Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Buffy slays, remains relevant 20 years after airing

Gwen Snyder

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On March 10, 1997, Buffy Summers first began slaying vampires on TV. For six years, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” remained groundbreaking, airing episodes on national TV displaying queer relationships, sexual abuse, subverted gender roles and more. As young adults emerging in society, we must look back at the lessons we were raised with. Twenty years later, Buffy retains the same relevance it always has, but we must continue to pay attention.

With more than 200 scholarly articles studying “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” it is clear this show did something important. Scholars have looked at postmodernism in Buffy, the philosophy of truth, political comparisons with the U.S. War on Terror and even the significance of classic Buffy slang, citing important linguistic quotes such as “love makes you do the wacky.” Through many lenses, scholars are touching on the same truth: Beyond its ridiculous late ’90s special effects and subpar costume makeup, Buffy captures a truth about humanity that few shows have successfully grasped before or since.

Part of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” appeal lies in the fact that all of the monsters she and her friends face are allegories for real life monsters. Vampires lurking at night go after young women dancing at the local nightclub, The Bronze. Buffy’s best friend Willow discovers she is a witch. First, this serves as a metaphor for her discovering her sexual orientation, which was also historic in that it showed the first lesbian kiss in TV history. The metaphor transforms over time and becomes a drug addiction. Though we can’t zap people with lightning bolts or change into a cuter outfit with a Latin spell, most young adults, especially on Tulane’s campus, can understand the relevance of substance addiction in college.

Beyond these life challenges, Buffy combats a Big Bad each season. In the third season, this enemy is the town’s mayor. Buffy rallies her friends and classmates and together, everyone fights against this self-interested mayor on graduation day. The show sets up an impressive moral of rallying together to defeat corrupt authority figures. In 1999 Sunnydale, that means torching the school to stop the mayor from doing an ancient ritual to turn himself into a demon so he can be immortal. In 2017, that could mean many things, but it definitely encourages youth activism and engagement in local issues.

Tulane students can look to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as an excellent example for how to cope with young adulthood. Buffy may be equipped with supernatural slayer powers, but at the end of the day, she is just a young woman dealing with the same everyday stresses as the rest of us. She explores her comfort level in college hookup culture, struggles to pass her classes while maintaining her social life and extracurriculars – as unique as they may be – and handles grief, relationships and sexism. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” tells a common, relatable story through fantasy that still rings true 20 years later.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Sarah is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
Buffy slays, remains relevant 20 years after airing