vizzini to life.

Inigo Montoya: Harry Lennix

Harry Lennix’s turn as Boyd Langton demonstrates that he can play both intense and emotional. Can’t you picture those intense dark eyes staring down Count Rugen, and with a quiet seriousness, Lennix saying THE line: “my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.”

Fezzik: Marc Blucas

No one can replace Andre the Giant. But if it was re-done Whedon-style than my choice is Marc Blucas. The way that he played Riley, he showed that he could handle a character who is good-hearted but not excessively bright. A good runner-up could also be George Hertzberg, who played the cyber-demon-human Adam in season four of Buffy.

Humperdinck: J. August Richards

Charles Gunn and Wesley Wyndam-Price fought side by side. Wouldn’t it be cool to put the two actors up against each as enemies instead?

Miracle Max & Valerie: Danny Strong & Emma Caulfield

Jonathan and Anya. Together. That is all.

Count Rugen: Nathon Fillion

After turns as Captain Hammer (Dr. Horrible) and Caleb (Buffy) I just love Nathan as the “bad guy.” His ability to play smarmy self-absorption would put a different (but equally funny) spin on the lines about “preparing the definitive work” detailing his “deep and abiding interest in pain”, which Christopher Guest had delivered with a quiet sociopathy.

The Albino: Alan Tudyk

“The pit of despair. Don’t…*cough, hack* don’t even think about trying to escape.”
Alan’s previous roles have encompassed a wide range of characters, from his humourous horror hillbilly role in Tucker & Dale vs Evil to the many faces of Alpha. I’m not sure how he would choose to play Count Rugen’s casually-sadistic lab assistant, but there is no way it would not be brilliant.

Chief Enforcer: Tahmoh Penikett

Tahmoh is awesome.

Clergyman: Tom Lenk

Lenk’s affected way of saying “vampyre” in his role as Andrew (Buffy and Angel) makes him the ideal candidate to talk about “mawwiage.”

The Grandfather: Anthony Stewart Head

Everything is better with Tony Head in it. Runner up for the role of the Grandfather could also go to James Marsters who just turned 50! (when did Spike get so old?)

So there you have it. The Princess Bride remade. This is the only way it can be done. I’ll await my royalty cheque! :)

High School is Hell: Parallels to Life in the Church

I’ve been away on a silent retreat (aka: an introvert’s dream). So these last couple of days I’ve been posting some re-worked posts on Christianity and the Buffyverse. Enjoy!

***

One of my favourite themes in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that high school is hell. From the cheerleaders who spontaneously combust, to the swim team that is made up of creatures from the black lagoon, to the fact that the high school was literally sitting over a hell-mouth, Whedon explores the common high school experiences through a supernatural lens. Not only does his comment on the high school experience, he also captures the irony of Hollywood and our culture exalting high school as the “golden years” of our lives. Sunnydale High looked like an idyllic California school, but those who attended knew the truth of the darkness and problems that existed in its hallowed walls.

Are there parallels between the “high school is hell” motif in Buffy, and the reality of living as a Christian in the North American evangelical Church?

Like Sunnydale high, there seems to be more focus on the drama of relationships and interpersonal conflict than on the purpose of the institution. For Sunnydale high, the purpose was education; for the community of faith it is worship.

Like Sunnydale high, from the outside the community of faith tries to look like a sunshiney-bright place. In reality, what resides within it is infighting, outgroups, bullying and ostracizing.

Like Sunnydale high, the community of faith is a place that has jocks, beautiful girls, geeks, losers, punks and brainiacs. There are the hyena people who bully and prey on the weak. There are those who are ignored and are basically invisible. There are the jock and popular girls who are the “in-crowd” and who define what is popular and cool.

What both Sunnydale high and the Church in North America have is a slayer who protects and fights against the dark powers of the hellmouth.

At Sunnydale High that slayer is Buffy. In the church, that slayer is grace.

Grace fights against the legalism.
Grace comforts the outcasts.
Grace unites the different cliques and reshapes them as they journey through they come together to worship.
Grace takes on the darkness and wins.

Buffy, Bella and Mark Driscoll

I’m on my way to a silent retreat (aka: an introvert’s dream). So the next couple of days I’m posting some re-worked posts on Christianity and the Buffyverse. Enjoy!

***

There’s a clip of a sermon by Mark Driscoll making the rounds on the internet. (Both Tim Challies and Marc Cortez have picked it up). Basically, he laments the “top picks for pre-teen girls” at Amazon. They almost all have to do with vampires, werewolves, magic and death.

In many ways he’s right. The majority of the books out there for young girls are spin-offs of Twilight. And he’s right, there is some pretty questionable stuff in Twilight.

But I think here he misses the point. Yes, Twilight is awful on so many levels. First, the writing is dreadful. Second, Bella is a non-character with no personality.

And my biggest pet peeve is that people are pitching the series as an example of chastity and abstinence. This is a load of hock-patooey. In a nutshell, Bella pines and longs for Edward. Edward has the “moral” courage to resist her advances, saying that they need to be married first. What is the message here? Girls, if you long and pine and desire to be with a guy, it’s okay because the (teen-aged, hormone fueled) guy will be strong enough to rebuff your advances! Um. I don’t think so.

Where Driscoll goes wrong is in suggesting that the current vampire trend is indicative of the vampire/werwolf/zombie genre in general. I think when done correctly, vampires et al become a tool to examine humanity, to explore desires and motivations and to present the struggle between good and evil.

Now, I have to be upfront and admit that I am a huge Joss Whedon fan, so I may be a bit biased. But Whedon got it so right in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the first three seasons at least).

The premise of the first three seasons is High School is Hell.

The swim team jocks are actually mutant monsters after being injected with steroids.

The girl who is ignored by the cool kids eventually becomes invisible and goes all “Carrie” on her classmates.

Frat boys are servants of their giant snake monster, and want nothing more than to feed you to it in their basement.

A gang of bullies are possessed by a hyena-spirit and will pick on the weak and outcast in the school, not to mention they will also eat the principal.

And the big one: If you sleep with your boyfriend, he will lose his soul and become a monster! This of course then gets repeated in Season 4, when Buffy goes off to college and ends up with a human (normal) guy who ends up being a jerk as well.

High school is hell. And Whedon uses vampires, werewolves, snake monsters, Frankenstein and more to explore this theme. It works. It is brilliant. And then, he continues using the genre to explore the theme of redemption with the spinoff “Angel.”

My point: We need discernment. Which Driscoll does talk about. But that discernment also means not just throwing something away because it has vampires and werewolves or young wizards and witches. What do these fictional and fantastical creatures say about humanity? If they don’t say anything, then we need the discernment to see that they are nothing more than fluff marketing by publishers and movie studios to make a quick buck.

High School is Hell: Parallels to Life in the Church

One of my favourite themes in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that high school is hell. From the cheerleaders who spontaneously combust, to the swim team that is made up of creatures from the black lagoon, to the fact that the high school was literally sitting over a hell-mouth, Whedon explores the common high school experiences through a supernatural lens. Not only does his comment on the high school experience, he also captures the irony of Hollywood and our culture exalting high school as the “golden years” of our lives. Sunnydale High looked like an idyllic California school, but those who attended knew the truth of the darkness and problems that existed in its hallowed walls.

Are there parallels between the “high school is hell” motif in Buffy, and the reality of living as a Christian in the North American evangelical Church?

Like Sunnydale high, there seems to be more focus on the drama of relationships and interpersonal conflict than on the purpose of the institution. For Sunnydale high, the purpose was education; for the community of faith it is worship.

Like Sunnydale high, from the outside the community of faith tries to look like a sunshiney-bright place. In reality, what resides within it is infighting, outgroups, bullying and ostracizing.

Like Sunnydale high, the community of faith is a place that has jocks, beautiful girls, geeks, losers, punks and brainiacs. There are the hyena people who bully and prey on the weak. There are those who are ignored and are basically invisible. There are the jock and popular girls who are the “in-crowd” and who define what is popular and cool.

What both Sunnydale high and the Church in North America have is a slayer who protects and fights against the dark powers of the hellmouth.

At Sunnydale High that slayer is Buffy. In the church, that slayer is grace.

Grace fights against the legalism.
Grace comforts the outcasts.
Grace unites the different cliques and reshapes them as they journey through they come together to worship.
Grace takes on the darkness and wins.

Cage-Fighting, Women Who Kick Ass and Violence: One Woman’s Perspective

Last week I wrote about the new movie Haywire and how there is a new female superhero to add to the ranks of Buffy, Faith and Sydney Bristow. One person asked me via Twitter if there is a way to celebrate strong women without violence. This month, Christianity Today has an article looking at how Christians should respond to cage-fighting (mixed martial arts). Add all of these things together and I find myself needing to explore my thoughts on violence, martial arts and female superheroes.

I write this as both an outsider and an insider. I am outsider because I am not a martial artist. I have never formally trained in any martial art, nor have I participated in related sports such as wrestling or boxing. I am an insider because my husband is a martial artist. He has trained in jujitsu (the main martial art used in cage-fighting), sword-fighting (through AEMMA), and bujinkan. He is the founder of Caronport’s Bartitsu Society. He has written a book on cultivating the warrior virtues and has written about how training in a martial art cultivates virtues that extend to other areas of life (for example, at risk youth greatly benefit from martial arts training). He has, casually, taught me various stances, holds, and blocks.

Sport violence vs. real violence

Through Chuck’s interest in martial arts I have learned that at the highest levels of training, these sports are not done for the sake of doing violence. Indeed, jujitsu masters like the Gracie family would abhor such a notion. True, there are the punk wannabes who watch UFC and think that its the perfect way to “beat the crap out of someone”, but those who have trained hard know that it is not about violence. Yes, while there may be times where your opponent bloodies and bruises you, at the end of the match, most competitors shake hands and respect each others talents.

Grappling vs. Striking

That being said, I find the grappling easier to watch than the striking. Watching a person hit another in the head over and over again so that they fall over, makes my stomach queasy. Watching grappling, I find myself impressed with the ‘human knot’ — “Now how do I get out of this?” Twist a shoulder here, move a knee, and voila, the knot unties and the two opponents start again. While the grappling may not be ‘showy’ and tends to be a lot more tiny moves that are hard to see on television, the tenacity and patience that is required to get out of an attempted choke is impressive. And though I don’t like the striking aspect, I have to respect fighters like Jon Bones Jones who has an amazing wing span and makes even punching someone in the head look graceful.

Marveling At Our Bodies:
I watch the cagefighters, and am shocked at the things their bodies can do. It’s not CGI. It’s not special effects. It’s years of training and endurance. We can train to do amazing feats of strengths, and yet one well-positioned hit will cause bones to break. Our bodies bend and are flexible, and yet at the same time they are inflexible and non-bendy.
The elbow is extremely flexible with a great range of motion. Except for one angle. If you hyper-extend it, it is extremely painful and could snap. If you kick the knee cap from the front it will shatter, but if you kick it from behind, your leg will buckle and you’ll fall to the ground. If you apply enough pressure on the throat, you’ll pass out, but as soon as you go limp and your opponent lets go, you wake back up again immediately, a little dazed but none the worse for wear. If you hit a person in the shoulder it doesn’t really do anything. On the other hand, if you hit a person in the kidneys, they’ll drop to the ground.
It’s the marvel of our bodies: they are both incredibly strong and incredibly weak.

Learning Self-defense:
Like it or not, it is necessary for every woman to learn how to defend herself. And while we can pray that self-defense techniques never have to be used, the world we live in requires that we prepare to defend ourselves, because we are not damsels in distress. There won’t always be a big strong man around to come to our defense. We need to be ‘Gracie Lou Freebush’ and know how to SING.

Women Who Kick Ass:
But of course watching cagefighting, and learning self-defense techniques are not the same as watching Buffy, Faith, Sydney or Mallory. Some people are uncomfortable with the storied violence in shows like Buffy and Alias. Sometimes it is because people argue that women aren’t supposed to fight. I call this the ‘double standard’ position, because the same people who argue that women shouldn’t fight are the same ones who will go see The Expendables twelve times to see a bunch of over the hill old guys try to reclaim the glory days of the action hero movies of the 80′s.
Other times it’s because people argue that violence serves no narrative or redeeming purpose.
Buffy and Faith fight fairytale monsters, not real people, and we cheer when they dust the uber-bad-vamp of the week. Sydney fights in three-inch heels while napalm explodes around her. It’s not real. And yet it serves to tell a story. What would Buffy be if she didn’t slay vampires? Can you imagine a show about a teenaged girl who is shallow and fashion-obsessed and who hangs out with her friends trading witty dialogue? Oh wait. That would be “generic teen comedy”. What would Alias be if Sydney just sat behind a desk reading intelligence reports? Pretty darn boring.

And of course this is where the issue of the Christian ethic comes in. We are called to suffer, to not retaliate, to ‘turn the other cheek.’ And yet, is it possible to have Christianity without violence?. The violence that Christ endured at the hands of the Roman soldiers and on the cross was horrendous. To sanitize it and romanticize it cheapens the sacrifice that Christ made on behalf of the world in his quest to bring reconciliation and redemption to humanity. The violence, whether we like it or not, is part of THE story.

So maybe just as cagefighting is not violence for violence sake, Buffy, Alias, and Haywire aren’t either. An example of violence for violence sake would be torture-intensive horror films that try to find new ways to shock and sicken their audience without the need for a story. The reason why I can uphold Buffy, Faith, Sydney and Mallory as heroes and examples of women who kick ass, is because their kicking ass tells a story and is not the story in and of itself. And part of that story is that women are strong, beautiful, resourceful and don’t need to be rescued by men who think they are white knights in search of stranded damsels. These stories tell us that in the face of adversity women don’t have to sit back and just watch from the sidelines, as window-dressing, eye candy and ego boosts for the macho guys. These female characters actively participate in, and lead in the struggle against evil by using their gifts and talents of not only karate chops and vampire stakings, but also of situational assessment and creative “strategery”.


“I’ve been through more battles with Buffy than you all can ever imagine. She’s stopped everything that’s ever come up against her. She’s laid down her life -— literally -— to protect the people around her. This girl has died two times, and she’s still standing. You’re scared? That’s smart. You got questions? You should. But you doubt her motives, you think Buffy’s all about the kill, then you take the little bus to battle… I’ve seen her heart, and this time, not literally. And I’m telling you, right now, she cares more about your lives than you will ever know. You gotta trust her. She’s earned it.”
Xander (BtVS — Season 7 ‘Dirty Girls’)

Star Trek and Vampires

It’s cold, it’s snowy, and we’re not going anywhere today. Yesterday I came across the greatest two questions ever, and so in honour of this very quiet, lazy day, I thought they would be great questions for the Cheese-Wearing community.

Here they are:

Could the Enterprise beam a vampire into a house she didn’t have permission to enter?

Could the Borg assimilate a vampire into the collective?

What do you think?