Buffy, Bella, or Britney

26 11 2008

In my world, you’re a Buffy, a Bella, or a Britney.

Last night I saw the movie Twilight at my local delapidated movie theater. Contrary to my expectations, it was entertaining and fun, aside from the series of inside jokes so often invoked in film adaptations. Was it a film adaptation of the Manifesta? No. But, it had important shades of grey.

BuffyWhat struck me was not how sexist or anti-feminist it was, but rather how decidedly middle of the road it was. Or, better put – its message was as confused as its target audience.

The tweens and teens I grew up with, in the ancient 90s, were mostly spoiled white children of richer-than-average-yuppie-corporate-moms and reformed-hippies-turned-homemakers. In the Buffyverse, they would be known as Cordelias. There was a smattering of Willows, but most non-Cordelias more closely resembled Faith. In many cases our moms were sort-of feminists, with a pragmatic twist. For others, well, the battle was a little more up-hill. What many of these young women had in common, however, was an ambivalence about the world and their role in it. Was it a struggle? Was it a playground? Was it a stage? Was it a series of problems waiting to be tackled? Was it a wasteland of people lining up to betray you? Was it waiting to be conquered, or to be overcome?

Britney

The questions a young woman asks herself around this age are near the beginning of a powerful journey into adult life and all that comes with it. For those of us raised in suburban, conservative, corporate households, with varying degrees of family dysfunctionality, the choice to even question the world around us can be perilous for our family harmony. It isn’t a step to be taken lightly, especially without supportive peers. Chances are, if you’re questioning the world in which you were raised, you’re also questioning the world that your friends enjoy – a delicate balancing act, to say the least.

Bella

The first steps of any jouney may appear indistinguishable from the first steps of another. What Twilight illustrates – without judgement – is the muddiness in which these first steps are made. Not every step will be a wise one and not every part of the journey will showcase your inner strength. Despite that, we drag ourselves out of bed, onto the bus, into each class, trying to find the next vine in the jungle.

Some of us gravitate toward Britney Spears, others cling to Buffy Summers, but almost all of us have had our Bella Swan moments. Twilight may not pick up where Buffy the Vampire Slayer left off, but it leaves open the opportunity to explore a world different from the one in which we were raised. For the children of conservative suburbia, even the smallest window can turn into a portal of salvation. Every step counts.

That being said, adult women who cross my path are basically in the Buffy, Bella, or Britney categories. At least the Bellas have a chance.

“Everything is life or death when you’re a sixteen year old girl.” – Joyce Summers

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