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"Is This A Penis Metaphor?: An Analysis Of Adolescent Sexuality In Buffy The Vampire Slayer"

4029 words - 16 pages

Adolescent sexuality is an extremely complex and controversial subject. Traditionally, it has been oversimplified by the tele-visual media, which generally conforms to dominant cultural moral expectations and is often favours the adult perspective. The decision for an adolescent character in a television program to lose their virginity is often presented in such a way that it prevents those watching from relating to it. The more complex psychological issues surrounding teenage sexuality such as gender preference and roles, and the moral consequences of sexual behaviour are barely touched upon. The occasions when issues of significance do present themselves, they only have 30-minute time slots to be resolved. Large numbers of teenagers surveyed indicated dissatisfaction with the portrayal of the subject in televised and filmed media, many suggesting a belief in the media's tendency to exaggerate the significance of sex in everyday adolescent life. However, the medium of television can also be utilised in order to communicate the complexities of adolescent sexuality. This is demonstrated potently in the post-modern show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which attempts to convey the ambiguities of sexual morality without simplifying or condemning the issue.Often, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer has been dismissed merely as a fad. Studies reveal that it is generally categorised along with a number of contemporary 'teen' shows as 'low culture' drama. However, its influence on the academic community and pop culture indicates that it is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. The chief reason for the diversity and scope of its devotees' attention is in the versatility of the show and its unflinching resolve to tackle the more controversial teenage issues. As a result of the different levels upon which it can be analysed, coupled with the sophisticated appropriation of multiple forms of genre, Buffy the Vampire Slayer breaks the boundaries of high and low culture. The post-modern preoccupations reflected in the series are shown in a number of ways. The moral ambiguities which the show presents replicate the post-modern concern with uncertainties. This manifests itself in the complex representations of sexuality as the characters move from adolescence to adulthood over the series, despite the primary concerns of the show shifting with the aging and changing contexts of its central characters. The fundamental ambiguities attached to morality, specifically in regards to adolescent sexuality remain apparent. This is one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's strongest characteristics. Rather than attempting to oversimplify or exaggerate the issue, the composers attempt to consistently depict the complexities involved in a realistic and ultimately accessible manner. Wilson suggests that whilst "plenty of shows have dealt with adolescent sexual angst. . . Buffy may be the only one to do so by pitting its protagonist against a giant reproductive blob monster. . . In the school...

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