Posted on May 13, 2010 by Monica Valentinelli
When considering different candidates for the “Girls of Gore,” you can’t help but think of the women in BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Although there was a movie that predated the popular television show, most people think of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s version of the blonde high school student who has a natural talent for killing vamps. With the help of her friends, Buffy overcomes evil time and time again.
Buffy is often at odds with herself, her friends and her family, because she is the reluctant heroine. She doesn’t want to be the slayer, but she does it anyway. She is a very “human” character, unlike some of the ever-so-perfect pulp heroes that seem to have it all. Buffy doesn’t have it all, because it’s difficult for her to find love while kicking all kinds of ass. When she does, it’s with a vamp named Angel who has to pay penance for his crimes only…it’s a love that is doomed to fail. (If you believe what the fates told Angel, the powers-that-be kind of set that up from the beginning.) In my mind, she is a “girl of gore” not because she has the pre-destined powers or the fancy weapons, but because in spite of everything she’s been through she is still very human. Buffy makes mistakes, some of them pretty big doozies, but she keeps on going — even if she has to break a few rules to do it.
Faith, on the other hand, is “the” rule breaker and is a perfect example of what you might expect a slayer to be like. She’s brash and bold because she handles her past differently, and has a lot of confidence in her abilities to the point where she abuses them. Arguably, her character growth is almost the exact opposite of Buffy’s because Faith doesn’t have a stable and supportive environment to draw from. Since her ability to be a “Girl of Gore” comes from her desire for vengeance and revenge, Faith has a more difficult time interacting with humans than with killing vamps.
Of course, you can’t talk about Buffy and Faith without mentioning Anya, Tara and Willow. Anya is an interesting character, because she had to learn how “not” to be a demon anymore. Though, in many ways she opted out of the “evil” business so she could live a normal, human life. Often on the fringe, Anya’s knowledge and quirkiness endeared her character to a lot of people. So is she a “Girl of Gore?” If you were wandering around in the underworld and had your pick between Anya and one of your friends, who would you take? Anya may not be a “fighter” but she certainly has the experience, knowledge and the guts — with or without her powers.
Willow is a fascinating character to me because I feel that she went through the most character development in the series. She started out a geeky girl with a passing interest in magic, and ended up on the “dark side” of magic. Not only did her ability to use magic shift, change and grow, but her relationships with other characters changed, too. After all, she was in love with Xander, but also Oz, who turned out to be a werewolf and later, Tara, a witch. If anyone pushed the boundaries of what she “should” or “shouldn’t do,” it was definitely Willow. After all, she’s the one who brought Buffy back from the dead. As a “Girl of Gore,” it sometimes feels like Willow was addicted to the paranormal, like she couldn’t get enough of it. She knew she was never meant to be “the star,” but it always seemed like she really wanted to. In many ways, Willow was able to grow because of her relationship with Tara, who wasn’t as powerful as she was. Tara stuck around and supported Willow even after Willow started surpassing her abilities, because they were in love. It was Tara who often turned into the moral voice inside Willow’s ear, even when Willow used magic on her to keep her from leaving. In many ways, Tara was Willow’s humanity; once she died, Willow didn’t have any constraints on her desire to make the world pay for her death.
Besides these protagonists, there are a lot of other females within the so-called Buffyverse including Cordelia, Buffy’s mom, Joyce, Amy, Kendra, Dawn, and many others. Remember, those are just a few of the characters on the good side!
Whether you like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER or not, you definitely have to give the property its due for highlighting different types of female characters in a very dark world. Filled with “Girls of Gore,” the Buffyverse is perfect for those of you who enjoy a diverse selection of female characters that can kick all kinds of butt in their own way.