Narrative in Buffy

Throughout much narrative history the action hero has been male and largely operates as an individual – Tarzan, Indiana Jones, James Bond etc.   The action hero embodies qualities of strength, bravery, ingenuity and individual self-reliance.   It is my contention that Buffy the Vampire Slayer rewrites these conventions, not merely in terms of gender but that the group dynamic that propels the narrative of the series modifies the masculine self-reliance that is more traditional.   I want to look at this specifically in relation to the ‘musical episode ‘Once More With Feeling’
Joss Whedon, the creator and show-runner, is a feminist.   As well as re-gendering the action hero as female, he situates her amongst a group of helpers that play particular roles in defeating the villain of the week, or season.   Given that the villain here is a ‘Dancing Demon’ that forces the inhabitants of Sunnydale to sing and dance in order to express their emotions, often against their will – many of the secrets that the ‘soapier’ relationship aspects of the series are concerned with, reveal themselves to both characters and audience.   The series of emotional revelations uncloak feelings about the nature of the characters’ feelings about their roles as part of the demon-defeating ‘scoobies’ and as human beings seeking their own pathway through life.   I will focus mainly on the aspects that relate specifically to aspects of the action hero.
Buffy affirms in the opening ‘number’ that she is ‘sleepwalking through her life’s endeavor’ – never gaining affirmation or satisfaction from her dispatch of demons and vampires – she performs the actions of a hero but does not feel heroic, she is ‘going through the motions’.   Her feelings about her calling are matched by her feeling about her love-life – the show often parallels horror/action plots with romantic/life themes – exploring through the metaphor of horror. Currently she has no boyfriend – Angel was dispatched to Hell, then Los Angeles , Riley...