April 4, 2009
Reason "Dollhouse" Is Misogynist Bullshit #1: The Names
A few weeks ago, Khatani left a comment asking me what I thought of Dollhouse, Joss Whedon's new show. Like President Obama waiting to issue a statement until he actually knew what he was talking about, I waited until I'd seen every episode available (2 through 8, and I read detailed synposes of #1) and read quite a few reviews before I issued my statement.
And here it is: I fucking HATE this show. Watching it leaves me shaken and nauseated, not in some "Oh, Joss is so edgy and provocative" way, but in an "this is violent, aggressive misogynist bullshit" way.
Now, I assume that if any fans of the show (including Khatani) read my blog, they'll want reasons. So here's the first one, something small (we'll build to bigger reasons later):
the difference in the names given to male and female "dolls."
Male dolls have names like "Victor" and "Mike."
Female dolls have names like "Echo" and "Sierra" and "November" and "Tango."
Couldn't the writers either give male dolls names like "Narcissus" or "Carson City" or "Arctic" or "Saturday," as goofy and new-agey and contrived as the names the female dolls have, something that shows their contrived status? Or else give the female dolls unexceptional, familiar names like "Debbie" and "Patricia" and "Lois," so that everything seems even more like a 1950s kindergarten class on qualudes, except with yoga and co-ed showers?
Consistency, people! Gender parity! Gestures that show you've thought really carefully about the issues you claim to be exploring! Not just lazy, easy repetition of all the worst ways women are exploited in our society, with the claim that doing so is some edgy, hip exploration of identity!
There will be additional installments of "Reasons 'Dollhouse' Is Misogynist Bullshit," both because there are many, MANY reasons to cite, and because sometimes I'm committed to showing the flaws in something I've invested strongly in, like the Mormon church or the feminist ideology of Joss Whedon.
As Joss himself acknowledges in this interview, "depending on how it is handled, the show could end up either being 'A fight for her identity or just a misogynist fantasy.'"
I want to demonstrate why this show is not "JUST a misogynist fantasy," but a really creepy, horrible, damaging one, unworthy of the creator of Buffy. I hope it gets canceled, ASAP.
Posted by holly at April 4, 2009 11:03 AM