Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Buffy vs Bella by Karen Rock


In the past, the archetype of a female, romantic heroine has been an ingénue- an innocent, virtuous female who lacks sophistication and cunning. Typically, an ingénue is beautiful, gentle, sweet, virginal, naïve, and, at times, in danger. These ideal leading ladies are beloved because they represent the typical ‘Girl Next Door’.

Please excuse me for a minute while I spit out my coffee…

Okay. Back now.

Fast forward to my reality. The gal who lives next door to me has been married twice, has a blended household of eight children, three dogs, four cats, two guinea pigs, and a lizard, is the clinical director of our hospital’s cardiac unit, runs our neighborhood improvement committee, and pitches in a women’s softball league. Her Christmas cookies are also the most coveted treats at our annual cookie exchange. How does she do it all? Like most modern women, she makes it work and I completely relate to her… especially when she knocks on my door at seven a.m. to borrow milk wearing a hastily tied robe, her hair swirled in a towel, one slipper missing. Of course she forgot to pick up groceries after a long board meeting last night. With her schedule, I’d forget my own address. But despite her hectic life, she’s funny, helpful, strong, smart, caring, and -yes- not perfect. I couldn’t admire her more as an ideal leading lady- if she wasn’t already happily married to a very hunky captain in our local National Guard unit. SHE is today’s girl next door. And those are the women I want to feature in my romances.  

My heroine preference became clear while watching Les Miserables. I kept comparing Eponine, the daughter of villains, to darling Cosette, the story’s romantic lead. Cosette is a loving and obedient daughter mistreated in her younger years by Eponine’s parents. I should, and did, admire and pity her for her misfortunes and her gentle, caring personality. Nevertheless, I could not relate to her. Cosette is the archetype ingénue. She is literally locked away in a nunnery for most of her life. She is beautiful, young, idealistic, and pure… Yet my heart went out to Eponine, the gritty young woman who joined the resistance rather than staying safely behind the iron gates of her father’s home. While Cosette flounced around in virginal white dresses and passed notes to her love, Eponine wielded a gun for the rebel cause, even after learning that Marius, her unrequited love, now loved Cosette. I couldn’t help but wish that Marius would fall for this strong, determined young woman. She wasn’t the fragile, female romantic ‘ideal’. Yet, she was more real and lovable for her imperfections and grit. Eponine is a leading lady for today’s modern woman.

 No debate about classic versus modern female heroines would be complete if I didn’t compare Bella Swan of Twilight to Buffy Summers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Bella is an ingénue. She’s innocent, naïve, and in constant danger from her vampire boyfriend and his enemies. Her hero, Edward Cullen, rescues her several times and is the dominant alpha male in their relationship. Buffy, on the other hand, is a strong, equal partner to her vampire boyfriend, Angel. In fact, although he’s a powerful vampire (and may I say mega hot!), she can easily best him in a fight. Yet her strength, cunning, fierceness, and loyalty deeply attract this strong, confident man. He’s not put off by an independent woman. He loves her all the more for it. Buffy is the rescuer rather than the rescued. Minus her stake-wielding prowess, she is relatable to women today.

Modern women make their way in the world without a man to rescue them, and they demand a lover who respects and admires them for it. (Hugs and kisses to my strong, self-assured husband Greg for reading and giving this post two thumbs up!)


Vote for your preference in the Cosette vs. Eponine or Bella vs. Buffy Battle of the Romantic Leading Ladies. (Though I should warn you that Buffy will probably kick everyone’s butt if she doesn’t get your votes. lol :) Post a comment and enter to win today’s giveaway, a copy of Amy Knupp's amazing Heartwarming LONE OAK FEUD, friendship bracelets- one for you and one to share- and an autographed bookmark for my upcoming Young Adult romance CAMP BOYFRIEND, available for pre-order now on Amazon. A scan code on the back of the bookmark will direct you to a free download of the prequel novella to the series, CAMP KISS. The winner will be announced on this blog and on my author facebook page www.facebook.com/JKRockwriters tomorrow. Good luck and I can’t wait to see who gets your vote!!

72 comments:

  1. Can I vote for Sookie Stackhouse?! Hahaha. I choose Bella, only because I haven't seen Buffy!

    I loved this post!!

    "Modern women make their way in the world without a man to rescue them, and they demand a lover who respects and admires them for it."
    Love it! *Gold Star*

    -Cody

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    1. Thanks, Cody! You are a modern man to appreciate a modern woman :)

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  2. Great blog, i prefer strong female characters so buffy gets my vote.

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    1. haha- you had to say that, Greg :) Thanks for voting!

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  3. I definitely vote for Buffy, strong female lead :)

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    1. Agreed, Karla :) It feels good to root for someone that stands up for herself!

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  4. Buffy all the way!! Bella doesn't even come close to the chosen one!!

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    1. hahahahaha- love that, Lariza! She is The Chosen One... and we'd better not forget it :)

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  5. Def Buffy. Still one of my all time vampire slayers!!!

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    1. Buffy is definitely slaying this vote- lol- sorry, couldn't resist the pun. But then again, neither could Buffy!

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  6. This is such a great post!

    I can't choose in the Cossette/Eponine contest as I haven't seen the movie and it has been a (long) while since I have seen the play. As for the other... Buffy. Definitely Buffy!

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    1. Kendra- you have to see Les Miserables!! We'll talk after :) Thanks so much for voting!

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  7. EPONINE, who has the most wonderful song in the show when she is dying. Makes me cry just thinking about it. And never saw Buffy, but wasn't David Boreanaz 'Angel?' If I'm right about that, gotta love her for caring for such a hottie! But let's not malign all the Goodie Two-shoeses out there. (I'm the one whose editors are always telling me, "Your characters are too nice. Rough them up.") I don't think the world could deal with the drama if we were all like Eponine or Buffy. Some of us have never had really bad things or people cross our paths, and aren't attracted to the bad boy or dangerous things. We just do what what seems right and safe. But - true - it doesn't make good literature. Great post, Karen. Got everybody thinking and taking sides. But . . . am I alone, here?

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    1. Hi Muriel! No you are definitely not alone :)Eponine's songs- especially On My Own- made me weep. But who am I kidding? I cried throughout the whole movie! And I agree that, like everything in life, romance needs balance. A yin and a yang... in this case, a Buffy and a Bella to suit all tastes! Thanks so much for commenting :)

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    1. Love how you used "Totally"- such a Buffy-esque term :)

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  9. I choose Eponine because even though she grew up with the parents that she had, she was still able to become a girl with such a big heart. :)

    I really hate Bella (especially in the second book of the series) so Buffy definitely gets my vote. :D

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    1. I agree that Eponine is the kind of heroine that many can relate to- especially overcoming such a terrible home life. Her parents were cheats and thieves, yet she sacrificed herself for a cause and the man she loved... it just doesn't get better than that!

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  10. Oh man... It is Buffy by a landslide so far!! She is probably already celebrating by hunting down vampire Bella- lol :)But the day is young... we'll see if we get a few votes for Bella...

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  11. Great post!

    And, yeah, it has to be Buffy. Bella frustrated me to no end (especially in Book 2). She didn't have a life without Edward. And I never thought that was a good example for young women.

    Go, Buffy!

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    1. Bella was frustrating - especially in the second book where the only way she could get Edwards attention was to keep throwing herself into dangerous situations!! She should have been strong, gotten over Edward, and gone for hunky Jake- who seemed to love a more real version of Bella-,but team Jake vs team Edward is a whole other debate :)

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  12. I'm going for Eponine, who never allowed her devastating life to defeat her and Buffy, always Buffy. Fidgety, dependent and insecure Bella was frustrating, I mean, how did she even exist before meeting Edward? I love the romantic story, but she's way too much of a damsel in distress all the time... even Edward thought so... remember? When he told her she couldn't walk on a flat surface without hurting herself and how could he let her out of her sight for a weekend??

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    1. Sue, those are great points! I forgot that even Edward was losing patience with Bella and how she couldn't manage for herself without him! And I'm with you on Eponine! She won me over with her strength and strong ethics despite an upbringing that could have made her cruel instead! Thanks for commenting :)

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  13. Buffy all the way she is the ultimate and one and only first ever kick-butt heroine!

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    1. You said it, Desere! Joss Wheedon created such a memorable character in Buffy. She raised the bar on what we expected from our female leading ladies. She was gorgeous, tough, caring, funny, smart and quirky- but she kicked butt! Who didn't want to be Buffy? I did!

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  14. Ohh you're very persuasive! I vote for Buffy originally, and now Eponine too!

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    1. Yay! Another vote for the tragic Eponine :) I really felt for her in the movie. (haven't seen the play) I loved how determined and strong she was, despite all that stood against her and a happy life. Thanks so much for commenting, Hnossi :)

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  15. I vote for Rory, the daughter in The Gilmore Girls. LOL

    But, if I have to vote kick butt, it would be Buffy.

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  16. I love Rory and I love The Gilmore Girls, Pam! I own the entire collection and watch it every year. Rory is such a good example of a strong, smart, successful young woman and an ideal leading lady! Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

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  17. I love Gilmore Girls too:) While on maternity leave, all I watched were reruns on Cosmo TV. I prefer Lorelei-her relationship with Luke is awesome:)

    However, in the hope of winning today (I can still win right, even though I blog here? lol If not, I may have to quit the group-or create a fake user name lol.)I pick Buffy, definitely. I loved the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie:)

    xo
    Jen

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  18. Hi Jen! Oh do I love Luke! He's gruff but caring, funny with a tender side that has always melted my heart. I couldn't wait for those two to finally figure out they were perfect together. It was also really cool to see how at different times one would be up in life and the other down, but they were there to support- even if they didn't see it that way. I think their romance is a perfect Heartwarming type story! Thanks for posting, Jen, which definitely makes you eligible to win :)

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  19. No contest, IMO. Bella's just something for Buffy to trip over on her way to stake Edward.:D

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    1. hahahahahahahahahaha- you are 2 funny!! That image is going to make me smile for the rest of the night :D (see?) Thanks, J for making me laugh!

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  20. I'd like to think we meet the Bellas and the Cosettes of the world early in their journeys and that they can become more fully realized characters later in life. Bella grows throughout the Twilight series to find her own strength and to be a worthy partner for Edward. Refusing to remain in her protected human state, she takes the dangerous risk of finding her place in the vampire world. That's the sign of a strong heroine, well on her way to Buffydom!

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    1. Such a good point, Joanne! Character arc is important and it's great to look back at a character from the start of a book to where they finish and feel like a proud parent. We can pat the characters after they morphed into a stronger person and say, "fly- be free- go stake a vampire" lol. But seriously, it is an important element and I'm so glad you raised it on this blog. Thanks for stopping by :)

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  21. LOVED the post! As for choosing....if we were talking Les Mis...I'd be hard pressed because like you, my heart went out to Eponine and I think she was portrayed in this current release the best I have ever seen.

    Bella vs Buffy though? Don't even have to think...BELLA

    Guess I love the ingenue. ;)

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    1. Thank you so much, Liberty :) This was such a fun post to write and I'm having an even better time reading great responses like yours! Ingenue's are a favorite and classic for a reason. Many love them for their tender hearts and vulnerable ways. I definitely can see your point and won't rule out using one... maybe if I give her a superpower she hasn't mastered yet... idk- but you've given me much to consider. Thanks for your post!

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  22. Eponine and Buffy

    I dislike Bella as a protagonist on every possible level.

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    1. Hi CK! There is such a hilarious send up on YouTube that looks at all of Bella's (from the movie's) weird wordless sounds and they were often accompanied by tripping or being awkward... I had no idea how often that happened! Not that I'm down on her being balance impaired- so to speak- but really. How ever did she manage before Edward came into her life- then 'rescued' her by ending it... The whole thing is weird. Thanks so much for your vote!

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  23. Buffy, hands down. Not only can she kick Bella's ass, she can kick Bella's Vamp boyfriend's too. :)


    Michelle :)
    Author, PODs available June 4th
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    1. lol- you said it, Michelle! That would be a throw down I'd like to see- Buffy taking on the Cullens. Good luck Cullens, I say :) Thanks so much for commenting!

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  24. Totally Buffy there is no competition on that, the only thing Bella is good for is being devoured by the Cullens. Also, I would like to state Mrs. Rock you are an excellent author and an outstanding English teacher who taught me the glory of writing, Thank You. <3

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    1. Oh Eve- you just made me cry! That was such a beautiful thing to say. I'm so glad that I've gotten to work with you this year. A teacher couldn't ask for a more talented, kind, thoughtful, intelligent and creative student. You inspire me every day!! (P.S.- don't forget your essay is due tomorrow- lol :)

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  25. Great post Karen! I thoroughly enjoyed it! I'm a Buffy fan since before Sarah Michelle Gellar so my vote goes to BUFFY (and I don't want her to kick my butt *chuckles*).
    Slayer vs ingenue....slayer all the way!

    "Modern women make their way in the world without a man to rescue them, and they demand a lover who respects and admires them for it." Amen!

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    1. I love Slayer vs. Ingenue! I wish I'd thought of that as the title for this piece... Thanks so much for commenting and for quoting me :) when I read that I thought "wow- who wrote that?" Then I remembered, me :) I appreciate you stopping by Heartwarming!

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    2. An absolute pleasure Karen! Thanks for the invite ;)

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    3. You're welcome, Shannon! I hope you'll stop by Heartwarming's blog again :) we have great authors posting Monday through Friday and I never miss reading their excellent posts!

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  26. Im a bit too old to truly appreciate twilight plus I found bellas character a bit needy and selfish. Two races of superhuman beings spent 4 novels trying to satiate her every whim... Really?!?

    Been in-love with SMG since I hit puberty and ive seen every episode of Buffy at least once. Buffy all the way! Even Eliza Dushku as Faith gets my vote over bella.

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  27. Lol! You are right, Ahmed! Bella had werewolves and vampires protecting her and she still managed to need rescuing! One of my favorite movie lines is when Julia Roberts tells Richard Gere in PRETTY WOMAN that the princess rescues the prince right back :) that's my ideal as a female leading lady's attitude. Btw- I've watched all 144 episodes of Buffy and they are better and better every time I watch them!

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    1. Karen, I don't write romance, but I do write leading ladies and I think my audience would ever appreciate any of them coming off helpless or needy.

      I get my main characters from women I know (mainly my older sister) who has always been a kick butt first kind of woman.

      I like the pretty woman line, my leading ladies definitely save their fair share of everyone.

      You should poll wonder woman vs bionic woman next. Now that would be a close race.

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    2. I like the way you think, Ahmad. And your leading ladies and your sister sound awesome!!

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  28. Congratulations, Kendra! You are the winner of the Buffy vs. Bella giveaway :) Please email your mailing address to me at karenrock@live.com and I will send it out ASAP!

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  29. I do like the kick butt heroines, but I'm also a big fan of Elle Woods who starts "Legally Blonde" as the typical ingénue and becomes someone I wouldn't want to mess with in the courtroom. So there is always room for growth in the life of an ingénue :)

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    1. Syndi that is such a good example and illustrates Joanne's point earlier so well :) It is about growth and I love Elle too for the strong, independent woman she becomes!

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  30. Buffy for sure! And Epinine over Cosette!

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    1. I like your taste in heroines, Sandy! Thanks so much for posting on Heartwarming :-)

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  31. I had so much fun watching a mini Buffy marathon last night with my daughter who is now old enough to watch. It was great to see her fall in love with the series and introduce her to such a strong female role model :D Thanks so much for stopping by our Heartwarming blog. We have great posts from amazing authors and editors Monday through Friday!

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  32. It has to Buffy (why are you even asking?) as she is a role-model that shows girls that it is okay to be strong and independent as opposed to whiny, clingy and waiting to be rescued (Please note that this is my own opinion of Bella from reading the first Twilight book, and no has to agree with me).

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    1. lol- good question! As a teacher and writer, I'm always looking for books with strong female characters to recommend- and Buffy tops my list :) Thanks for stopping by the Heartwarming blog!

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  33. I most definitely say Buffy. She had her annoying moments as a heroine, but the times that she stood up and fought when she needed to outnumber her whiny moments. I feel like Bella is a vapid character who was tailor-made to suit the "every girl". I am not a fan of her.

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    1. Doll- you are so right. Bella is "every girl" but us, I suppose :) Many of us, actually, when you read all of these great comments. I think she is the author's ideal of a female lead instead of the reality. And while that is escapism, I would rather relate and feel grounded in my stories. Thanks so much for stopping by our Heartwarming blog. Look out for more great post by our terrific authors.

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  34. I love them both. But, c'mon ppl. Lets be real. bUFFY. All the way! She kicks ass so hard. She's strong, physically AND emotionally. She's gone through so much, and didnt need to "change" to do it. Even without her slayer powers, she still kicked ass (remember what the council did when she turned 18?!)

    So, yeah. Buffy all the way! Enter me in the giveaway. diamondnazaneen@gmail.com

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    1. I 100% agree, Diamond!! I also love how vulnerable she can be when she lets down her guard- especially around Angel. Their romance is the stuff of legends. I loved it when she told him he was the only freaky thing that made sense in her freaky life. Awwwwwwww. Thanks for stopping by Heartwarming. I hope you'll follow us again with more great blog posts to come from bestselling authors!

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  35. This is another great post, Karen! I'd love to see more heroines like Eponine and Buffy (without the vampires, of course...at least for Heartwarming).

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  36. Agreed, Laura :) Sans the vampires of course - lol. Thanks so much for stopping by! Heartwarming is a great place for strong female characters and I can't wait to write them. It's wonderful to know that our editors feel the same way :)

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  37. Aware that I am Months late on this comment, I still MUST comment.

    I have always identified with the strong female. The boat-rocker, the rebel. And not because she's the opposite of me, but because she IS me. Well, me since I became a mother. Being a mother makes you TOUGH. Teaches you to FIGHT for what you believe in, instead of just letting things happen as they are.

    Simpering, fragile females just float thru life. Tough females make their path in the world!

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