(This post contains spoilers about both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Twilight Saga. If you don’t want some of the surprises from these stories revealed, please skip to the next post.)
So recently, I had someone (I won’t mention the name. I mean, I would be ashamed to have been heard saying something like this.) ask me, in a sarcastic, demeaning tone: “What’s the difference between Buffy and Twilight? It’s basically the same thing.”
After suffering both a mini stroke and a massive brain aneurysm, I did manage to stop my enraged, high-pitched keening, inane babbling, unrecognizable swear-word string of disturbed stammering long enough to take a calming breath of air or ten and remind myself that, while they were trying to be both petty and mean toward my love for fantasy and vampire stories, they had made the comparison out of ignorance of both titles, not out of horribly twisted observation.
Clearly, anyone who could come to such a conclusion has a) not seen Buffy, b) not read/seen Twilight, c) not seen either, or d) has seen both and is a complete and total moron incapable of objective thought. I knew this person was capable of objective thought, so d) was immediately removed from the table, allowing me to assume that the individual in question was simply ignorant concerning the topic(s) about which we were speaking. With this in mind, I still barely managed to not rip him/her another verbal new one.
To counteract my feelings of righteous rage, I’d like to take an introspective journey into the hearts of these two phenomenon, and say all the things I wish I’d had time to explain during the above mentioned conversation.
Shall we evaluate the most used comparison between these two stories? (The relationship between Bella/Edward and Buffy/Angel.) 1. Edward sits around watching Bella sleep at night. Um…freaking creepy. ‘Nuff said. 2. When Buffy and Angel evaluate their relationship, Angel realizes that it is not good for Buffy, and decides to break it off. They still love each other, so it is not easy. In fact, it is very painful, but he does it anyway because it’s what is best for her, for him, and the people around them. Buffy eventually accepts the result, realizing that Angel is correct. 3. When Edward determines that his obsession with Bella is bad for her, he breaks off contact with her. Instead of evaluating this for herself, Bella decides she literally cannot live without him and attempts to commit suicide. Wow. 4. Despite the fact that Angel still loves Buffy, when the opportunity to be with her lands in his lap, he chooses what is right over what he wants. 5. When Angel’s death will save the world, Buffy does what she has to do and FREAKING KILLS HIM, sending his soul to hell, because it must be done and it’s the right thing to do. Can you imagine the same scenario in Twilight? Bella wouldn’t do it. The world would be screwed.
I could go on, almost indefinitely, but I’ve got to cut this list somewhere. I think you get the idea concerning these two relationships.
Of course, the Buffy/Angel relationship was only a small piece of the Buffy whole. What else is different? Why don’t we talk about protagonists?
The only similarities between Buffy and Bella are that both names start with B and both almost get eaten by vampires a lot. Buffy is constantly putting her own life at risk to help/rescue others. Bella is constantly in need of being rescued because her relationship with Edward (from which Edward tried to remove her but she refused to allow) puts her at risk. Edward must always save her, because she certainly isn’t going to help. This isn’t a superpower thing. Buffy faces many enemies far more powerful than she but doesn’t accept defeat. She always finds a way either through sheer determination or the help of her FRIENDS, something of which Bella is devoid. Buffy is smart, resourceful, and strong. Bella is weak, pathetic, and apathy incarnate.
Of course, we could also compare the central themes, but, frankly, it would be a joke. Buffy has an almost unlimited number, while Twilight is about one thing.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a story about friendship, love, family, responsibility, sacrifice, overcoming abuse, the power of addiction, tragedy, failure, redemption (Spike’s story arc is one of the best in modern fiction), forgiveness, battling your demon’s (both the inner and outer!), determination, the value and empowerment of women, the strength of individuals, the strength in seeking support, loyalty, virtue, morality, humor, standing up for what you believe, admitting mistakes, letting go, leadership, and this struggle we call life.
Twilight is about how much women need boyfriends, and how weak and pathetic a woman is without one. (Exhibit A, Bella only becomes powerful in her own right after she is fully accepted by her boyfriend in the form of being turned into a vampire.) Twilight is about the romance, ONLY the romance, and a particularly twisted, disturbing one at that.
I could go on for DAYS, but I think you get the message. Plus, my hands are starting to cramp after such furious typing. If you couldn’t tell, this one got under my skin a bit. Of course, I didn’t have time to give this speech at the moment in question. Alas, all I had time to say to the individual was: “Your observation shows nothing but your ignorance of both stories. All I can recommend is that you watch Buffy, and, in the spirit of educating yourself in your own comparison, read or watch Twilight. Just stop for a while if you get too nauseous.”
In the end, Buffy and Twilight have two things in common: Vampires and werewolves. If you can’t see past the trappings of a story to see the quality underneath, then please, don’t lecture others on their choices in storytelling enjoyment.