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June 25 2012

"Mutilation Fantasies for Fun & Profit" - thoughts on Dollhouse. In which Joss' writing, misogyny, David Cronenberg and Dr Saunders and Bennett Halverson all get a look in.

Very interesting article, but I would suggest that Dollhouse doesn't contain prostitution metaphors so much as out and out prostitution. Just sayin'.
Ok....I don't get it.

And not only because there is some serious sentence structure collapse going on.

Is he saying he likes Joss now because he wrote "torture porn" in Dollhouse?? Did this dude even watch the show? That is not at all what Dollhouse was about.

Joss was (paraphrase) "diving into the misogyny pool"? Really? I didn't get that feeling, ever. He was exploring what it is that makes us who we are - is it our "soul," whatever that may be, or is it our experiences? Is it both? If you have no memory of who you once were, can you build a new version of yourself?

On the other side of the coin, there were the clients who desired a Doll for sexual fantasies. But at the same time there were those who needed an expert who would be untraceable and have no memory of what they'd done - the hostage negotiator, the safe-cracking expert. And of course there were those who wanted to recreate a special moment with someone they'd lost.

In short, I didn't like this article. Confusing, hard to follow the train of thought, and I didn't come away "getting" the point the author was attempting to make.
Hmm... Can't say I agree with a lot of what is being said in this article. Dollhouse definitely does explore a patriarchal misogynistic world that is much darker than Joss's other works. But I wouldn't say that Joss is reveling in his misogynistic tendencies with Dollhouse. I think there's a very distinct differences between stories and films that are misogynistic and stories and film that show a misogynistic world. I feel Dollhouse is the later. Awful things happen to the women (and men) in that show, but while I felt sickened at some of them, I never felt attacked or targeted by them, which is a feeling I usually get when something is out and out treating women badly.
A little on a tangent but I've been trying for about an hour now to track down the interview on Dollhouse that talked about one of the episode ideas that made the network uncomfortable. Something about a guy who had been abusing his niece or daughter or someone like that, and needing to be `forgiven` for it by an Active. If anyone can link to it, please do so.
Not a particularly great piece but I suppose it is nice to see a decidedly non-Whedon fan stumble across something in the oeuvre that he enjoys. One thing the piece does accomplish (when it's not falling back on four letter words) is reinforcing the idea that there is a lot--a TON--going on in Dollhouse, not the least of which is a consistently risk-taking highwire act by its creator. And not just the risk of not winning enough fans in the general population by its dark themes; there's real risk of losing core fans going on throughout the show.
apollo11, I think it was this interview.
It is indeed Simon. Much obliged!
So my takeaway from this is the blogger thinks that Joss Whedon is secretly a misogynist, and that Dollhouse is an expression of him working out his sublimated need to abuse women: "...seemed like a writer/showrunner who was very actively exploring what his crutches were, what his weirdness as a writer is[...] The entire show really feels like a guy who has been praised as a feminist writer diving into the misogynist tendencies in his writing and swimming." Um, no. I think this may be an example of projection.
The important distinction between depiction and endorsement is, evidently, a tricky one.
roguerouge, you hit the nail right on the head. The authors of some essays I've seen previousy have have used Dollhouse (and specifically the depiction of exploitation embedded in its concepts) as evidence of Joss being a faux feminist or wearing the label while actually furthering misogyny. It seems the author of this piece and those watchers make the same mistake you've aptly named: ascribing the fact that Joss will depict heinous acts and arrangements (often but not always in trope form) as evidence that it's there for its own sake, not for the purposes of telling a deeper story.

I'm with most of the other comments on this thread with regards to the essay. I muddled through his statements about how much he didn't expect from Joss, and saw a handful of words about what he actually found interesting about Dr. Saunders or Bennett, and left with pretty much no sense of what he actually felt compelling about them or the story generally. He was scratching at some interesting doors but I didn't manage to discern a concrete claim or argument, unfortunately.

[ edited by counti8 on 2012-06-25 23:35 ]
Well that was a lot of text for a few meandering thoughts. I deserve ice cream.
I think this article is problematic because it seems to rest on an erroneous belief that Whedon's shows generally adhere to some kind of feminist orthodoxy. They don't. They are deeply feminist in their conception, I think, but aren't so orthodox as to proscribe a singular or simple vision of what feminism is.

Also, the article's writer seems to like Dollhouse because of a darkness (indicative of a gender-focused moral ambiguity) that he did not perceive in other Whedon shows. I just don't think that shows a strong enough grasp of the content of Buffy, Angel or Firefly to be a particularly valid conclusion. Season 6 of BTVS alone ought to put paid to that!

Still, I'm pleased for the writer that he's found a layer of depth to appreciate. If he re-visited other Whedonverse texts, he might find a whole lot more.
Also, the damage to Bennett Halvorson's arm was most directly caused by her own "Bomb-Throwing Anarchist Activity Phase."

I mean, I guess there are some legit points in here, but....
Ditto on the sentence structure issues ShadowQuest. Also, the writer never explains what it is that he doesn't like about Whedon' writing because it doesn't do what other people say it does.

And I can't say I agree with any comments that it's nice to see someone with a non-Whedon take finding something that he can appreciate in Whedon, when what the writer seems to enjoy most in media is the depiction of horrible things being done to women - justified by the highest intellectual balderdash of course.

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