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Publisher Description

DURING THE POST-COLD WAR 1990S, AMERICAN PARANOIA SHIFTED AWAY from national and individual threats to fear of US governmental conspiracies and technology in general. Popular television shows like Chris Carter's The X-Files (1993-2002) recast the foreign "other" as the literally alien and emphasized the potential destructive power of both shadow-government agencies and new, subversive forms of technology and science. This climate also produced Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), a television program that portrayed the hostile "others" as vampires and demons and, especially during the fourth season, showed the government to be an irresponsible, militaristic threat. Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a technologically inept teenage girl with supernatural powers, illustrated the need for contemporary, fin-de-siecle Americans to confront the possible hazards of science by re-embracing spiritualism and humanism. These contemporary narratives should therefore be read as examples of a long-established dialectical tradition. For example, in the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, military technology stands in on the one side for the rebellious figure of Lucifer. As depicted by John Milton in Paradise Lost (1667), Lucifer, who was created by God as a potential prince and possible savior of humankind, betrayed his intended role, turning against his creator and pursuing instead a misguided path towards domination. On the other side of the dichotomy stands Buffy, the "Chosen One," a clear manifestation of Christ because she lives as a mortal human despite her preternatural gifts and abilities. In addition, Buffy works to maintain balance and stability, to challenge those who would defy the plans of higher authority and upset the natural order. Whedon thus uses his series to present viewers with an updated version of two ancient and oppositional archetypes: the Promethean betrayal of humanity by the very thing designed to aid them, and the necessary arrival of a chosen individual to harness ancient energies for the greater good.

Professional & Technical
September 22
The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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