So I’ve been re-watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I think the first time I watched them, I wasn’t able to pay attention to the details. It was after all famous when the Internet didn’t have that much information and Piracy wasn’t as widespread so I watched it the old-fashioned way — once a week on network television. With commercial breaks. Anyway, now that it’s a bit easier to watch (though still not that easy since there are hardly any sites that stream old TV shows), I get to notice more details and understand the story better. Which is why I now ask the question:
Why in the world did Buffy not get as famous as Twilight?!
I mean, what? Are the teens of today just more obsessive than the teens of the time that Buffy was famous?
OK, first, I will tell you about my exposure to vampire literature before you all start to bite my head off and tell me how I don’t know vampire literature. I think the most famous vampire literature are Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the Anne Rice novels? I mean, before the whole Twilight fiasco, yes? So, I only saw the movie for Dracula, the latest one with Winona Ryder, and have never read an Anne Rice book, but I think that’s fine since those are the more serious vampire literature. As for the new ones, which is impossible to know all about because suddenly about a thousand teen vampire stories have materialized in book stores (even Meg Cabot has a vampire book now, which makes me so disappointed in her because I really liked her Mediator series), I won’t talk about them either. This blog entry is about the only two vampire literature that I know — Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight. Oh alright, I’ll throw Harry Potter into the mix as well even though it has nothing to do with vampires but inevitably always gets mentioned whenever Twilight is mentioned (or is it the other way around?).
Because here’s the thing I don’t get: Why do people always compare Harry Potter and Twilight? They even go so far as to compare the characters or the plots when… They’re so different that comparing them is like comparing pizza and ice cream. I guess it’s because their commercial success is comparable, in the sense that they both had people lining up in the bookstore to read the next book in their series, but that’s where their similarity ends. I mean, Twilight is dark fantasy and Harry Potter is just fantasy (albeit it gets darker as the series goes along). And, Twilight is a love story, while Harry Potter is more about a boy’s coming of age (which of course, includes a love story, too, but that’s not its focus unlike in Twilight). So really, to me, what people should be comparing Twilight to is something that it’s more similar to. Something that’s also about love between a vampire and a human girl in high school, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVS).
I remember when my mom first heard about Twilight and how she said that she didn’t understand why it was so popular when it’s nothing new. So a vampire falls in love with a human girl. “Isn’t that the story of Buffy?” she asked me. “I know, right?!” was my reply. But let’s look further/make more comparisons.
Bella VS Buffy
Apart from having five-letter names that start with B, they’re just completely different.
Bella is particularly bad at sports (or actually most physical activities like dancing, or sometimes even walking), but very smart when it comes to schoolwork, I guess, since she was able to match Edward’s intellect in Biology class (and I will assume that Edward knows the lessons in high school like the back of his hand since he’s apparently graduated from it several times). Meanwhile, Buffy needs tutoring from Willow just to pass her History test. But, she is very athletic. Even when she wasn’t a slayer yet — she was a cheerleader in her old high school, right (And yes, cheerleading is a sport now, so cheerleaders are athletes. What? You don’t watch Hellcats?)? So, I guess they get equal marks.
Bella is brainy but uncoordinated. Buffy is athletic, but not very academic.
“A slayer with family and friends. That sure as hell wasn’t in the brochure.” – Spike, School Hard (S2E3)
So, I’m not saying that Bella doesn’t care about her family and friends. But you know, she never really took the time to get to know her classmates in Forks. And the way she described them was like she was always annoyed by them or that she thought they were shallow. Granted, they pretty “shallow”, only caring about the prom or who’s got a crush on who, but can you really blame them? I mean, they were in high school. That’s what they’re supposed to care about. And, as for her parents, I’ve always been sort of disappointed with how Bella treats her dad. I mean, there he was, being all nice to her and all she wants to do is spend time with Edward. Maybe it’s just me but I think if she cared about them more, she really wouldn’t have been so willing to become a vampire. And OK, so maybe the Cullens were her real family and friends in the story, I mean, they’re the ones whom she liked spending time with and really talked to, but… I never got the sense that she ever worried about their well-being.
Meanwhile, Buffy hardly thinks of anything else but the well-being of her family and friends. Of course, because she’s the slayer, she’s actually required to care about them. But I noticed that even on her most selfish moments, even when all she wanted to do was be with her boyfriend, she never forgot about the people around her, friends or not. I mean, she killed Angel to save her friends (and the world, of course). And he was the person she loved the most. That’s totally the ultimate proof that she cared about her family and friends. And though she also cared about the prom and all that high school stuff, because it’s always clear that her duty as a slayer comes first, you can’t say at all that she’s shallow like Bella’s classmates supposedly are.
Point to Buffy then.
Edward VS Angel
Edward is about a hundred years old. Angel is at least two hundred and forty one.
Personally, I don’t think that it’s pedophilia when these vampires fall for high school girls because one, maturity is relative, and two, I think when you become a vampire, even mentally, you kind of get stuck in the age when you died, hence Edward will always think like a 17-year-old (albeit a very wise one because he’s been 17 for a while), and Angel a 26-year-old, which I guess makes Angel “10 years older” than Buffy because he met her when she was 16, but she’s the slayer, and so was really not like any normal teenager (like Bella is). Still, points for not being a cradle snatcher, I guess? So Edward wins this round.
Good VS Evil
Edward was trained to be a “vegetarian” vampire, while Angel was cursed to have his soul. They’re both dangerous in the sense that if Edward loses control, he will for sure want Bella’s blood (its his own personal brand of heroin, don’t ‘ya know?), and if Angel becomes too happy, he loses his soul and returns to being a sadistic monster. I guess, points go to Edward because he learned to control/suppress the evilness of vampire inside him, while Angel is just good when he’s got his soul, and when he doesn’t he can’t really be accountable for being evil.
Then again, this really shows the difference in the two universes. Because in Twilight, vampires, despite not having souls can be good, while in BtVS once a person becomes a vampire (a default vampire–without a soul), then he/she is stripped of a conscience. As Giles put it, “You’re not looking at your friend. You’re looking at the thing that killed him.” (The Harvest, S1E2)
But… when Spike got a chip in his head that made him unable to harm humans, he did sort of fight on the good side. Except, that was mostly because he really just wanted to fight and since he could only hurt bad guys then he may as well fight with the good guys. Great. Now I’m really confused. You know what, let’s give points to both Edward and Angel since this is a technicality of their universes that I cannot comprehend.
Both of them left Bella and Buffy at one point. The difference is that Angel stayed gone, and Edward came back. But their reasons for leaving were mostly the same. Or, no wait, they weren’t. Angel left because Buffy couldn’t ever have everything that she can with him around (“You deserve someone who can take you into the light.” – Angel, Prom, S3E20), while Edward left because Bella would be too much in danger if he was around. So… Angel left Buffy so she could have the best, Edward left Bella to protect her. This is a tough one… But I think the selfless award would have to go to Angel.
I mean, the whole reason why the love story of Buffy and Angel was so poignant was because you always knew from the beginning that they were doomed. I mean, that even if Angel had a soul, it would always be an issue that he was a vampire, and that Buffy wasn’t. In Twilight, this issue was “solved” turning Bella into a vampire. So, Edward only turned her into a vampire because the alternative was for her to die, and so maybe his actions are justified. Except, in BtVS, Buffy would totally sacrifice her life rather than become a vampire. Because in the universe of BtVS, they addressed the issue of Accept Inevitable Death VS Continue “Life” as a Vampire in Lie to Me (S2E7) – Buffy’s friend Ford (Jason Behr FTW!) had a brain tumor and 6-months left in his life and so he wanted to become a vampire so he would “die young, and stay pretty”. But Buffy explains, “That’s not how it works. You die, and a demon sets up shop in your old house, and it walks, and it talks, and it remembers your life, but it’s not you.”
So, again with the difference in universes!
I guess here’s my issue about Twilight (you know, other than my other many issues with it): The “vampire” stuff in it are so non-committal. Edward is a vampire, except he’s a good person and can control his bloodlust. Bella becomes a vampire, but she’s basically the same person she was when she was human, except that she’s stronger. Somewhere in their story, there are “vampires” who are evil, but it’s never actually them, and the story finds every way possible to make them tame, and to make the readers fall in love with vampires. Edward always says that he’s dangerous, but you never actually see him like that, so how are you to believe it? Angel, on the other hand, even before he turned evil in Season 2, you’d get glimpses of how horrific he was before he got a soul, like when he told the story of how it was he who made Drusilla crazy.
Lastly, Forks VS Sunnydale.
I don’t know, the people in both towns seem pretty dim for not noticing that vampires are about. The people in Sunnydale are weird because they still choose to live in Sunnydale despite it being a hellmouth (surely they must have noticed, what with the high mortality rate) but the people in Forks are equally weird for not knowing that the Cullens are vampires because it’s just not believable that they’ve lived there for as long as they have and that Bella is the first one to get curious about them. So I guess it’s a tie between these two towns.
Bella – 1; Buffy – 2
Edward – 2; Angel – 2
Forks – 1; Sunnydale – 1
Twilight – 4; Buffy the Vampire Slayer – 5
Buffy wins! Not that it’s a surprise. This is my blog and I’m obviously very biased, but come on! Can’t Joss Whedon get as much love as Stephenie Meyer? Why did this whole vampire craze only start when Twilight came about? Where did BtVS go wrong?
P.S. David Boreanaz > Robert Pattinson any day!