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Televised Morality: The Case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Paperback – February 23, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Review

In a context in which a theological assessment of culture is often absent, Stevenson serves as an exemplary guide showing Christians how to engage culture on a substantial and discerning level even when they may not agree with everything [in it]… (Kenneth Cukrowski Restoration Quarterly)

About the Author

Gregory Stevenson holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University. He is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion and Bible, Rochester College, Michigan.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Hamilton Books (February 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761828338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761828334
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By cannotlogon on April 7, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title says it all. Gregory Stevenson has written an insightful polemic, defending the television show, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, against all the criticism that claims the show lacks a moral compass or, more inaccurately, that the show is downright immoral. Stevenson, a theologian at Rochester College in Michigan, examines BtVS from every conceivable angle to show just how deeply moral it is, and how the question of morality pervades every episode. From the show's take on everything from family, religion, love, friendship, government and school, the author draws on his extensive knowledge of the stories to demonstrate just what a compelling "morality tale" Buffy the Vampire Slayer really is.

Erudite without being pretentious, informed without being pedantic, this is definitely one of the better books on this well-chronicled television show. Highly recommended.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Vintagegal on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
For a while now, I'd been looking for a decent book that would "break down" the Buffyverse and look at it from a highly educated perspective, while not requiring a PhD to follow the text. Check and check! I work in a university, and for kicks one day, entered "Buffy" into the school library search engine. Lo and behold, this book came up! And I've been devouring it ever since.

Dr. Stevenson (as the other reviewers note), is both an obvious (and unashamed) fan of the series, and a theologian. In this book, he uses his 260 page "pulpit" to clearly, concisely, and surprisingly thoroughly examine, and at times defend, the many, many levels of meaning in BtVS. From a discussion of the visual as metaphor, to Spike and the redeption cycle, to the meaning of family, to the place of the Judeo-Christian God in a series created by an avowed athiest, to a grey area discussion on philosopy and morals, he covers it all. Unlike other tomes which cover similar ground, this one is unique in being a complete work by one author using both fandom and thorough research as bases.

I applaud this work because it neither tries to turn BtVS into something it was not, nor does it take itself so seriously that it becomes dry. If you're a BtVS fan looking for a different and very well written take on love, morality, life, death, redemption, resurrection, and the Single Slayer, you won't be disappointed by this book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Daniel on October 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Although this book was written by a theology professor with an admittedly conservative Christian perspective, it's obvious to the reader that the author is a discerning fan of a fabulous television show (yes, I'm a fan too), a show that doesn't get the credit it deserves for presenting a highly moral viewpoint (in this case Judeo-Christian) to its audience. The author's stated point in writing the book was "to convince others of the complexity of moral discourse within popular culture" (p.261), and he certainly accomplishes that goal.

Professor Stevenson presents and then effectively counters many arguments against the merits of the show that have been advanced by naysayers who don't really "get" the overarching themes of the narrative, yet he doesn't shy away from criticizing "Buffy" when he deems it warranted, especially where matters of overt sexuality are concerened.

Stevenson has included the valuable perspectives of the creator, producers, and writers in describing their intentions when constructing individual shows and arcs, culling references from both print and online resources. (I do wish there had been more commentary from the actors included, but it could be argued that their input was secondary to the intent of those behind the scenes. Maybe there's another book in that.)

The author brings up so many cogent points and connections about and among the show's characters and themes (there were many times when this reviewer would think, "Hey, I never thought of that!") that, although I am far from a conservative Christian, the book was a joy to read for this "Buffy" fan.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert Deeble on April 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
Stevenson's chapter citing eschatological themes in non other than the Buffy the Vampire television series caught my eye on line while painfully researching this topic for a graduate course. Stevenson blows past the narrow cultural traps of religiosity to examine the bigger picture for all of us, in doing so he beautifully demonstrates the heart aching truth that we all share, both religious and non, for being human, really well done. -rd
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By M. K. Chester on September 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book was written by a professor of religion at my alma mater - I actually saw it in the alumni newsletter and called the college bookstore to purchase it. I think the lady who took the call thought I was out of my mind, but she sent it anyway.

I've been fascinated by Buffy for years, shed tears when it ended, but (as a Christian) could never really explain why it was worthwhile viewing. It's not the violence and gore, the fangs and the horns, it's the moral message in the mix. You can't see it in one or two episodes; you have to be involved.

This book tells you why Buffy can be considered a 'moral' television show, when viewed consistently. Part doctoral thesis, part pop culture, this book deals with the ideas of subtext, metaphor, community, guilt, and redemption. The man has done his research - I learned more about the creator, writers, and producers of Buffy and their meticulous set up of the story than anything else. I give it a "4" only because it leans heavily toward academic writing, and if that's not your bag, you'll have a hard time getting everything out this book has to offer.
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Televised Morality: The Case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
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