Buffy Watch-With-Teen

You may already know that we’ve been watching Buffy/Angel, from the beginning. It took me some persuasion to get my son to start, but after the first episode, he was hooked. Yay, Geek Mom validation!

But it’s thrown up a curious thought.

Both series have dated really well. The special effects are very much of their time, of course, and Isaac’s been vastly amused by Willow’s computer equipment and skills, and by the absence of cellphones – all the technology that he grew up with and takes for granted, and that my generation remembers being without. But the characters and their roles, how they interact and fit together – outcasts and bullies, principals and princesses, social awkwardness and crushes and family tensions – they’re absolutely timeless, and they haven’t changed.

The thing that struck me, though, was his impatience. In any episode, he would keep asking me, ‘why’s that there, why does this happen, that doesn’t make sense’. And I would keep telling him: watch the story. Trust the narrative, relax into it and let it lead you. No writer – be they novel, script, comic – puts down a thread without picking it up again, it’s all part of the weave, and it’s all there for a reason.

Maybe it’s a generational thing – a good narrative is about creating tension, about building questions and answering them, and about finally making all those threads come together at the end. And, as our technology has changed, then so has our expectation – my son’s fifteen and perhaps he’s just so used to instant gratification that he feels adrift when its not there.

Rewatching them, though, has been magical – and seeing them through new eyes was like rediscovering all my favourite characters all over again. Isaac liked Spike (and will be attending MCM in suitable cosplay), and Faith; for me, it’s always been Wesley, as his character arc is just so fabulously extreme. It’s a tough call, though – as they’re all so good. Still!

On Gatekeepers

As you may have seen on Twitter this week, some of our stores are putting in a display of genuine Dark Crystal puppets, straight from Thra and from the BFI. And, having taken Isaac to see the BFI display over the summer holidays and been suitably struck with wonder and magic, it got me thinking… 

Skeksis Banquet, BFI

The Dark Crystal was one of those movies that introduced me to everything I loved. I was still in my teens, and I fell head over heels, transfixed by its beauty and by the sheer skill and artistry that had gone into putting it together. Thirty (cough) years later, being able to interact with it for real, and help to bring it to others… it’s everything I could ever have dreamed of doing.

On Twitter, @jaygooby then commented that he knew of many people in film and sfx who’d been introduced to their careers because of their love of the movie.

And so, I was thinking about gatekeepers.

Baffi the Fizzgig

What starts you on the path of loving genre? Which images, books, comics, films, characters, experiences opened that door for the first time? Maybe it was Discworld, or Harry Potter. Maybe it was Terminator, or The Matrix. When I was ten, my cousin lent me The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, (and I spent a whole summer lost in the sodding maze). And I know so many men and women, who not only loved the book as kids, but who are now introducing their own kids, in turn, to the same experience. 

Whatever those keys may be, they remain special. And much as some part of me is exasperated by the constant remakes that plague our every news outlet, somewhere, there’s still that teen who sat in the cinema – and who shivered when the urRu lifted their chant.