Monday, March 25, 2013

Dollhouse - Week 9

In the article by Morohunfola, we revisit some of the ideas that we have encountered in the past regarding the television series: the nature of the soul and self-identity. The author’s initial premise is as follows: “there is more to people than their personalities, and what’s underneath can never be erased.” (221)

The author presents an interesting concept: the term via aperi refers to the composite actives’ state of mind.

The premise of the series as a whole can be summed up as “the soul can never be erased.” (225) We have seen this idea before. Such repetition brings up another question: is the series a rich text? I think so, but it seems that some of the ideas that the series evokes are repetitive. Care to comment?

1 comment:

Phil Wiebe said...

The contents of Morohunfola's essay had already been covered by other authors in the book, and in greater detail, but I think there are a few aspects he mentions that are worth remarking upon again.

Biology: Morohunfola mentions that eventually it is revealed that Echo's biological make-up makes her resistant to the wipes, and he infers that Alpha must possess this same advantage. That may be true, but I think producing this concrete, scientific explanation was one of Joss Whedon's biggest mistakes. Like in horror, where the more the viewer knows the less scared they are, this revelation took much of the intrigue out of Echo's story. In the rush to the end, I think Joss tied up some plotlines a bit too hard. I disliked Serenity for similar reasons - it produced boring explanations for some of the show's most fascinating elements: the Reavers and River's powers.

Via Aperi: I'm not sure if this term was needed, but if we take a step back to treat the Active not as a series of discrete minds but a possible collective consciousness, we see one commonality - the body. Every state of mind an Active can be in (from doll state to imprint) is grounded in their unique, indivisible body. I think this proposes some kind of rejection of mind/body duality and that the two are in fact inseperable. No matter what mind an Active is imprinted with, it is a slave to the body and informed by the body's history. I think this could provide an explanation of why Actives develop patterns and tendencies regardless of the wipes.

Souls: What is the soul then? Joss Whedon is by a self-admission an atheist existentialist which basically relegates him to a materialist position on matters of the soul, i.e. it does not exist. He's also a humanist though (to paraphrase John Gray, humanism is just watered down Christianity in its belief in the innate goodness of humans and moral progress) - if Dollhouse's premise truly is 'there is a soul that can never e erased,' I think this it is in tension with Whedon's sentiments. Perhaps the failure of Dollhouse can partially be attributed to the idea that it is an 'inauthentic' text?

Rich texts: I think Dollhouse is a rich text in that it raises questions of identity, self, and being that have never been dealt with before in television and probably could not have been dealt without resorting to fantasy or science fiction. However, in its short run I think it failed both to ask many different questions from those presented in its initial episodes, and most of all did not provide satisfactory hypotheses on most of the questions it brought up.