Okay, Scoobies, if you’re in a nostalgic mood and wish to travel back to the halls of Sunnydale High, BBC Radio 4’s ‘Front Row’ has a special that demands your ears.
Hosted by Buffy fanatic Naomi Alderman, this special looks at the history of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and the impact the TV show has on popular culture. You can listen to interviews with creator Joss Whedon, Anthony Head (Giles), as well as famous fans such as writer Neil Gaiman.
Gaiman brings an interesting perspective to the program, as he’s asked (as he often is) what it takes to create a strong female character. Whereas so much of pop culture sculpt strong women to have extremely toned biceps and your witty one-liners, Gaiman believes Buffy’s strength comes from the people surrounding her:
“It’s worth pointing out that people, unfortunately, misunderstand the phrase ‘strong women.’. The glory of Buffy is it was filled with strong women. Only one of those strong women had supernatural strength and an awful lot of sharpened stakes. And people sort of go, ‘Well yes, of course Buffy was a strong woman. She could kick her way through a door.’ And you go, ‘No, that’s not actually what makes her a strong woman. You’re missing the point.”
As “strong woman” Carrie Bradshaw would say, “I couldn’t help but wonder…”
Yes, I couldn’t help but wonder are we, as pop culture enthusiasts, misunderstanding the phrase “strong woman”? What if, when it comes to science fiction and genre television, we’re considering all female characters to be “strong” just by virtue of their presence? (After all, we need something to fill our Top Ten lists…)
And what’s the deal with using the terminology “strong”? Buffy wasn’t just strong. She was vulnerable, funny, friendly, angry, hopeless and above all, dynamic. She was a full-fledged character. It was those qualities, her human qualities, that made audiences fall in love with her. I’ve yawned through many dull characters kill vampires and it doesn’t pack the same punch.
I feel like Hollywood and fans are constantly trying to find the next “strong female” character. What about finding the next STRONGLY WRITTEN female character?
You can listen to the full program here or check out Gaiman’s thoughts below!