Last week we all started watching Buffy together. After mocking Chef for a couple of years for hiding his Buffy fever from me, he finally suggested we watch it as a family thing. Although we all watched Firefly and Serenity — thanks to my sister who is deserving of the credit for assuring me that Joss Whedon does not suck — it’s Ethan’s first exposure to the series, as well as mine. So far we like it, but I’m told it’s going to get better after a couple of seasons.
One of the things that’s difficult about raising school age kids is the dearth of female and minority representation in age-appropriate venues — often what representation does exist is tokenism. With some searching beyond the old classics, you can find some really cool stuff for kids, but you usually have to take what good you get along with the bad. When girl children are present, children of color are not, or the girls are silly, consumerist-driven, and boy-crazy. When children of color are present, they are usually boys, and they often hew close to tired stereotypes about minority culture. Exceptions exist, of course, and we aim to find them. As a politically-minded parent, I am conscious to try and discuss what we watch with Ethan during and after we watch it, see what he thinks, and reinforce our pro-feminist, anti-racist, anti-consumerist values.
Chef yesterday had one such conversation with Ethan.
Chef: So, E, what do you think of Buffy so far?
Ethan: It’s pretty good. Buffy kicks serious butt.
Chef: What do you think of the fact that Buffy is a superhero that is also a girl?
Ethan: That’s part of the reason that I like it!
Chef: Me too. I think it’s great that there is a superhero that kicks so much butt that girls can identify with. Really, that everyone can identify with.
Ethan: What do you mean?
Chef: Part of it is that she’s a young person and young people don’t get a lot of power and attention. Like, what other kinds of superheroes are there that you can think of?
Ethan: Oh, Spiderman, Batman, Superman.
Chef: What do they have in common?
Ethan: They all end in -man. But there’s Superwoman and Batgirl, too. And Wonder Woman.
Chef: Do you think any of them are going to have a big summer blockbuster movie like Batman does?
Ethan: Like, never. But I really like Buffy.*
I do, too. And halfway through Season One I’m enjoying the sight of Buffy “kick serious butt” but I could do without the ever-constant threat of rape against her person. I know there’s a huge number of Buffy-loving feminists in the femosphere, ahem ahem, so I’d love it if you’d point me toward some cool Buffy analysis online.
Any other feminist-friendly movie and TV suggestions appropriate for school-aged children?
* Ethan also seems to like that one of the major villains of Season One is a boy about his age.