Giles on Computers
Giles the librarian explains his aversion to the Digital Age
Added: 5 months ago
Rupert Giles was born in England into a family of Watchers (those who train and guide Slayers) - both his father and grandmother were Watchers. The young Giles was disappointed to find out that he was destined to be a Watcher; he had wanted to be a fighter pilot or a grocer. He attended Oxford University, but attempted to reject his destiny and instead rebelled and dabbled in the occult with his friends (who called him "Ripper"), at one point summoning the demon Eyghon to Earth. Giles eventually straightened out and gave in to his destiny, working as a museum curator in England until the Watcher's Council assigned him to Buffy in Sunnydale.
Giles, while working as the Sunnydale High librarian, developed a close father-daughter-like relationship with Buffy, despite the fact that she is an untraditional, somewhat incorrigible Slayer.
The library, a sort of command center for Buffy and her "Scooby Gang", sits right above the Hellmouth, an area of massive supernatural activity and energy.
Giles is well-read and intelligent, can play the guitar, fence, and read five languages - and, if necessary, he can hold his own in a fight. Giles has always been straight-laced and stereotypically British, but he has loosened up a bit since he was fired from his post as Watcher (after interfering with the Council's rite of passage test for Buffy).
I Robot, You Jane
(November 25, 1996)
In the library we see a few COMPUTERS with scanners, a jarring sight in the old-world library. WILLOW, XANDER and two boys scan in books at the other terminals. They are DAVE, a shy, bookish kid, and FRITZ, a big, slovenly bruiser. Computer geniuses both.
GILES: I haven't gone through the new arrivals. Put it in that pile -- (points near Willow)
Dave comes up to Buffy.
DAVE: Here, I got it.
BUFFY: Thanks, Dave. The Willow pile.
GILES: After I've examined it, you can, uh... skim it in.
WOMEN (O.S.): Scan it, Rupert. Scan it.
ANGLE: TO REVEAL
MS. CALENDAR, computer teacher, and Giles' polar opposite. She's maybe 30, pretty, hip, and irreverent.
GILES: (dripping polite venom) Of course...
Ms. Calendar regards the flustered Giles with amusement.
MS. CALENDAR: I know our ways are strange to you, but soon you will join us in the 20th century... with three whole years to spare!
GILES: Ms. Calendar, I happen to believe that one can function in modern society without being a slave to the idiot box.
MS. CALENDAR: That's TV. The idiot box is the TV. This is a good box.
GILES: Well, I still prefer a good book.
FRITZ: The printed page is obsolete. Information isn't bound up anymore, it's an entity. The only reality is virtual. If you're not jacked in, you're not alive.
As he walks off:
MS. CALENDAR: Thank you, Fritz... for making us all sound like crazy people. (to Giles) Fritz comes on a little strong, but he has a point. You know for the last two years there was more E-mail sent than regular mail? More digitalized information went over phone lines than conversations.
GILES: That is a fact that I regard with genuine horror.
MS. CALENDAR: I'll bet it is.
Nicki Calendar has entered the room.
MS. CALENDAR: Hi.
MS. CALENDAR: I was gonna check your new database, make sure your cross reference table isn't glitching. 'Cause I'm guessing you haven't gone near it.
GILES: A safe assumption.
MS. CALENDAR: (to Buffy and Xander) You here again? You kids really dig on the library, don't you?
BUFFY: We're literary.
XANDER: To read is makes our speaking English good.
BUFFY: (dragging Xander off) Well, we gotta go.
GILES: (pointedly) Yes, we'll continue our conversation another time.
BUFFY: No, I think we're done. (to Xander as they exit) Our speaking English good?
XANDER: I panicked, okay?
INT. LIBRARY - AFTERNOON
Nicki is finishing up. She and Giles are getting along famously.
MS. CALENDAR: You're a snob!
GILES: I am no such thing.
MS. CALENDAR: You're a big snob. You think knowledge should be kept in carefully guarded repositories where only a handful of white guys can get at it.
GILES: That's nonsense. I simply don't adhere to the knee jerk assumption that because something is new, it's better.
MS. CALENDAR: This isn't a fad, Rupert. We're creating a new society.
GILES: A society in which human interaction is all but obsolete. In which people can be completely manipulated by technology. Thank you, I'll pass.
MS. CALENDAR: Well, I think you'll be very happy here with your musty old books.
She picks up the book Moloch was bound in as she says it, starts leafing through it.
GILES: These musty old books have a great deal more to say than any of your fabulous web pages.
MS. CALENDAR: This one doesn't have a whole lot to say.
She shows him the blank pages.
MS. CALENDAR: What is it, like a diary?
GILES: (taking the volume) How odd. I haven't looked through all the volumes, yet, I didn't --
He stops as he sees the cover.
ANGLE: THE COVER
On it is the representation of Moloch.
MS. CALENDAR: What is it?
GILES: Uh, nothing. A diary. Yes. I imagine that's it.
MS. CALENDAR: (looking at the picture) Nice. You collect heavy metal album covers, too?
GILES: (his mind elsewhere) Yes...
MS. CALENDAR: You do?
GILES: Well, it was nice talking to you.
MS. CALENDAR: We were fighting.
GILES: We must do it again sometime. Bye now.
INT. COMPUTER LAB - DAY
Nicki is alone in the lab as Giles enters. She sees him, smiles.
MS. CALENDAR: Well, look who's here. Welcome to my world. Are you scared?
GILES: I'm remaining calm, thank you. I wanted to return this.
He holds up a strange, corkscrewlike earring.
GILES: I found it among the new books and naturally, I thought of you.
MS. CALENDAR: Cool, thanks. (he starts out) Listen. You're not planning to mention our little... adventure, are you? To anyone on the school staff?
GILES: Nothing could be further from my mind.
MS. CALENDAR: Great. Pagan rituals and magic spells tend to freak the administration.
GILES: Yes, I know. I'll see you.
MS. CALENDAR: Can't get out of here fast enough, can you?
GILES: Truthfully, I'm even less anxious to be around computers than I used to be.
MS. CALENDAR: It was your book that started the trouble, not a computer. Honestly, what is it about them that bothers you so much?
GILES: (a moment, then) The smell.
MS. CALENDAR: Computers don't smell, Rupert.
GILES: I know. Smell is the most powerful memory trigger there is. A certain flower or a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell -- musty and rich. Knowledge gained from a computer has no texture, no context. It's there and then it's gone. If it's to last, the getting of knowledge should be tangible. It should be smelly.
A beat, as it sinks in to Nicki that she is entirely charmed by this man.
MS. CALENDAR: You really are an old fashioned boy, aren't you?
GILES: Well, it's true I don't dangle a corkscrew from my ear...
MS. CALENDAR: (smiling) That's not where it dangles.
She crosses to the back of the class, leaving Giles to think about that one.