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05 May 2005 @ 04:04 am
for fox1013: You gotta have Faith -- or why I'd like to have Faith, at any rate. Thoughts on Faith/Buffy, too.  
Okay, so before I talk about Faith, even, I want to talk about why it is that I have issues writing any Jossverse. Because I really, truly do. I always feel apologetic, and as though I should preface each story/thought about the Jossverse with a disclaimer that states that I really don't *know* the characters, I've just seen every episod of every Whedon show, and have thought about them somewhat, but don't really *know* them.

It's not because I feel like I can't do the witty repartee dialogue. It's not because I don't think I can understand the deep underlying levels of frustration that exist for so many of the Jossverse characters. It's definitely even some bizarro protest of how he takes so many female characters and breaks them down to utter despair or caricatures of their former selves (or, in the context of Angel, just straight up kills them off). I mean, come on, he does that to the men, too (and I am way going to be bitter over poor Wesley for say, EVER. And Lindsey, too. Damn it.).

It's not even new-fandom shyness. Though, you know, there's certainly some of that (because it hits me like an anvil every time, you guys).

What it is, I think, is that there are so many specialists. Which is silly, when you think about it, because that's true of everybody who's fandom monogamous -- they're specialists in certain characters, certain shows, they've got the whoel atmosphere down COLD, you know? But for whatever reason BtVS and AtS and even Firefly (to an extent) feel to me like it's filled with people who live in the skin of the characters, and do so in a really vehement way, and like, make a fandom life of it. I feel like I have to apologize because I dabble.

And again? I realize this is silly. But I feel that way. I find myself whining over IM to fox1013 that I can't write about Faith because I don't *KNOW* Faith, and I don't *KNOW* Lilah or Wesley.

In other fandoms, the amount of time I've spent thinking about those characters would be equivalent to me being entirely comfortable with them, feeling very confident writing them. In Jossverse, I feel like this isn't true.

And I honestly have no rational explanation for this. I don't know if I'm the only one who does this. But I do.

So that all having been said, and hilariously enough, it's the disclaimer I was talking about wanting to write all the time when I consider Jossverse, let's get this show on the road.

I love Faith. I flat out, 100 percent love her. She reminds me of "Rebel Girl" by Bikini Kill. Let me share some lyrics now, oh flist of mine:

Rebel girl, rebel girl
Rebel girl you are the queen of my world
Rebel girl, rebel girl
I think I wanna take you home
I wanna try on your clothes too

When she talks, the revolutions coming
In her hips, there’s revolution
When she talks, I hear the revolution
In her kiss, I taste the revolution


So, okay. She shows up and she's got all this 'tough girl' dykey attitude happening every ten seconds, really sexing up her way of interaction, and consciously so, and underneath she's *entirely* vulnerable. How can you *not* fall for a girl like that, I mean honestly?

So she goes kind of crazy later. Whatever. (I'm being 13 in this one, you guys, and I don't feel badly about it at all.)

What I think is most striking about Faith in Faith, Hope, and Trick is that she is Buffy from When She Was Bad all over, except without the ice queen bitch thing that Buffy was working. Faith, instead, is friendly. She's tough, she's challenging, she's falling apart at the seams and can't ask for help because what she's been through is too horrific. She's afraid, and she *needs*, and she's not going to ask for anything. Buffy helps her, but does so grudgingly, giving their relationship a push/pull element already, and Faith does all of the pushing, trying to get in, trying to *know* Buffy, and Buffy does all the pulling away, pulling back.

Also, can we talk for a second about some weird class connotations between Buffy and Faith? I may be kind of nuts, but I keep sensing those, in a sort of 'look at her bad manners, crudeness and vulgarity' kind of way, meanwhile Buffy's rocking a very distant and prim and disapproving attitude that seems to be rooted in a definite class difference. Call me crazy, but I think it's not for nothing that the wardrobe people put Buffy in clearly expensive little sundresses, coats, etc. and Faith in tank tops and jeans that look like they were bought on sale at Rave.

Might I add: these tank tops and jeans always look mighty fine on Faith. As she is a mighty fine woman.

Anyway, so Faith settles down in Good Old Sunnydale. In a roach motel, essentially. We've got to figure that she's, what, 16, 15? 17 at the absolute most, but the implication is that she's younger than Buffy, because she's the second slayer twice over after Buffy. So, okay, we'll call her 16. At 16, she's living alone, in a seedy hotel, no parental figure, no nurturing figure, nothing. Funny, how Giles, Watcher that he is, didn't offer to put her up. Not that he's her Watcher, but I'm just saying; you'd think he'd do that kind of thing. I can see why Buffy didn't offer to share her house with Faith -- her complete and total control freakness that made her flip when Faith showed up in the first place, leaking with chaos -- but I also kind of feel like it's shitty. Kendra, she probably would have put up.

Giles, too, actually.

But that's not the point. You've got a 16 year old girl who has no stability whatsoever, no supportive structure upon which to rely, in intense bloody fights every night, slinking around, doing whatever she wants because no one will take an interest, and trying to work her way into a group of tightly established friends who just...aren't having it. Faith being Faith, she does these things quietly. She kind of hangs around the fringes, and doesn't push too hard. She patrols with Buffy, but that's a duty, right? It gives them something to hang on to, but Buffy repeatedly shoots down Faith's attempts at more intimacy. Faith is entirely alone by the time she kills that -- henchman guy, and is inducing Buffy to steal things.

And furthermore, I'd just like to say, that is it surprising to oh, say ANYBODY that a girl with no one cares to pay attention to her life or her needs or what she's going through (HI, RECURRING THEME, DAWN ANYONE?) would resort to stealing? Particularly when all that she has in life is based upon the one thing she knows she does well (though not as well as Buffy, and we'll get to that insecurity in a moment) is taking things by force, or using force in order to do what needs to be done.

Yeah, I thought not.

It's not some deep seated indication in an inability to distinguish between right and wrong. And even killing that one guy -- by accident, entirely -- and then denying it? Not an implication that Faith is a homicidal maniac, though she's certainly called one by the Scoobies enough in S4 to be like, totally ridiculous.

So, anyway. Faith/Buffy. Let's discuss this. And how entirely they're doing it. And why I don't get the fact that this isn't bigger than it is. Because I really, really don't. The chemistry between these two character isn't just there, it's -- oh, it explodes. You watch, and you do double takes, and you think "Wait, how the hell is the lesbian story line next season *not* with Buffy?" Honestly, as much as the sort of queer Xander at times, the entire Faith/Buffy vibe is just, God, it's a breath taking thing.

These girls fascinate one another, entirely. When Buffy saves Faith's life in Faith, Hope and Trick (and even a little before that to a degree, but this is where I feel like it really starts), Faith looks at her with eyes that are nearly worshipful. Faith *wants* Buffy to save her, I think, but she doesn't really -- want Buffy to save her. It's complicated. She wants somebody to depend on, and she thinks Buffy could be that. She can feel what it is between them that calls to one another, and she can't deny it. She doesn't *want* to deny it, but she also refuses to ask for anything. She refuses to admit to need, or speak about emotions for the most part. I think this quietness from Faith, her absolute refusal to admit to the way that need and insecurity just rolls around beneath her tough as nails world-weary exterior, is why a lot of people think that she was abused as a child. That, and the way she flaunts her sexuality as though it were a weapon, because, really, that can be pretty textbook. There's something about her silence, coupled with all of the class type issues talked about earlier (and possibly mentions in canon, though my memory is for shit when it comes to these things), that makes just about everybody envision her childhood as having been raised by drunken parents.

Actually, the show does, to an extent, parallel Faith and Xander in that way. Faith hides her intense vulnerability behind the whole 'sexy bad ass' thing that she works all the time, trying to make her emotions recede into the background of her presentation of herself. Xander, on the other hand, attempts ot distract people with humor.

Some kind of connection exists between the two of them -- you know, besides Faith's devirgination of him -- and maybe someday I'll puzzle out a way to articulate it better.

So, Faith needs Buffy. She doesn't want to say 'need', but it bleeds off her in the way she seeks Buffy's approval (in a very Faith way), how hard she works for intimacy with Buffy, and even her body language in her scenes with Buffy. Attentive, nearly a date walk, shy smiles through hair -- whole nine yards. She calls Buffy on her bullshit (which can be, at times, copious), and she doesn't let Buffy steam roll over her or anything, but when Faith is with Buffy, she is shyly trying to make a real connection, there.

Buffy, on the other hand, is rocking a denial so hardcore it's a little difficult to handle. She's put off by not being the Only One anymore, and even more damning, Faith coaxes her out of her very controlled shell. This rocks Buffy to the core, because it has, naturally, terrible consequences, but -- Buffy relies so heavily on her control. And Faith keeps saying, with every she does, "Forget your control". Furthermore, Buffy is embarrased by Faith (again, something that seems very class related).

But, y'all, if Bad Girls wasn't like a holy shining beacon of slash love, then what the hell you doin' being a slasher? I mean, really. Buffy has conversations with her friends like, "Faith brings something out in me, when I'm around her I feel so --". Buffy can't *stop* talking about Faith. She *won't* stop, to the point that her friends are hushing her during a test. Faith shows up and draws a heart on the window (with a stake in it, but they're Slayers, come on) and Buffy skips class. Faith thrusts her pelvis at Buffy and makes groaning noises. No, but really. Several times. They dance together, all hot and sexy, face to face (there are men behind them, but I feel the face to face thing is somewhat telling). Faith makes Buffy feel exhilerated, and you can see it on Buffy's face.

Of course, you know, it goes too far, because there aren't limits on Faith's life, because no one has, like, cared enough to set them. But that's a different issue.

And, actually, let's tackle that issue. Faith goes 'evil'. Well, after you've killed a guy accidentally, become estranged from the one person upon whom you'd hoped you could depend (though, really, their relationship was always precarious, and Faith got that, I think), and you're entirely alone in a strange town where your life is clearly expendable, and the only thing you know that you can do well, really well, is *fight* and *kill* what the hell are you going to find yourself wanting to do?

Play baseball? Not with the so much.

And then there's the Mayor. The Mayor, who I wierdly LOVED. He loves Faith. He imposes boundaries. He takes care of her, makes her feel like she *matters*. And to get all of these things -- which she didn't have before -- all Faith has to do are those things she's so good at. Fight. Kill. Infiltrate the enemy.

At this point, what does it matter if she kills another human? She's already killed one, right? And now, she's doing it for a reason. For someone who cares about her. Who depends on her. Who *trusts* her.

So yeah. Evil, I guess. She's on the evil side, but she's far grayer than that. Otherwise, why would the dream sequence with Buffy occur at the end of the season? Why would she kiss Buffy on the forehead and tell Buffy not to become her? Becuase Faith isn't about good or evil, she's about being trying to belong.

She wants to belong with Buffy, but the Scoobies and Buffy herself have made it clear that's impossible. So she's where she *can* belong.

Interesting that this dream is from Buffy's point of view, because Faith's dream about Buffy, where Buffy stalks her down and kills her in S4, that's a totally different scenario. God, I love Joss dream sequences. They make me all tingly. But, yeah. I've not entirely puzzled through what that dream says about how Buffy sees Faith, but I do like how she keeps turning into a cat at one point. Faith really does *prowl* around, and Buffy knows it.

Do I think Buffy loves Faith? Yeah. I do. I think she really, really doesn't want to, though. They're magnets. Push them one way, they repel, and another, they attract. Faith and Buffy are magnets facing the wrong way, pretty much always except for Bad Girls. But, really, that scene in The Graduation (I think? Maybe?) where Buffy smoothes hair away from Faith's forehead -- it kills me. It really kills me. Buffy loves her, there, and only because Faith isn't awake. Because she'll never get called on it, never have to act on it.

Kills. Me.

So, Faith wakes up, and the only person who's given a damn about her and actively taken care of her in a long time is dead. The Mayor - evil or not - was kind of Faith's dad. Me? If my Dad was killed, and I knew who'd done it, I'd kind of want to kill them, too. Plus, they put *her* in a coma, and she's got to have low level rage about not being allowed to fit in with them from before, just waiting to spill over. So she kind of goes crazy.

But, really, I cannot ascribe to Faith as crazy!psycho!killer as a general Theory of the Faith. Yes. She does horrible things. She starts fights. She tortures Wesley (and I have so much turmoil about that, because WesLove! and FaithLove! Oh god! Conflict!). She tries to steal Buffy's life.

These are all bad things. But what Faith is good at is violence. It's what she knows. It's the only thing she's been praised for in *how* long? Talk about your conditioning experiences.

Buffy gets told she's smart, pretty, nice, good. Faith gets told she's -- really good at kicking asses and taking names.

I'm not exhonerating Faith. I"m just saying that maybe her instincts toward violence during her reappearence in BtVS S4 are more related to an overspill of whatever anger she's been housing since she first rolled up into Sunnydale (including pre-Sunnydale anger) and lack of confidence in her ability to do anything but *be* violent.

Plus, hey, she comes around by the end! Faith has so many redemptive moments it's hard to really keep count.

Also, in Angel? She way hits on Lilah a lot. And it's hot. And you should all write fic about it for me to read. Just sayin'.

So, Faith's violence in Angel. Eh. It explains itself. She wants to die, in order to not have to deal with the hole that her life is, and Angel seems like a convenient tool to accomplish that. Instead Angel with his hard on for redemption instead, saves her. Which is nice. Because I love her.

Angel, I'm mixed on. A lot. But that's a totally different post, now isn't it?

How do I see Faith, in a nutshell? I see her angry. I see her needing. I see her scared. I see her intuitive in terms of people's moods and desires. I see her knowing she'll never fit in Sunnydale. I see her tragic, honestly.

But Faith doesn't see herself tragic, and that's what I love most about her. She turns herself in, and she comes out, and she saves Angel from himself and everyone else from him, and she never once has a 'Poor Little Me' time. "It is what it is, yo." That's Faith, all over.

Plus, she practically LEAKS sex appeal. It'd be hard to name a single character with whom she didn't have an ounce of sexual tension. I just think of her and Buffy as being more than sexual tension. That's love. And it's real. And it's hard. And it's fucked the hell up. </i>

Faith and Buffy can't ever happen, because Buffy won't let it happen.

Buffy, I think, doesn't want to have this attraction to Faith. Doesn't even want to care about her beyond a sort of obligatory and self-congratulatory, "Oh this poor girl" kind of way.

But she *does*, and she hates that. Mixes it up with hating Faith, too. The emotions here are meaty and heavy, and hard to really articulate. Fitting, because so much of what this pairing is about is silence. Silence in the face of need, desires, vulnerabilities, similarities, the whole nine yards. They will always be unspoken, even if they do have sex. Because Faith won't force it. Faith will take what she's given, and hold on to it, and not push for more, because she *is* insecure, and she *won't* allow herself to be a burden.
 
 
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Selena: Darla - Kathyhselenak on May 5th, 2005 10:59 am (UTC)
I wrote my own rather extensive thoughts about Buffy and Faith elsewhere, so instead of just repeating myself, let me concentrate on one detail:

Well, after you've killed a guy accidentally, become estranged from the one person upon whom you'd hoped you could depend (though, really, their relationship was always precarious, and Faith got that, I think),

Err. Faith is doing the estranging and rejecting here. In both Bad Girls (post-death) and Consequences, Buffy keeps reaching out to Faith and Faith keeps pushing her back. Faith is also not above framing Buffy for the death.

Also, don't get me wrong, I love Faith as a character, but she really is responsible for every step she takes afterwards. By the time we reach Graduation Day, she kills people like Professor Lester without even bothering to ask why. The enormity of Faith's redemption, what she accomplishes is there precisely because she does have a lot to come back from. She wasn't just a little girl gone astray because her crush didn't kiss her back.
lalejandra on May 5th, 2005 02:26 pm (UTC)
I agree with everything you've said, and I've said it all myself (although, like you, I don't see myself as being in the skin of any Jossverse characters, etc.). But. The one thing I think you're missing is Faith's embrace of her bad side. She's not just conflicted about everything, she's conflicted about herself. She can see the bad guys from where she's standing -- and they don't seem so bad. Except for that they do. Except for that they don't. Except for that they do. And Faith doesn't want to have to take responsibility for the bad stuff that she's done if it means she can't hang out with the good guys anymore.

Like, when she blames Buffy for killing the human or whatever? At that point, the viewer realizes a lot -- the viewer realizes that Faith has realized that Buffy isn't like her, and doesn't like her. Maybe it's because Buffy sees in Faith exactly what she could become (and sort of does -- sixth season B/S? maybe). Maybe it's because Buffy doesn't like the idea that she's not the centre of attention anymore. Maybe it's because Faith might be a more powerful slayer.

(And really, if the show wasn't about Buffy, etc. etc., I think we'd have seen Faith as the more powerful slayer in a lot of ways, but whatever.)

I totally lost my train of thought, but I think you can see where I'm going here. Faith comes with her own baggage. She is totally not traditionally good in any way, and sometimes she embraces that. Maybe because she doesn't have a choice. Maybe because it's where she's more comfortable. But she's not entirely put-upon by the other characters (although I know that's not what you were saying anyway!).

Blah blah blah.
fashes ilia: Here Comes Trouble ~ frittersfashes on May 6th, 2005 11:03 am (UTC)
It's like you looked into my Faith loving heart and wrote down what it had to say.

The Mayor, who I wierdly LOVED.

What's weird to me are the people who *didn't* love him. He was *fantastic*. And then he adopted Faith.

He loves Faith. He imposes boundaries. He takes care of her, makes her feel like she *matters*. And to get all of these things -- which she didn't have before -- all Faith has to do are those things she's so good at. Fight. Kill. Infiltrate the enemy.

Yes. Yes, yes YES!! *hearts*

Now I want the good Buffy/Faith. There's so much bad it makes my eyes bleed.
Jaded: pornjadedsilver on May 7th, 2005 03:56 am (UTC)
What's weird to me are the people who *didn't* love him.

There are people who *didn't* love the Mayor?? I -- What?? o_O
Kattakattahj on May 7th, 2005 10:22 am (UTC)
I wish I had something intelligent to say, but really, I can just say "word" and let it be done with that. I see more sides to Faith than you have described (because every description is bound to be a summary only), but I agree with every side you did describe.
Rebecca: Something in the Way - onthefringenikitangel on May 7th, 2005 05:43 pm (UTC)
If my Dad was killed, and I knew who'd done it, I'd kind of want to kill them, too.

So few people give credit to this fact. They just assume this was more Crazy!Faith from last season.

And this was great! (here via metafandom) I'm definitely bookmarking it to read again later. I wrote the first half of a Faith analysis for the idol_reflection community last year. Trying to help people KNOW Faith, I suppose. The first two parts here if you're interested:

http://www.livejournal.com/community/idol_reflection/3626.html
http://www.livejournal.com/community/idol_reflection/3840.html

And I smiled at your pitch for more Faith/Lilah fic, so I'll link you to mine (not work-safe):
http://www.livejournal.com/community/mmm_smut/28379.html

And while I'm going link-crazy, here's a S3 Buffy/Faith ficlet *g*:
http://www.livejournal.com/users/nikitangel/112316.html
Raven: Gorey batraveninthewind on May 8th, 2005 03:43 am (UTC)
I liked this meta post, so I mentioned it in my most recent rec (a Buffy/Faith story) on crack van:
http://www.livejournal.com/community/crack_van/1126228.html

I can edit the post if you mind the mention.
shesageekcoocoo4oc_slash on October 12th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
While I disagree with a bit of your view of Faith, I think that what you say about Faith/Buffy is so spot on. One song that comes to mind is The Story by Brandi Carlile. Not necessarily the words but the way the song is performed. The raw sincerity mixed with uncertainty is exactly how, I think, Faith romantically is with Buffy.