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The Cycle of Masochism and Sadism: the life of a Whedonite

I was walking the streets of my “city” this afternoon on a life-or-death mission to find chocolate sauce and iced coffee syrup even though me leaving my house is a rarity on my day off (especially with my hair in a messy ponytail and my face free of makeup). I had my headphones in to drown out the world around me and discourage conversation from strangers. As I walked to the speed of the Coldplay song playing, my phone glitched like it likes to do and the song changed to the musical score “Sacrifice” by Christophe Beck. Suddenly overwhelmed with emotions, I had to take a minute to compose myself. This isn’t uncommon for me; whenever a song or score from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel: the Series comes on my phone I suddenly find myself back in the moment of whatever character death or Whedonesque tragedy occurred on the show while the song was playing. Today I was taken back to Buffy’s sacrifice in the season five finale and I couldn’t do anything but smile and laugh at the patheticness that is me.

I am a Whedonite. For those of you who aren’t fluent in geek speak like I am, that means I am a junkie for all things Joss Whedon. I’ve seen (and own) it all: Buffy the Vampire SlayerAngel: the SeriesFireflyDollhouseCabin in the WoodsThe Avengers, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog… I spend far too much time suffering from “feels” due to these shows… If you are unfamiliar with Whedon’s work there are three things you need to know: watching his shows will guarantee that you will never be happy again, he will kill everyone you love, and shipping characters will only bring tears and destruction. As Whedon fans, we know that every single one of his projects end up this way, yet we keep watching (and rewatchinng, and rewatching, and rewatching…). Why?

Here we come to the masochism portion of being a Whedonite. Every bad thing possible will happen to your favourite character and then Whedon will probably kill them off horrifically. None of your favourite couples will get together and if they do they will either have an extremely bad breakup or one (or both) of them will die. None of this sounds good at all. I’m sure the people around Whedonites wonder how the hell they can watch this and put themselves through this torture over and over again. I don’t have one simple answer for why we do this to ourselves but I do have a couple of theories based on why I do it.

First theory: as heartbreaking as Whedon’s work is the writing, directing, and acting is phenomenal. Sure there are flaws like in any work of art, but as a writer even I can appreciate how beautifully done all these shows are. Every time I rewatch these shows I still marvel at how incredible the analogies, metaphors, and foreshadowing are.

Second theory: watching these character’s lives go terribly wrong makes us feel better about our own. I know when work gets me down all I have to do is put on season six, episode twelve (“Doublemeat Palace”) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I am instantly reminded that at least I don’t have to wear a hat with a cow on it. That is a more comic example but the same theory sticks for the more serious stuff.

Third theory: you can relate to the characters even if we live in the real world an not science fiction land. Suffering through the pain of watching all your beloved characters die is worth it if the characters make you feel like you aren’t alone first.

Now the fun part of being a Whedonite comes into it (yes I promise there is a fun part) when you become a sadist just like Joss Whedon. After all the pain an suffering you went through watching these damn shows, there is nothing more satisfying than watching someone else go through the same pain. My friend Nikki was the one who got me started on Whedon in the first place and has gotten great satisfaction in watching me suffer. I promised myself I wouldn’t do the same thing she did… I failed. So far I have suckered in my friends Nick and Melinda along with my grandmother.

I also managed to talk my best friend Jane ( into watching Whedon’s work. She has been making her way through Firefly and Dollhouse on her own and I’ve been suckered into watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel: the Series  with her. That’s how we get back from sadism to masochism again. I was masochistic by watching it, I sadistically made my best friend watch it, and now I’m masochistically watching it with her. I suppose it’s all Whedon’s evil plan (or perhaps I’m just a glutton for punishment).

One thing we can all look forward to is the stage of numbness that comes after far too much masochism and sadism. For example, Jane and I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer season five episode sixteen “The Body” today and neither one of us cried! I call that progress! Maybe there is hop for us Whedonites after all.


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