Dec 2 2010

Buffy without Whedon isn't a crime or a tragedy

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It is all over the fan press, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is going to get remade.  The twist (as far as it's been reported) is that Joss Whedon isn't going to be involved. This has a lot of fan-panties in a bunch. And just today I saw a "No Whedon, No Buffy" petition floating around with over 2000 signatures on it.

Frankly the tragedy here isn't that Joss isn't going to be involved it is that some studio is trying to wring another drop of creativity cash from an old idea rather than investing a new one. Lots of screenwriters, moviemakers and stroes from other media could be made into films, but the big studios are still focussed on the Big Movie = Big Profits idea that has served them so poorly in the past. Probably becase when it wins big it wins really big.  But as MGM will tell you it isn't always sound business strategy.

Joss apparently passed on this back in 2009 when his involvement was solicited.I don't know if they had the script from this new writer, Whit Anderson when they approached him or if theywanted him to write it.  Either way, his involvement was sought and he turned them down.  Joss doesn't own the rights to Buffy any more than he owns the rights to Firefly or any of his other projects (with the exception of Dr. Horrible).

Being out of joint because somebody else is having a take on Buffy is like getting put out because somebody other than Stan Lee is writing Spiderman! Heaven forbid that another artist other than Jack Kirby draws the Fantastic Four. The bottom line is that Buffy as a character is owned by a corporate entity.  That entity can do what they want with it.

I, for one, think that it could be interesting to see another take on the character.  Like in the comics whenever a new creative team takes over you sometimes get interesting aspects of a character that may have always been present but less emphasised brought forward. Think of how Christopher Nolan's Batman differs from Tim Burton's or Paul Dini's (Batman the Animated Series). The Coen Brother's Rooster Cogburn will differ significantly from John Wayne's portrayal but it is still the character created by Charles Portis in his novel.

This is still Buffy, and it is still the character that Joss created. If you love the character then let someone else play with it and expose more of the brilliance that is built into it from the beginning.  You can point to Joss and say "look at this great thing that he created" and see how it grows and multiplies as more and more people expand it again in new directions.

The bottom line is that taking the sttitude that the only person who can ever create for Buffy is Joss diminishes the excellent work that others (like Jane Espenson and Christopher Golden just to name two) have and will continue to do with the character.Let somebody else have a go at it and wait until they have finished the attempt to give it a fair chance. Judging it sight unseen or in based on rumours and tabloid journalism is unfair and unproductive.

Once the new Buffy is finished you can then judge it on its individual merits without forgetting the Buffy that Joss created (and you still love). Face it, in this world of multiple media you have to juggle multiple interpretations of a lot of different characters, why not one that is (relatively) new and who has a pretty huge (144 episodes and who knows how many comics+books and 1 movie) continuity with a single creative director.

This new Buffy won't replace the original one.  It is just a new take, and that can't be a bad thing.  Even if its only role may be to make us appreciate what we had more.