Poor White Trash Rampant on a Field of Garbage
Investing in Spuffy
I've been thinking about why I care about Spike and Buffy (known in fandom as Spuffy), why I care about their relationship, why I am so heavily invested in these characters. I admit I found the pairing erotic, from the Spike's unwilling obsession to the smoochies to the sex. It all seemed even more sensual because I felt an emotional connection with the characters and because James Marsters' acting made me fascinated with Spike and his Object of Desire, the Slayer. But it wasn't just the sex. It wasn't just the love story. I think I care about Spike and Buffy because I want them to validate certain beliefs important in my own moral universe.
Spike does not exist. Buffy does not exist. Vampires, demons, and the
Buffyverse do not exit. They are only symbols. They touch me because they
represent certain archetypes that I recognize. They interest me because
they represent something basic about the human condition. They seem stripped
down to a pure, primitive meme already hardwired into my brain so when
I'm faced with it, it settles into my synapses like I've recognized the
face of an old friend.
Buffy represents the hero we all admire. Buffy is the bully we all fear.
Buffy is the damaged veteran who might go wacko at any moment. Unlike
Spike she's too important to be relegated to the shadows but too dangerous
to be fully integrated into society, as her problems in school, work and
relationships all show. It's-All-About-Me!Buffy is barely tolerable and
Strike-First-Think-Later!Buffy is a bomb waiting to go off. Her lack of
vulnerability makes her more hero than human, saving more out of duty
than empathy. Outside of a small circle of friends what does Buffy really
care about anyone? Not much more than Spike does. In "Gone"
invisible Buffy's treatment of people showed her true nature. She teased
and tormented and disrupted lives without any guilt at all. She keeps
saving the world because it's her duty, not because she cares about the
people in it.
Spike represents the bad boy, the bad man, the evil person, the criminal,
the sinner. To the fundies that characterization means that Spike must
always be EVIL. EVIL eternal and unchanging. Evil cannot change therefore
Spike cannot change. Evil must be destroyed, not reformed. But I believe
that people can change. So I believe that Spike can change. Spike symbolizes
the bad in all of us that we seek to transform into something better.
He represents every bad boy that ever reformed. Every evil man that was
ever transformed. Spike represents the cruel and ruthless King Asoka,
who, after he converted to Buddhism, attempted to create a just and humane
society, Asoka who became one of the most admirable rulers in world history.
Spike represents Paul, who persecuted, imprisoned and killed Christians
then was transformed into one of the greatest exponents of Christ's teachings.
People do change. And not just for the worse. So I want to believe that
Spike can change, can become a better person. Like I want to believe that
anyone, given the right circumstances, the right set of influences, can
change for the better. Even you or I.
I want to believe that Buffy can change as well. She's brutal and self-involved
but I believe that if she was ever able to feel any love, any empathy
for Spike, her alien enemy, that she would then be more open to love for
everyone else. I believe that Spike, with his blind devotion and love,
can be the influence that helps Buffy grow and change into a better person.
I also believe that Buffy can be the catalyst that helps Spike change.
Spike's love for Buffy has put him on the road him toward good, rocky
though that road might be. Three years ago he kidnapped Willow and threatened
to put a bottle through her face. Now Willow trusts him enough to leave
Buffy in his care in "Normal Again". Three years ago he knocked
Xander unconscious, kidnapped him and threatened to kill him if Willow
wouldn't do a spell for him. Now he and Xander work together to capture
the Glarga Ghul Gashminik demon. I want to believe that if people change
for the better then the people they harmed can forgive them. I want to
believe that enmity need not be eternal. I believe that Spike can change
because I want to believe that Spike can change. As the Upanishads say,
"As one acts and conducts himself, so does he become. The doer of
good becomes good. The doer of evil becomes evil. One becomes virtuous
by virtuous action, bad by bad action." Each good act that Spike
has performed has made him a better person regardless of whether he did
it to please Buffy or not. I want to believe Spike can change because
I want to believe that each of us can change.
As society becomes more secular, more post-Christian, the idea of forgiveness
seems to be slipping away. Today it all seems about accountability. Let's
make people accountable for everything they ever do, give them a permanent
record so that the theft of a quarter in kindergarten follows them to
the grave, labeling them a thief. Punishment. Retribution. Let's make
people pay. People who find those concepts appealing believe that Spike
cannot change, cannot be allowed to change. He must be punished for feeding
on people for 120 years. He can never be forgiven because that might allow
him to escape punishment. There was a time when almost everyone thought
that a change in person's heart could make a change in their life and
that when that occurred people were owed a new start, a new chance to
get it right. These days it seems that punishment, not reform, is the
goal, not just for unrepentant vampires but for everyone from junkies
But again, I WANT to believe that if people change they should be allowed
to start over fresh, without carrying the sins of the past with them.
I want to believe that if Spike is, let's used the word, "saved"
that he is not required to continually flagellate himself for the rest
of his existence. Salvation means forgiveness. Not retribution. Indeed,
if salvation didn't include forgiveness how would it differ from retribution?
When a person is saved their sins are washed away. Now I don't expect
Spike to have some Christian epiphany, or to walk down the aisle toward
some television preacher but I do hope he will achieve a quieter salvation
through his love for Buffy, and, hopefully, her love for him.
I already believe that Spike's love for Buffy has helped him to become
a better person. I believe that he would change even more, even totally,
if she actively tried to help him transform himself. He wants to change
for her. Look, Spike has taken up smoking in "Normal Again".
We've only seen him smoke once since before his love affair with Buffy
began. It was sad to see him backslide, especially since smoking is a
symbol of evil in the Buffyverse, but think of why he almost gave it up
while he and Buffy were together. Smoking can't hurt him, can't give him
cancer but he stopped smoking around Buffy because secondhand smoke could
hurt her. Spike stopped smoking around Buffy without her asking. What
more would he do if she only asked? People all over the world change their
life styles, their jobs, their countries, their politics, even their religions
to please those that they love. Someone I know, the first date he had
with a certain girl, she got him to flush all his drugs down the toilet.
A year later they were married and he's totally been a solid citizen and
dad for years. People change for those they love. Sometimes they are just
waiting for someone to want them to change. I want to believe that Spike
can change for Buffy. Because I want to believe that love can make a difference.
That loving can make you a better person, especially if the person you
love wants you to become a better person. I believe that Spike is only
waiting to be transformed by love. I believe that because I want to believe
that about us all.
Copyright Alllie 2002
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