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March 30 2009

Joss Whedon and Transhumanist TV. CHUD's Taylor Bettinson compares Friday night scifi shows BSG, Terminator: TSCC, and Dollhouse and decides that while BSG and Terminator: TSCC were both about man vs machine, beginning in ep #6 Dollhouse goes beyond this and is now about man as machine.

Quite good insights from a rather short article. The subjet is defenitly worth a bigger study.
And while it could be argued, I also find that the idea of the show fits more into simulacra, such as Second Life, more than it does a merger of man and machine. This is simply programming, and I hate to say it, but we already have programming; all the DH is doing is replacing it.
I'm not sure that Dollhouse extends beyond human vs. machine. The glitches and errors that fuel much of the stories so far suggest that the human is resisting its new transhuman articulation. Echo's humanity is irrepressible, no matter how much the Dollhouse tries to reconfigure her as mechanical.

I think we end up back at the classic human good, machine bad scenario, just from a different angle.

I agree with Dana5140 about simulacra as a better way to think about Dollhouse, though if we agree that we already have programming and the DH is replacing it, then we are already thinking human identity from within a transhumanist perspective.
"While Dollhouse still has work to do before it's a sustainable TV show (in its defense, it's learning curve reminds me an awful lot of Buffy Season 1), it has found its thematic voice, and it is one more suited for our times than any of the other series I mentioned above."

Prett much describes how I feel about Dollhouse...and really about Buffy Season 1. It really didn't hit its stride till the second half, or delve into the story at all, which it appears is what's happening with Dollhouse. I was just hoping this time Joss could start off with a bang like he did with Firefly (though I guess that didn't really delve too deeply into the underlying mythology either in its 14 episode run).
Did anyone else misread this headline as "Joss Whedon and Trash-humanist TV"? I hadn't had my morning caffeine yet! :^)

I was not familiar with "Transhumanism" so I looked it up, and according to Wikipedia:
Transhumanism is an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities. The movement regards aspects of the human condition, such as disability, suffering, disease, aging, and involuntary death as unnecessary and undesirable. Transhumanists look to biotechnologies and other emerging technologies for these purposes. Dangers, as well as benefits, are also of concern to the transhumanist movement.

I'm having difficulty seeing how mind-wiping a human being could be perceived as an improvement of the human condition. I suppose the concept of the Dollhouse is one of those "dangers" that are mentioned.
Well, the last episode showed us that Echo is certainly an improvement over Caroline.
Perhaps, but would Caroline think so?
That would depend on the situation and how one defines 'improvement', wouldn't it?
Transhumanist. Is that someone who likes to dress up as a humanist?
Is it really just an updating of Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto from the 80s? She argued we were all cyborgs already due to our use of technology (even counting fillings and sneakers as technology...)

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