Oh Buffy, I've spent so much time with you I feel like I know you — or more accurately, I feel like I may have tried to become you. I've taken up Wicca (true), bought red leather pants (unfortunate, but true), and whittled my own stakes (sad, but very, very true). However, it was only the other night, when I was at home in much comfier pants binging on Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I finally discovered the greatest gift Buffy ever gave me... and I have a hunch I'm not alone.
As I was making my way all too rapidly through Seasons 1 through 7 I had a sudden realization: when you get right down to it, Buffy is all about the books. Where does Buffy go when trouble strikes? The library. How does the Scooby Gang set about solving a mystery? Why with the power of research, of course — hell, one of the main characters is a high school librarian, and it just doesn't get much more literary than that.
For all these years I've been wondering why I get a little giddy when I head to the stacks, why research is practically my favorite pastime, and what exactly made me think that another advanced degree in a time of economic fragility was the best choice. Now I have my answer: Buffy. Buffy made books cool, Buffy made research sexy, Buffy made the library the place to be. Buffy influenced a generation of readers in ways I have only begun to quantify, beginning with these 11 big ones:
A Book Can Change Your Life
What's the best way to welcome a pretty new transfer student to the Hellmouth? Why, with an ancient volume of supernatural wisdom, of course, on Buffy's first day, she wasn't quite ready to accept the good book into her life and heart. But, at the end of the day, the entire Buffy saga, like so many grand adventures, all started with a single book.
It's Cool to Stay in School
Most shows struggle with the transition from high school to college... most people too, when you get right down to it. But in Sunnydale it's cool to stay in school. In each season (with the arguable exception of sad old Season 6) school is the focal point of the action for Buffy and the gang. So, perhaps in the end it's not aimlessness but Buffy we have to thank for the proliferation of graduate degrees in this day and age.
There's a Fine Line between Wisdom and Magic
Before Willow was a magical force to be reckoned with she was queen of the books, and Giles' go-to-girl for all things research related. As Willow's magical powers blossomed Dawn took up the research duties... and eventually she took to the spells, as well. I don't know how many of us out there tried some actually transmogrification (guilty as charged), but Buffy blurred the line between magic and reading like never before, and that's the kind of influence with staying power.
Don't Ignore The Illustrations
There was one memorable episode where the Scooby Gang spent a terrifying night in the thrall of a fear demon only to find themselves face to face with all 5 inches or so of the creature himself. If only the good guys had paid closer attention to the illustration of said demon in one of Giles' handy books they might have noticed the note indicating that the figure on the page was the actual size. Just another lesson from the slayer — always pay attention to the illustrations.
Knowledge Is Power
The slayer may pack a mighty punch, but at the end of the day, the way the whole Scooby crew gets it done is with the power of the pen and the punch combined. Without the knowledge stored in all those dusty paperbacks there's no way Buffy would have survived until Season 7. Like many before her, Buffy reminded a generation that the library is the one true source of power in this world.
Stories Are Forever
When Buffy gets into real danger she looks to the past... the distant, distant past, and the lore that turns to legend and makes its way down to us through the generations. Although it's safe to say that the story has been a popular recreational choice from time immemorial, Buffy reminded all of us of the beauty and the power of the legend.
When In Doubt, Hit The Stacks
When the hellmouth is percolating and there's a new big bad in town, where do you turn? Why, to the library of course. If there's anything Buffy has taught us it's that danger means exactly one thing — a long late night in the stacks, with your closest friends, of course.
Fruitful Doesn't Necessarily Mean Fun
When it comes to research mode, in the world of the slayer, everyone's in on it... but that doesn't mean it's always a good time. Buffy might make research look fruitful, but she sure doesn't make it look like a barrel of laughs, which is a memory I like to turn to after a long day of research that's left me dead tired with very little to show for it.
Words Make The Best Weapons
Buffy's got fists like jackhammers and a roundhouse kick that could knock you senseless, but when she's really looking to inflict pain she turns to the serious stuff. From spells to the inside scoop, you never know what you'll find in a book, but you can sure it will be stronger than whatever you can find at the gym.
Who Needs A Clubhouse When You Have A Library?
These days we Millennials are flush with options for where and how to spend our time — from the coffee shop to the beer garden, there's WiFi on demand and no shortage of caffeine. But, at the end of the day, there's still no place like the library. I couldn't count on ten hands the number of times I saw Buffy and the gang camp out among all those books, and I can only assume that this early education in the wonder that is your local library has stayed with me to this very day.
You Can Never Have Too Many Books
Sometimes (mostly when I'm moving) I'm inclined to think otherwise, but in the world of Buffy you can never have too many books, and when push comes to shove I couldn't agree more. Whether it's that one arcane spell that will save the day or a few life lessons you can't find anywhere else, Buffy taught us all that you can never have too many books, and that's one lesson that will truly last a lifetime.
Image: 20th Century Fox / Mutant Enemy Productions; Giphy