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Just Say No to people who don't get why the S6 Willow-crack sucked...
{Ok, because it's come up, lemme clarify the title -- it should really be "Just say "Huh?" to people who don't think the S6 Willow-crack sucked and don't seem to comprehend the opposing argument, regardless of whether they agree or disagree." It's more accurate, though less pithy.}

Interesting blog post on "tell me what makes BtVS so shiny", but in the comments, there are a couple of folks who -- even after what's wrong with the addiction metaphor {according to some of us} has been explained and re-clarified -- keep earnestly telling us that it's not really about addiction; it's about power.

They're making me tired. Yes, we know it was supposed to be about power, and in the opening and closing episodes of the season, they did manage to take it there, but what these people are seeing is the story that ME wanted to tell, instead of the one they told. In a way that's a compliment to those viewers, since it speaks well of their ability to engage with the intentions of the writers, and it even shines a little reflected glory back on Marti & Co. in that they at least managed to show most of us where they were trying to go. It's just... Smashed/Wrecked/Gone, the Willow/Tara parts of Older & Far Away... they failed at telling the story that (it seems, we hope, etc.) ME was trying to tell. They used too many literal references to drugs that didn't track to the reasons why someone would be addicted to power, and the side-effects thereof.

Plus as has been pointed out before (by TBQ among others) they muddied the use of magic as a metaphor for power corrupting, by also using it as a metaphor (or code, at least) for Big Gay Love in Season 4. I'm not sure they really shifted from one meaning to the other (magic=forbidden relationships to magic=use and abuse of power) because there were magic/power issues as far back as Fear Itself and Something Blue, but the Willow/Tara courtship, as much as I love it, er. Crossed the streams? Made it that much harder, anyway.

Personally I think part of the confusion (magic=love, magic=bad and something you can get addicted to and/or give up cold turkey) comes in because magic=forbidden love is Tara's metaphor, and magic=power/respect/not-being-a-sidekick is Willow's. It's a tangly web ME weaves when they put the two meanings together. They do have their moments of meeting beautifully -- I'm Under Your Spell is probably the highest point, at once a glorious and boundary-pushing scene of love/sex/character-portrait of Tara, and a sickbadwrong mirror image when you remember/realize that it's all happening literally under Willow's spell, and what does that say about their relationship and both of their personalities?

I think the juxtaposition, intentional or not, ultimately fails because Tara's metaphor gets buried and forgotten as she buys into the Spells Anonymous thing, supporting Willow "going clean" as if you can or should go clean of something that's a part of you and often desperately needed by the people around you, instead of learning to deal with it responsibly. I'm not saying a season of Willow in therapy was the way to go -- the Learn By Explosion plot needed to happen. But nobody {on the show}, including the alleged voices of reason, seemed to have the right end of the stick as regards what was wrong with Willow.

I... had a point. Didn't I? Oh yeah -- that the people who are defending the Magic Crack arc seem to be missing the point that most of us who call it a flop and get righteously indignant about it aren't doing so because we missed the point that it's all about power. We're doing it because we know it's all about power, and we were waiting for ME to do something with that, and... they gave us Willow And Amy Go To The Crack Den And The Bad Man Touches Them Inappropriately, Be Sure To Watch It With Your Children And Discuss It Afterwards, We'll Give You A Study-Guide.

(And now that I've got the requisite afterschool special gag in, lemme say that it's actually the post-Wrecked AA storyline, and the fact that Tara bought into it, that pissed me off most. Not the Rack-den thing. For someone like Willow, Spells Anonymous would be the same thing as Breathing Anonymous -- an issue they only finally played with in Season 7, with mixed success due to none of the storylines in Season 7 having anything like the right pacing or cohesiveness.)

[Insert clever conclusion here]


2004-12-13 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Although you could argue that Tara didn't view it so much as a tool, but as a responsibility that came with a host of responsibilities and ethics. I've always argued that Tara was Wicca because she including that ethical element in spellcasting and that Willow was simply a Witch because magic was merely a means to an end without that ethical underpining. Which is another debate for another day.

That's totally the way I was looking at it too. Tara saw it as a code of ethics and I think as a religion, though that aspect was downplayed. I just got the impression (and admittedly some of that's probably backlash from the fanon of Tara The Mother Goddess) that Tara was actually feeling like she was in contact with and politely asking for things from the gods, while Willow was "Hey, if I say these words, and put enough will into it, various entities will do what I want. Cool!"

1) When Anya attacked Willow for not using her talents to help, they didn't know they were vengence demon victims and that there was nothing Willow could do; 2) Willow was willing to let them all die of starvation (which would have happened), that is if the demon trapped with them didn't get them first; 3) You could bet your ass that if Tara or Willow were directly threatened, Willow would've tried something magic-y to get them out of it.

Yesyesyesyesyes. Plus at that point Redshirt Boy as already dying, I think, so it wasn't just starvation and the risk of being gotten by the demon, but someone who was already in severe danger if they didn't get him to a hospital. I admired Tara's dedication in trying to protect Willow, but I thought she was so totally wrongheaded in doing it, and just wanted to give Anya a hug.

It makes even less sense that the magic=crack thing was swept away right in the very first episode of S7 and not one of the characters for the rest of the season expressed concern about Willow going crack addict again if she did magic. In fact, Buffy verbally spanked Willow for being afraid of using magic.

I think what they were trying to do was have Giles as Voice of God saying that either a) the magic crack theory was on crack, they'd all been wrong, and she could not avoid magic, because it was a part of her or b) after Willow took all that magic into her, she became something different than she was before, and now could not avoid magic, because it was a part of her.

Unfortunately they were a) coy about it so (I think) they didn't have to admit that we were supposed to take the Crack theory as the intended truth and now they were changing heir minds and b) didn't give enough attention to the issue once Willow had to go home early. Plenty of Willow worrying about whether she'd go bad if she used magic, but not enough about why it was ok for her to use 'good' magic.