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.”