Feminism and “The Uncanny” in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The two theories that we have discussed in this class  that stood out to me the most when we were watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer was Feminism and the Uncanny. We see both of these things in different aspects in the show. For example, while Buffy the vampire Slayer certainly features a number of kick-ass female characters, the protagonist being the most important one. In the episode that we watched most definitely failed the Bechdel test. Seemingly every conversation that we see, whether between Willow and Buffy or Buffy and her mother even Darla and Buffy, it’s about a boy. Angel is the topic of almost every conversation in this episode, even before we see him in this episode. I think that while this episode fails the Bechdel test, it definitely emphases a strong female character. I definitely can appreciate a female protagonist that can kick butt and take names while sporting a cute outfit and the perfect shade of lip gloss.

Image result for buffy cute outfits

But mostly, what struck me was the use of the uncanny in the episode.  There are a several scenes that offer us a glimpse of the Uncanny in this episode. More specifically, I’d like to discuss the “unheimlich” or “unhomely” moments that we are given in this episode. The instance that I’d like to talk about is the scene where Buffy kisses Angel. Not only is this moment uncanny but unhomely as well. The uncanniness comes from the shock of this “angelic” man turning into this cursed monster. This familiar person turned unfamiliar in an instance. Secondly the unhomely aspect comes into play due to the location of the kiss. Because they are in her bedroom, this incident of Angel’s features transforming into the terrifying ones of the vampire lend the uncanny and unhomely nature to Buffy’s bedroom. The whole concept of a bedroom is one of comfort and peace, thus this uncanny transformation that Angel has makes her bedroom “unhomely” in that split second.

Image result for buffy the vampire slayer episode 7 season 1

Another moment of “unheimlich” is when we see Darla in Buffy’s home. This is an intrusion on the safe feeling that is offered even just by the word home. For most people, home conjures images and feelings of warmth and comfort. But if you are a vampire slayer and a vampire is in your home things suddenly feel less safe and comfortable. In the handout on the uncanny, we gets a quote that says, “Naturally, everything not everything that is new and unfamiliar is frightening, however; the relation is not capable of inversion. We can only say that what is novel can easily become frightening and uncanny; some new things are frightening but not by any means at all. Something  new has to be added to what novel and unfamiliar to make in uncanny.” This is exactly what we see happening in the episode that we watched in class.  All of these moments themselves are not uncanny or frightening until we have something “uncanny”, “unhomely” or frightening added to the equation. The final example that I want to talk about discusses more the “unhomely” than the uncanny. Towards the end of the episode we see Angel return to his “home” where he finds Darla. This is where we get the homely aspect of this moment. It’s already a rather uncanny moment due to the fact that both characters that we see are vampires. We see Angel’s home become “unhomely” when he finds Darla in his house because unlike with human’s homes she did not need an invitation into his home which lends us a more threatening feeling. This feeling of “unhomeliness” is further driven home when we see common household appliances changed to store what we can assume to be in blood. All in all, I think that this show offers us  a clear example of the concept “unhomely” that Freud was talking about.

Pictures: https://www.wonderlandmagazine.com/2017/03/10/seven-wonders-buffy-vampire-slayer/

http://buffy.wikia.com/wiki/Angel_(episode)

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