Jun 18, 2013

Unforgivable Acts

Have you ever witnessed a beloved character do something so vile and reprehensible that your opinion of the character changed and you didn't know if you could ever forgive them?

Foz Meadows talked yesterday about Spike's attempted rape of Buffy in the Season 6 episode, "Seeing Red." It's a disturbing moment, and Foz's points about just what makes it so disturbing are spot on. But the strange thing is that when Spike shows up again in Season 7, the group doesn't seem particularly concerned, even before they find out he's regained his soul (which, of course, doesn't immediately absolve him of what he did). You could say that they push Spike away and mistrust him, but it really feels like lip-service. For all practical purposes, he's right there, offering to help the Scoobies fight the bad guys.

And the attempted rape is just one thing he's done that he's never made to answer for. Spike is a murderer, a monster. He takes joy in violence and the suffering of others. But, because he's a popular character, the audience looks past that and still roots for him. So how far is too far?

There have been times when I've forgiven characters for doing awful things. I figure I've invested so much in a series that it's not worth giving up on it for one slip. With movies, it's easier to write a character off, since you've only committed a couple of hours to the story.

Is that why we ignore when characters do things that really are unforgivable? Because we don't want to feel that we've wasted all that time spent following a particular series?

I rarely see people acknowledge that a character can't be forgiven/understood, while still saying that they love a particular series. It's difficult to accept the failings of those stories we enjoy, but I think it's important to try. We can enjoy a story that presents us with difficult situations or uncomfortable themes. But is the real challenge to stop trying to defend our own choices? To agree that it's okay to like a particular show or book, even when the characters have done horrible things?

We're not in the habit of criticizing things we enjoy. But perhaps we should be.

Have any of you forgiven characters, or simply ignored their actions, just to keep up with a series? Has a character ever gone too far, and left you not only unable to forgive them, but unable to enjoy the series from then on?


  1. There have been a few series I've stopped reading or watching because of certain characters, especially favorite characters doing something reprehensible and unforgivable.

    Yes, I understand that books and shows are supposed to mirror life. Still, there are people and parts of life I don't choose to associate with.


    1. I agree. I've given up on some books or series simply because I can't stomach the setting or story they're portraying, or the manner in which they portray them.