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Buffy The Vampire SlayerThe Strange And Incredible Saga Of Willow and Tara On "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" - Part 3
Erick R. Voshel
Wednesday 23 August 2006, by Webmaster
An Editorial by Erick R. Voshel - Part 3/4
My first example of this is an announcement made by Joss Whedon himself on June 18, 2002. at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in which he explained that Buffy would be getting a new job in the upcoming season. The reason? “Doublemeat Palace was the only thing we ever did to make advertisers pull out, “Whedon said. They did not like us making fun of fast food.” My second example is the following statement made by veteran Buffy actor James Marsters who played Spike in October,1999 to Horror On-Line: “Although the characters of Spike and Drusilla have become an integral part of the show, Whedon’s initial concept differed slightly James‘ role being a bit more disposable. “He was supposed to die three to four episodes after being introduced, “James explained. “Supposedly Angel was going to go bad and Juliet (Landau ) was going to be his girlfriend, and Angel was going to kill me as his first bad—boy thing to do.” And as for Angel himself? Consider the following statement which had appeared in the February 25, 2000 issue of The Hollywood Reporter: “Whedon went on to explain that they originally thought of Angel as a guardian for other characters but soon realized that the show’s audience wanted to know more about the mysterious good vampire.” My fourth and final example is a statement made by Joss Whedon during his interview with IGN.com in June of 2001 regarding the original plan to make Tara part—demon, as well as what led him to change his mind about that aspect of the story: “Wood sprite family fell by the wayside, “Whedon said. It was like a bolt from the blue: Wait a minute, we’re doing this wrong! And that’s why when we lay things in, we keep ourselves open, to a sudden change or a better idea. We’ve often had ideas that we were like, “Oh, we could pursue this,” and then something much cooler came along, and we’re like, “OK, never mind.” So, the above statements illustrate how the story can change directions based on the reactions of the sponsors, the writers themselves, or the audience. Mutant Enemy’s claims that the confines of the story had locked them into killing Tara simply do not hold up. Both Robert Black and The lesbian Cliché FAQ both point out that the Mutant Enemy writers had plenty of chances to send Willow down the path to Black Magic during the entire course of Season Six before “Seeing Red” was aired. (Plans were made for Willow to go evil as early as Season 3.) There was a whole variety of options open to Mutant Enemy, but it chose not to use them. For example Willow could have been pulled into darkness by her own insecurity, or pride, or quite possibly both. As the FAQ states, “Willow was clearly headed down this path early in Season Six when she raised Buffy from the dead, threatened Giles and fought with Tara. But the writers chose to change directions and occupy her with a physical magical “addiction” until May sweeps when they could kill Tara and send her on a quest for vengeance. Mutant Enemy deliberately chose the cliché when plenty of other possibilities were available to them.” The Lesbian Cliché FAQ goes on to say how Willow‘s Black Magic storyline is “merely an extreme retread of Willow’s actions in Season Five’s “Tough Love, “ in which she attacked Glory for brain---sucking Tara.” And they call this advancing Willow’s storyline? I don’t think so. The reason I feel this way is because this same scenario has been used once before on Buffy, but only with better results when Giles goes after Angel with a vengeance in Season Two’s “Passion,” in retaliation for Angel snapping Jennifer Calendar’s neck. Also, the FAQ argues that keeping a character alive and not evil is not the same thing as saying that a character is completely immune to problems or trouble. This fact has been demonstrated on Buffy several times.
Robert Black also talks about the choice made by Mutant Enemy to change the nature of Willow’s magic use into a metaphor for drug addiction in his essays. Black notes how that in the first nine episodes of Season Six Willow was growing largely dependent on her magic use, changing things to her liking, forcing her will onto other people, as well as making life simpler for herself. For instance, when Willow had an argument with Tara she cast a spell over Tara to make her forget about the fight. When Willow went with Tara to look for Buffy’s sister Dawn at The Bronze, she wanted to project everybody but Dawn into an alternate dimension to make the search easier The temptations of how Willow could wield that power were exposing darker sides of her personality. In other words, the temptation of how to use that power proved to be intoxicating enough to the point where Willow thought she could do anything she wanted to with that power. The power gave her an adrenaline rush. And they say that with time having too much power can corrupt the individual using it. Black says that if this storyline had been pursued further, Willow could have emerged as a villain all on her own and Tara wouldn’t have had to die or necessarily have been present at all. What had essentially been a story about the temptation of power all of a sudden was transformed into a story about addiction and recovery. It is important to note that up until the tenth episode “Wrecked “ there had been no references of any kind used to disguise the magic as a metaphor for drug addiction. Black goes on to state that, “Willow went through a long recovery process, during which time Buffy had to take away Willow’s “magic weed” and get rid of all the candles in the house, because “to witches, candles are like bongs.” Black also notes that by the time “Seeing Red” rolled around, Willow was close to a complete recovery and that since she was essentially free of magic, it did require Tara’s death to send her back into black magic. But we can also see that the decision to kill Tara was brought about due to the fact that Mutant Enemy had made the choice to change the nature of Willow’s problem into a metaphor for drug addiction. The only reason that Mutant Enemy destroyed the Willow/Tara relationship in the first place, Black argues, was not because the writers couldn’t avoid it, but rather that Mutant Enemy wouldn’t avoid it. It is also important to note that Robert Black has suggested a different way of approaching the goal of having Willow become The Dark Phoenix without needing to sacrifice Tara. Black points out that if Mutant Enemy had chosen to continue with the depiction of Willow’s magic dependency as a metaphor for power and how wielding too much of that power can sometimes corrupt the individual using it over a long period of time, the season could have turned out differently. Remember how Willow had taken over the leadership role of The Scooby Gang at the beginning of Season Six? Well this is how Robert Black described his alternate version of Season Six in his essay, “The Executive producers New Clothes.” “Willow had been in charge of the Scooby Gang for months, and there was Buffy mopping around instead of taking the leadership role back, “ Black argues. Perhaps Willow would have tried to step in---just to help until Buffy was back on her feet, of course. Perhaps she would have used magic to make up for the fact that she didn’t have Slayer strength . The forget—spell on Tara would still have occurred. Tara still would have left in “Tabula Rasa. “ Buffy and Willow may have even started to clash over which best course of action really was worth taking when battling the forces of evil. Black goes on to state that by the time “Smashed” or “Wrecked “ rolled around instead of seeing Willow become a “crackhead“, we may have seen the conflict which had been raging between Buffy and Willow during the past several months start to escalate. Willow could have felt that magic was the best and only way to get the job done quickly and easily. Black also argues that instead of helping Buffy out, Willow might have begun to feel like she could replace Buffy as the leader of the pack. When Willow saw the attempts by her friends to reduce her use of magic, she could have perceived this course of action as a threat to her authority as well as a ploy to remove her from being in charge of the Scooby Gang. Willow would not have wanted to give up the leadership role because she would feel that her methods of using magic really had been the best way to combat the forces of darkness. Black points out that by the time February sweeps would come around the conflict between Willow and the gang could have reached a breaking point. A crises probably would have emerged that might have involved the three nerds. Willow would think the only way to get anything done was to delve deeper into Black magic. Buffy would object, but Willow probably would do it anyway out of spite or anger. At that moment, something would have gone terribly wrong with the spell that Willow was performing. Hence, it would have been a situation that might have brought about the transformation of Willow from good into evil. Think of it, Black says. Black Magic Willow emerges during February sweeps. Not with only three episodes remaining in the season, but with roughly one third of the season still to go. Imagine what Mutant Enemy could have done with a storyline like that? Willow might have killed all the nerds or even could have made them her henchmen. Imagine Warren the male chauvinist on his knees bowing before Willow. Warren could still have ended up dead either way, the victim of his own resentment over having been controlled by a woman. Willow would have also kept fellow witch Amy around too. Willow could have made “adjustments” to Amy, changing her hair color or her personality to resemble Tara. In other words Amy could been viewed by Willow as a replacement for the woman she loved and missed. And what about Buffy? Black says that she would have been forced to deal with the task of figuring out what to do, Fight Willow? Join her? Bring her back into the fold? Buffy would have been forced to come out of her depression in order to meet the challenge. And Spike? Black argues that Buffy could have still been sleeping with him. Spike’s attempts to have Buffy join him as “a creature of the night” could have prompted Spike to have a debate with Buffy over what she should do. Maybe Spike would have tried to make Buffy consider whether or not Willow had been right all along. In other words, there would have been more to the relationship between Buffy and Spike rather then just the endless cycles of violent sex that we kept seeing on screen. And Tara? Black argues that sooner or later Buffy would have required the services of a magic expert to counter what Willow was doing. Plus when you add the fact that Tara wasn’t nearly as powerful as Willow it probably would have made the story more suspenseful and think of the drama that would have unfolded. Imagine what Amber Benson, being the talented actress that she is, could have accomplished by having Tara go through this endless roller—coaster ride of emotions and inner conflicts of trying to figure out what to do in which she would have been facing the most difficult challenge of her life: The possibility of having to do battle with the woman she loved. After all, you have to consider that Willow was someone to whom Tara had given her heart, body, and soul to. Someone whom Tara loved wholly and completely with all her heart. Perhaps Tara would have even thought that maybe she would have to kill Willow for The Greater Good if the circumstances were necessary. Perhaps Tara would have gone to Buffy for advice on how to deal with the situation. Plus when you consider the fact that had Willow actually turned on Tara it would have probably added even more suspense and drama to the story. Black points out that none of that would have required Tara to die. Black even argues that Tara could have been a vital component in Willow’s recovery from Black Magic, and would have aided her in her eventual return to the Scooby Gang. “So there you have it,” Black argues. A way to achieve Dark Magic Willow without killing Tara. A way to give Joss Whedon the “cool” Dark Phoenix imitation he wanted while being socially responsible at the same time. Black then raises two important questions: Would it have been better than what we saw? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But aren’t you at least a little sorry that we’ll never get to find out?”
What did Joss Whedon know and when did he know it? Robert Black notes that Mutant Enemy had never commented on this aspect of the controversy. In fact, Black argues how Joss Whedon had claimed that he didn’t know that it even existed. Take into account this excerpt from Whedon’s July 26, 2002 interview with Wanda on E! Online when she asked him about it. This is what Wanda had to say, “I asked him if he could understand why it was painful to lose TV’s only positive lesbian relationship. “You have to understand, “he said. “I’m not watching TV. You either watch it or you make it. So, when people said, ’Willow and Tara were all we had.’ I was like, ’I didn’t know that.” However, I have already been able to show numerous examples of the interviews he gave as well as the statements Whedon had posted at The Bronze Beta in the beginning of this report which very clearly show that Joss Whedon not only knew what was going on, but that he was actually using it to achieve his own ends. Robert Black argues that the fan reaction to Willow and Tara was simply too great and too intensely personal for Joss not to have seen that this storyline was special and unique . Mr. Black and I have also noted that, “ As the Willow/Tara relationship continued, the fan response and media interest grew larger. If Joss didn’t know that Willow and Tara were unique, why did he think that a magazine like Out wanted to interview him? Why did he think people were breaking down in tears in front of Alyson Hannigan or Amber Benson, telling the actresses how their lives had been transformed? Joss’s claim that he didn’t know simply doesn’t hold water.”
Willow and Tara provided an excellent opportunity for Buffy to take its rightful place in Television History as being the first TV show ever to feature a long—term, realistic same-sex relationship. But is this really what Joss Whedon was thinking? The evidence tells us that it wasn’t. If you take a second look back at the interview which Whedon had given to Out magazine in August of 2001, he makes a comment saying, “I wasn’t there saying, ‘I want to help gay teenagers be comfortable with themselves.” Note also what Whedon had said in his post at the Bronze Beta following the Season Six Finale that, “The idea that I couldn’t kill Tara because she was gay is as offensive to me as the idea that I did kill her because she was gay.” So, Robert Black demonstrates once again that in both of these instances, Whedon places himself and what he does or doesn’t want to do at the center of the issue. Joss is perfectly willing to accept the praise and gratitude for what Willow and Tara did for people, but at the same time insists he never set out to do any of it. He also very clearly states that he killed Tara knowing full well that people would object to it. In a sense, Black argues how the two quotes compliement each other. “The Out interview can be taken as an attempt by Whedon to provide himself cover for what he knows is to come. By saying he never intended to make Willow and Tara role models, Whedon gave himself an excuse for the time he was to take those role models away. Effectively, Black argues, whatJoss is saying in these two quotes is, “I gave you Willow and Tara because that’s what I wanted in my story, and now I’m taking them away because that’s what I want in my story.” His story is always what’s most important. Whedon places his own creative freedom at the center of everything, elevating it as well as himself above any social benefits that the Willow/Tara relationship had produced and above any harmful effects ending the Willow/Tara relationship caused. Robert Black points out that Willow and Tara were never supposed to get together in Joss’s original vision of the Buffy storyline. Willow needed a lover who could die at some point during the course of the series in order to send her into the grips of Black Magic. Mr. Black and I have also pointed out once again how several Mutant Enemy writers have stated for the record that if Seth Green hadn’t left the show his character Oz would have been the one to die. But Oz wasn’t available. Tara was, and she had chemistry with Willow. The actresses had a lot of chemistry, too. And so Joss thought it would be “cool” for Tara to be Willow’s next lover. And then something happened. Willow and Tara became more than just two characters on a TV show. Even though Joss hadn’t planned on sending a message to the gay community, he had sent one anyway—a message of hope, a sign that the gay community could see themselves reflected in popular culture, just as everyone else is. And the audience responded. Gay and lesbian fans wrote in by the hundreds, perhaps by the thousands, telling the Buffy team how Willow and Tara helped them, or how the storyline changed their lives. People went to the Posting Board parties and broke down in tears when they came face to face with Amber Benson or Alyson Hannigan. Some fans even sent Joss Whedon an engraved toaster (A reference to an Ellen DeGeneres joke about coming out, in case you don’t know), which— at the time ---Joss claimed meant more to him than an Emmy Award.“ But isn’t that the way Joss is supposed to think? Black asks. He is a writer and an executive producer, after all. Joss Whedon is an American citizen, and that means he’s gurrenteed freedom of speech. But Mr. Black and I have already demonstrated the plain fact that all freedom comes with responsibility attached to it. In the case of a TV show, the writers and producers hold power over their audience, because they control the story the audience both sees and hears. The amount of freedom they have to exert that control, therefore, is tempered by the responsibility they have toward the audience over whom they have power.” In other words, freedom and responsibility are inseperable. You can’t have one without the other. Also when you consider what Whedon had said in his May 3, 2002 interview with E! Online he said, “I need to give (the fans) what they need, not what they want.” Mr. Black then raises some very interesting questions: How can Joss give the fans “what they need” when he doesn’t even listen to what the fans are saying? Robert Black points out the simple fact that for two years, Joss and his staff heard the praise of the gay community and heard about all the hurts and disappointments they had helped wipe away through the symbols of hope that Willow and Tara provided. Did they really think the gay community needed to have those hurts and disappointments put back on them again, even more forcefully than before? On the contrary, it would seem that what Joss is actually saying here is that he needs to give the fans what he thinks they need, without his bothering to find out whether his opinions are accurate. Again, Mutant Enemy appears to accept responsibility only for themselves.” Black goes on to say that there’s a better way of doing business than the way Mutant Enemy behaves. A way of giving people what they need that goes beyond egocentric opinions. It’s the way of actually listening to the audience and to the world in general. It is the way of crafting a message that can transcend the simple medium of television and attempt to improve the lives of those who hear it.” Mr. Black then quotes novelist Madeline L’ Engle from a passage in her book, Walking On Water: “We don’t want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities of being have been opened to us. We don’t want to close a book with a sense that life is totally unfair and that there is no light in the darkness; we want to feel that we have been given illumination.” Black points out that in the case of Willow and Tara, it’s a way that could have accomplished the goal of the seasonal story . If Joss had chosen to stick with his original story of Willow grappling with the temptations of power, Tara could have lived. And in fact, Tara could have been there to help Willow at the conclusion of the story, thus strengthening their relattionshp instead of destroying it. Joss could still have had the Dark Magic Willow storyline and the confrontation between Buffy and Willow while also doing the socially responsible thing by maintaining and building upon the relationship. Listening to the call of responsibility would therefore have cost Joss nothing—and yet he refused to listen. Black then goes on to say how that, “Instead what we see from Mutant Enemy is example after example of behavior that expresses little more than self—interest. Time after time Mutant Enemy has appeared willing to take the credit for doing good but has refused to take responsibility for doing harm. Time after time, they have demonstrated hypocrisy and callous disregard for their viewers. They claim to produce what the viewers need, but it always appears to be more in line with what Mutant Enemy needs instead.”
Remember what I had said about Mutant Enemy’s campaign to deliberately mislead the fans and the public about Amber Benson’s future on the show? When did this campaign of disinformation actually begin? And how long did it last? Information provided by both Steven DeKnight and Amber Benson herself has recently come to my attention revealing the fact that Joss Whedon had ultimately made the decision to kill off Tara during the summer of 2001. That means Joss Whedon and his staff had spent months taking credit for a storyline they knew they were going to destroy. Don’t believe me? Take into account what Amber Benson herself had to say about the decision process that led to her character’s demise in the September, 2002 issue of Buffy Magazine: “I knew at the beginning of Season Five that Willow was going to go bad and that I was going to be the impetus for that, “Benson said, but I wasn’t100 percent certain about the dying until the very end of last season. I mean, I wasn’t at all surprised when Joss finally told me when we were shooting the season finale last year. He was all exicted about it. In fact, I even knew I was going to be in the main credits just for one episode (“Seeing Red”). Joss was like, ’I want to put you in the credits, ’and I’m like , ’That’s so evil! How can you do that to the fans.” Benson also went on to defend Joss Whedon’s decision to kill Tara in this way: “As much as I hate the fact that she died, “she said, I think it was needed. I know they were really worried about making people unhappy, but it was the only way to take Willow to another level. It furthered the plot and made it possible for Willow to go bad. This was the only way that could have pushed her over the edge. I was all for me being maimed and coming back, but it wouldn’t have been enough. I feel as upset about it as the fans do. I know it was necessary, but still, ’No, don’t kill her, I love her! She’s part of me!’ I thought she was going to be dead in the 16th episode. They just kept pushing it back, so I didn’t know when I was going to be dying, because they switched around the episodes.” According to information posted on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV Tome page it was rumored earlier on in the Fifth Season that the entire town of Sunnydale was going to be sucked into the hellmouth in the finale. Although it has never been completely confirmed, Joss Whedon had another plan in mind for the fifth Season altogether. The original plan was to have Anya die in the rubble, Xander was to be Glory’s other half (instead of Ben), Willow was going to become evil after Tara’s death and join forces with the hellgodess Glory, and Dawn was supposed to be bled by Black Magic Willow in the end. Sunnydale was supposed to be completely destroyed by the Hellmouth. The information also points out however that this plot was never used. Robert Black and I have pointed out repeatedly how Joss Whedon was busy taking credit for the groundbreaking nature of the Willow/Tara relationshp even after he had already made plans to destroy that relationship. When Marti Noxon was openly boasting to Talk of The Nation Broadcast Radio about how Buffy was “pushing the frontiers” with a “naked sex scene” between Willow and Tara, she was referring to “Seeing Red,” the very episode in which Tara dies. Next reconsider this statement that Whedon had made in his interview with Out Magazine in August of 2001: “Next year shit’s gonna go down. We’re going to see more strength in Willow than we have before. Her relationship with Tara will continue but the course of true love is never easy.” If you take a second look at what Joss is saying in this very statement about how, “We’re going to see more strength in Willow than we have before, “ he was probably referring to the three remaining episodes of the sixth season in which Willow embarks on her quest to avenge Tara’s murder. Another example of Mutant Enemy’s disinformation campaign is the statement which Joss Whedon had given to Entertainment Weekly in May of 2001: “I have no plans to send Tara anywhere. Amber Benson and Alyson Hannigan have such great chemistry; they’re so great together, and they’re very romantic together. We have terrible, terrible things to do to them because they’re on my show, so needless to say, horrible things will happen---but as a couple, I think they work really well. As for Amber, even if she weren’t going out with Willow, I think that she’s become a very large part of the heart of the show.” And also take into account the comment which veteran Buffy writer Steven DeKnight had posted at the Bronze Beta on January 25, 2002 when he was addressing fan concerns that Tara would die: “As for Tara getting killed---OVER MY DEAD BODY !” And yet DeKnight was the one who wrote the very episode in which Tara is killed. There is also the matter of what Drew Greenberg had posted on the Bronze Beta on April 1, 2002: “Amber (Benson) and Emma (Caulfield) are both sticking around, neither one is going anywhere, so don’t worry.” Ironically, as I pointed out earlier in this report, this comment was made a full month before “Seeing Red” was aired. Please note that Whedon also calls the Willow/Tara relationshp, “one of the most important things we’ve done on the show,” in his interview with Out Magazine in August of 2001. Mr. Black notes that this interview was most likely published after Joss had already decided to end the relationship. He may have given the interview after he had decided to end the realationship. In fact, when veteran Buffy writer Marti Noxon had been boasting about how Buffy was “pushing the frontiers” with “a naked sex scene, “for Willow and Tara she was refering to “Seeing Red” the episode in which Tara meets her tragic death. So, once again we see that Mutant Enemy’s self interest came first, and we can also see that they apparently had no problem with the hypocrisy of accepting praise for a storyline they knew they were about to destroy. And remember how Amber Benson was so vigerously defending Joss Whedon’s decision to kill Tara in the Semptember, 2002 issue of Buffy Magazine? Well, I recently came across an interesting piece of information posted by a fan who attended the FedCon, a convention in Germany last year on The kitten, the Witch and the Bad Wardrobe which tells a completely different story. This fan spoke about the fact that when Amber Benson was asked about Tara’s death, she clearly stated that she didn’t like how completely senseless it was. “Joss never meant to hurt anyone, “Benson said, but he did. He hurt a lot of people and I didn’t want to be part of this anymore. Sometimes you just have to do what your heart tells you, and it just didn’t feel right.” Benson went on to say in the same statement how Whedon told her that he wanted to bring Willow and Tara back together again, but she just didn’t feel like she could trust him enough to not mess around with the storyline at the last minute. So, Amber opted not to return at all to avoid hurting anyone else. However, I can also clearly demonstrate how that on more than one occasion Amber Benson would actually go on public record and defend Joss Whedon’s decision to tell the story exactly how he wanted to the press, despite the fact that it was a decision that had clearly made Benson very uncomfortable in the first place. Let me show you some examples:
My first example is what Amber Benson had to say when she was asked about how the fan reaction changed after Tara died during the Q&A at Madame Tussauds in 2002. “It was really tough, “Benson said. The way she died was awful, it was really, really horrible and I wish it hadn’t happened, but I understood from a story standpoint why it had to go in that direction. The only way for Joss could get Willow’s character to that level of desperation was to take away the one thing away from her that she loved which was Tara. As awful as it was, he was really trying to put the message out that Willow’s problem with magic was an allegory for drug abuse. (It was an allegory for) anything where it’s an addictive, obsessive thing, when you drink too much or you do drugs, you sleep around and have no care for yourself. That’s what Willow was going through, this mad obssesion, this addiction, and the only way she could go back to reality was to bottom out. Then she could go back to the Willow that we all know and love. “
My second example is a statement made by Benson regarding Tara’s fate during an interview with X Pose Special in April of 2004. “I hate that she got killed, “Amber said, just because so many people were hurt by it, so many people connected and identified with her, and no one anticipated the impact it would have on the fans, but there was nothing I could do about it. I spent a lot of time talking it through with Joss (Whedon) and understood it really was necessary for the storyline had not for some gratuitous ‘Let’s kill the lesbian’ reason. He wanted to conclude this addiction storyline and the only way for Willow to hit rock bottom was for her to lose the thing she loved most—her lover. Still, I said to Joss, ‘Can’t she just be maimed? I could be one armed Tara! Or I could lose a leg and hobble around for a year!’ He didn’t go for it.” My third example is a December 19, 2002 interview Benson gave to the BBC Online. When Amber was asked about the fan outrage over Tara’s death, this was her response: “I wasn’t excited about it happening either, “Benson said, but I realize that Joss was dealing with an addiction storyline which was allegorical for other addictions. I think he wanted to address that with Willow. The only way that Willow was going hit bottom and to change for the better was to lose her most loved one.”
My fourth and final example is a statement that Amber Benson gave at The Moonlight Rising convention in 2003: “I knew a long time into the show what was going to happen with Tara, “ she said. “Joss and I had talked about the whole character and the story. When Joss first told Alyson and I we were going to be lovers, we had no idea (the characters were heading in that direction). Joss came to us and told us that he was friends with this couple, the two women who were in love and he based the relationship on them. I got to meet them, and realized that Willow and Tara cared about each other the way these two friends of Joss’ did. The bond between then was really strong and really special. And when it came to the point where Tara was killed—Adam Busch (Warren) is always so apoligetic (for killing“Tara“), he’s such a nice guy—it was really about Willow’s addiction. Most people understand about obsession—we all get obsessed with something and the only way to come back down is to have the rug pulled out from under us. And the only way for Willow to hit rock bottom was to have Willow lose her lover, her soul mate, taken away, and as much as we all cried and didn’t want to happen, story-wise, I knew that it was the right thing to do.” Benson then continued, “I don’t think Joss really expected the ramifications of it, or that he’d get faxes up to last week. It didn’t come from a bad place, but a lot of people were really destroyed by it. For me, I didn’t want her to die for selfish reasons. One, I really loved working with everyone and two, I really cared about Tara. When you spend three years as a someone, they kind of become part of you. And she really did, in an odd way, Tara was me and I was her. She was special to me . And the day she died it was devastating to me. Actually, the day we shot my last scene, they brought out this cake shaped tombstone with ‘Tara Maclay, Rest in Piece, ’ and that was the last straw. Sarah lost it, Michelle lost it, I lost it. We were all these girly—girls crying our eyes out . I don’t think anyone on the show realized what the realationship was going to mean to a lot of people out there. I feel really lucky—Alyson felt really lucky—to have set this precedent (for lesbian characters.”)
So, we can clearly see from the above statements that Amber Benson did indeed have reservations about killing Tara, but was ultimately backed into a corner by Joss Whedon. Consider the fact that when Benson had indicated in her April 2004 interview with X Pose Magazine about how “there was nothing she could do about it“, Benson was probably refering to the terms of the contract she had been given. Benson had even spoken in the same interview about the fact that she and Joss would have long discussions about the decision to kill Tara. Amber Benson has even gone on public record admitting how she would even try to presaude Whedon to keep Tara around for another year, but says that Joss wouldn’t go for it. This only seems to reinforce the position that Robert Black and I have taken in regards to the fact that Joss Whedon always places what he does or does not want to to do at the center of the issue. His story is always what’s most important. And apparently nothing can get in the way of Whedon telling that story in the way he wants to. Nothing. Joss Whedon claims the confines of the story tied his hands, but I have already clearly demonstrated several times in this report how this claim is untrue. We have heard Mutant Enemy say that killing Tara was “dramatically necessary” in order to advance Willow’s storyline. However, Robert Black and I have been able to demonstrate that killing Tara was not the only option available to them. Writing is about making choices. Robert Black argues that, “ Regardless of whether the “temptations of power” story or the “addiction and recovery” story was better, the fact remains that there were two options (and perhaps more that aren’t considered here.) Having more than one option means that there were no “dramatic necessities, “ only “dramatic choices.” Tara didn’t die because “she needed to,” Black argues. Tara died because Joss Whedon chose to kill her. And I would like to point out once again that the decision to kill Tara was brought about, due to the fact thatJoss Whedon had ultimately decided to change the nature of Willow’s magic use into a metaphor for drug addiction, despite the fact that for the first nine episodes of the season there had been no drug symbolism used what so ever. Robert Black amplifies my point by saying that,” Mutant Enemy claims that telling the story is of paramount importance, and no other considerations can get in the way of telling whatever story they want. And yet Robert Black and I have proven how that on more than one occasion Mutant Enemy would make a delibrate attempt to play up the Willow/Tara relationship in ways that had never been done for a gay couple on prime-time network television before. Still don’t believe me? Then let’s take a look back at the following statement that Joss Whedon himself had given during his interview with The Onion on September 5, 2001: “If it’s not sexy, then it’s not worth it, “Whedon said. Like those two guys on Thirtysomething sitting in bed together, looking like they were both individually wrapped in plastic. They did a scene with two guys in bed, and it was like a big deal, on Thirtysomething, and it was the most antiseptic thing I’ve ever seen in my life. They were sitting ramrod—straight, far away from each other, and not even looking at each other. I was like, ‘Ahhh, sexy !”
Mr. Black and I have also demonstrated the fact how that in other interviews as well as the postings he had given on the Bronze Beta, Joss Whedon had spoken openly about the objections that the WB network was having to the Willow/Tara kiss in the episode, “The Body.” Whedon would practically boast to both fans and the press alike about how he had threatened to walk out on the network if the WB didn’t allow him to keep the kiss in the episode. We have also demonstrated many times in this report about how veteran Buffy writer and producer Marti Noxon had been giving statements to countless media outlets in which she would speak excitedly about how Buffy was pushing the frontiers of what they could actually show on prime—time network television in the ways of physical intimacy between the two women. Noxon had also been boasting to the press about how Willow and Tara would soon have “a naked sex scene” together on a future episode of the show, just as in the scenes that all the hetrosexual couples had done. But as Robert Black and I have already pointed out repeatedly in this report that, “In the wake of Tara’s death, however, Mutant Enemy has denied that they had any responsibility to perserve the Willow/Tara relationship and it’s storyline,” Black wrote. They claim the needs of the story tied their hands, and they had no choice but to kill Tara. In other words, as long as Willow and Tara served their own interests, Mutant Enemy was willing to promote the storyline and play the part of responsible storytellers —but once their own interests went elsewhere , so did their sense of responsibility.” Even Amber Benson herself has indirectly testified to this fact in the countless number of interviews she has given regarding the decision to kill Tara. Robert Black further amplifies this point when he talks about the pesentation which Mutant Enemy had given on June 18, 2002 before the Acadamy of Television Arts and Sciences. Joss Whedon had informed the crowd there that Buffy would no longer be working at the “Doublemeat Palace,“ a fast food restaurant where she had been working during the previous season and that Buffy would be getting a new job next year. The reason for this change again? The fast food industry didn’t like the way it was being portrayed at The Doublemeat Palace and it had threatened to pull its advertising money. “Apparently, “Black writes, Mutant Enemy feels their story is too important to listen to the gay community, but not too important for them to listen to Ronald McDonald .”
For instance, Black writes that when Mutant Enemy was interested in telling the story of Willow and Tara, we heard Joss Whedon proudly proclaim in May of 2000 that, “ One post from a gay or questioning teen saying the show helped them is worth six hundered hate letters.” Whedon had even posted a statement to a fan calling herself, “Riley’s Girl” on the Bronze Beta on April 28, of that same year saying how, “The whole point of Buffy is to be inclusive to those who feel excluded like gay teens.“ However, in his interview with Out Magazine in August of 2001 Joss comments about how he was glad to make Willow and Tara good role models , but insisted that he never wanted to “make gay teenagers be comfortable with themselves” in the first place. Black goes on to state that, “In the wake of Tara’s death, the Mutant Enemy response is reflected in the following exerpt from writer Steven DeKnight’s interview with the Succubus Club on May 8,2002: “Q: The other day I heard a despondent gay teenage girl, in desperate pain to begin with, say that Willow and Tara are the only bright light in her world. They gave her hope for herself and her life... So please answer this question for her: How do you think that she will feel after witnessing the end of ‘Seeing Red?’ What do you think we should tell her about the ending of your show? DeKnight: You can’t really think of storylines in that way when you’re trying to tell a big, grand, seasonal story. Anybody can die Anybody can get it. Anybody can be destroyed or broken down, and it’s whatever serves the story.” Robert Black points out how that, “In addition to the media interviews, several Mutant Enemy writers would interact with the fans on a regular basis through the Bronze Posting Board. For weeks, worried fans asked the writers whether Tara would be killed off or not, and for weeks the writers assured them she wasn’t. We heard Steven DeKnight loudly proclaim that Tara would be killed, “Over his Dead Body!” Even though it was later proven to be DeKnight himself, who had written the very episode in which Tara meets her tragic death in the first place. In fact, Robert Black writes in his essay, “Secrets and Lies Beyond The Fourth Wall” , “It’s not as if Mutant Enemy has credibility to spare, “Black says. For instance, when Joss Whedon tells the Advocate about his gay godfather, but tells people at the Bronze Beta, “The gay thing is so passe. We’re over that. Or when Marti Noxon relates to The Advocate about the fact that she was raised by two lesbian parents, but then says in the very same interview that she finds it “insulting” for the gay community to be so angry about Tara’s death in the first place. Or when Steven DeKnight rallies against homophobes at the Bronze Beta just days after telling homophobic tinged “jokes” during his May 8, interview with the Succubus Club, they’re already casting doubt on their sincerity. The inconsistances in their excuses only make the situation worse. Black then raises three important questions: Why is that Angel’s popularity gave him an expanded role and would eventually lead to him having his own series? Why is it that the positive reaction to Spike would keep him on the show and eventually earn him a spot on Angel when he was originally slated to die only three to four episodes into season two of Buffy? And if positive reactions got these characters more screen time, why did the positive reaction to Tara get her killed off? We may never know the reason.
Robert Black notes in his essay, “The Message Is—“Pay Attention to the Message” how it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that TV producers would want to conceal their upcoming plot twists and thus maintain the element of surprise. But Robert Black clearly establishes that’s not the only thing that was going on here. When you consider an interview that Joss Whedon had conducted with National Public Radio’s Fresh Air back in May of 2000 it reveals that he had another agenda in mind altogether. “When I worked on Speed, there was a character who died, “Whedon said, a lawyer that Alan Ruck played, and I took out the lawyer. He was a bad man. He was terrible. You know, he was causing trouble and he ended up dying, and I turned him into a likable sort of doofy tourist guy, and they’re like, ’Well, now we can’t kill him!’ And my opinion was, ’Well, now you should, because now people will care when he dies.“ It’s easy to see the attempt to make Tara as sympathetic a character as possible as the sixth season of Buffy unfolded, “Black writes. She was the only member of the Scooby Gang who acted like a mature adult, the only one who looked after Dawn, and the one Buffy trusted with the secret of her affair with Spike. All of it was done by writers who already knew where Tara’s road ended. All of it was done in an attempt to make the blow of Tara’s death as devastating as possible. And many Buffy fans are now saying. “So what? That’s what Joss does.” But Tara wasn’t just any character. There was much more of an emotional investment in her. There was much more of a social investment in her. Tara wasn’t just a recurring character fulfilling her destiny of dying as a plot device. She had grown into much more, and Mutant Enemy knew it. But instead of looking at Tara’s significance in the light of social responsibility Mutant Enemy saw nothing but a means to their own ends.” Notice how Robert Black and I have been giving Mutant Enemy the benefit of the doubt when we are saying how they simply didn’t pay attention to their responsibilities. We both could make a case for much worse. “After all, Black argues, killing Tara hurt the gay community in ways that anti-gay hate groups never will. A hate group has only one message —hatred— and the objects of that hatred know better than to listen to the message for very long. Mutant Enemy, on the other hand, held the attention of the gay community for two and a half years, giving them hope , placating them with false assurances and winning their trust with lies—all before cutting them down as surely as Warren’s improbable marksmanship felled Tara. Hate groups can only dream of being able to inflict that much pain and suffering. Like Warren shooting Tara, Mutant Enemy did their damage by accident—but that doesn’t change the fact that damage was done.”
Mr. Black and I have demonstrated countless times in this report about how all the trouble began when Mutant Enemy decided to deliberately mix the messages it had been sending to its viewers. In other words, long after they had made the decision to kill Tara, Joss Whedon and his staff had been giving interviews and had been busy making posts at the Bronze Beta practically reassuring the audience of Tara’s importance and continuing presence on the show. How long did this mixture of messages go on again? Once again, information provided by Amber Benson herself during an appearance at a Trek Convention in Toronto, Canada on July 7, 2002 has shed even more light on when Joss Whedon made the final decision to kill Tara : “I knew like in the middle—pretty much the middle to the end of season 5—that it was going to happen. In fact, Joss was really was really exicited about it.” Robert Black has pointed out, “That Joss was busy taking credit for the groundbreaking nature even after he had already made plans to destroy that realationship, while Marti Noxon was busy boasting to the press about a “naked sex scene” that occurred during the very episode in which Tara was killed. With this timeline provided by Amber Benson, we can now include both the following statement that Joss Whedon had given to Entertaiment Weekly in May of 2001 in which he calls Amber Benson “a big part of the heart of the show” as well as his interview with Out Magazine in August of 2001 in which Whedon calls the Willow/Tara relationship “one of the most important things” he ever had ever done on the show as two excellent examples of Mutant Enemy’s campaign of disinformation.
Was Tara’s death business as usual for Mutant Enemy? To be absolutely sure, let’s take another close look at a quote from Marti Noxon’s interview in the August 20, 2002 Issue of The Advocate. Noxon claims that when it came to Willow and Tara: “We never thought about the fact that these characters were gay when we were deciding what their fate was going to be .” Next take into consideration the following statementJoss Whedon had given during his National Public Radio interview in May of 2000: “The problem with doing a horror show on television is that you know your main characters are coming back week to week, and you don’t really care about somebody who just showed up for one episode. So every now and then you have to make the statement, ’No, nothing is safe, ’and killing a (reccuring character) is a very effective way of doing that.” However, Robert Black writes, “From Mutant Enemy’s point of view, then, killing Tara seems perfectly sensible. In fact, the knowledge that so many people were so emotionally invested in Tara probably made her an especially tempting target. But there’s a problem with this line of thinking. When a character is tied to larger emotional or social issues, the writer needs to look at the bigger picture and weigh the consequences as they extend beyond the confines of the story. Now that he has the benefit of hindsight, Black writes, Joss Whedon has admitted to the problems with failing to consider the bigger picture. During his August 20th interview with The Advocate he said: “When you kill a character like Tara, stasticacally speaking, (lesbians) are underrepresented and so people have a legitimate reason to say, ’It’s not the same.” “In other words, “Black writes, trying to “treat everyone as individuals” only works if the intitial playing field is level for all those individuals. Otherwise, competition between the halves and halve---nots does nothing but maintain the status quo. Those who are ahead stay ahead, Black argues, and those who are behind stay behind. Robert Black goes on to say that, “Willow and Tara are individuals, yes. But they’re also lesbians. When a hetrosexual couple is destroyed on TV, straight people have dozens of other hetrosexual couples in which they can invest their time and emotions. Willow and Tara stood alone, the only long—term same—sex relationship. Now that they’re gone, who do gay people have to turn to? Nobody. That’s the bigger picture Mutant Enemy failed to consider before it was too late.”
As much as Robert Black and I disagree with Joss Whedon’s decision to kill Tara, we still have to respect that decision. Whedon had every right to turn down this unique opportunity he had been given. But before I proceed any further, let’s get one thing straight . Robert Black and I aren’t trying to dictate a specific storyline to Mutant Enemy - “Bring Tara back or else “—or that we are trying to say that writers need to have all their stories approved by a Political Correctess Board before they publish or produce them. So what are we trying to say then? That all creative freedom comes with responsibility attached to it. You can’t have one without the other, Black argues in his essay The Message is—”Pay Attention to the Message that all stories send messages, whether they’re the messages the writer wants to send or not. That’s as true for a TV show as it is for any other form of storytelling, despite the fact that many people try to dismiss television as “just entertainment. “ Even a TV show that doesn’t try to send a message is still capable of establishing or reinforcing the cultural norms of our society. We all watch television, after all. It’s our popular mythology, the folklore of our time. It gives us all comman points of reference. And it means it’s something that can help society or hurt it—to move it forward, or hold it back. As Mr. Black and I have both said, as much as we both hate the decision to kill Tara, we have to respect it. Creative freedom is something we both take very seriously. And if Joss Whedon thinks it was right to kill off Tara in such an improbable fashion that even his own cast would make fun of it, then as much as I disagree with that decision, I have to respect it. Don’t believe me? Then take into consideration what Amber Benson herself had to say during her apperance at The Toronto Trek Convention on Juily 7, 2002 when she was addressing the improbable manner in which Tara dies: “It was such an out—of—left-field way to die, you know? Stray bullet through the window? Warren’s a really shot. You know... I mean, we’re joking, we singing like, ’Shot through the heart! Joss is to blame! He gave Willow’s love a bad name!” Now I understand that this kind of sarcastic humor may have been viewed only as harmless fun in the beginning by both the cast and crew, but I think in the end, it may have ultimately sent a message that Joss Whedon and the Buffy cast probably never intended to send in the first place. In fact, Robert Black writes, “If you have total creative freedom and total control over your work, who can you point the finger at if the messages your story sends aren’t the ones you wanted? If those messages lead to consequences that you don’t want, who can you blame for it? No one but yourself. It’s therefore in the writer’s best interest to keep a social sense of responsibility, and to consider the messages a story sends carefully. The controversy surrounding Tara’s death illustrates this point perfectly.”
Robert Black cites the original Star Trek as an excellent example of how a TV show can have such a big impact on society as a whole. Just look at the nearest cell phone, Black argues. It probably looks very much like a Star Trek communicater. Coincidence? Black even argues how that people who have never seen the show probably know catch phrases like ”Beam me up, Scotty!” or “Live long and prosper, “ or they know how to make their fingers do the Vulcun salute. Black then goes on to say that, “Gene Roddenbery very deliberately set out to give the Starship Enterprise a multi—racial cast. He wanted a black character, an Asian character, and even a non—human character to be core members of his team of adventureres. (He even wanted the ship’s second—in—command to be a woman, but the network thought that was too outrageous.) Why did Gene want these things? Black asks. It was part of the message that he wanted to send about the future. He wanted to convince America that outward appearances didn’t matter, that no matter what we look like, we are all capable of functioning as equal members of “team humanity.” And look what an impact that message had. Today there are African—American scientists and astronauts who point to Lieutenant Uhura as their inspiration. In science fiction shows on TV today, it’s almost expected that starship crews be multi—racial. Robert Black even notes how that in Star Trek’s third season, Gene Roddenberry ultimately decided to have an episode which featured an interacial kiss between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura. It wasn’t even by choice. Aliens were forcing them to do it for their own amusement. Yet, many TV stations across the country would refuse to air the episode. Now when white Rupert Giles sleeps with a black woman, hardly anybody bats an eye. Black then raises an important question: Would that have even been possible if it weren’t for Gene Roddenbery or somebody like him in the 1960s? Now imagine, Black argues, what it would have been like if Gene had gotten sloppy about his characters and allowed racial stereotypes to creep in. Suppose Uhura started eating watermelon on the Bridge or saying things like, “Messah Kirk I don’t know nothing ‘bout opening no hailin’frequenencies !” Suppose Lieutenant Sulu, an Asian character, started to wear really thick glasses or leaving the Enterprise’s turn signal on as they flew through space. It would have damaged everything that Gene Roddenberry wanted to say before. In other words, instead of sending a groundbreaking new message Black says, Gene would have started to reinforce the status quo.”
Robert Black then raises an important question: Did Joss Whedon realize what he had done for the gay and lesbian community? Well, at first, it seemed like he did as it is illustrated in the following statements Whedon had given to both fans and the press alike: My first example is the comment Joss had posted to a fan calling herself “Riley’s Girl” on April 28, 2000 on the Bronze Beta: “Actually, I’m glad you like the show. I’m against intolerance of any kind, but if I only made a show for people with the exact same opinions as me, I’d have a pretty teeny audience. So welcome. The whole point of Buffy is to be inclusive to those who feel excluded, like gay teens, and, right now like Riley’s Girl.” My second example is the remark that Whedon had made on the Bronze Beta on May 24, 2000: “One post from a gay or questioning teen saying the show helped them is worth six hundered hate letters.” My third example is the comment which Joss Whedon had made about the lesbian toaster fans had given him on August 1, 2000: “NO ONE I know has an engraved toaster. Plus, coolness aside, the fact that you cared that much about what we’ve been doing with Willow and Tara... sniff sniff, something in my eye.” My fourth and final example is a comment thatJoss made a few days later on August 6 regarding an experience he had at a convention: “At the con, a woman came up to me after the panel to say, “Thank you for Tara.” But I was being herded away and I didn’t get to respond, I shouted “You’re welcome “ but I don’t know if she heard, anyway it was a big deal for me that she came up to say that and I hope she knows it. Amber and I chat on occasion about the greatness of helping people with this role.” In fact, Robert Black writes in his essay titled The Message is—”Pay Attention to the Message” that, “Really, it’s almost impossible to think that he couldn’t have seen what was happening. After Xander discovered his talent for carpentry at the end of “The Replacement, “ I highly doubt that Joss received an engraved tool box with the message, “You know, I’m a carpenter myself, and that story really helped me feel better about the profession I’ve chosen.” And obviously, Black argues, Joss would never have received letters from people who could directly relate to the experiences of vampires, demons, and other fantasy creatures that populate Buffy’s universe. The fan response to the Willow and Tara relationship was unique in the history of the series. Even the negative respopnse from some fans—the hate letters Joss referred to in his post at the Bronze—were unprecedented. Clearly Willow and Tara touched the audience in a unique and powerful way. Their relationship was a powerful message, even though it was a message that joss had never intended to send. Robert Black then goes on to say how, “ At this point, Joss had a dilemma. The relationshp between Willow and Tara was outgrowing his plans. (This ties in perfectly with what Amber Benson had said in her September, 2002 interview with Buffy Magazine when she had been talking about the fact of how Mutant Enemy would keep pushing Tara’s death back to a later date and that they would purposely switch around the episodes to accommodate that goal.) Black also goes on to say that, Tara wasn’t supposed to be that important a character—she wasn’t in every episode, nor did Amber Benson appear in the opening titles of the show. Tara’s role was to simply to be there until it was time for her to die and send Willow into the grips of dark magic—but the reaction of the fans was turning her into something more. In many cases, writers rejoice when something like this happens, when a character or a storyline suddenly blossoms into something greater than they could have expected. The ancients used to think of such happenings as gifts from the muses, and even how some writers attribute mystical or spirtual orgins to them. And many writers, when offered a Surprising new storyline to explore, will take the new path they’ve been given and set their previous agenda aside, or at least they’ll try to blend the new path with their existing destination, changing the way they get to the end of their story if not the end itself. Joss Whedon could have done that, Black argues. He could have seen the unexpected blossoming of the Willow/Tara relationship for the gift that it was and adjusted his story accordingly. Someone with Joss’s talent certainly would have been able to find a way of achieving the Dark Magic Willow conclusion without destroying the Willow/Tara relationship in the process. But that’s not what Joss chose to do. He looked at the gift he’d been given, and turned itdown.” Which Joss had every right to do. But at the same time we can clearly see that it was this very decision and the way Joss and his team acted on it which caused all the trouble they were in with the audience to begin with. Robert Black then writes, “The controversy over Tara’s death is the consequence of decisions that Mutant Enemy made and carried out without paying enough attention to their responsibilities.”
Did Joss Whedon learn from his mistakes? In his interview with The Advocate in the August 20, 2002 issue, at first it sure sounded like he did: “When you kill a character like Tara, statistically speaking, (lesbians) are underrepresented and so people have a legitimate reason to say,’It’s not the same.” However, appearances can be deciving. Read the following article that had appeared in an issue of Buffy magazine regarding Amber Benson’s decision not to return for Season Seven: “Despite promises from Joss Whedon and Marti Noxon, Amber Benson will not return to Buffy this season. Joss announced they were unable to reach an agreement over terms for future appearances. “It was a question of negotiations, as it is sometimes is, “Joss told TV Guide Online. “It’s sad, because I love Amber, but that’s between her and Fox.” “She’s very proud of her work on the show, but ultimately, we couldn’t work out the right deal, “Amber’s represenitive announced. Amber told E! Online: “I miss Buffy. It was an amazing group of people and a lot of fun. I mean, I had a really good go.” But next consider the following statements Joss Whedon had given during his interview with FilmForce on June 23, 2003 about why Willow got a new girlfriend in Season Seven as well as the Willow/Tara reunion he originally had in mind: “Kennedy (Willow’s new girlfriend) is as herself said, a bit of a brat. What I wanted was an anti-Tara. I wanted somebody who was as different from Tara as possible. Tara was very reticent, and she was somebody that Willow caused to blossom. What I wanted was somebody who was further on down in dealing with her sexuality than Willow ever was. Somebody who was totally confiedent, who was totally not earthy— crunchy, who was a completely different person. What I wanted to explore was the concept of Willow moving on. We did that with the first kiss, that turned her into Warren. The first time they had sex, the things Willow had to deal with emotionally, her fear of her power and stuff, and Kennedy’s kind of involvement in that. That was Kennedy was for.” Also Whedon talks in the same interview about how Kennedy was a plan B and that bringing back Tara was plan A. When the Interviwer had told him about the failed disscusions about the plan to bring back Tara this is how Joss responded: “Amber didn’t want to do it. She wanted to do other things. I had a whole---I used to tell people about it. We’re going to have her in a couple flashbacks, keep her alive, and then in the end... “I had a whole show figured out that ended with the return of Tara. I used to cry every time I pitched it. It was going to be Tara’s her one true love, people are going to be totally blown away, they’ll never see it coming---except on the internet---and it’s going to be the biggest thing. Quite frankly, Amber just didn’t want to do it---which is her decision. I was like, “Okay, the thing where I cried, and we all cried, and I told you about? That’s gone. So, instead we’re going to go and find somebody really hot, and we’re going to make this about moving on, because that’s the only option we have. I don’t want Willow stuck in gay celibacy on TV. I’m interested in where her heart will go once she’s lost her true love, so let’s do that instead. So you know, hence Kennedy.” In fact, according to information that I found in the currentJune/July, 2005 issue of Buffy Magazine: “Joss Whedon’s original plan for bringing the character of Tara back involved Buffy being given the chance to play a mystical ’get of jail free’ card— “One completely reality-altering thing that she could have----she could bring Angel back to her, she could have anything she wanted, “noted Joss at a recent convention apperance. “At the end of the episode she basically comes to Willow and says, ’Look at these shoes I got!’ and Willow’s like, ’What?’ I got these really awesome new shoes. I wanted them, and now I have them!’ and Willow’s like, ’You...used...the wish...for shoes?’ and Buffy says, ’Of couse not, you idiot, ’ and walks out of the room and Willow turns around and Tara’s standing behind her.” So, it would seem at first that it would have been a solution that would have been benifical to the fans, Joss Whedon, and Amber Benson alike. So what happened? Why didn’t Amber Benson return for what possibly would have provided real closure to this controversial issue? According to both Joss Whedon and a representative for Amber, it was a matter of negotiations between the actress and 20th Century Fox and that they couldn’t work out the right deal. However, information provided by Amber Benson during her apperance at the FedCon in Germany last year would reveal that she also had personal reasons for not returning to the show. She openly spoke at the convention about the fact of how Joss Whedon had approached her about bringing Willow and Tara back together again. But she didn’t feel like she could trust him enough not to mess around with the storyline at the last minute. “Joss never meant to hurt anyone, “Benson said, but he did. He hurt a lot of people and I didn’t want to be part of this anymore. Sometimes you just have to do what your heart tells you and it just didn’t feel right.” In fact, Benson would also reveal in several interviews that Joss had another completely different agenda in mind altogether. At the Moonlight Rising Convention back in 2003 Amber had this to say about one of the other personal reasons that had prevented her from returning to Season Seven: “I didn’t really watch much of the final season, “Benson confessed. “I knew what was going to happen, Joss told me the whole story, I knew all the plot twists, and I didn’t want to get sad and cry. It’s the reason I didn’t want to come back as Tara on season seven. I’d really debated, though. I knew that they were having the story with The First, (Buffy’s main villian for Season Seven) and Tara would only come back as The First in disguise and I thought it would be upsetting, for me and the fans. (Tara’s death) was so upsetting, I didn’t want to go through that, or put people through that. I was miserable after Tara died. People really cared about this character. So in the end, it was it was mutally decided that it would be easier to let her rest in peace. Bringing her back is still an option---though I don’t think Tara would work well on Angel. I think she’d get really annoyed by everybody.” ( In fact it is now believed that there was no such plan to bring Tara back at all and that the reunion storyline was merly a cover story concocted by Joss in order to deflect the fierce criticism he was taking for killing Tara in the first place. It is Also important to note that many fans have rejected this “Reunion Storyline” because it didn’t seem to exist prior to this point. And no other Buffy writers have confirmed this. Plus Amber herself seemed to have been unaware that such a storyline even existed.- Information taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)