Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dollhouse - Week 10

Shuster begins his essay by pointing out an essential aporia, a moment of contradiction, in the show:

1) "There was sopme bodily essence that constantly asserted and reasserted itself, even in spite of imprinting and global wipes,"
2) "We saw precisely how disposable bodies were." (233)

Shuster states, interestingly,
Dollhouse found itself in the strange predicament . . . of decrying the objectification of women while lavishly promoting itself by means of Eliza Dushku's scantily clad body. (235)
I always found this interesting, but more so in the context of third-wave feminism.

So, Shuster argues that aporia exist at both the level of the narrative and at the institutional/organizational level of the television show on FOX.

The citing of Adorno is interesting. I applaud this but I wonder: Dollhouse depicts a fictional genocide (though horrific) but Adorno is referring to an actual genocide (see pg. 237).

I would simplify this article into the following statement: Dollhouse juxtaposes many elements which result in the construction of an atmosphere (or space) of ambivalence.

Further thoughts on this interesting article?

1 comment:

Phil Wiebe said...

"As our attachment to and identification with Echo grew, our concerns began to merge with hers - not only formally, as we realized that we were indulging in fantasy and entertainment as much as Echo's clients, but also as the very tenuousness of the show's continued existence (and thereby the tenuousness of ourselves as viewers) became unmistakable." (234)

The above quote was a fascinating piece of meta-criticism because it raises two questions: how much different is the contract that an actor signs, agreeing to become someone else for the enjoyment of others [with monetary recompense], to the one prospective Dolls agreed to? and Do viewers feel anxiety at the pending cancellation and mourn thereafter not just at the disappearance of a prized entity but also of a piece of themselves that they have invested in the show?

Shuster recognizes the ultimate paradox in the critical venture that relies on the frameworks it condemns: "Dollhouse found itself in the strange predicament of attacking corporatism while relying on Fox for its existence, of questioning technology while depending on the same for its actuality, of decrying the objectification of women while lavishly promoting itself by means of Eliza Dushku's scantily clad body, and of ultimately championing freedom while revealing the fundamental impossibility of its reality." (235)

So, Dollhouse the narrative is a microcosm of Dollhouse the show - both are 'aporiatic.'However, Shuster points out that without this contradiction, the show is impossible (maybe this is why it ultimately failed? It couldn't be held in tension any longer?). I thought the Adorno quote was well-used based on its core principle that living without contradiction has already been preempted by the frameworks that 'living' depends on.

Shuster does a good job of pointing out further aporias, contradictions, paradoxes, etc. in Dollhouse's fabric. In each one we realize that these contradictions are not just merely a mistake, that is somehow solvable, but true problems incapable of disentanglement. It makes me wonder if good old existentialist Joss read some Kierkegaard, who loved spotting the paradoxes in concepts held as self-evident and rather than trying to destroy them, embraced them as part of the divine mystery of humanity's fallibility.