Sunday, February 15, 2009

Who Else Could Bring Me Out of Hibernation but Joss Whedon?


Now that the first ep is out, I've decided that the thing that is going to bug me most about Dollhouse is people talking about Dollhouse. (irony is my middle name) Well, ok, so I should really know better than to venture into the TwoP forums, but still - who the fuck says this:

[Echo was c]oerced by circumstances, no doubt horribly lied to about what would happen afterwords (as discussed elsewhere I'm SURE the Dolls never actually get "out") but yes it was voluntary.

Dear TwoPer with yet another punny name - Did we watch the same episode? Cuz if we did, you need to learn what the word coercion means and how it affects the legality of agreements and contracts - written and otherwise.

Seriously, the only thing that's going to make me go ew more than the prostitution/rape/sexual slavery angle is people arguing that Echo actually consented to all this. (Based on the little clip we were given at the start of the pilot, anyway. I don't know what the future holds.)


as far as the pilot If it wasn't Joss I wouldn't be watching. Or at least not going out of my way to do so. And if that's the reworked pilot, I either really don't want to see the original or really want to see the original.

(From what Joss has said about it, I'm actually guessing the latter, bc the actual pilot is a typical "let me hold your hand and tell you how it's going to be" pilot and I don't think I need that for Joss shows, but I understand why that's the better choice for network TV.)

My biggest complaint is that it didn't feel terribly new and it felt like there was far too much given away in the beginning. Mostly - the bit about how Echo got there should have been kept a secret for at least a few more episodes. Possibly the rest of the season. It would have been much better to find out when Echo did (or maybe just a little before) not when Caroline knew.

Also, the plethora of details about the cop was a bit gratuitous (or maybe it was just the stupid intercut fight scenes). Maybe CM has me spoiled, but I've come to believe that economy is key in character development. All I needed to know about the cop was that he was willing to threaten a not-quite-civvie with a gun despite getting heat from his boss - and I really didn't need that last part beaten to death. Anvils were great for Buffy, Dollhouse feels like it should be more subtle. Really, honestly, a single line would have been much better than a long drawn out pissing contest - multiplied for effect! And it would have given him a chance to save the cat - or something.

That said, the last bit can stay in. That's the way to get them coming back. it could have been done better, but nice start with that there.

Overall, bc of the whole ew factor and the OH GOD WOULD SOMEONE PLEASE SAVE ME FROM FOX'S ANNOYINGLY SEXIST BULLSHIT ADS AND PROMOS THAT FLAT OUT SAY THAT WOMEN ARE WORTHLESS IF THEY AREN'T SEX DOLLS EVEN IF THEY ARE FUCKING SAVING THE WORLD?!!??!!?!?? I probably wouldn't be watching if I hadn't stumbled across this interview:

We wanted to talk about it...human sexuality and how it drives us and why it’s important to us.

And the idea of objectification versus identification, these are all things that I’ve been working on all the time...

...are we actually making a comment about the way people use each other that is useful and interesting and textured, or are we just putting her in a series of hot outfits and paying lip service to the idea of asking the questions.

...I think some things will offend some people, some things will not. There are things in it that I’m not positive I support, and some of the things that bother me don’t bother any of the other writers....part of the point is to look at these gray areas and to see what of this is unique in us, what is it we need from each other, how much do we objectify each other, how much do we use each other, both men and women, and what is actually virtuous.

One of the problems I ran into early on... was [the network] didn’t really want to deal with those issues having bought the show....It’s a classic network problem. You want to evoke this, but then they don’t want to say anything....We’ve struggled with making sure that the show doesn’t, by virtue of playing it safe, become offensive, because the idea of this show was never to play it safe. The idea of this show was always to be in your face about it.

....The idea is to get the audience to look at their own desire, and to figure out what of it is acceptable, and what of it is kind of creepy. In order to do that, we go to a creepy place sometimes, and I will be very interested to see if people find it empowering or the other things. I may have crossed the line. Let’s find out.

I don't know if he's explained all this before and I just missed it, or if Rachel is just a really good interviewer (quite possible), or if the other articles did their best to cut that shit out*, but the fact that Joss is very aware that of the whole prostitution/rape/sexual slavery angle but in fact seems to see it as one of the main themes of the show puts my mind at ease - at least a little bit. As does the fact that he quite aware of the dangers of both selling out and of not selling anything at all. I'm still watching with a critical eye, but I am watching. And very much hoping Joss makes this worth my while.

*The Salon article linked in the TwoP forum, for example, quotes Joss as saying "I believe that prostitution is not, in concept, repulsive," but the interviewer doesn't go back and ask him how that relates to what he said earlier about human trafficking or the question of wether or not the Dolls are coerced. Nor does Joss go into more detail about why he thinks that making the show hot but having less actual sex - as requested by TPTB - is offensive. Without the interview above, it sounds almost like Joss really believes that he his created a sci-fi premise for prostitution without having to deal with the power imbalance of it all - shades of the fundamental problem with "companions." Taking into account the interview above, it sounds more like Joss has taken those critiques to heart (at least a little) and while the Dollhouse is in no way an apology or a concession it is very much a deeper exploration of those issues.

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