Six Cliches I Never Want To See In Giles Fic Again
written by Gileswench



You know what I'm talking about. You've read these again and again and again in fic after fic after fic. They aren't borne out by canon and they're often insulting to Giles as a character. So why do we keep seeing them?

Well, part of the reason is everyone who reads fanfic finds dozens of stories with these clichés in them and knows they won't be booted out of the fandom for writing the same tired clichés they've read before. Some writers truly believe in some of these concepts. Some think if they write what's already been written it will guarantee them feedback, and feedback is more important to them than good writing. Fair enough. There's nothing really wrong with any of these reasons.

On the other hand, some very strange concepts start getting treated as canon even though they're not to be found anywhere in a single script of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And while I cannot comment on the vast majority of the graphic novels, comic books and novels, not having read them, I haven't seen these concepts given much weight in the ones I have read, either.

It's easy to get swept up in the forces of fanon. We all do at some point. I've written several of these clichés, some, sadly, more than once. But we can learn to value honest characterization and serious thought over fannish shorthand. When we do that, our writing improves and becomes far more satisfying, both to the reader and the writer.

So which are the top six clichés I'd love to see disappear from Gilescentric fanfic? Here they are:

6: GILES THE ALCOHOLIC. Yes, I know Giles did get drunk a couple times on the show. That's canon. He could easily get drunk again. That's human nature. On the other hand, most people who drink don't drink to excess every time. Even people who get drunk once in a while aren't necessarily alcoholics. There's a happy medium between being tea total and being constantly drunk.

Giles has been placed in a situation of serious responsibility. He has carried out this responsibility with care and commitment. If he was pickled the entire time, he couldn't have done his job so well. Giles was also shown in canon drinking without any hint of getting drunk or overindulging. Alone, with Joyce, with Olivia, at parties, Giles had a drink or two without mishap or morning after regrets.

So let him have a drink without getting drunk. Allow him a bender that doesn't define him as an alcoholic. Just don't assume that every time Giles pours himself a beer, he's going to end up losing the weekend.

5: GILES THE SAPPY POET. You know what I'm talking about. You know the fics where Giles starts sounding like a Hallmark greeting card because he got a little romance. Suddenly, he can't stop telling his love that she/he has a voice like a cascade of little silver bells, or informing her/him that his every breath is meant for her/him alone.

Giles just doesn't talk that way. We've seen him in romantic relationships on the show. Did he talk that way to Jenny? Olivia? Joyce while he was on the chocolate? Anya when he thought they were engaged?

The closest to this we saw in canon was his assertion that Buffy was a `miracle' in Flooded, and in that case she'd just risen from the grave after spending several months buried. I think he was entitled to one minimal flight of fancy in that case.

But the way he verbally sparred with Jenny and seems a much more characteristic Giles way of communicating. Affectionate sarcasm and oratory dueling are much more Gilesy. That won't change simply because he falls in love.

4: GILES THE INCOMPETANT, GIBBERING FOOL. He reads at least five languages, trains the Slayer in combat techniques, plays guitar, fences while reading the newspaper, can find detailed information on obscure topics with a flick of a library card, and is a stevedore of sexual congress. He can work some magic, as well, and makes an interesting moussaka. In short, the guy has an amazing array of talents. Why oh why do we see so many fics in which he seems unable to tie his shoelaces for himself?

3: THE RITUAL TRASHING OF THE OLD FLAMES. Really, it is entirely possible to get Giles together with someone without demonizing their other loves. Honestly. I mean it. His fling with Olivia really can just be a casual affair without her having hypnotized him into it. Riley and Spike don't necessarily have to be killed so Giles can rescue Buffy from them. Willow can just break up with Tara or Kennedy and not turn out to have been bespelled into having lesbian tendencies. She really could be honestly questioning her sexuality, and even discover she's bisexual. Hank doesn't have to be beaten up so Giles and Joyce can be happy together. Anya needn't suffer a hideous death simply to get Giles and Xander horizontal. And there's certainly no need to create original lovers for Giles or the person you want to pair him with to overcome. It's just not necessary.

Also, Giles loved Jenny. He told Buffy that. Those who don't like Jenny, get over it. Repeat after me: if a man is past forty and has never really been in love, he's not waiting for the perfect mate, he's a case of sadly arrested development.

Other loves don't make the new one less worthy, not real, or somehow second best. The human heart is an amazingly resilient muscle. Few of us end up spending our lives with our first loves. Why is it so important to us in fic that Giles' heart and that of his love be untouched virgins, no matter how many people they've had sex with or spoken words of love to?

A Giles who has loved and lost, perhaps several times, is a man who knows his heart and will be careful with love. What's wrong with that?

2: THE PROVING OF THE WORTHINESS OF GILES' NEW LOVE. Harsh reality time, here: people fall in love with whomever they fall in love with. Whether the object of affection deserves love rarely enters into the question. Seventeen pages explaining why every decision either person in the romance has ever made is perfect and allows them to be worthy of one another will only bore those who read the story. If they agree with you, they don't want to see the math. If they disagree with you, they won't be convinced by Giles reciting a laundry list of his true love's perfections.

Keep the discussion to a more believable length. A couple quick sentences should more than do the trick, if you consider it necessary at all.

1: GILES THE STATUTORY RAPIST LIBRARIAN. Do I even have to tell you why I object to this one? Leaving the moral implications entirely to one side for the moment, let's take a look at the legalities. The Age of Consent in California is eighteen. At the time Buffy the Vampire Slayer first began to air in the late 1990's, there was a huge statewide campaign going on to make sure people understood that having sex with someone under that age was a crime with serious consequences. There were billboards, television and radio spots, newspaper ads; you couldn't miss it.

What's more, Giles was a guest in the United States. That means if he was caught having sex with someone under the age of consent, he could be deported and banned from re-entering the country, after he finished serving his prison sentence.

I know that consent laws are different in England. Consent laws are different even in some other states in the union. I understand that Giles could well view the Scoobies as more adult than California law does. But if there's one thing Giles is, it's devoted to Buffy. However one chooses to view their relationship, the fact is he is in the country for her benefit, and he considers her safety and well being vitally important. That means he wouldn't do anything to jeopardize his immigration status. He needs to be there for Buffy. He wouldn't want to be separated from his love, whomever that might be. Giles' legendary caution would come into play here.

There's no reason Giles couldn't love someone from afar. In fact, that seems a fairly likely response to Giles realizing he has feelings for someone who is too young, already involved with someone else, or simply not returning his feelings. What he wouldn't do is seduce a student in the library, where there are no locking doors, a large number of windows, and the likelihood of interruption from any of a score of people.

If you must have Giles in love with a student at the school where he works, for goodness' sake allow him some self-control and discretion! He's not a sixteen-year-old with a case of blue balls. He's a responsible adult. Let him be one.






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