Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy

Here it is, the last Buffy book review copied from my very-soon-to-be-defunct website. But don't jump in front of the train yet--I'll still write new ones from time to time.

FROM THE ARCHIVES (Buffy book reviews)


James B. South, editor (2003)

RATING: 3/5 Stakes

BACK-OF-THE-BOOK SUMMARY: “So, if you’re kind of killing time between apocalypses or just wondering about that meaning of life thing, here’s some readage . . . Look, these guys’ll I-think-therefore-I-am you into the freakin’ ground. And the happy is better than shoe shopping. What? If I don’t consult the oracle I’ll, like, turn to stone? Well, yeah, if not already.”


Buffy’s entry into Open Court’s “Popular Culture and Philosophy” line takes the form of a collection of short essays written by junior academics in fields such as women’s studies, philosophy, and sociology. The essays are roughly grouped by subject: feminism, knowledge/science, ethics, religion/politics, and miscellaneous. Each is written with reference to the first six seasons of Buffy, with Season Seven unfortunately taking place after final deadlines for the writers.

Most of the essays are accessible, though they tend to expect the reader to have a basic understanding of long-standing philosophical concepts such as the difference between utilitarian and deontological theories of justice. On the whole, I find the essays largely mundane and forgettable, obviously written by huge fans of the show using Buffy to embody a particular academic issue they’re currently working on. However, there are a couple of stand-out articles, such as Neal King’s Brownskirts: Facisim, Christianity, and the Eternal Demon and Michael P. Levine and Steven Jay Schneider’s Feel for Buffy: The Girl Next Door. The first is a fascinating essay on Buffy as a fascist hero, while the second doesn’t fall into the hagiography trap and is willing to both criticize the show and the cult of frequently simple-minded scholarship that has grown up around it.

I don’t think Buffy and Philosophy will prove particularly interesting to the average fan of the show (whether or not philosophically inclined), and is probably best browsed before purchase.

No comments: