masqthephlsphr: (buffy)
Hi guys, been a while since I did a real post. Things are hoppin' around here.

Do you realize it's been 19 years since Buffy premiered? That means there are grownups walking around who weren't born when Welcome to the Hellmouth first aired. One wonders what they would think of Buffy if they watched it. Actually, one does not have to wonder. I recently heard from an 18-year-old fan who visited my website:

Hello, Masq.

I knew that AtPO was a part of me when I was holding the 79-page collection of manwitch's, “Buffy's Spiritual Journey.” It was for a friend who is slowly being introduced to (or indoctrinated in) BtVS, and I think it speaks to the staying power of the wonderful community that you created and oversaw that an 18 year old was moved to print something out in 2016. fl.ux is good for your eyes, but not that good.

With time, those pages will fade into musty goodness on his shelf, and he can think of Giles. “All you will get from me is my support. And my respect.”

I'm a philosophy major, in my first year of college, and I can tell you that your site and board archives helped kindle my fire for the field. I watched BtVS for the first time two years ago. It reached me at an important part of my life—one where I could almost think like an adult, but was still totally unaware about what being an adult meant, and equally wracked with confusion about how to get there. I was struggling to make sense of what being alive meant at all. The same circular thought loops kept cropping up. Why am I here? Why do I have this body? Is there a way out of Hume's critique of induction? BtVS, I guess, became a conduit out of my head and back into the world.

I believe the show's (the whole Buffyverse's) greatest strength, philosophically or otherwise, was its richly populated moral universe. To cite a few, quickly: Buffy seemed to follow Sartre. Angel, Kant. Spike was Nietzschean. Giles and Wes were consequentialists. Xander seemed to speak to the primordial ethics of family and loyalty to one's own. Anya didn't know what any of it meant.

Too often with other shows, even the others in Buffy's tier, the writers' own moral views erode the possibility of a populated moral universe in the vein of BtVS' or AtS'. The Sopranos, our other great existentialist drama, was marked by the idea that, while we can choose, we will all always choose the path of unenlightened self-furthering. Every character, save one, drilled this idea into our heads over and over, directly from David Chase. Mad Men says more or less the same thing, with perhaps slightly more variation. The West Wing clusters everyone on the opposite side, rarely questioning our innate goodness and civic responsibility. The Wire said we're all rats trapped in the maze, causally bound to be crushed by the social institutions we create. Breaking Bad is a one-act Greek tragedy, The Shield a three-act one; while both shows hold unwaveringly to the consequences of actions above all else, and in this way are morally powerful, they still cannot compare to the breadth or dynamism of BtVS or AtS.

Watching BtVS was one part of the equation, but Sophist's blog and AtPO played an equally important role. I lost days poring through the board's archives. I imagined what it would have been like to be there in 2003, debating Lies My Parents Told Me & Chosen as they were fresh. I became accustomed to the cadences of the regular posters, and felt I grasped slivers of their minds, slivers that they had elected to share with an unsuspecting world.

There is a gentle sweetness in inhabiting a fading community; the phrase “mono no aware” comes to mind. The deep empathy felt when you realize that there is no way around entropy and transience. It's like walking around in Tokyo without any people. Their marks, their passion and insight, what they cared about and what moved them, are omnipresent, but they already fade and grow hazy with time and distance.

Maybe this is naïve nostalgia or historical revisionism, but AtPO also took me back to a time when the Web and the promise of the radical liberation of information felt—radical. Exciting. Open. There was an egalitarian, decentralized ethos to that Internet, it seems.

It's late, and I have rambled extensively. I guess all I'm trying to say is thank you. Thank you for the insight, from you and your board. They continue to move people today. May they resist entropy for awhile yet.

[Name Withheld]
masqthephlsphr: (ev0l)
January talking meme, Jan 29. From [profile] harsens_rob: Choose 2 Joss-verse characters who've died. One that you believe was handled very well and one that you think... wasn't.... How were they handled differently and why do you feel one worked and the other just didn't?


As usual, giving thought to this put it beyond two characters.


It's said one of the hallmarks of urban fantasy (this also obviously applies to contemporary horror) is that all characters are Fair Game. The potential death of any character, no matter how central to the narrative, ups the stakes and lets the reader/viewer know the characters are playing for keeps.

Joss Whedon, of course, isn't just an example of this, he's the King.

Joss sets the tone for his attitude towards character death in the very first episode of BtVS with the death of Jesse. It's well-known that Joss wanted to put Jesse in the main credits of Welcome to the Hellmouth just so he could stun the audience by killing him off. And behind-the-camera troubles aside, I'm pretty convinced that's (the writers' reason) for the death of Doyle in Season 1 of Angel. Both deaths were, IMO, non-gratuitous. Jesse's death occurred to instruct both viewers and the characters (in particular, Xander and Willow) that This Is Serious, Folks. Doyle, on the other hand, chose to die for a noble cause. It was no less shocking than Jesse's death, though, and you can imagine Joss' glee at finally being able to kill off a credits character.

Characters die for all sorts of reasons on BtVS and AtS, but one of the main reasons they die is to signal a change in the character who killed them. For Joss, this is usually a character we've come to trust, but sometimes, it's the rise of the bad guy (or both). Showing a character murder someone is Joss' signal that "something's changed." Examples abound: Jenny Calendar (Angel(us), Deputy mayor Allan Finch (Faith), Maggie Walsh (Adam), Katrina (The Trio), Warren (Willow), the wine cellar W&H lawyers (which Angel allows through inaction), Lilah (Beast-Master!Cordelia). The problem isn't that Joss does this. The problem is, he does this A LOT.

There are lots of other ways you can signal a change in a character and a change in the direction of a season. Wesley's betrayal of Angel in Season 3 was an effective way to change the stakes mid-season and resulted in interesting developments for both characters, without anyone having to die during the act of betrayal.

Joss' over-reliance on this trope lead to a lot of "the devil made me do it" story lines in which trusted friends (e.g., Angel, Cordelia, Spike [season 7 *oy*] must be robbed of their agency in order to make them kill somebody.

The other thing Joss overdid was Beloved Character Has to Die to Enact Change in the Hero or Season. Now, this can be an extremely powerful plot development. The first episode Joss did this in, Passion (Jenny Calendar's death), remains one of my favorites.

But there is a tipping point in keeping the stakes high where you start to lose a viewer or reader's investment, where it becomes so common for characters to die, viewers are no longer willing to invest emotionally in the characters. When a viewer reaches this point, they can either take a more flippant attitude towards the show, or stop watching it all together. I doubt either of these outcomes is something show-runners want.

I think the tipping point for me was Tara in Season 6 of BtVS. I could deal with Joyce dying in Season 5 to mark the transition of Buffy into adulthood. But Tara's death taxed me. Follow up that up with Cordelia's slow fade in AtS, and Fred's gratuitous assault in Season 5 of AtS, and I pretty much held my "giving a shit"-edness together only by sheer force of will to the end of AtS season 5. My issue with each of these deaths went beyond "too much is too much." They were also each out-and-out slaughters. None of these characters had a chance against their killers (Cordelia was effectively killed by Jasmine in Inside Out, despite her coma and brief return in Season 5). They were ruthlessly slaughtered by a Baddie just to shake things up.

For me, when it comes to major characters, the best deaths (1) show a victim dying against their killer after a valiant defense and because no other, alternative plot developments can effectively accomplish what their death can in the story (hence why Jenny Calendar's death works better than Tara's or Fred's); or (2) someone (directly or indirectly) causing their own death because their actions, or deliberate inaction, either heroic or villainous, resulted in it. When this happens to a villain, it's poetic justice. When it happens to a hero, you get Doyle, or Buffy (but she always comes back), or Darla in Lullaby (although there is a Madonna/Whore element to her death that annoys me a little).
masqthephlsphr: (masq)
January talking meme, Jan 18. From [personal profile] rahirah: How did you come to start ATPOB?


I entered the world of online fandom in 1998 shortly after season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was looking anxiously for spoilers after that season finale, and being new to online fandom, I naturally went to the official WB network BtVS site, buffy.com, and the Bronze Posting Board. I hung out at the Bronze during seasons 3 and 4 of BtVS, and was known for pointing out nods to various philosophical ideas that I found in different episodes. The first one I ever noticed was the contextuality of knowledge, which appeared in a debate between Giles and Jenny Calendar in I Robot, You Jane.

Some of my Bronzer friends encouraged me to create a webpage where I listed all the philosophical references I found. A web PAGE. I sort of suck at brevity. "All Things Philosophical on BtVS/AtS" was born on January 1st, 1999. Hard to believe that was 15(!) years ago. 15! The website soon became more than one page as Joss and company continued to produce deeply intelligent television. From '99 to '04, I lost entire weekends to my website analyses.

I occasionally got emails from visitors to the site. Some of those folks urged me to create a discussion board where they could discuss the show at deeper levels than other discussion boards they frequented. On June 14th, 2000, I set up one of those canned forums. The folks that came to hang out there did the rest.

The ATPo board included folks from all over the world, males and females, teenagers to 60-somethings. Posters wrote essays that brought in philosophy, psychology, politics, critical theory, literary analysis, you name it, somebody did it. The archives are a good read. Discussions were sometimes deep, sometimes shallow, sometimes serious, sometimes silly, sometimes paragraphs, sometimes essays (that were actually (Long) when warned to be so). The board's hey-day was from June of 2000 to Spring of 2004, but a lot of those folks are still my good friends. I was reminded of how important they are to me when we recently lost one of our own, [profile] atpolittlebit.

Whenever I stop to think I've accomplished nothing in my life except earning a PhD I've done very little with, someone tells me a story about how ATPo touched their lives. And I take heart in that.
masqthephlsphr: (urcf)
January talking meme, Jan 5. From [profile] shadowkat67: Connor (angel the series) arc vs. Henry (ouat) arc.

My initial reaction to this topic was, "What do these characters have in common besides being the brats of their respective story universes? Not much!" But this turns out to be untrue.

As characters, both Connor and Henry are the children of the primary protagonist/hero of their respective shows (you can disagree with me that Emma is the primary protagonist/hero of OUAT, but there is a strong case to be made for this). Both were raised by their parent's enemies. And both are presented as relatively passive characters who are manipulated and that things happen to rather than characters who make choices and act on them.

Let's look at their respective arcs. Warning: as [profile] astrogirl2 would say, the deer got a bit teal here. Spoilers for all five seasons of Angel, and up to episode 3.11 of OUAT.

Connor )

Henry )


Transcripts courtesy of http://onceuponatime.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Season_Three_Transcripts
masqthephlsphr: Halt and Catch Fire (girl geek)
... but I know why.

First, a rec from the man behind Wesley Crusher:

http://wilwheaton.net/2013/07/nothing-to-prove/

I have only been aware of this misogyny-in-geekdom problem in the past year or so via LiveJournal links and posts on the topic. I've been a girl geek all my life )


So, in conclusion:

"Geeky is just shorthand for enthusiastic and enlightened" --[personal profile] scrollgirl

Fannish 5

Jun. 9th, 2012 11:39 am
masqthephlsphr: (angelsartre)
Five canon events that you found unbelievable and wished had not happened.

Agreeing with my flist on a number of these:

Spoilers for some ridiculous character deaths )
masqthephlsphr: (masq)
I don't think I've ever done an introductory post before, seeing as I've known most of my flist for years and have survived internet kerfuffles, raging forest fires, and DoubleMeat Palace viewings with them. But I recently gained a few new flisties from a Merlin fandom friending meme and apparently an introductory post after that is what All the Cool Kids Do.

So if you know this stuff already, feel free to move along.

Masquerade the Philosopher: a primer )

Well, that's enough shameless self-promotion for one day.
masqthephlsphr: (sarah)
1. Leave a comment to this post.
2. I will give you a letter.
3. Post the names of five fictional characters whose names begin with that letter, and your thoughts on each. The characters can be from books, movies, or TV shows

Ganked from [personal profile] cornerofmadness who gave me the letter C. "C", as it turns out, is kinda hard. It's not a common letter for names. But here's mine:

Read more... )
masqthephlsphr: (highlander)
< Tongue in cheek > I sometimes find myself patronizingly befuddled at people who feel the need to write fan fiction AU's. What's the matter, you can't find a way to work whatever you need to see around the canonical narrative? After all, most narratives, especially in film and television, are open to some play of interpretation (I would consider most slash writing a play of interpretation, for example, rather than an AU).

And why do you need to see certain things so badly? It's the writer(s) story, after all, not yours. S/he/they owe you nothing. Find a story that works better for you. There's a universe of them.

Believe me, I understand the feeling of disappointment after you've invested emotionally in a story and it veers wildly askew of what you wanted to see. Witness Angel season four Congel, for example (Or don't. *Cringe*). Okay, they managed to patch some of that up in Season 5. And it's possible if they hadn't, I would have had to forget that show even existed. Which would have been a shame. But I wouldn't have written an AU. Got no use for them.


Except for what supposedly happened to Richie in Highlander. I know for a fact that never actually happened. He's in Nepal as we speak. Duncan was so relieved when he found out. </ Tongue in cheek >
hits counter



masqthephlsphr: (a wizard named harry)
So I finally, finally finished the latest Dresden Files novel, Ghost Story. I think I am the last one on my flist to do so. Some folks gave it enthusiastic reviews, others were less than impressed. I have to admit to slogging through some tedium at times, which is part of the reason I took so long to finish it. The other part is, I only read non-interweb stuff for a short while before bed each night.

But see, there is a reason this book wasn't the Best!DresdenFilesNovel!Ever! It was a bridge story. And bridge stories are traditionally kind of mediocre. Thar be spoilers beyond here! )

Meme-age

Jan. 26th, 2011 06:28 am
masqthephlsphr: (Sisko)
Ganked from [personal profile] butterfly

List fifteen of your favorite characters from different fandoms, and ask people to spot patterns in your choices, and if they're so inclined, to draw conclusions about you based on the patterns they've spotted.

In no particular order (other than the order they occurred to me):

1 Connor (AtS)
2 Angel (AtS)
3 Faith (BtVS/AtS)
4 Be'lanna Torres (ST:Voyager)
5 Sisko (ST:DSN)
6 Data (ST: TNG)
7 Ensign Ro (ST: TNG)
8 K'Ehleyr (ST: TNG)
9 Harry (Harry Potter)
10 Susan Rodriguez (The Dresden Files)
11 Richie (Highlander)
12 Spock (ST:TOS)
13 Hurley (Lost)
14 John Connor (Terminator)
15 Luke Skywalker (Star Wars)
16 Armand (Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles)
masqthephlsphr: (faith)
The Cultural Catchup project feed has been having problems (I think his entries are getting too long or something?), but the journey continues to be fun:

It says a lot that the show managed to make me feel bad for a murderer getting emotional over the death of an evil maniac who turned himself into an enormous demon and threatened to destroy the entire town...

http://cultural-learnings.com/2010/07/08/cultural-catchup-project-one-faith-three-narratives-buffy-and-angel/
masqthephlsphr: (masq)
Ten years ago today, there was a heat wave in San Francisco. 103 degrees when I went for a stroll through the Haight district during my lunch break (this is a city that sends out "heat advisories" for 79 degrees). I'd been toying with an idea that was being pushed by several email correspondents who were readers of my website, All Things Philosophical on BtVS and AtS. They wanted to meet each other to discuss the show at deeper levels than could be found on other discussion boards they frequented.

So I did the research and set up one of those canned forums and the folks that came to hang there did the rest.

It's been quite a ride. Thanks for making it fabulous, guys! Looking forward to this weekend.
masqthephlsphr: (drula)
W00t!!!!
masqthephlsphr: (angelsartre)
I am finding the almost 50-50 split between the "separately!" and "together!" camps in The Cultural Catch-Up thread amusing, reassuring, and well, nostalgia-inducing. The issue at hand is whether the blogger taking his Buffyverse journey should watch all of Buffy through season 7 before starting in on Angel ("reassuring" because I thought for sure it'd be overwhelmingly "separately" given the opinions expressed on the issue in the blog up until now).

Personally, I fall so firmly into the "together!" category I am frothing at the mouth I felt compelled to post in his blog for the first time *and* I am forcing the Sculptor to watch the two shows together by making her a color-coded schedule. She is in mid-season 4/season 1 right now (episodes 11). I suppose part of my reason for being so anal with her is those confusing DVDs lead her to watch Earshot before Enemies during season 3, which is just...no.

As a story-teller, I believe the linear flow of a narrative and character journeys (::cough::Faith::cough::) is kinda sacred, and not just something to wave off casually.
masqthephlsphr: (Default)
Hi all, I created a feed for the Cultural Catchup Project. It's an LJ feed, and I have not yet created a DW feed, but if you're interested, it's here:

http://syndicated.livejournal.com/culturalcatchup/

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