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StephenT [userpic]

(Meta) Robbing banks for fun and profit

7th January 2008 (22:44)
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The revelation in 8.10 that Buffy has been financing her Slayer army through less than ethical means is certainly a shocking one. She's supposed to be the hero, isn't she? The moral one, the one who knows right from wrong and always strives to do the good deed?

Yes. Yes she is, which is why this character development is such a powerful one. I don't know where Buffy is heading, but she appears to be going there in a handbasket. However, while I was surprised by the plot twist, I can see where it comes from. I can see how it fits into the overall Season 8 meta-arc... and I can see plenty of clues in Buffy's early character that hint how she could have ended up here. This essay will attempt to explain why, by looking at Buffy's ethical views throughout the series.

Buffy was a bankrobber,
But she never hurt nobody.
She just loved to live that way,
And she loved to steal your money.


The first point to make, though, is the contrast between Willow and Buffy in this scene. It was already foreshadowed in the previous issue (#8) where the two were discussing the morality of using lethal force against humans. Willow treated it as a serious question, whereas Buffy first tried to dismiss it with a glib comment, then when challenged confessed to not knowing the right thing to do. Here with the bank robbery, Buffy is likewise unwilling to acknowledge the seriousness of what she's done. She comes up with excuses ("It's all insured"), tries to argue that it was a good deed really (Some of it was plundered Nazi loot, apparently), and eagerly seizes on the distraction of Willow having done "a bad thing" too to escape from her friend's lecture.

Of course, what Willow appears to be guilty of is getting naked with a demon - something Buffy herself has done often enough - and unless there are other circumstances we've not been told about, the only person with reasonable grounds to be upset at this is Kennedy. Note that we cut straight from the revelation of Willow's hot girl-on-snake-demon action to Dawn confessing she slept with her boyfriend's roommate: I suspect this is not a coincidental juxtaposition. And in the next scene Willow says "I was never naughty here", implying that she considers her prevous behaviour to be, well, "naughty". (And perhaps implying that she's been naughty in some other places, just not this one...)

However, the fact remains that Willow's unwise actions could only hurt one person: her girlfriend. Buffy's actions could have untold consequences.  beer_good_foamy has explored one of them here: an innocent bystander could have been killed if something went wrong. The shareholders of the bank and the insurance company will suffer loss of profits: the insurance company's premiums will increase. And Buffy's loyal followers are now guilty of a serious crime: she's their role model and mentor, and she's dragged them down with her.

The irony here is that in the early seasons, it was Willow who was glib about committing crimes: who thought that it was glamorous and exciting to be wicked, and that the end justified the means. (I've written more about her morality here.) In 'Flooded', she was using much the same argument that Buffy was using to justify killing humans in 'No Future For You':
"They're bad guys. I am not a bad guy. I brought Buffy back to the world and maybe the word you should be looking for is 'congratulations.'"

And of course, there's this from 'Triangle':
"I'm just taking stuff and not paying for it. In what twisted dictionary is that stealing?"

However, Willow has received a serious wake-up call on the dangers of situational ethics. She's now much more thoughtful and alive to the consequences and morality of her actions. Not necessarily perfect, of course - she's lied to Buffy, she's presumably lied to Kennedy - but she's got a much better handle on things than her friend. How did this change?

Well, the first thing to point out is that Buffy has never been whiter than white. What's practically the first thing we learn about her? That she set fire to her old school's gymnasium. That's arson, criminal damage, reckless endangerment: if there'd been any human survivors in there as well as the vampires, she'd have been looking at a murder charge. And all through the early seasons, Buffy engages in a steady stream of petty crimes.

The example that springs to mind first is in 'Anne'. Buffy breaks into a bloodbank. She goes through confidential patient records. When challenged, she rips a telephone off the wall. Relatively minor offences, true: but still criminal. And the fact that it turned out to be an evil bloodbank is only a justification if you believe that the end justifies the means, and that it's acceptable to commit crimes if it helps you to fight evil. Hmm.

Then, of course, we have Faith, and her seduction of Buffy into the pleasures of wanting, taking and having. When the two of them break into the sporting goods store, there's no doubt that Buffy finds the experience of robbery a thrilling one: she's getting it. She's less happy about the consequences, of course. Being arrested is horrifying for her. However, it's not particularly clear whether she's feeling guilty because she knows she's done wrong, or just ashamed because everybody will find out she's a crook - not to mention the practical consequences, like jail. However, when Faith suggests they compound their crimes by committing a serious assault on two police officers and escaping custody, she's willing to cooperate. As Faith says, "We can't save the world in jail". The end justifies the means once more.

However, when Faith kills Allan Finch, Buffy discovers a line that she cannot cross. She can justify committing vandalism, theft, burglary and assault, but murder is a step too far. From this point, not killing humans becomes one of the touchstones of her morality: arguably, because it helps her draw a distinct line between herself and Faith, and thus salve her conscience. She's the Good Slayer because she doesn't kill people: she's clinging to that distinction even into season 7 when Faith is redeemed (and treating Buffy much better than the way Buffy treats her). It's eroding a little in season 8 under the pressure of circumstances, but still appears to be intact so far.

In the later seasons, Buffy is perhaps a little less casual about her criminal tendencies - although when she's temporarily released from the burdens of Slayerness in 'Gone', she embarks on a one-woman invisible crimewave rampaging through central Sunnydale. Petty crimes of course: stealing an electric car, harrassing a social worker. She's free from responsibility and willing to indulge herself.

However, late-season Buffy struggles even more with the ethics of what she does: and with her increasing determination to do whatever it takes to defeat her opponents. In season 5, she refused to kill Dawn in order to save the world: in season 7, she admits that faced with the same choice, she would make a different decision.

GILES: Ah, yes, but things are different, aren't they? After what you've been through, faced with the same choice now, you'd let her die.
BUFFY: If I had to...to save the world. Yes.
('Lies My Parents Told Me')

Buffy is becoming increasingly desperate, increasingly ruthless. She does what she must, whatever the personal cost. She makes it clear that this includes setting aside her personal feelings, if she has to: so why not include setting aside the law? After all:

"At some point, someone has to draw the line, and that is always going to be me. You get down on me for cutting myself off, but in the end the Slayer is always cut off. There's no mystical guidebook. No all-knowing council. Human rules don't apply. There's only me. I am the law."   (Buffy, 'Selfless')

Now, some people argue that Buffy has everything neatly compartmentalised. There are human laws to deal with human problems and human crimes; and then there are demons, where she is the sole authority. She certainly talks that way at the end of season 6 when discussing how to deal with Warren's crimes and Willow's vengeance. However, I don't think it's that simple. Buffy's circumstances, her responsibiilities and her sense of duty are all pushing her towards the belief that she alone can decide on what's ethical and what isn't when fighting against evil. She has nobody else to guide her; no longer a trusted Giles to offer counsel and guidance at every turn. Nobody else has the knowledge or experience to make the decisions she has to make.

"My friends, my boyfriends. I feel like I'm not worthy of their love. 'Cause even though they love me, it doesn't mean anything 'cause their opinions don't matter. They don't know. They haven't been through what I've been through. They're not the Slayer. I am."   (Buffy, 'Conversations With Dead People')

And now we move into Season 8. Buffy now has a devoted, loyal army of superpowered girls vying to obey her every command. She has power; not just her own personal abilities anymore, but the kind of power that makes governments sit up and take notice. And yet she's still alone. She is, as many people have pointed out, isolated; living in a remote Scottish castle, with no normal people around except for Xander (Dawn doesn't even count; she's a giant now). Whom can she confide in? Whose advice can she request? Who can tell her when she's being an idiot? There are still candidates, but for whatever reason they're either avoiding her (Willow, Dawn, Giles) or apparently either too trusting or too complicit in her unethical activities (Xander).

And while she's personally in a better situation than in season 7 - she has the respect of her followers, she's apparently happy enough most of the time, even if she does have the occasional fit of mopeyness - the situation she faces is even more desperate. To quote her own assessment of affairs:

"The demons are after us, the humans are after us, this whole 'Twilight' thing is looking very creepy and hey, Faith tried to kill me again! My grip on reality is not that grippy. I'm protective of it."   (Buffy, 'Anywhere But Here')

She feels beleagured and surrounded by enemies. She's got nobody to turn to. But she is who she is: she very rarely gives up. She does whatever is necessary to win. If that means committing a crime: well, it wouldn't be the first time she's done that. As  aycheb has shown in her review of 8.10, Buffy definitely has a guilty conscience about what she did: she's ashamed to admit it even to Willow, even as she tries to justify it to herself by arguing that nobody got hurt and "It's only money." But in the final analysis, Buffy thinks she's at war: and in war, the end justifies the means.

It's about power. Who's got it... who knows how to use it.

Comments

Posted by: hobgoblinn (hobgoblinn)
Posted at: 7th January 2008 23:27 (UTC)

I'll come back to this, but ahhhh! I haven't gotten the new issue yet. How about another LJ cut so the song is gone and it reads "The revelation that Buffy has been financing her Slayer army through (Spoiler for 8.10)..."?

I do love your thoughtful takes on all this, though. I'll be back. Probably this weekend. The closest Comics Shop I know of is in Florence (KY), which is a little out of my way.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 7th January 2008 23:32 (UTC)

Sorry! I've had the comic now since last week, so I didn't think spoilers would be a problem any more...

Posted by: hobgoblinn (hobgoblinn)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 00:02 (UTC)

No problem, Love. I got the last two installments of "No Future" over the Christmas break. But those were more character driven and spoilers were not so much an issue. I could already kind of see where things were going there, anyway.

I'll catch up soon to all you cool kids.

Edited at 2008-01-08 00:02 (UTC)

Posted by: My Sanctuary (married_n_mich)
Posted at: 15th January 2008 14:18 (UTC)
Scoobie - Comic

I didn't get mine until yesterday! I want your schedule *g*


*Wonders why you get yours so much sooner*

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 15th January 2008 19:31 (UTC)

Posted by: My Sanctuary (married_n_mich)
Posted at: 16th January 2008 15:22 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th January 2008 15:47 (UTC)

Posted by: My Sanctuary (married_n_mich)
Posted at: 16th January 2008 15:53 (UTC)

Posted by: I write tragedies, not sins (mabus101)
Posted at: 7th January 2008 23:59 (UTC)

Several of us are having trouble getting ahold of the comics at all, Stephen. Of course, in my case, I'm about to lose internet access, so it may cease to be a problem. (And I'm going ahead and reading meta anyway--who knows when I'll see any of it?)

I wonder...Buffy is providing a vital service for the world. It's not like she can do what the government does and demand we pay taxes to her.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 00:13 (UTC)

True, sort of: if Buffy robs a Swiss bank, then effectively the Swiss taxpayers are funding her organisation (indirectly, through reduced corporate tax from the bank leading to higher taxes elsewhere, that sort of thing).

But it's pretty dubious morality at the best of times: and the worst part of it is that she's on a slippery slope. We've already seen the dangers of people with the best intentions setting themselves up to make decisions on behalf of the rest of us: and here Buffy is more or less proving General Voll's point. The Slayers are a law unto themselves now... quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 00:25 (UTC)

If your point is that it's possible to connect BtBR with BtVS, I totally agree. If your point is that we should see BtBR as a natural outgrowth of where BtVS was heading, I'm not so much on board.

I've always been a bit hard on Buffy precisely because she has never been as righteous as she thinks. As she herself acknowledges on multiple occasions, she does think she's 'better' than people -- and part of that sense of superiority is the idea that she's morally superior. This is particularly true with respect to Faith and Spike. But that's precisely why I think we need a story to explain how BtVS became BtBR. Buffy has defined herself (after a brief flirtation with the alternative in season 3) as the Slayer who is not above the law. I can see trying to draw her line at not killing people. But I really don't think that's where the line was. Maybe it has to do with my reaction to a scene we didn't see -- which is how Buffy would have reacted if Faith had suggested robbing for the greater good in season 7. I think Buffy would have thought that was further evidence of her own moral superiority to Faith. Indeed, the fact that Buffy now registers that she HAS crossed the Faith line goes a long way towards explaining her otherwise overly harsh reaction to Faith in #8.

Something had to happen for Buffy to consciously decide that human laws in general don't apply to her. The other petty crimes were possible because they didn't force her to consciously say to herself "I'm ignoring human laws". But that's harder to do with bank robbery. And she's not just crossing a line for herself. She's teaching the new slayers that human laws are optional for them. As you yourself have observed (comments on #1), Buffy has grown as a teacher -- is aware of what her pupils are learning from her. She's choosing to teach them to operate on the basic world view she rejected vehemently in season 3. She's choosing to teach them to be Faith. No way are we supposed to look at that and see it as a natural development in her character. Something happened.

I'm thinking that something might have been a clash with the human world that made her realize once and for all that she's NOT going to be normal. And if she doesn't get to have the goodies of being a human, why should she pay the costs of being a good human citizen? Something like that. And here's where that latent element in her personality, the part that does engage in petty crime when she's in situations where she can avoid telling herself that's what she's doing, comes into play. It was there waiting to be tapped. But something still had to tap it in order to transform it into a conscious choice.

Bold move on Joss's part, by the way. I'm thinking this might be the move that Jeanty said he couldn't buy as a fan -- but which Joss assured him would make sense at the end of the day. In any case, the Faith arc is now clearly a huge building block of the mosaic that is being put together. Buffy and Faith have traded places. We are like Cordelia in You're Welcome entering into a world where the heroes have gone very gray, while the villains have become heroes. All of this is building up to the big reveal of how this brave new world came to be. It has to be.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 01:00 (UTC)

Interesting points - especially on Buffy's reaction to Faith and how they've traded places; I like that idea. And it could be that there is a big reveal coming up to show how Buffy got this way.

But for me, it seems more of a natural progression than it seems to do for you. As I've tried to show, Buffy has never had a particular respect for the law as such; she's always reserved the right to break it in what she sees as a good cause. And she's increasingly guilty of setting herself up as the sole arbiter of right and wrong... and now she's in a desperate situation, isolated, with everybody's hand against her. Personally, I don't think it needs anything special on top of that.

In part, it's all just a Hollywood cliché: the hero is always breaking and entering, beating people up, or whatever, and it's never presented as being wrong in the context of the show. By pushing it this far, Joss is perhaps showing us what that cliché would actually mean in reality.


how Buffy would have reacted if Faith had suggested robbing for the greater good in season 7.

She didn't have a problem with Andrew looting grocery stores and even hospitals. Admittedly that was after Sunnydale was deserted, but even so...


Buffy to consciously decide that human laws in general don't apply to her.

Despite what I've said before, I don't think this is actually the case - at least not yet. She's still clearly feeling guilty about robbing the bank; she's lying to Willow about it and thinking up justifications. I think she's decided that she's justified in breaking the law, not that the law doesn't apply to her... a fine distinction, but a real one.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 01:24 (UTC)

But for me, it seems more of a natural progression than it seems to do for you. As I've tried to show, Buffy has never had a particular respect for the law as such; she's always reserved the right to break it in what she sees as a good cause. And she's increasingly guilty of setting herself up as the sole arbiter of right and wrong... and now she's in a desperate situation, isolated, with everybody's hand against her. Personally, I don't think it needs anything special on top of that.

But how is it a desperate situation? Breaking and entering while directly trying to fight evil is one thing. Robbing a bank for financing is another. This is the girl who thought it was outrageous when Anya (another moral 'deficient') suggested that Buffy should charge for slaying. And it never crossed her mind that she'd be justified in robbing in order to avoid the soul-killing job she had to get at DMP. It's leap-y (at least to me).

Despite what I've said before, I don't think this is actually the case - at least not yet. She's still clearly feeling guilty about robbing the bank; she's lying to Willow about it and thinking up justifications. I think she's decided that she's justified in breaking the law, not that the law doesn't apply to her... a fine distinction, but a real one.

This point does give me pause, and I think it's the best part of your argument. But it's also possible that she's taken this decision but doesn't trust lower mortals to really understand it, hence the dissembling. And, since she's in the wrong, we'd expect an underlying sense of guilt to go along with the dissembling. Anyway, I'm still thinking that even if she hasn't consciously said to herself "Hey, I can do what I want" -- it's still much closer to the surface than it would have been for any of her other actions.

Re: The Hollywood cliche -- I totally agree that whether this is a conscious choice on Buffy's part or not, Joss is certainly taking the opportunity to point out to us that we've been tolerating a lot of 'dark' behavior from the 'hero' just because she's the 'hero'. And I'm all happy about that -- cause I've always read the show as at least strongly hinting that it's too pat to just think that what the hero does must be heroic because the hero does it. That the theme is more concretely stated in the comics just helps me feel more justified in thinking that it's always been one of the sub-themes of the show. (It helps a LOT with NFA, for starters).

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 20:13 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 9th January 2008 01:24 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th January 2008 12:37 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 9th January 2008 13:12 (UTC)

Posted by: M (spankulert)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 00:57 (UTC)
comicB chosen

Was considering writing something on this myself, but you've done a better job than I would have anyways, so... cookie for you. I completely agree, she's on a slippery slope.

'The Slayers are a law unto themselves'
This really is a recurring theme, though it's not been taken one step further. F.exa:
1.Breaking and entering, more than once.
2.Hacking private/gouvernment information
3.Violence
4.Theft(not bank-scale theft, but still)
5.False police reports
6.Harbouring known murderers(Faith, Willow, Andrew, Anya, Spike). Not an easy one to sweep under the rug. Very much with the "we're above the law", we need/care about these people.

Now she's robbing banks, leading a bunch of girls that clearly idolize her and follows her lead. What is she gonna say if they start feeling superious/outside of the law during other circumstances? "No, that's not ok. It was those other times, but that's because I said so."

She's also taking the Slayerettes into combat with humans. Now we know that's gonna end in loss of life sooner or later. Might not be in one of those big confrontations. People have limits, lines they don't cross. Start crossing those(such as violence against humans), and soon enough the lines start to blur, and each time it gets easier and easier to slip across. There's gonna be blood on their hands, which means there's gonna be blood on Buffy's hands. She's leading them down this path. I have no problem understanding why the gouvernment would want to take these guys out(besides Twilight prodding them along from the inside).

These are young, impressionable girls, apparantly taken out of school, so (presumably) cut off from a lot, if not all, contact to the outside world. Kinda like a cult, imo. She sets the example, and she isn't exactly setting a stellar example.

Not that I blame her. I can completely see how she got to where she is. Considering the difficulties of all of a sudden having over 1000 girls to take care of all over the world(living, eating, needing medical care, transportation, weapons, etc.) She's feel personally responsible for bringing this about. It would have been very hard, and I guess she could only have taken so many "I'm sorry, Buff, but we didn't make it in time because we couldn't afford a plane ticket/medical care/whatever", and that big step would seem oh so small when put in light of "it's for the greater good".

I've actually got a fic in mind for this... No rest because of the wicked.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 01:07 (UTC)

*Eats cookie*
(It's not a fully baked, warm, delicious Buffy-cookie, is it?)

Good point on the harbouring murderers thing. :-) What was it Xander said in 'Selfless'? (*looks it up*) "When our friends go all crazy and start killing people, we
help them." Technically, what they ought to do is turn them into the police, not help them...

And yes, it's looking increasingly as if General Voll was right when he talked about the Slayers setting themselves up above the law. Thank goodness we've got things like Twilight allowing Warren to torture Willow or Gigi to murder innocent girls, because otherwise we'd have to think they were the good guys here...

Posted by: M (spankulert)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 01:50 (UTC)
Comic Illyria thin blue line

Heh. I no way saying Twilight are the good guys.

If I were in her situation, I'd be very torn as well. Still don't think I'd start robbing banks, as the consequences are far too risky, both in what example she sets for the rest of the highly impressionable superpowered army, as well as how the rest of the world will view them.

Still, I guess she weighed those possible outcomes against what was allready happening(her incapability to manage such an organisation without funding, and the consequences of that), and she titled the other way. It happens.

I'm more concerned wih her blaze talk with Willow about possible human casualties.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 20:05 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 20:27 (UTC)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 8th January 2008 21:21 (UTC)

Posted by: aycheb (aycheb)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 21:41 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 22:10 (UTC)

Posted by: woman_of_ (woman_of_)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 03:05 (UTC)

Yes, I think that a lot of people think Buffy is more moral that her actions set her up to be. For me, her actions with Ben, and letting Giles do the deed, was more out of character.

I can see her making this decision, and not really taking into consideration the consequences. I do not like it, when she acts all superior, but yes her past actions do lead to this.

What she has always held herself above doing is murder, everything else seemed to be fair game. She has committed breaking and entering, maiming etc lots of times to get information, or to protect people.

I do find her thoughts on whither or not to kill people the last straw. Then I am sure it will be written that she will not. But for me she is a flawed hero, as they all are. Getting worried that Willow, with her new power of life and death, will be used to exonerate her, unjustifiably!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 19:45 (UTC)

I actually got the impression she was being realistic and mature in her reply to Willow in #8.

She's fighting humans. Therefore, it's likely that humans will get killed. She has to face this fact: and by admitting she doesn't know how she will respond, I think she's being honest and sensible.

Unfotunately, it might be a brief moment of clarity in her slide into denial and moral corruption...

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 09:23 (UTC)

Caution: Godwin's Law slightly bruised here - proceed at will

I can see Buffy going bad. I can see Buffy going bad in a spectacular fashion. It was hinted at often enough in the TV series and it's not like she doesn't have flaws that could be played up (or virtues that could be turned around on her). Like I've said before, I don't think the many mentions of fascism (and nazis in this issue) are there simply by chance. Fascism starts with a sense of superiority over and fear of The Others, and I do believe (or at least hope) Joss is turning the tables on us here: that after seven years of protecting innocent humans from supernatural aggressors, Buffy suddenly finds herself protecting innocent supernaturals from human aggressors. Or at least, that's what she seems to think the few times we're offered glimpses inside that quippy exterior. And it IS playing straight into Voll's hands, proving him right on point after point. It's a potentially very interesting idea - how far Joss will take it before backing down will be interesting to see. Yes, Twilight aren't cuddly care bears either, but from their perspective what they're doing is kicking in the door of Herr and Frau Hitler and gunning them down, baby Adolf and all. Is it morally reprehensive? Yes. Would humanity have been better off if someone had done that...?

I can see Buffy getting lost in that grey area, doing whatever it takes to win. It's not like other friends of hers haven't before, even if they didn't command an entire army at the time. My main gripe with the bankrobber storyline is that I have trouble with the canonical Buffy seeing herself as the bad guy - or at least making plans from that assumption. (She might lie awake at night thinking she's bad, at least if this were s6, but if I see Buffy going bad, it's because she's TOO moral - protect the innocents at all cost *cough*daddy issues*cough* - and too hung up on being the good guy.)

BUFFY: Not being bad is what separates us from the bad guys.

And well-planned bank robbery against a third party - while hardly evil, while hardly the worst thing she's done - is not in that grey zone at all; it's an obvious act of villainy. So obviously that that's how the Trio were introduced - and they looked just as silly as Buffy does with her evil grin and "oooh, sparkly". Even the much more amoral Serenity crew were well aware of what they did when they robbed banks, and of the legal and moral consequences.

JAYNE: Let's be bad guys.

In contrast, Buffy just looks naive at best, and like a cartoon supervillain at worst (that scene had me wondering if she's got someone working on a death ray to destroy the UN building.) It doesn't jibe very well with the girl who was shocked enough by Dawn's kleptomania to include it in her "Grave" litany of Things That Went Wrong In S6. (Yes, there was the sporting goods thing in "Bad Girls", but people do the strangest things when they're in love. ;-) )

Also, there's the issue of just when this robbery took place.

WILLOW: So the mysterious benefactor bankrolling the Slayer army...
BUFFY: It's all insured! It's a victimless crime!

Willow doesn't ask about their latest gizmos, about the new systems, about the latest month. "Bankrolling the Slayer army." The Slayer army has castles, TV commercials, choppers, armour, giant-transporting-capabilities and other stuff that's not exactly cheap long before Buffy ever hears about Voll. And she makes no attempt here to blame Voll, or in any way defend WHY she does it; simply that it's not harming anyone. And when Willow calls her on her bullshit, Buffy dismisses her.

Yes, I can see Buffy going bad. I can see Buffy going bad in a spectacular fashion. But I do have trouble seeing Buffy thinking she's already gone bad - and liking it.

It's about power. Who's got it... who knows how to use it.

Can I quote The Clash too? Or OK, Bobby Fuller?

I needed money cause I had none
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won
Robbin' people with a six-gun
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won
I lost my girl and I lost my fun
I fought the law and the law won
I fought the law and the law won

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 19:58 (UTC)

But I do have trouble seeing Buffy thinking she's already gone bad - and liking it.

Same here. And I don't for a moment think that's what's happened. Buffy doesn't think she's gone bad. She thinks she's a hero, fighting against evil, and doing whatever it takes to win. Like Margareth said, it wouldn't take many Slayers or innocent civilians getting killed because of a lack of equipment before Buffy was ready to do anything, even criminal acts, to fix the situation.

What else was she to do? Let even more of these girls whom she was responsible for get themselves killed because she couldn't afford to buy body armour for them?

Sure, the part of her that got a thrill from breaking and entering with Faith is also excited by robbing a bank. But that doesn't mean she thinks she's doing the right thing: I believe she thinks she's committing a venial sin to prevent a far greater evil.

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 21:05 (UTC)

And I don't for a moment think that's what's happened. Buffy doesn't think she's gone bad. She thinks she's a hero

And yet, there's this.


Which, like I said, looks a bit too much like this.


...or even this.


It's not that I'm morally upset with Buffy - hell, compared to most of my favourite fictional characters she's still an absolute saint (DAMN you, Jimmy McNulty!) - but if Buffy Summers is now a career criminal, I want to know how that happened. If we'd gotten confirmation that the bank robbery/ies happened after the chat with Voll, then OK, I could have bought it (even if it, like much of Buffy's development in s8, has to be taken on confidence since not much has really been shown on screen.) Setting up a hero to slide down towards villaindom is tricky - especially if you want to be able to redeem her afterwards; Joss spent at least 3 years setting up Dark Willow in plain sight, and a lot of fans still seem to think that Willow should have killed in "Grave".

However, if the bank robberies happened before then... I really want to know what happened to lead her to that decision. Like we could see why she thought it was fun to hang out with Faith because she'd spent the entire season being mothered by Joyce, Giles and Wesley and was sick to death of being the responsible one - but also quickly backed down when things got real. Sure, we can fanwank until the cows come home, but if Joss wants to make a point it would help if he actually MADE that point.

What else was she to do?

Assuming she started robbing banks the second she realized that a big organisation needs money - I don't know, ask someone who knows how to make money? Buffy notoriously sucks at that, and this isn't looking like her best plan ever - morality aside, robbing banks is not exactly a low-profile crime. Couldn't she simply have opened up a European Doublemeat Palace franchise?

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 21:10 (UTC)

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 8th January 2008 21:39 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 21:42 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 22:03 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 22:46 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 9th January 2008 01:03 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 9th January 2008 14:10 (UTC)

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 22:15 (UTC)

Even though I don't read the comics, I found your meta very interesting and enlightening too in regard to the problems of ethic and moral in Btvs. Well thought and well constructed as always.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 8th January 2008 22:30 (UTC)

Thanks! (I do wonder, when people say they've read my stuff but not the actual comics, what impression they get of what happened in the story... :-) )

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 10:16 (UTC)
Angelmobile

I'm not really sure on what we're supposed to be getting from this book.

Sure, it might be that we're supposed to be shocked at Buffy robbing banks just like Willow was...

Or was she? As I read the scene Willow didn't really have a problem with Buffy ignoring human laws, but rather, that robbing rich people of their possessions is a sure way to get those people mad and organizing some way to deal with you, namely Twilight.

I can't really understand if Whedon's still in his "Whatever Buffy does turns out to be awesome" S7 mode or not.

In the end, I think the Japan arc turns out will be my make it or break it moment for this series. I'll either trust JW with these characters again, or I won't. If I don't trust him, well, I followed Buffy for some seasons only because I wanted to see how it ended, but also, because it was, hey, free! I won't pay people to get frustrated and saddened not by the story, but by what characters I previously loved have been turned into.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 10:34 (UTC)

As I read the scene Willow didn't really have a problem with Buffy ignoring human laws

Well, I think it would be hypocritical for Willow to suddenly get on her moral high horse about how theft is always wrong, considering her past. Not to mention that she's very loyal to Buffy, and it distresses her to do anything against her (as we see later on).

But she definitely disapproves of what Buffy did, and her main role in the scene is to point out (for the readers as well as for Buffy) the long-term implications of what she's done.

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 10:59 (UTC)

There's a world of difference between "You shouldn't rob banks because it's wrong." and "You shouldn't rob banks because the owners will try to hunt you down and kill you."

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 11:23 (UTC)

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 12:09 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 12:27 (UTC)

Posted by: JG (jgracio)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 22:03 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 20:05 (UTC)
Duster_by_awmp

Interesting meta.

I wonder if it has ever occurred to Joss that this Buffy corrupts young slayers's souls, teaches them that the ends justify the means and brings up a generation of superstrong amoral creatures.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 21:35 (UTC)

Do you remember the discussions we had about 'The Chain' - where you were arguing how dark the Slayer organisation seemed to you, deliberately provoking a war with Yamanh's demon army and using propaganda to justify it? (Obvious comparison, Iraq.)

At the time I was arguing against you, because I thought Buffy's army was in the right. In the light of 8.10, I'm beginning to wonder if I was wrong and your insight was correct. Buffy is in the wrong, and she's fooling herself that her actions are justified by necessity.

Or maybe both are correct: her actions are necessary to save the world, and they're also corrupting her and her followers and gradually turning thm into the people they're supposed to be fighting. Which would be an extremely dark storyline - but I can't see Joss shying away from that.

Thanks for reading! (And the review too)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 21:52 (UTC)

I thought Buffy's army was in the right. In the light of 8.10, I'm beginning to wonder if I was wrong and your insight was correct. Buffy is in the wrong, and she's fooling herself that her actions are justified by necessity.

Well, I've just finished reading the transcript of Brian Lynch's podcast

http://community.livejournal.com/angel6_atf/33289.html

His comment about Buffy's robbery is a bit baffling:

It's not the right thing that she's doing, but it's not a terrible thing that's she's doing, and seeing how that plays out is gonna be cool.

These are the words of a writer who is working together with Joss. Obviously writers are more tolerant to Buffy's criminal activities than we, fans, are.

My main problem is that I can't fugure out the level of the suspension of disbelief when I read this comic. When I watch, say, Entrapment, or Gone in Sixty Seconds, I realise from the first scene that I'm supposed to root for the criminals and it's OK, it's just a movie, an entertainment. But with season 8 I can't understand if I'm supposed to giggle or to feel indignation at Buffy the Bank Robber.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 22:11 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 22:39 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 22:59 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 23:18 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 23:33 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 23:00 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 22:33 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 22:41 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 22:48 (UTC)

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 10th January 2008 22:59 (UTC)

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