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Date Posted: 22:22:18 10/08/07 Mon
Author: LittleBit
Subject: Re: Potential For Evil
In reply to: Trent 's message, "Potential For Evil" on 20:21:03 10/02/07 Tue

This is one of those odd things where there's 'canon' information that occurred outside of the show (which usually means it's not really canon, but when Joss expands on something conceptual, it tends to get accepted as such).

Back in Feb-Mar 2001 (right after "The Body" aired) Joss was part of a Q&A panel at the 18th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival during which the following question and answer occurred:

Audience Member: "I'd like to know what your definition of a soul is? And what distinguishes Angel from the other vampires, because it becomes clear from both Buffy and Angel that vampires have human emotions and human attachments. So is that a conscience? And then what separates vampires from humans if it is a conscience?"

JW: "Um, very little. (laugh) Essentially, souls are by their nature amorphous but to me it's really about what star you are guided by. Most people, we hope, are guided by, 'you should be good, you're good, you feel good.' And most demons are guided simply by the opposite star. They believe in evil, they believe in causing it, they like it. They believe it in the way that people believe in good. So they can love someone, they can attach to someone, they can actually want to do things that will make that person happy in the way they know they would. The way Spike has sort of become, an example is Spike obviously on Buffy, is getting more and more completely conflicted. But basically his natural bent is towards doing the wrong thing. His court's creating chaos where as in most humans, most humans, is the opposite, and that's really how I see it. I believe it's kind of like a spectrum, but they are setting their course by opposite directions. But they're all sort of somewhere in the middle."

So the assumption that demons are predisposed to evil, within the Buffyverse, comes from Joss himself, in a venue outside the show, and has becomes an accepted part of the show canon. Not easily -- the nature of the souled and the soulless was a regularly recurring debate based on what we were seeing in the show itself, with the most frequently occurring argument being whether or not to accept the 'moral compass sliding scale predisposition' as the way things are in the Buffyverse or to apply one's own interpretation of what the soul (or absence thereof) means.

Also keep in mind that one of the things Joss did so well was posit a theory -- all vampires are pure evil, the Slayer must work alone, the Slayer kills demons because they're demons and all demons are evil -- and then deliberately sets about questioning those things. We got Spike and Dru and were shown a vampire clearly caring for someone else. We got Buffy with family and friends and being actively supported by them. We got Anya, then Clem, then Halfrek on Buffy and Lorne, Harmony and many others on Angel.As if we, the audience, were being challenged just as Buffy was to make our own decisions about demons: are they a collective or individuals, and if they are individuals should they then be judged as such with each getting the chance to show where they were on the 'evil' spectrum. Except vampires, whom Buffy would slay, or attempt to slay, pretty much on sight. Spike wasn't spared until he became a non-threat to humans. The only time we were shown a vampire who may have been different unfortunately didn't get explored was in "Why We Fight" with Lawson who was the only vampire sired by souled Angel, and who seemed to be having a severe personality breakdown with lack of direction -- and left many wondering if that was a result of Angel having a soul when he sired Lawson.

To address the human arrogance, well, yes it is. But that's also a basic tenet of the Buffyverse. The Slayer exists to rid the Slayer's dimension of demons. Note that demons in other dimensions are not targets, and that part of the uniqueness of Buffy herself (much to the Watchers' Council's frustration) is that she believes it is also her responsibility to determine -- as much as possible -- if a demon is indeed a threat before slaying he/she/it.

Of course, as always, just my opinion.

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