Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

The Bad guys always go where the power is: Sunnydale as Deleuzoguattarian Heterotopia

Starr, M. (2012) The Bad guys always go where the power is: Sunnydale as Deleuzoguattarian Heterotopia. Paper presented to: Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses 5 (SC5), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 12-15 July 2012. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Abstract: This paper provides a reading of Buffy the Vampire Slayer utilizing theories of cultural space as espoused by poststructural philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in their text A Thousand Plateaus (1987). Whilst several prior studies have examined issues of space in the Buffyverse (for example, in terms of domestic, liminal and queer spaces), the process of applying Deleuzoguattarian ‘political anthropology’ to Sunnydale specifically provides a radically different reading. In Deleuzoguattarian terms, in its depiction as an isolated location, ‘sufficiently remote to grant it demonic autonomy’ (Billson 64), Sunnydale functions as a conceptual ‘Heterotopia’; not simply a geographical representation, but instead a philosophical exemplification of cultural space, offering multiple possibilities for spatialized ‘otherness’ to flourish. Within Deleuzoguattarian theory, a distinction is made between two kinds of cultural space: smooth and striated, which coincide with distinctions drawn between the ‘nomadic’ space of the ‘war machine’ and the space of the state apparatus. In the context of Buffy, just such a link between conceptual space and power/authority is consistently formalised; for example, Buffy’s assertion in the episode ‘Empty Spaces’ that ‘the bad guys always go where the power is’. In accordance, the paper argues that Buffy’s demonic and vampiric hordes, in their attempts to impose themselves physically and ideologically upon the conceptual space of Sunnydale, function as purveyors of striated space; accordingly, the various ‘big bads’, in their attempts to construct a hierarchical system of relations, function as ‘central points’ of this striation. Intrinsic to this is the manner in which the ‘embodied spatial subjects’ (in these terms, the physical bodies of demons and vampires) are corporeally affected by these conceptual space and forces. In contrast, we are also witness to other subjects, such as Spike and Angel, attempting to negotiate such hierarchical spaces, which can be read as an attempt to create ‘lines of flight’ away from harnessed and controlled striated systems. Ultimately, the paper posits that in ‘fighting the good fight’ and hence emblematizing resistant force against the all pervasive power of supernatural evil, Buffy and the Scooby Gang function conceptually as the Deleuzoguattarian ‘war machine’.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1992 Television broadcasts > PN1992.8.H67 Horror television programs
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN3427 Special kinds of fiction. Fiction genres > PN3435 Horror
Creators: Starr, Mike
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Education & Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Faculties > Faculty of Education & Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Date: 15 July 2012
Date Type: Presentation
Event Title: Slayage Conference on the Whedonverses 5 (SC5)
Event Dates: 12-15 July 2012
Event Location: University of British Columbia, Vancouver
Event Type: Conference
Language: English
Status: Unpublished

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item