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A Buffy sing along is a fan tradition started by admirers of the television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Similar to midnights shows such as Rocky Horror Picture Show a Buffy sing along features a movie theater presentation of an episode of Buffy that fans can take interactive roles in. The tradition is based around a famous musical episode of the show called Once More With Feeling.
In the musical episode, a demon forces the town of Sunnydale to express their secret fears and feelings through song and dance. What originally seems like a slightly creepy but amusing problem quickly devolves into disaster, as the outpouring of intense emotions lead some unlucky residents to spontaneously combust. Once More With Feeling was written, composed and directed by the show’s creator, Joss Whedon.
Once More With Feeling premiered in 2001 as part of the sixth season of the television show. It was met with immediate praise from critics for its songs, humor and innovation. The episode won nominations for several TV awards, and shortly thereafter, fans began holding a Buffy sing along to the episode.
The tradition of the sing along is partially based on a line in the opening song, which encourages viewers to sing. Although the sing along began as an event held at fan and comic book conventions, it has spread to independent theaters around the United States. Traditions for the event vary between theaters, much as early midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show varied regionally. Many Buffy sing along traditions are similar to Rocky Horror gags, such as shouting lines and throwing props at the screen. Other productions use live casts to act out the actions taking place on-screen.
Some interactive audience gags have spread from their original communities and become national trends. For instance, whenever the character of Dawn appears on-screen, fans shout at her to shut up. Similarly, when the vampire Spike appears, audience members scream, “Bite me!” A famous scene in the script involves a random man singing about how cleaners were able to remove a mustard stain from his shirt, and Buffy sing along viewers throw mustard packets at the screen to celebrate the moment.
The Buffy sing along has become a popular tradition at movie theaters, but several productions have been shut down due to copyright issues stemming from 20th Century Fox. Despite attempts from show organizers to obtain legal permission to perform use the episode for sing along events, Fox lawyers have declared it may violate licensing contracts. Creator Joss Whedon has spoken out against any shut-downs, as he enjoys the sing along and occasionally attends Los Angeles versions. Whedon and other Buffy staff and cast members have attended performances in protest of the Fox position.
Time will tell if the Buffy Sing Along will have the longevity of similar cult shows such as Rocky Horror. Parents should note that while the show is comparatively tame for a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, there is some violence and the occasional person bursting into flame. Many critics and show fans consider Once More With Feeling one of the best episodes of the long-running show, and the Buffy sing along tradition appears likely to grow in fame if legal issues are resolved with the Fox legal team.