Home / Meta / Rants / A Rant About Buffy Fanfic
I love Angel and Buffy. I'm addicted to the shows, I refuse to work the nights that they're on, and, as those of you who are fans of this website probably know, I can't stop writing fanfic about it (or at least a certain cute leather-wearing couple).
I also enjoy reading various forms of Buffyverse fanfic. I love some of the concepts, I adore some of the authors, and I like anything which helps me with the cravings between episodes.
However (and you knew this was coming), there are some things about it that have just got to go or I may lose my mind. Since I lack an order of monks and a spell to erase these things out of people's memories, I'm stuck with ranting about them. Fortunately, that's what I do best.
Let's start with the major one:
per·fect (pûr f kt) adj.
Guess what I'm about to say? People - PERFECT HAPPINESS. Buffy gave Angel PERFECT HAPPINESS. I'll grant it could have only lasted for a second, or just for the time it took to have sex (which, arguably, could also have been a second for all we know) but it happened.
1. Lacking nothing essential to the whole; complete of its nature or kind.
2. Being without defect or blemish: a perfect specimen.
3. Completely suited for a particular purpose or situation: She was the perfect actress for the part.
4. Excellent and delightful in all respects: a perfect day.
happiness (Hap"pi*ness) n.
1. Good luck; good fortune; prosperity.
2. An agreeable feeling or condition of the soul arising from
good fortune or propitious happening of any kind; the
possession of those circumstances or that state of being
which is attended enjoyment; the state of being happy;
contentment; joyful satisfaction; felicity; blessedness.
What does this mean? It means that at no time in your story should the phrase "Angel realized that he had never truly been happy with Buffy." should appear - or anything like it! You can say he fell out of love with her, you can say she fell out of love with him, you can say that he loves her in one way and loves whomever he's with now in another, you can say he realized that even if the happiness clause was removed from his curse he and Buffy still would never have a healthy relationship. But you can not say that Buffy didn't make him happy, that he didn't really love her, or that she had really been a "poor substitute" for somebody else. Why? PERFECT HAPPINESS. Read the above definitions of the two words and adjust your fic accordingly.
There is no "E" in "CHILD"!
Stop with the "childe". Really, just stop. And for the love of all that is holy and made of chocolate put the "N" back in "children"! Unless you can cite me the shooting script in which "childe" and "childre" appears I assure you these spellings are not canon. Buffyverse vamps use "sire" to mean the vamp who made them (eg Angelus was Dru's sire) or an older vamp in their family line (eg Angelus to Spike) but they do not use "childe" or "childre"! I'll grant that Angelus & company have at least canonically been shown referring to themselves and being referred to by others as a family (Gunn, in Reunion: "The granddaughter re-made the grandmother?" Dru, in Darla: "His head's too full of you, Grandmother." Darla: "Stop calling me that.") but not once did "childe" come up in any of many, many opportunities. (Angel, re: Dru, in Reunion: "She said she was having a baby?" Lanlord, re: Dru, in Reunion "She insisted her daughter would be born near the stars." Dru, in Reunion: "Aren't you grandmother, my daughter?" and "Baby's up from her nap.")
And, quite frankly, even if you had to use the word "child" why the "e"? Really? What's it adding? Is this to clarify that it's not the vamp's biological child, as though somehow we were going to be confused on that matter? In which case should we be adding an "e" to "mother" and "father" too? I mean it's all so confusing what with me not being able to see the obvious facts and all.
So help me if I find the person who started the "childre" thing. I may start hitting them and never stop.
First off: ew. Second: what? People, vamps are room temperature. That means the temperature of the room. Granted, unless you're in the middle of LA in August with no air conditioning the room temperature will be some amount of degrees cooler than the human 98.6, but it does not mean that vampires are walking ice cubes. Here's a trick - get a glass of tap water. Sit it on your desk. Leave it there for an hour or so. Come back and drink it. Is it cold? No - it's room temperature. Unless your A/C is powerful enough to cool your house so that it feels like the inside of your fridge, room temperature is not that cold. And you are not so warm that pouring room temperature water on your body - even a highly blood-filled part of your body - will make you shiver and think "Ooh, chilly!"
Angelus, the teddy bear
I give credit to Mer for pointing out this disturbing trend to me. Picture it: Angelus. In a story. Paired with whomever. Could be Buffy, could be Wes, could be Willow. Doesn't matter. He's getting ready to go be with the person in question and - he pauses. Thinks. Feels uncertain because - maybe they don't love him too!
Apparently there's a whole bunch of stories out there which feature Angelus as this shy, uncertain, overly romantic dupe with a tender streak a mile wide. Which would be fine, except he's nothing like that.
Angelus is evil. He's nasty. He's been tested by the Judge and proven to be completely devoid of any humanity. He has no word for "fluffy". He's not a nice guy, okay?
Now if you want to make him one you go nuts. That's part of the fun of fanfic. I'll buy Angelus as a secret fan of mushy romance novels and Beanie Babies if you give me enough of a backstory to prove it. But you can't start there.
And what makes this trend especially stupid is that (again thank you, Mer) it's not as though you're lacking a resource here. If you want to write about a vampire with dark hair, an overly black wardrobe, brown eyes, a bloodlust yet pair it with a goofy, tender personality you can. We like to call that character Angel. If you're so set on writing about this part of the guy's personality, why are you picking Angelus? That's like saying you want to write about Willow except you'd like her to have blond hair, a hatred of school and a destiny to be the Chosen One. Honestly - we've got a character who takes care of that. You're allowed to use that one. You're actually supposed to use that one.
Have you met the characters?
I know we all have different interpretations of the characters. Some people like Buffy, others hate her. Some people think Wes is a priss, others think he's got good leadership skills. It's all good in the end - as long as it's supported by the text (or picture, as the case may be).
What do I mean? Wes has strong feelings about Angel. You can call them slash, you can call them hero-worship, you can call it a "there but for the Grace of God" touchstone, but you can't say he doesn't have them.
Angel loved Buffy - putting aside the issue of him possibly loving someone else for the purpose of your fanfic, for the entire three seasons that he and Buffy were together He Loved Her. He didn't think of her as a bitch (Angelus maybe, Angel no). He didn't love somebody else instead of her (in addition to, possibly, but not instead). And he sure as Hell didn't love somebody more than her (see my Perfect Happiness rant above).
You see what I mean. Interpret the canon however you want but you can't ignore it. You can stop it at any point you want (eg "This story takes place in season 2 Buffy, before Angel lost the soul") but you can't catagorically deny what came before.
You also can't ignore what canon gives you. Cordelia has a nickname - it's Cordy, and it's used by a select few. It's not Cor and it's not Delia.
Angel and Angelus draw. Spike used to write poetry. If you're writing a story in which Angel is writing a poem to Spike you've gotten your vamps mixed up.
Angel's mortal name was Liam. He's told nobody this except, presumably, Darla. There's good reason for this. If he's using that name in your story there better be a real good reason for it.
I could go on but you get the idea. There are some things in canon which are blatantly obvious and you have to abide by them. Frankly this rule applies to all fanfic but it bears repeating in this one too.
Is that all?
I don't know. I'm sure I'm forgetting something. God knows there've been enough things that have driven me to the phone in the middle of a fic to scream my frustration out to fellow Buffyverse friends.
What I want to stress though is that I'm not putting down anybody in particular. Honestly I love the fandom. I just don't understand why so many silly things are allowed to perpetuate in it. There's so many great authors out there who don't need these crutches. I wish they'd put them down - and in some cases burn the evidence - and start over. Then I wouldn't need to weep bitter tears and wonder if somebody needs to start a Yahoogroup called "Buffyfic_no_E".