Giles: Everything’s terrible. Total catastrophe.
Buffy: Giles, what’s wrong?
Giles: Have you seen the new library? There’s-there’s-there’s nothing but computers. There’s not a book to be seen.
I can’t say I was ever a huge fan of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, either the original film or the show it spawned. However, whenever I did watch it, my favorite character was always the bookish, mild mannered librarian by day, Watcher by night, Rupert Giles. Played by English actor and musician Anthony Head, Giles serves as a protector and sometimes father-figure for the diminutive and surprisingly kick-ass Buffy Summers. When not deciphering ciphers or catching vampires, demons and other types of bad guys, Giles works as Sunnydale High School’s librarian.
Beyond the Buffy mythology, Giles is a quintessential polite, mind-mannered British man which compliments his rather polite, mild-mannered “guybrarian” sensibilities. He speaks in a soft, non-poncy accent and he loves books, knowledge, and research. There are several times in the show when Giles has to throw a punch or defend himself, but it’s never to the effect of making himself seem macho; on the other hand, it’s always kind of a surprise whenever Giles does so. His main role in the show is to provide guidance, usually in the form of the many, many books on the occult that he has at his disposal. (BTW, does no one else visit this library? How does Giles deal with students who are stressed out about mid-term exams rather than, say, demon possession?)
Buffy ran from 1997 to 2003, during a time that the library as a whole was changing, mainly due to the internet taking over. Giles, an old fashioned bloke in his tweed jackets and ties, is also a rather old fashioned librarian. (i.e., technophobe.) As seen in the quote above from the episode “Lies My Parents Told Me,” Giles just couldn’t bear the idea of letting go of his precious tomes in favor of the WWW. It makes me wonder whether or not Giles, or Buffy for that matter, would have been as successful with the use of Google instead of a physical library. Would Giles have been a young, techie librarian with an iPhone and a custom-made Watcher app?
Oh, but when the man switches out his tweed for a black turtleneck, and his tie for a guitar, this happens… and then I think I need to start watching Buffy on Hulu ASAP.