Where fantasy meets reality… there is the fictional character crush.
I’m currently going through season 4 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” but I’ve known about “Hush” for a long time. And by a long time, I mean this past March (or was it April?).
I took a film class last semester on the use of sound and sound mixing stuff, and my professor screened “Hush” and “Once More With Feeling” for the class because of their unique uses of sound (for the former, silence, for the latter, musical times!). As someone pretty much unfamiliar with the series, those two episodes were jarring because, hello, backstory needed much, but I enjoyed what I watched so much that now, I’m going through the series for the first time.
And a lot of things have started falling into place. When Riley Finn was introduced on the show, I started swooning over him because I thought he was soooooo cute, and a friend of mine made an astute observation: he looks and sounds and to some extent “acts” a lot like, well, someone real.
Now, of course he’s no Angel, but unlike most “Buffy” fans, I didn’t cry (real tears or otherwise) over the dark, brooding one’s separation from the show. Riley’s a good, unpretentious guy who might be overly aggressive sometimes, but at least in this point in the show (“The I in Team”), he’s shown that he really cares about Buffy. And yeah, I know he’s got some major flaw revelations coming up, and even now he’s started straddling the “for the greater good” / “doing it because I can” line, but I mean, he’s so goddamn cute when he smiles earnestly at her.
He’s pretty much the whitest bread ever baked, but his loyalty, his dedication to something beyond himself (even if it’s mad sketch), his arms (hey, even Buffy mentioned them)–just, mmm.
Which brings me back to “Hush.” Guess what personal situation started to arise after I watched that episode for class?
I think most folks make subconscious cultural associations between real world people and fictional characters; just look at all the “Which character are you in x?” quizzes there are out there. The idea that there already exists a “you” in the magical world of storytelling in whatever medium is intoxicating, because it’s so much easier to relate to and understand a situation when, hey, it’s playing out right in front of you, and you can “channel” that character when making personal decisions. Like, oh my god, I really relate to Carrie, or man, I am totally Joan, etc.
That in itself is already a form of light delusion–if you base all your actions and personality traits and interests on fictional characters, what do you do when the story ends? When that character changes and develops and you don’t? There’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from fiction, but just, y’know, remember it’s fiction.
The problem for me begins when I start to place those character associations upon other people. When I look at someone and start thinking that I can even begin to pigeonhole that person as someone who already exists, albeit not in this reality.
And in the case of Riley Finn, when the idea of the person I know in real life and the character in the story begin to blur to the point where I don’t know if I think Riley’s super cute and good and caring because I’m objectively looking at him or if my perception of him is amplified because of his real counterpart.
And what if it’s actually the other way around, and I just didn’t put two and two together all this time.
And then that makes me question my actual feelings
and then I’m just left with a big question mark.
Whatever, I still have 3.5 more seasons of “Buffy” to get through before school begins, which is in less than a month, and also in that time span I have to move, maybe multiple times, and go to multiple concerts (note: not actually complaining), and set my fall semester internship schedule, and survive the week-long hell that is band camp. No more time for the life fantastic, however sweet it may seem…