Thursday, February 12, 2009

Will Dollhouse, starting tomorrow on FOX, be sexist?

Quote of the day: "I'm just a bitter, sad man, and this is my bitter, sad show. Welcome to it!" ~ Joss Whedon, NYC Comic Con, 2009

Song of the day: “Chasing Pavement” by Adele

State of mind: Full of guesswork and uninformed “fanwanking*” speculation. Whee!

Date: Feb. 12th, 2009

I have not seen Dollhouse yet. It premieres this Friday at 9 PM EST, right after Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Nor have I even read most of the reviews. (I’m trying to remain as spoiler free as possible.) All I have seen are a few ads and some interviews when word of the show was first released online. Despite this, I am going to address the question of whether or not the show will be sexist.


Wow. That was easy.

I can understand how at first blush one would get the idea that it is, if one were only to look at the description of the Dollhouse itself that the cast resides in. True, the women, called “Dolls”, are meant to be used in whatever fantasy or situation a client needs or wants and to achieve that the minds of the Dolls are uploaded with whatever personality is needed. Basically they are using the women as objects. So, yeah, that is totally bad. Except that isn’t really what the show is about. That is just where it takes place. It isn’t a pseudo reality show were actual Dolls go on actual missions and hidden cameras catch all the titillating action for the viewers voyeristic enjoyment. Just because the show revolves around the story of a place that turns women into objects does not mean that message of the show is that is OK. Kind of like how Archie Bunker was a racist, but the show itself wasn’t.

Is it going to be sexual? I’m not sure how it could not.

There is no way that none of the people who can “purchase” one of these women with a custom tailored implanted personality and are not doing so for a little boom chick a wow wow. In those cases, it just means certain clients are both pigs and pathetic. (We seriously need to work on equating paying for sex from the unwilling or unable to consent with not being a real man. Where is the locker room trash talk about that?)

Here’s the synopsis I snagged from the official Fox site.

ECHO (Dushku) is an "Active," a member of a highly illegal and underground group of individuals who have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas. Hired by the wealthy, powerful and connected, the Actives don't just perform their hired roles, they wholly become -- with mind, personality and physiology -- whomever the client wants or needs them to be. Whether imprinted to be a lover, an assassin, a corporate negotiator or a best friend, the Actives know no other life than the specific engagements they are in at that time. Echo stops forgetting as her memories begin to return, and she slowly pieces together her mysterious past.

Produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Mutant Enemy Inc., DOLLHOUSE revolves around Echo's blossoming self-awareness and her desire to discover her true identity. But with each new engagement comes a new memory and increased danger inside and outside the Dollhouse.

See, to me that sounds more like a show that is a metaphor for the feminist movement. Echo starts out as an empty shell that is defined by others. But as the show progresses, she starts to remember and that is when she becomes a real person. (In her case, again.) This, for me, is the basic fact of feminism: that women aren’t objects. We are people. Isn't the basic idea behind feminism is that we should get to choose who we want to be rather than have it choosen for us?

Ah, but it seems that the Dolls themselves did choose this for themselves. But does that still make it alright? Questions, questions!

Hmm, I'm thinking already that the story will probably be about more than just identity. It is a Joss Whedon show after all. Dollhouse is going to have many layers; even more than pie. Maybe as many as a seven layer chocolate cake with three different kinds of frosting! Yum.

For me, just thinking about the show, it’s the technology that is quite disturbing. It’s more than having one’s entire personality wiped clean and being replaced with whatever someone else wants. It’s the idea of creating a persona that can do anything and not have to feel the consequences for those actions. The Buddha (or the tiny one on my twitter account) once said: “"what we are now is the result of what we have done, said, and thought before, and what we will be in the future is thus in our own hands." But if you take away all that we have done, said, and thought, what are we? And what could we do, knowing we wouldn’t have to live with what we did? That has nothing to do with feminism. That’s just scary.

So, to sum up: Will it be sexy? Inherently. Sexual? Probably. Sexist? Only if looking at the outer chocolatey layer of the cake.

However, I could be completely wrong. (I'm not.)

Oh wait, it looks like beat me to it and they back me up! But then, they’ve also seen the first three episodes already. Cheaters.

For more online about Dollhouse, go to:

All things Dollhouse on Whedonesque.

Show quote of the day: “Here you are, living a life day to day. The one adventure I can never have.”

*MS Word wanted to change “fanwanking” into financing. Ha! HAHAHA. That makes so much sense.


trinamick said...

Looking forward to seeing Dollhouse. One more hour spent not working towards my degree? Check.

LL said...

"Isn't the basic idea behind feminism is that we should get to choose who we want to be rather than have it choosen for us?"

Ummmmmmm... no.

And since this is the reworked version of Dollhouse... I'm not sure whether it'll be any good or not. However... I place the over/under on the show at 7 eps...

John said...

I don't think it matters if it's sexist or not. It's on Fox, so it'll be canceled after 3 episodes anyway.

Red said...

OMG you posted. You should really do it more often, ya know.

I won't be watching any TV this semester (lying, I will prolly catch Dead Like Me on Sci-fi)

fermicat said...

I'm not sure how I can fit this into a Friday night viewing schedule that is already too crowded. Plus, there is that terrible FOX new show track record to consider. I don't want to get sucked into something that they will take away from me in a month or two.

NYPinTA said...

FOX has already commited to run the 13 episodes that have been filmed. Just saying.

Stellar said...

MS Word wanted to change “fanwanking” into financing. Ha! HAHAHA. That makes so much sense.

What did it want to change boom chick a wow wow to?

LL said...

Boy... that was about as sexist as a show can get. She's a programmed hooker? However can the feminist movement recover from Joss' blatant misogyny...