What do these images have in common? Intertextuality.


On the surface, they might look like unrelated images with no relevance to one another. If you have seen a particular episode of television, these images begin to make more sense.

This college is full allusions made in the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Welcome to the Hellmouth. I love that a single episode of television can bring these divergent elements together in a weird and quirky way. The Intertextuality of Buffy is awesome for the following reasons:

  1. It sets the time for the story. Welcome to the Hellmouth is set in 1997 California, these references make sense in this context. Like telling that out of style vampire that he looked “like DeBarge,” fit with an old school reference then, but high school students of today wouldn’t have a clue who El DeBarge is or what his fashion looked like. Also the reference to James Spader (who is gonna be in a Joss Whedon movie, Avengers 2), sets this place and time. Most High schoolers wouldn’t really be after a 50 something actor, a 35ish actor makes much more sense.
  2. It provides information about the characters. Cordy cutting down Willow’s outfit saying that she’s seen “the softer side of Sears.” Tells you that Cordelia is fashion conscious and shallow. Buffy calling talk show host and mellow singer, “the Devil,” also gives us information about her pop culture preferences. Later on, I love how the vampire characters can make references to all kinds of varied popular culture and history, since they have experienced so much.
  3. It is fun and snappy. I love when something is referenced on TV and I get the joke or acknowledge the reference. It makes the dialogue much more fun than straight exposition.

See the dialogue below, just in case you haven’t seen the episode a bunch of times:

CORDELIA: Willow! Nice dress! Good to know you’ve seen the softer side of Sears.

James Spader and John Tesh
CORDELIA: Of course, we do have to test your coolness factor. You’re from L.A., so you can skip the written, but let’s see. Vamp nail polish.
BUFFY: Um, over?
CORDELIA: So over. James Spader.
BUFFY: He needs to call me!
CORDELIA: Frappaccinos.
BUFFY: Trendy, but tasty.
CORDELIA: John Tesh.
BUFFY: The Devil.
CORDELIA: That was pretty much a gimme, but… you passed!

The British Museum
WILLOW: He was a curator at some British museum, or, or The British Museum, I’m not sure. But he knows everything, and he brought all these historical volumes and biographies, and am I the single dullest person alive?

XANDER: Well, not much goes on in a one Starbucks town like Sunnydale. You’re pretty big news.

The Watchtower
BUFFY: (holds up outfit to mirror) Hi! I’m an enormous slut! (holds up a blue floral dress) Hello! Would you like a copy of ‘The Watchtower’? (lowers the dress) I used to be so good at this.

WILLOW: No, we’re just friends. We used to go out, but we broke up.
BUFFY: How come?
WILLOW: He stole my Barbie. Oh, we were five.

BUFFY: Okay, first of all, what’s with the outfit? Live in the now, okay? You look like DeBarge!


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