This post is less about the various series of Whedon and more about… being a fan of those series, I guess.
And, I’m also going to step aside from my general “only Whedon fandoms exist” and momentarily direct attention to a different, but still wonderful show, and that is Community. There’s a seen in an episode of Community in which Troy is faced with the prospect of meeting a hero of his, Levar Burton.
Troy becomes terrified, winds up on the bathroom floor crying, and exclaims that he has never wanted to meet Levar Burton. He only wanted a signed picture. Because you can’t disappoint a picture.
For the most part, I just watch the show, laugh when it’s funny, and become pleased when they notice a particular habit of television/movies, or reference something else I enjoy.
But this particular moment, this particular exclamation, I identify with so heavily it almost hurts.
I spend a lot of time watching Buffy and Angel and thinking about them and why they are the way that they are and the implications of all the stories and what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense. I’ve spent hundreds and thousands of hours falling in love with these characters, and I can only assume that if you’re reading this, you’re either very, very lost, or you’ve done exactly the same.
And, after I’ve done that, probably like the rest of y’all still, I often spend time finding out about the actors, the creators. Who are they, what do they do. I watch their interviews and I look at their other works, whether they’re in the same medium or not, and I follow Twitter messages and all of these little things that make us like them more, make us feel like we know them.
Make us love them.
But it’s all one-sided. They have absolutely no idea we, as individuals, exist, that we spend all this time immersing ourselves in what they’ve done, all this time just thinking about them.
And then we’re faced with the prospect of meeting them.
We’ve had so much time to fall in love, and then we have only a moment, a split-second to make that first, and sometimes only, impression on them.
In a couple of seconds to maybe a minute or two, we need to express that we are worthy of being their fan. We need to show and express that we love who they are and what they’ve created. We need to show them and to be validated. And at exactly the same time, we need to show restraint. We can’t pour out years of emotions at them at once, even if that’s what we’ve got bottled up. We need to show that we appreciate and understand them as humans and not just “Spike! I love you! You’re so badass! What happened to your hair?”
Come on to strong and you run the risk of making them uncomfortable, making your interests look too obsessive. Don’t come on strong enough, then you won’t really come across as a fan. You will have passed up the opportunity to express to whomever it is you idolise that you really, truly, and utterly enjoy and appreciate what they’ve done.
One thing that always kind of bugged me about Riley was that I never quite felt like his lines were genuine. They felt like they were, well, acted. They felt rehearsed.
But, then, I thought about that scene in 4.09 “Something Blue” where Riley tells Buffy that he practices before each of their conversations! Add that to how he’s got a secret identity to keep, and it totally makes sense!
Everything Riley has ever said ever is something he practised in the mirror. That’s why his lines are overly cheesy and awkward! That’s why everything he says sounds too thought out! He never delivered a sincere word in the entire series. Everything about Mr Riley Finn is brilliance upon brilliance, thoughtful writing layered over by Mark Blucas’ brilliant delivery.
Riley is the single greatest character in the Buffyverse!
Or he’s just poorly executed.
(Okay, yeah, it’s the second one.)