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20 October 2003 @ 12:13 pm
I remembered!  
I remembered the gist of that scene I'd written and lost! Ha ha ha ha! The brain cells cling to the tree like leaves--dry and flapping but tenacious in the face of a chilling wind!

*cough*

The concept was my attempt to explain Wes's personality changes over time, how the stiff British watcher-geek could morph into rogue demon hunter and then *back* into geek, and then become Wes 4.0, the new, improved, scruffier version with the deadly competence at guns and the deep sexiness, a Wes who has the mellow bitterness of a good whisky. I can't really figure him out (setting aside meta issues of writing and plot expediency and such). I'm not sure I know what makes people change. I don't have experience with people who adopt personas or who exhibit that kind of fast, erratic personal development, though I can believe they exist. It says to me that Wes is layered and volatile. He seems reliable, day to day, and yet he shows a willingess to make major life changes on short notice: he gives up watcherhood, hits the road to slay demons then joins up with a vampire, takes Connor and is ready to disappear forever, sleeps with the enemy, sets up his own operations, keeps a woman locked in a closet, etc.

He has all those father issues; when we see him on BtVS, the ultracorrect watcher in the pristine suits, he was probably following his father's role model, or trying to meet his father's expectations. But was he always like that? It's hard for me to see it, because of how he blossoms later; Wesley of Sunnydale is all artifice and picky manners, trying to carry out traditional watcher duties. I tend to think that all personality is veneer most of the time, but if you were going to compare early Wes with late Wes, Watcher Wes with Dark Wes, and ask which is truer and which is falser, I'd say that the more affected role is his watcher role, whereas his dark cynicism and competence after leaving A.I. isn't affected. He's just living in his skin there, getting by as best he can, trying to impress no one.

It's interesting to compare his show-offy, puffed-up exposition on BtVS--at a time when his knowledge was purely theoretical and bookish--to later developments, where it's *still* theoretical and bookish a lot of the time, but he's obviously come to realize the limitations of that knowledge. Also, though, he knows how to use it more effectively for what it is, and he's got a lot more experience under his belt as the years pass.

Anyway, all this is to say that darkness and complexity like that doesn't just grow out of nowhere; it makes Wes's Sunnydale watcher days seem suspiciously like the aberration, a role adopted as camouflage, out of necessity and fear--it's his first assignment, of course, and it must be a prize, considering that there's usually only ever one active slayer at any given time, compared to dozens if not hundreds of watchers. But if I were to imagine backstory, I'd imagine him operating here under paternal pressure, puppet strings being pulled, threats levied. Watcher Wes has the high, buffed shine of someone who is trying to redeem himself from *earlier* disgrace, failed rebellion. He also has the anxiety of someone who needs to prove to himself he's something other than what he fears. So, what happened? He tried to break away from his father and the career he'd been fated to, and things went bad. He didn't make it on his own; tried another career and made a hash of it. Or, like Giles qua Ripper, tried another lifestyle and nearly self-destructed, came close to the edge, scared himself straight for a time. Literally or figuratively.

Annnnnnnnyway. That's just a lot of contextual frill around a paragraph's worth of awkward dialogue in which I reduce all of Wes's problems to Sordid Sexual Trauma:
Wes rebeled against his father when younger and explored his sexuality by going out to clubs. One night he got into an ugly scene; wasn't raped so much as pressured to submit to group sex. He recounts what happened and says, "They weren't forcing me physically, but their persuasion was...forceful. There came a particular point when I thought, 'I could strike him, I could try to get away.' But I was afraid...it wasn't even that I might lose in a fight. I was afraid to find out that I'd need to fight. If there was no struggle, then surely I was making the choice to stay. I didn't want to find out that the men I'd been drinking and laughing with might go that far. I wanted to believe in their better natures."
After all that, in the cold harsh light of day--like Ted on "Queer as Folk"--a guy might drop a certain lifestyle of drugs, clubs, and excess and return to the straight and narrow, or try to.

Yeah, I'm a cheap and evil girl.
 
 
 
daddy's not done talkingros_fod on October 20th, 2003 01:20 pm (UTC)
I'd say that the more affected role is his watcher role, whereas his dark cynicism and competence after leaving A.I. isn't affected. He's just living in his skin there, getting by as best he can, trying to impress no one.

I love all of this, but that quote above rings so true, I think a lightbulb actually went off somewhere. Not anywhere in my vincinity, but still.

Wes, when not indebted to anyone, when working purely from his own motivations, who is the person that he really is under those circumstances. He keeps surprising me again and again, and it's testimony to the believability of his volatile nature that I think we swallow those surprises. Justin in his closet? WHOAH, we say. But we don't actually question it, it doesn't seem false. At least not to me. I'm not sure we've seen exactly where his limit is; and man, GOD, that's sexy.