As we plunge into the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the WB's hip experiment in pulpy juvenile angst and supernatural realism) it's time to consider the archaic, complex symbols on which the entire show hinges: Buffy's breasts.
Their seductive physical properties aside, Buffy's breasts are transfixing in a purely philosophical sense as well. Their half-exposed, creamy curves are like constantly changing characters; they cry out for analytical attention, aesthetic interpretation, and of course, various lurid forms of audience participation.
Buffy fans will no doubt watch Angel, the spin-off series in which Angel becomes a suspiciously Forever Knight-esque vampy L.A. crime fighter. But loyalists know that without Buffy's breasts, a crucial part of their beloved demonic soap will always be missing.
And so, in homage to our swashbuckling heroine's most expressive parts, I offer some ways to celebrate and contemplate Buffy's breasts.
Games You Can Play with Buffy's Breasts
Even the uptight Tonight Show with Jay Leno has mentioned the Buffy drinking game, in which fans down a shot every time one of Buffy's bra straps is exposed. Sarah Michelle Gellar, the actress who fills out Buffy's role so fetchingly, confessed to Harper's Bazaar, "Usually people get plastered."
For the more technologically endowed, my friends and I have developed a game called "freeze the cleavage." Using the TV's freeze frame function, you can capture each gratuitous Buffy breast close-up and save it in the corner of the screen for profound, extended study. And of course, if you want to get really creative, you can always publish pornographic fan fiction about Buffy and her horny friends.
Buffy's Breast Moods
Like the Mona Lisa's face, Buffy's breasts portray subtle shifts in human emotion. Viewed from different angles, they can suggest everything from cruel temptation to delirious plenitude. Here are some of their more common forms:
Action Breasts: Tight T-shirt-encased breasts that whiz by as Buffy kicks vamps in the face.
Chosen One Breasts: Softly lit globes with a cross dangling between them, generally featured in scenes with Mom or Giles.
Temperamental Breasts: When Buffy has to do yucky things like go to class, these pouty breasts swell capriciously beneath a silky, spaghetti-strap top. Nipple seekers take note: Here's the time to look for that elusive hint of erect nips.
Danger Breasts: Usually framed by the v-neck of a teeny leather jacket, these are the muscle-reinforced breasts that jiggle menacingly when Buffy aims her stake.
The Meaning of Buffy's Breasts
Ever since last year's season premiere when Buffy was enslaved by demons and began a slave rebellion while wielding a hammer and sickle, fans everywhere have known there is a deeper meaning to Buffy's pneumatic beauty. Her breasts are nothing short of a call to revolution.
Which revolution? Take your pick. Buffy's blatantly feminine attributes might be a message about the power feminist movement, in which women can have sex, kick ass, and even wear lip gloss once in a while. Possibly they are an anti-fundamentalist statement, since Buffy's casual way of sporting a cross relegates the main symbol of Christian faith to a fictional world of fantasy-horror. Or maybe, just maybe, Buffy's breasts are really an anti-capitalist force, since most teens would have to loot and riot to afford covering their breasts with Buffy's designer clothes.
See also: A Crash Course in Buffy Studies
Annalee Newitz is a freelance writer in San Francisco, and is the author of a forthcoming book on movies about monsters, psychopaths, and the American economy.