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A Bad Girl Feels The Burn ||>

TITLE: A Bad Girl Feels The Burn
SUMMARY: An answer to Essay Question #4
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While Buffy and Faith dance at the Bronze in the episode Bad Girls, the song "Chinese Burn" by Curve plays in the background. This song, through the use of the symbolism in the lyrics describes Faith's situation up to the episode and effectively foreshadows her eventual decline into evil and madness.

There were three stages to Faith's decline. Her introduction, where we are greeted with her wild, yet fun appearance. We know that she walks a very fine line, but she hasn't really gone overboard yet. This situation is explained by the first stanza of the song:

She burns friends like a piece of wood/ And she's jealous of me because she never could/ Hold herself up without a spine/ And she'll look me up when she's doing fine/ Because the rage it burns like Chinese torture/ She's just someone's favourite daughter/ Spoilt and ugly as she willingly slaughters/ Friends and enemies they're all the same/ They'll burn her name/ And crush her fame.
She feels things more deeply than most people, her emotions are intense and she feels jealousy and rage more often that the other white hats, as it "burns like Chinese torture." However, she still retains some identity as a good guy, but she simply needs to feel as good as or better than Buffy. Faith becomes jealous of Buffy because she can "hold herself up without a spine," or simply that she has the support of everyone around her while Faith feels alone.

When Faith accidentally kills Alan Finch, she falls from the fine line she had been walking previously into confusion. She has no idea who she is or whether she should be good or evil, so she experiments with both. This is also reflected when Curve plays the second part of the song:
She'll break a promise as a matter of course/ Because she thinks it's fun to have no remorse/ She gets what she wants and then walks away/ And she doesn't give a fuck what you might say/ Because it cuts her up like Irish mortar/ Mother's pride is what we taught her/ Soiled and petty as we happily taunt her/ Friend or enemy we're all to blame/ She'll burn us bad/ She'll flaunt her flame/ She'll make us remember, remember her name
She starts to cease to care about anyone and everyone. As she "breaks a promise as a matter of course" she looks at what she has done. There were no horrible ramifications for her actions; she sees life as unimportant, that others are there just to serve her "because she thinks it's fun to have no remorse." "She gets what she wants", as her "want, take, have" attitude (Bad Girls) gets worse. Meanwhile, she still struggles with what she has done. The more that the Scooby Gang fails to realize what is going on, the more "soiled and petty" she becomes. Because of her jealousy for Buffy (Enemies), she finds an increasing need to "flaunt her fame," and to show everyone that she is the best slayer at whatever she wants to do.

She could have been saved at this point, but circumstances forced her into her third stage -- that of insanity and her dedication to the black hats. This was the stage that led to her destruction by Buffy, who in the end, became both her friend and enemy, adding to the meaning of the last part of the song:
If she sits still like she knows she could/ She could win this game and be the queen for good/ Save herself up for the cream of the crop/ Then she'll look us up when she's ready to stop/ Because the rage it burns like Chinese torture/ She's just someone's favourite daughter/ Spoilt and ugly as she willingly slaughters/ Friends and enemies are all that came/ To burn her name/ Crush her flame/ We're all to blame.
This is perhaps the most symbolic of the three stanzas. The first four lines describe her ascension with the Mayor. If she "sits still" and does what he wants, then she "will be sitting at his right hand." (Enemies) And the rage in her by this time at all the members of the Scooby Gang does burn like "Chinese torture", as does her desire to kill them. As the Mayor's "favourite daughter" she "willingly slaughters" until Buffy, her "friend and enemy", came to kill her, or "crush her flame." The last line, "We're all to blame," describes the blame that can be attributed to the circumstances that the Scooby Gang let interfere with their need to save Faith. In particular, during "Consequences," when Wesley kidnapped her from Angel, he worsened her descent into ruin. This line describes how the problem was everyone's.

The song captures Faith's personality and actions in a nutshell, from which it has not been able to break free. The real tragedy of the human spirit that the song relates to is a parallel to the tragedy of Faith, the waste of her potential as a great slayer and a dynamic person who could have saved the world right along with Buffy.

Material Cited:
  1. Bad Girls
  2. "Chinese Burn" by Curve
  3. Consequences
  4. Enemies
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