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Honestly, at this point in time, only so many tweets can elicit from me a strong, visceral reaction. We are constantly smothered in everyday horrors to the point of, if not normalization or desensitization, at least a level of "well this is life now" numbness as a coping mechanism.
So when I say that this tweet made my entire face contort into a series of frowns — not just my mouth, literally my whole face — know that it is truly saying something.
Because, you see, Slate writer Inkoo Kang shared some lyrics yesterday, penned by James Marsters about his Buffy the Vampire Slayer co-star Michelle Trachtenberg. And ... well. Just look at it. I have to gag again.
The full lyrics are available online. I have included below some choice portions. I recommend them as an ipecac.
But I notice you
With your long brown hair
Pretty little feet
No. Why the feet. Why did it have to be "pretty little feet."
One baby, two, maybe three more years
You'll be a full grown girl, have all your curves
And here's my taste of irony:
You'll be a ten-hot baby, too good for me
Nope. Absolutely not. No. No thank you, please.
'Cause you're dangerous
And you don't even know it
OK, I'm gonna stop you right there, James.
Around the same time as this tweet got attention, it was announced that Marsters would not be appearing at an upcoming Buffy reunion at Wizard World in Portland. It's not known that the two things have anything to do with one another. (UPDATE: Marsters announced Tuesday that, following fan outcry, he will in fact appear at Wizard World in Portland.)
While Kang drew focus to the song yesterday, it's been out there for years. It just never grabbed much attention. A Twitter search of "marsters trachtenberg song" only brings up a few tweets dating back to 2011. Block Club Chicago writer Jamie Nesbitt Golden shared this in 2017:
And in 2016, a Buffy-Boards post shared the lyrics posing the question "creepy or sweet?" (That second one. It's definitely that second one.) So what's changed? Well, MeToo and Time's Up have come a long way in educating us that even our most treasured faves are at best flawed and at worst predatory. And lest you think this is a hit job, a taken-out-of-context theorized version of events, here's Marsters literally announcing to an audience of fans that 1) this song is about Trachtenberg, and 2) she was not 18 yet when he wrote the song about her.
Odes to minor girls are ingrained into our culture and are so normalized that they barely register a blip, even becoming huge hits. Sixties singer Gary Puckett performed multiple anthems dedicated to underage girls, like "Young Girl" (choice lyrics for ruining your entire day: "Beneath your perfume and your make-up / You’re just a baby in disguise") and "This Girl Is a Woman Now" (choice lyrics for ruining your entire week: "This girl tasted love, as tender as the gentle dawn / She cried a single tear, A teardrop that was sweet and warm / Our hearts told us we were right / And on that sweet and velvet night / A child had died, a woman had been born / This girl is a woman now, and she's learning how to give"). The trope of the Ready and Willing Jailbait exists across media and gender, even recently. Even real-life horrors, most notably R. Kelly's history of abusing very young girls and women, and Bryan Singer's history with very young boys and men, were dismissed and ignored for years, and all too often excused with the onus placed upon the victims.
Because, you see, young people being targeted by predatory adults are not "dangerous." The power dynamics in play, which can include an intersection of age, gender, race, fame, wealth, and perceived authority, render the underage person — ostensibly a child — unable to consent. And while our broader understanding of that is growing, it's still somehow a controversial concept for people, somehow up for debate or discussion.
Sweet or creepy? It's f*cking creepy. And that's what's dangerous.
Marsters has been reinstated to Wizard World.
Maybe you'll get to hear this song live!