Essay for Buffyversemeta community

Jul 17, 2007 13:50

Written for Buffyversemeta metathon

Title: Ten Years of Buffy and Spike
Summary: Spuffy fanfiction is invariably popular. Why?
Spoilers: All BtVS seasons.
Word count: around 1200
Notes: Thanks for latestartercds for beta work. I'd be happy to hear from other fans, whether they agree or disagree. Usually I post within Spuffy community and share my thoughts with like-minded people. I'd love to know outside opinions.
I'm awed. So many brilliant essays, great authors, fresh and original ideas worthy of academic publications. I feel humbled and a bit uneasy. Still, I offer my notes of the subject I've been passionate about for the last 5 years: the phenomenon of Spuffy fanfiction. I don't feel competent enough to talk about other characters and couples, unfortunately.

Ten years ago Buffy and Spike have met onscreen. Four years ago the show has ended. Yet Spuffy fanfiction is still popular. There is a lot of currently active Spuffy archives (see the list below). A lot of Spuffy stories appear on LJ, and other portals. Why? Here's my take.

Buffy and Spike are a writer's dream. All great stories revolve around a conflict, and in the case of Buffy and Spike you don't have to invent a conflict. They *are* the conflict. A ficwriter can put them in the same room, then relax and watch them banter. Add Angel into the mix - in five minutes he'll be begging them not to kill each other.

Buffy and Spike are a reader's dream. Funny, angsty, sweet, snarky, innocent, smutty - Spuffy is a ship that can be successfully written in any genre and for every taste.

Buffy and Spike are an essayist's dream. It's the ship that embodies the ideology of Jossverse - irreverence, rebel spirit and love as the corner stone of the universe. Buffy and Spike's relationship is the emotional throughline of the show. They are the Tricksters of Jossverse, subversive elements that undermine and erode official black-and-white ideology whether it's imposed by Council or by vampire rules. Spike is a vampire version of Buffy. Buffy is a slayer version of Spike.

Buffy and Spike are reflections of each other. They are those who dare. They are those who defy common rules. Those who change the world. But as like charges they always repel each other. So these two beings, who are made for each other, fight so much that they almost destroy themselves. After all, they are natural enemies. Their affair is transgressive. They hide it from others. They are ashamed of what happens between them (a fact that makes Spuffy the most slashy of het couples). And there are really ugly moments in the relationship.

There was a lot of complaints that the Spuffy relationship was *too* controversial, particularly in season 6. But true art is always controversial. Art thrives on pain and conflict. The basic rule of storytelling is to make the audience suffer as much as possible if you want to create a truly compelling story. And fans suffered! We suffered when writers showed us a glimpse of Spuffy greatness in Something Blue and left us desperately craving for more, more, more! We suffered, when Spike tried to kiss Buffy in Fool For Love and she said that he was beneath her. We suffered when Spike tied up and threatened Buffy in Crush. We suffered when Buffy died. We suffered in season 6 when they were hurting each other. We suffered in season 7 because it was crystal clear that Joss would kill Spike in the finale.

The resilience of this ship is phenomenal. Fandom frustrations fueled imagination and creative urges which helped Spuffy ship to survive the bad, the very bad and the very ugly. The ship got tempered by the controversies and became stronger. Granted, fans suffered, but it was such enriching suffering! We were communicating online, arguing, finding friends, learning Photoshop, reading and writing fanfiction...

But I digress. Back on the subject, I noticed some interesting patterns.

-- Spuffy fics are very plotty. They may be plainly written, they may be lacking oh-so-elegant descriptions of characters and their feelings, but they usually have the most unusual and inventive plot twists. At least, that's my impression. Buffy and Spike travel in time, end up in parallel dimensions, become victims of different spells, swap bodies, swap gender, meet other versions of themselves, lose memories, lose and acquire souls. Many ships are about destination. Spuffy is about journey.

-- The most common Spuffy plot bunny is "take two", giving the characters another chance, doing it over again. The point of departure may be any episode, even one lacking Spike in the canonical version.

“Spike: Am I wrong?
Buffy: Everything about you is wrong, Spike.”

She is right. About wrong. But the more wrong they are the bigger is the desire to fix them. Practically every scene with them begs for a re-write or a development with a twist. Practically every scene without Spike begs for his intervention of sardonic commentary.

-- Spuffy is that rare couple that works both as a tragedy and as a comedy at the same time. It's the inherent quality of the ship. Canon Buffy and Spike feel at home in funny as well as in dramatic episodes of the show. So it's natural that, when they cross over to fanfiction, they may instantly switch from fluffy to angsty. Spuffy is laughter through tears, like sunbeams in the rain creating a multicolored rainbow of possibilities.

-- There are many Buffies and there are many Spikes in the fanon. Each author sees them differently - which is not surprising, because even Mutant Enemy writers saw them differently. I remember Simon saying once that Whedonverse has the most fragmentized fandom and me replying that it's because Whedonverse is boundless and everybody can find something for his\her taste. I think the same could be applied to Spuffy. Shipwise, character-wise, plot-wise, Buffy and Spike offer such an enormous wealth of possibilities that writers imagination goes into overdrive.

You want to read tales of passion, ecstasy and pain? You have dark, angsty stories with inventive plot twists, psychological insights, great character voices.

You're in the mood to read fluff? There is a lot of funny Spuffy fiction with the couple facing the most hysterical situations, and both Buffy and Spike are absolutely in character.

You love Victorian romance? You can read sweet Buffy\William fics that offer interesting character studies.

You crave for pwp? Um... I'm not an expert, but you can easily find a lot of NC-17 fics in which Buffy and Spike defy the laws of gravity and physiology.

Officially Buffy and Spike belong to Mutant Enemy, Fox and Joss Whedon. But in cyberspace they're folk heroes. And, like true folk heroes, Buffy and Spike are boundless.

One more thing. The much-maligned ending. For me, it's perfect. Back in 2002-2003 when I was watching season 7, and it was pretty obvious that Joss would kill Spike off ("can we rest, Buffy?") I wondered if it was possible to surpass the angst-fest of Becoming 2. It seemed a hard task - but Joss delivered. Not only had he plunged a knife in our hearts - he had twisted it with a sadistic glee. On the scale of heartbreak, the Spuffy ending rivals (and, arguably, surpasses) the pinnacle of the Buffy\Angel storyline at the end of season 2. On the scale of wank interpretation it's even bigger. It disturbs and makes one crave for more. It inspires.

Great love stories never end up happily. It's the impossibility of being together that makes them great love stories. This is why I don't want a happy reunion. I want to want a happy reunion. Because if the writer gives it to me, I'll have nothing to dream anymore. So - kudos to Joss and kudos to all the fans who keep the dream alive.
Here are the links to the most interesting Spuffy archives I know.

Vampire's Kiss
Elysian Fields
The Spuffy Realm
The House of Bloodshed
Sweet Temptation (AU)
Dark Solace
Sinister Attraction
Buffy and Spike Diaries

And archives with great Spuffy stories

All About Spike
Better Buffy Fiction Archive
The Crypt
Bloody Awful Poet Society
Just Rewards
Blondie Bear

meta, essay, spuffy

Previous post Next post