„Why not just put what you know on top of what you like? It‘s also a sandwich.“
from the book of Dietmar Dath: She is awake. About a girl who helps, protects and saves.
/ Implex Verlag, 2003
This website is a Scroll-and-Click Adventure about Claudia Holzinger, growing up in the bavarian countryside watching the series „Buffy - The Vampire Slayer“ on TV.
It‘s about teenage nightmares, the demons in the mirror, acne, nuclear family, school and anger management as well as the good, the bad, the bold, the shy and the whole rainbow of greys between.
I started working on the series in late 2020. I was in the middle of the 3rd season of „Buffy - The Vampire Slayer“ as well as in the 2nd german lockdown of a global pandemic, when I was kind of beamed back in the living room of my parent’s house in upper Bavaria, sitting in front of the TV in the age of 13 on a Saturday afternoon.
Being a child and then teenager, I mostly felt like not having a voice, not having a counting opinion or a choice to do or not do things. I knew, I wanted to escape the narrowness of village life and it‘s toxic hierarchies, but had no clue about how to do that.
I remember discussions with older generations of my family, about whether it even makes sense for me to go to university, since nobody needs a diploma to be a housewife and mother. (Why do so many people think that girls are born and can simply “do the housekeeping”? Nobody instinctively knows how to cook, clean, iron, wash - these are things that have to be learned. And so is raising children.)
„She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer.“ These words are an element of the opening narrative of „Buffy - The Vampire Slayer“ in some seasons and are repeated often in individual episodes.. They helped me a lot, to get over the „Prince on the white horse“ - images, Disney placed into my head, to forget about the dream of a man, who will be my savior and cut the locks, that limit me.
These words helped me to understand, that I am the only one who has the power to change things and that this is not just a possibility, but my duty.
In February 2021 Charisma Carpenter, who played the character of Cordelia Chase in the series, accused Joss Whedon, both author and director of „Buffy - The Vampire Slayer“, for creating a toxic work environment as well as abusing his power in numerous occasions.
Whedon, who not only created the strong and self-determined character of Buffy, but also presented himself as a feminist whenever possible, has shown a world in the narrative of the series, that turned out to be very far away from the reality on the set.
As this news reached me, I questioned myself, if it is still possible to publish my series and to show something, that very much harmed those involved in its creation, as a positive and empowering moment in my story.
Watching the series changed and so has watching me, watching the series.
Still it‘s very hard for me to neglect the importance of Buffy and her friends as the empowering female characters, that showed me a new horizon behind bavarian acres. Which leads to a question, that is not new, but fortunately asked more and louder in recent past:: Can you – and should you – separate the art from the artist?
As I think, this is a question everyone should answer theirselves always anew, I for myself, find it very hard to draw a line. Perhaps that‘s also, because I am an artist myself and I am my work and my work is me. Still I am more connected to characters and narration of the series, than I am to the real process of making the series and also if I am actively trying to counteract being a fan, there‘s a bond that sits deeper than mind.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played the main character Buffy, posted on Instagram:
„While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don‘t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon. I am more focused on raising a family and surviving a pandemic currently, so I will not be making any further statements at this time. But i stand with all survivors and am proud of them speaking out.“ This obsiously showed that she, being involved in both, the character and the making of the series, decided to draw a line between the creator and the created in this specific case, the case of „Buffy - The Vampire Slayer“.
The abuse on mistreatment on the set, is not the only reason to not put the series on a pedestal. Throughout all seasons, it lacks ethnic diversity. Also the missing processing and classification of a rape scene in season 6 or the lack of variety in body shapes, are examples of why „Buffy - the Vampire Slayer“, cannot and never was, a role model across the board.
I tried to treat „Buffy - The Vampire Slayer“ as a collection of material and create something new out of it. Something very personal, but also something, others can take a positive moment, a forgotten truth, a slight reminder of how it felt, to be a teenager and hopefully a laugh out of.
I am very sorry for Charisma Carpenter, Michelle Trachtenberg, Eliza Dushku, Amber Benson and Ray Fisher for having experienced abuse and mistreatment through the person Joss Whedon. I admire and thank Charisma Carpenter for her courage to make her experiences public and thus to support others, who have experienced the same or similar.
Charisma Carpenter: How to be an Ally of Victims of Abuse