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Ideas

Our home for bold arguments and big thinkers.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer/UPN
Slayers, every one of us.
READY TO BE STRONG

Hillary Clinton, the Vampire Slayer

Tammy Oler
By Tammy Oler

For fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the 2016 US election has felt eerily familiar. We’ve spent most of the campaign living on top of a Hellmouth that’s constantly spewing up all manner of hatred and aggression, whether it takes the form of fictional woman-hating villain Caleb (a reasonable stand-in for the real-life Donald Trump), the diabolical family-values-touting Mayor (Mike Pence), or patriarchal vampire The Master (Ted Cruz). Meanwhile, we’ve been hoping that Hillary Clinton will be the pantsuit-wearing Buffy Summers who saves us all.

Buffy makes a compelling fictional counterpart to Hillary Clinton. Both are powerful, complicated, and at times exasperating heroines. Both are singularly qualified to slay demons. Both have vexing relationships with problematic men. And, of course, both of them have been chosen to stand against the forces of darkness.

Admittedly, it’s an oversimplified comparison. But it’s impossible to deny that the themes of Buffy resonate with the high stakes of this election. Just as Buffy faced uber-vampires waiting in the Hellmouth to help evil conquer Earth, electing Clinton is our only chance at beating back the sexism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia that threatens to carry Donald Trump all the way to the presidency. And the arc of the series may actually be able to help us predict the outcome on Election Day.

Get ready.

It’s telling that Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s creator Joss Whedon has come out strongly for Clinton, and actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, who typically identifies as an Independent voter, has thrown her support behind the Democratic candidate as well. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Clinton recently noted in a New York Times interview, “I’m the last thing standing between you and the apocalypse.”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer has felt particularly pertinent as Trump’s history of sexism and sexual aggression has come into focus. The election has taken on overtones of the show’s seventh and final season, in which Buffy battles the ultimate Big Bad: The First Evil. The First, as it’s called for short, is an ancient force that frequently takes on the form of the misogynistic, serial killing ex-priest Caleb, who is fond of referring to women as “dirty” and “whores.” (It’s incredibly easy to imagine Caleb calling Buffy a “nasty woman.”)

One of Buffy’s most important jobs in this season is to gather and protect potential Slayers, young women who could be activated as the Chosen One to succeed Buffy in the event of her death. Recognizing the potential power of Buffy and her team, The First wages psychological and emotional warfare against them. It feels all too familiar in an election cycle full of gaslighting.

As the polls have tightened, it’s starting to feel as if we’ve entered that season’s third act. Big Bad Trump has gained on our Slayer, and victory is more uncertain than ever. It’s a grim time for most of us. Families have been divided; friendships have ended. There’s a lot of despair in the air.

But we would do well to remember what happens next in the story. Buffy enlists her best friend Willow, a powerful witch, to activate all the potential Slayers. “In every generation, one Slayer is born, because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule,” Buffy says. “So I say we change the rule. I say my power, should be our power… Slayers, every one of us.”

It takes all the Slayers together. But in the end, they’re able to hold back The First Evil’s horde.

It’s a fitting metaphor for the gender dynamics in this election. Women—however reluctantly—are overwhelmingly backing Clinton to take down Trump. Clinton has made gender a central part of her campaign since the general election began, but it’s also a key part of her closing argument. Trump’s treatment of women has featured prominently in Clinton’s get-out-the-vote rallies and is the focus of a new ad declaring that his sexism makes him “unfit to be president.”

It’s easy to imagine that the speech Buffy delivers to potential Slayers before their powers are activated could have been delivered by Clinton herself—perhaps as she spoke to undecided voters during the town hall debate.

“I hate this. I hate being here. I hate that you have to be here. I hate that there’s evil and that I was chosen to fight it. I wish a whole lot of the time that I hadn’t been. I know a lot of you wish I hadn’t been either. This isn’t about wishes. This is about choices.”

Of course, men are critical in this battle, too. But women can—and probably will—collectively cast the deciding vote. And for many of us, this isn’t just an opportunity to vote against Trump. It’s an affirmative vote for Hillary Clinton to be our first female president and slayer-in-chief.

“Make your choice,” Buffy says. “Are you ready to be strong?” On Nov. 8, I believe that women will show the world how ready we are.