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09 December 2004 @ 10:32 am
Joss Whedon's rules of vampirism or: nitpicking the slain  
I am really enjoying watching Angel (we've just started on series 3), and I have been making some observations and comparisons with Buffy.
I have reached an interesting conclusion regarding Joss Whedon's rules of vampirism, created for the Buffyverse.

Now, Whedon's rules are, strangely, both very traditional and rather unorthodox at the same time.
For example:
Traditional rules that apply:
Wooden stakes, sunlight, holy water, crosses, hallowed ground, fire and decapitation are all ways to harm/kill a vampire.
Unorthodox rules/application:
The most obvious here is sunlight; merely standing in the shade is enough to protect a Whedon vampire from sunlight damage.
Vampires can and do eat solid food, but gain no sustenance from it.

I'm not sure whether this rule is traditional or an invention of Anne Rice, but Whedon vampires are created when a vampire's victim is forced to drink the vampire's blood after being drained.

Which brings me to what I've been thinking about, what I've been noticing: the amazing inconsistency of how the vampire rules are applied from episode to episode, and situation to situation.

For instance, the above rule on the creation of vampires implies that it should be an extremely rare occurence. However, on many episodes of Buffy, we see her waiting around fresh graves, ready to stake a new vampire that she apparently knows is going to rise simply by the fact that the deceased was killed by a vampire (which also begs the question: how often do people get buried the very day they die? Since it is shown that new vampires rise on the night following their demise).

However, the major inconsistencies emerge regarding the ways in which vampires are slain. For example, sunlight. Now, usually, they are pretty loose with sunlight. As I said, vampires can hang about in the shade, stand strangely close to windows, run around in the sunlight wearing a smoking blanket, drive cars with blacked-out windows (how exactly does Spike see the road?) and have brief contact with sunlight that sends them sizzling towards the shade.

This is where the inconsistencies set in: Whilst the above rules seem to apply most of the time, you will sometimes see vampires burst in to flame and disintegrate immediately on contact with sunlight.

The same applies to fire, but in the opposite direction. Usually any minor contact with fire, from say a burning torch, is enough to snuff out a vamp's eternal life, but in one notable instance, being completely on fire was not enough to kill two vampires, who had time to run outside, break a fire hydrant and extinguish themselves.

Which brings me to the conclusion that I said I had come to:
Joss Whedon's rules of vampirism are an extension of the "red shirt" phenomenon from Star Trek.
All manner of horrible things can befall the major characters week after week after week, but they will withstand it and go on living.
However, the slightest little thing will bring about the demise of an unnamed extra.

So: sunlight, fire, holy water, etc, is enough to cause nasty burns and pained expressions on the faces of Angel, Spike, Drusilla, etc, but are enough to kill random lackeys, episodic bad guys and other unimportant types.

Not that I'm saying this is to the detriment of either show: I love them both.
It's just that sometimes the unkillability of the main characters is a little too obvious.
 
 
 
Robet Éivaayvah on December 8th, 2004 11:44 pm (UTC)
Vampires, as I've observed, rarely make sense.
Jacob: futuramayak_boy on December 8th, 2004 11:50 pm (UTC)
Well, that's true.

I think another issue also exists here, which is the case with any fantasy or science fiction creation: the fans probably pay more attention to the continuity than the creators do.

They make episodes from week to week, and what happens in each episode is mostly determined by what is necessitated by the story.

It is only the obsessive viewer at home, who has every episode on DVD, who is going to notice these kinds of inconsistencies.
(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 12:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - yak_boy on December 9th, 2004 12:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 12:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - yak_boy on December 9th, 2004 12:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lukeii on December 9th, 2004 12:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
HegeMonhege_mon on December 8th, 2004 11:45 pm (UTC)
It's similar to the HKAT (Hong Kong Action Theatre) System, where the difficulty for hitting/hurting somebody is directly related to their importance to the plot.
Jacob: spacemanyak_boy on December 8th, 2004 11:58 pm (UTC)
Don't shoot, I'm a plot device!
(no subject) - melbournian on December 9th, 2004 06:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
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Jacobyak_boy on December 9th, 2004 12:02 am (UTC)
Angel is much better than I expected.
It is great that they varied the formula so much, and created a much more adult show, rather than a cheap Buffy clone.

Oh, and that reminds me, I really must make myself an Angel icon... maybe with Lorne.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - yak_boy on December 9th, 2004 12:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - yak_boy on December 9th, 2004 12:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - yak_boy on December 9th, 2004 12:37 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 12:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - yak_boy on December 9th, 2004 12:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 12:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 12:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lukeii on December 9th, 2004 12:37 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - yak_boy on December 9th, 2004 12:41 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - yak_boy on December 9th, 2004 12:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - lukeii on December 9th, 2004 01:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 12:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lukeii on December 9th, 2004 12:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 01:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - yak_boy on December 9th, 2004 01:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lukeii on December 9th, 2004 01:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 10:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 10:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - yak_boy on December 10th, 2004 02:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ayvah on December 10th, 2004 06:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - yak_boy on December 11th, 2004 01:23 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ayvah on December 11th, 2004 04:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - yak_boy on December 11th, 2004 04:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ayvah on December 13th, 2004 05:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - yak_boy on December 9th, 2004 12:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lukeii on December 9th, 2004 12:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 12:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 01:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - yak_boy on December 9th, 2004 01:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 04:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - melbournian on December 9th, 2004 06:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ayvah on December 9th, 2004 08:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
Chrisfireburner on December 9th, 2004 02:32 am (UTC)
firstly I love Angel & Buffy.
My favourite all time tv series.

I kinda noticed that too.. but maybe they become stronger when they drink the blood. Also both shows had many different writers didn't they?
Jacob: gentlemanyak_boy on December 9th, 2004 03:37 am (UTC)
Another possibility is that different vampires just have different strengths, perhaps inherited from their sire.

Since all the major vampires in the Buffyverse are decended from The Master, it follows that they'd all be very powerful.
Unsworn, or rather, once was...unsworn_nomore on December 9th, 2004 02:41 am (UTC)

I'm not sure whether this rule is traditional or an invention of Anne Rice, but Whedon vampires are created when a vampire's victim is forced to drink the vampire's blood after being drained.


It's traditional, at least to the extent that it appears in the original novel of Dracula.
Jacob: madnessyak_boy on December 9th, 2004 03:35 am (UTC)
Well, that's as traditional as you can really get before the stories start to bear little resemblance to what we consider vampire stories.

Bram Stoker really did crystallise the concept of the vampire in such a way that it's quite difficult to move away from his model without alienating yourself from the generally accepted definition of vampire.
Unsworn, or rather, once was...unsworn_nomore on December 9th, 2004 03:54 am (UTC)
Oh, agreed, definitely.

What I meant though, is that most of Stoker's lore was accurate - I just can't trace it back any further than him.
gypsyamber: blckredgypsyamber on December 9th, 2004 03:05 am (UTC)
Yup, noticed the inconsistancies...figure that the main vamps are much, much older than the plot-fillers, therefore much higher hit points! Other stuff I try to ignore cos I enjoy watching them so much.
By the by, is Angel 4 and 5 out yet? Tracy sent me 4, but it's a dud and I just finished 3. As she leaves China next week, too late to ask for another copy! Gonna have to buy it the above-board way when i get back from Vietnam...oh the agony of waiting!

Oh, and totally off subject, did Em get her b'day pressie from me? Just hoping it arrived safe...
Jacob: gentlemanyak_boy on December 9th, 2004 03:29 am (UTC)
the main vamps are much, much older than the plot-fillers, therefore much higher hit points!

Well, one of the vampires in my fire example was (physically at least) a very new vampire, so that argument doesn't really work.

Other stuff I try to ignore cos I enjoy watching them so much.

I didn't mean to imply that it really bothered me all that much, it doesn't. I was just nitpicking for the fun of it.

By the by, is Angel 4 and 5 out yet?

4 yes, 5 no.

Oh, and totally off subject, did Em get her b'day pressie from me? Just hoping it arrived safe...

Yes, absolutely. I'm surprised she hasn't contacted you, but she isn't really into electronic communication.
Outlier Manlukeii on December 10th, 2004 02:25 am (UTC)
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