From Buffy to Bella; What’s With the Victim Complex?

What really bugs me is the whole victim thing. In an age of post feminism, where even the smoochiest of romance novels feature heroines with minds of their own, Bella sucks even harder than Edward and his cronies. She seems to spend most of her time looking scared and being attacked by various people who want to hunt her, until sparkly Edward comes rushing in to save her. Buffy on the other hand saves herself and even sometimes her vampire boyfriends, at least when she isn’t trying to stake them.

That being said, perhaps I’m being slightly unfair. Buffy is after all the Chosen One, endowed with kick ass powers and destined to fight the vampires, whereas Bella is a regular young woman. Perhaps it’s unfair to compare them, but does Bella have to be quite such a drip? Take Buffy’s Slayer status away from her and she still has a personality, whereas even becoming a vampire and acquiring superhuman strength only serves to make Bella marginally less annoying. Nevertheless their stories are very different and the creator of Twilight certainly wasn’t – I hope – trying to recreate Buffy the Vampire Slayer in any way. It would perhaps be fairer to compare Buffy to some of the other, newer heroines in the vampire drama/romance genre, such as Elena from the Vampire Diaries, Sookie from True Blood, or Laurell K Hamilton’s brilliant and utterly feminist literary creation Anita Blake, who sadly has yet to grace our screens.

Bella, on the other hand is at the forefront of a worrying trend of female heroines (and I’m including the idiotic Ana from Fifty Shades here who was directly inspired by her) turning into simpering, swooning women who can’t possibly exist without their male counterparts. If you think I’m exaggerating, check out the Twilight sequel New Moon, particularly the book; and ask yourself if Bella’s reaction to Edwards’s departure is at all healthy. Not that Bella doesn’t have tough decisions and often sacrifices to make, but they’re always about Edward. Edward Edward Edward. Am I the only person who finds this boring and a little bit creepy? In this day and age the majority of us have been brought up by mothers who benefited from the second wave of feminism, and in turn brought us up to have choices other than who we are going to marry.

Okay so when I was seventeen I pretty much thought about boys all the time and had only vague ideas about what I wanted beyond that, but programs such as Buffy at least suggested to me that may be more to life. The central message of Twilight seems to be that it’s perfectly okay to want to kill yourself over your first love. Given the pressures facing today’s young women, that’s hardly the kind of behaviour to be encouraging. When Buffy got dumped and rejected, she came out fighting.

Yes, she also ran away and/or blew things up a few times, but hey, no-one’s perfect.

In fact, Bella’s whole reaction to Edward’s leaving her at the beginning of New Moon is a rundown of what not to do when you’re heartbroken. She ignores her friends, sits in her room and mopes for four months, and then begins to act in a way that is both self-destructive and suicidal, all because she thinks if she is close to death she can ‘hear’ Edward’s voice. She only begins to perk up again through the attentions of her new friend Jacob. Yep, once again she needs a man to save her. Her reaction might be realistic – many of us will be no stranger to moping around over a man – but it’s not fitting behaviour for a popular heroine, surely? Not to mention the fact that it’s beyond annoying to read or watch. Just like when your best friend gets dumped, and at first you’re sympathetic and going round with tubs of Ben and Jerry’s. Then six months later you’re at worst seriously worried about their mental health, and at least wanting to slap them and shout ‘Get over it!’

On the other hand when Angel, just like Edward, leaves Buffy ‘for her own good’ she deals with it heroically. Yes, she’s heartbroken and does a fair bit of moping but she also puts on a brave face when she has to and does her best to get on with it. Although Angel is undoubtedly her true love just as Edward is Bella’s, he never really comes back and Buffy moves on as best as she can. It makes for some emotionally harrowing and powerful scenes, and you can’t help rooting for her. Not least because often that’s how it goes in real life too.

Of course, there’s nothing real life about dating vampires, even if many of us secretly wish our very own Angel or Edward would appear in our lives, fangs and all. But let’s just imagine for a moment that you were really being pretty much stalked by a good looking guy who then turned out to be a vampire. Wouldn’t you at the very least be slightly freaked out and just a bit wary, requiring them to prove themselves before you started dating them? Buffy and Angel dance round each other for a whole series before finally becoming an item, whereas it takes Bella all of about two days to fall into Edward’s undead arms. Even though he admits he has never wanted to kill someone and drink their blood quite so badly. And when his equally bloodthirsty family members try to do just that, Bella stands around crying while Edward once again rescues her, presumably because he is the only one allowed to harbour such fantasies. Seems a little over possessive. On the other hand when Angel gets cursed and becomes evil, Buffy stakes him. Just as he’s gotten his soul back. When her later vampire lover, the peroxide Spike, goes on a killing spree Buffy kicks his butt and has him chained to a wall. You just don’t mess with this girl.

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