Is a person capable of being inspired by a fictional character? I hope that the answer to that is a resounding “yes” or I have grown into a warped human being. I love many of my fictional friends and have at times preferred them over real people.
(ABOVE: Me and Buffy. December, 2016)
Growing up, I remember reading and falling in love with characters and spending hours at my local library (thank you mom) picking out new books every week. I read The Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew. Then as I got older I read all the books from the summer reading lists. By the time I got to summers as a teenager, 1984 was on my “for fun” list.
I also have a deep abiding love for classic films. An Affair to Remember is my favorite film, but anything with Cary Grant is, for me, swoon worthy. I have also seen Harvey and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington more times than I can count because before we had Tom Hanks, we had Jimmy Stewart. And then, Bogart. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Bogey film that I don’t like, although if pressed, The African Queen is my favorite.
My fictional friends have seen me through all the stages of life I’ve encountered to date; however, there is one fictional friend that I come back to time and time again. Her name: Buffy Summers. Her job: vampire slayer.
A few months ago, I wrote about the cathartic nature if repetition and the comfort that I find in the familiar. Yes, I watch things on repeat. Of course, I listen to the same songs over and over again until I find a new one. Have I read books more than once? Are you seeing a pattern?
I have been on a kick recently of watching all seven seasons of Buffy back to back. And by kick, I’ve been doing this since last summer.
I can quote lines from my favorite episodes and I have characters that I love to hate. (Riley? Really? Joss, did we have to go there?)
And I know that Buffy is a creation, and even more than that, I know that Sarah Michelle Gellar is an actress. However, I grew up with Buffy. Watching Buffy was something that my mom and I did together. She’d make us a snack and we’d settle in front of the WB (throwback to channel 20 in Detroit!). When I was a sophomore in college, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had the series on DVD by then and she’d watch it, or we’d watch it, while she was at home recuperating from surgery. Maybe one day, I’ll introduce a daughter to the chosen one?
Since it is March, and I’ve been thinking about the many women that inspire me, I am reminded of a line from “Chosen”, which is the last episode of the seventh (and final televised) season.
“So here’s the part where you make a choice…. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?”
(ABOVE: Buffy sitting on my desk)
The last two statements resonate with me: “make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?” There are times when we aren’t ready to be strong, but we must be. This scene brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it, and I have watched it a lot.
It’s the wherewithal of one woman to challenge the status quo, to do something rebellious but good, to make a change where and when she can. The character of Buffy Summers doesn’t have a perfect life and starting with season one, she experiences loss and this theme repeats. She’s flawed and in many ways, she’s fragile. But she comes back time after time to slay her demons, both literally and figuratively.
I’ve been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer since it debuted in 1997 and today, I still watch it for the same reasons. Buffy inspires me. If I’m having a bad day, I can watch one of my favorite episodes and feel better. Need a grading break? Stressed? Feeling blue? Feeling good? Need to kick ass and take names? Listen to the theme. (Seriously. I highly recommend this. I met my fastest goal while running to this song.) A few years ago, my husband bought me the comics that continue where the television show ended. Buffy and I still hang out.
(ABOVE: Buffy t-shirt)
I watched Buffy Summers go from a high school student that desperately wanted a “normal” life to a self-sufficient woman who knew exactly what she was. What teenage girl doesn’t long for “normal” because we’re all “abnormal” between the ages of 14 and 18, particularly in high school? What young woman doesn’t start her first job out of college thinking “what in the hell am I doing here? I don’t have this!”
Many times, I have thought to myself, “are you ready to be strong?” And the answer has been “yes”, no matter how many times I wanted it to be “no”. I feel that this question is relevant today more than ever.
I’ve been considering what matters to me and what I’m willing to fight for. “Are you ready to be strong?”
Once again, yes.
(BELOW: No school bag is complete without a Buffy button.)
“Chosen” Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Seven, written by Joss Whedon, directed by Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, 2003.