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Give Buffy the Vampire Slayer Reboot a Chance

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I’ve been thinking about the upcoming Buffy the Vampire Slayer reboot (because now and then I’ve just got to stop thinking about Republicans and Democrats) and I just can’t seem to get upset about it like so many of the Slayer Faithful.

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a movie in development with no participation by Joss Whedon, the creator of the character. Like just about all the commenters at this report, my initial thought was: Buffy without Joss? Why bother? (Click here for Whedon’s own, hilarious response to the news.)

But Buffy doesn’t belong to Joss Whedon, and I don’t mean in the legal sense. She belongs to all of us who loved watching the show. Buffy belongs to us just like Robin Hood does, or King Arthur, or Batman, or Superman, or Kirk and Spock. Characters created in the age of copyright may, technically, be the intellectual property of some person or corporation, but in a broader sense, as published works of the imagination, they belong to us all. What we like about them doesn’t change when a new iteration proves disappointing.

The company (in this case Warner Bros.) that now owns the rights to a character can and should do with it what it thinks best. I’ll give the new movie a chance. If it sucks (no pun intended), so what? That doesn’t take anything away from the greatness of the TV show or my memories of it. (And I can always go back and watch my DVDs again.) I didn’t much care for the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot—it was a decent adventure movie but hardly my conception of what Star Trek has been all about all these years. So what? I enjoyed it far as I could for what it was, and promptly completely forgot about it until I starting thinking about the topic now. It took nothing whatsoever away from the great TV shows and films of the Trek franchise.

Franchise. There’s a word for you. It’s all about commerce, remember—making money. After all, a “franchise” is also what you call your local McDonald’s. Where, perhaps sometime in 2012, kids will be begging for “Buffy” Happy Meals. Marketing unhealthy food to children through toys—that’s something to get in high dudgeon about. Not a new Buffy movie you might not love. As William Shatner said in the famous Star Trek convention skit on Saturday Night Live: “Get a life.”

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is an Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. He writes the blog Park Odyssey, for which he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City—over a thousand of them. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. By night he's a working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.
  • http://www.bryanhealey.com Bryan

    Seems odd to get mad at companies for marketing there product but not get mad at the dopey parents for buying the food for their kids.

    As for Buffy, I agree. I will give it a chance. I do wish Whedon would have been involved, though; I love his writing style.

  • Jay

    It’s not that anyone wants a new interpretation to fail. It’s that the outrage clearly tells the “marketer” that there is a huge amount of disposable income that desperately wants it’s own version back. Desperately. And we get this. We don’t go to Disney World to see Chucky Cheese. We want Mickey and they won’t give it to us.

  • http://jonsobel.com/ Jon Sobel

    Good point, Jay, but we’ll never get that version back, and at this point, I wouldn’t want it. I don’t think I would want to see a 35-year-old SMG reprising Buffy in some way, and with anyone else in the role it would not be the same regardless of whether Joss was doing it.

  • hydra815

    You say “So what?” about the reboot and that “it doesn’t take anything away from the show” but I strongly disagree. Somehow, back then, Joss made the teen-vamp thing actually reputable and clever and everybody knows that these days, they are two words not associated with works such as Twilight and The Vampire Diaries or even True Blood.
    When this reboot is finished, I get the feeling that it will have sucked all the life out of the original and replaced it with mind numbingly one dimensional characters that 11 year old girls will latch onto and call their own.
    My fear is that I will lose my TV idols and heroes to the legions of Twihards that will undoubtedly be drawn in by the next vampire franchise.

  • http://jonsobel.com/ Jon Sobel

    Hydra, we will have to agree to disagree. Maybe it’s because my personal contact with Twilight-loving tweens is nonexistent; and I refuse to see movies in which vampires twinkle!

  • jay

    I love Buffy. The remake could be better than anything joss has written (I doubt it).

    If its like twilight I’ll be upset. If its like true blood I won’t be. True blood is an incredible piece of supernatural television.

  • kane

    give it a chance? people who think like that are the same people who think Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is worthy of a golden globe award, let alone three.

    and Hydra, you’re right, it’ll be exactly like Twilight

  • Jordan Richardson

    I see it as just the opposite, kane. AIW was nominated because it was one of the most popular films of the year. This occurred because people didn’t give other films a chance. Doing that in this case seems hardly advisable if your goal is to avoid other such “travesties,” especially if keeping an open mind is still considered a virtue.

    Maybe in your world it’s not…

  • El Bicho

    People who think like kane would miss out on the impressive remake of True Grit. He also doesn’t appear to understand what the Golden Globes are. It’s a TV show

  • Pam

    Give it a chance? No.

  • cynthia

    To say that Buffy does not belong to Whedon is to say that Alice doesn’t belong to Barrie or Frodo doesn’t belong to Tolkein. While my children may watch the watered down version of Snow White, they know the Brother’s Grimm own that tale. Commercialism may give the rights to retale the tale,and I may even watch,but the original slayer plays in my house. I cannot pretend to know the numbers of retellings of Romeo and Juliet but nothing will ever compare to William. But if William were alive, it would certainly be disrespectful to exclude him from his own tale. Then again, he might not care since he is so awesome and has probably moved on to something even more inspiring than Juliet (or Buffy).

  • El Bicho

    “the original slayer plays in my house.”

    Kristy Swanson will be happy to hear that.

  • http://jonsobel.com/ Jon Sobel

    Cynthia: Snow White doesn’t belong to the Brothers Grimm. It’s an old fairy tale they collected. And while Frodo does belong to Tolkien, as his creation, people 50 years from now will probably consider him to “belong” just as much to Peter Jackson.

    And hell yeah, let’s give Kristy her due!