WisCon by the Twitters: Dollhouse – Made of Win or Full of Fail?

I was recruited to this panel the night before as Charlie Jane wanted to balance the panel out. She was apparently afraid there’d be too many “made of win” people. The discussion got heated several times and no one recorded my meltdown of fury at Anastasia. But overall it was productive and awesome:

@tinytempest #Dollhouse panel starting. This ought to be good.

@cabell Feeling a little trepidatious at the Dollhouse panel.

@MsAnastasia Starting my last panel of #Wiscon – a Dollhouse debate that already is sounding potentially heated. First up: separation of body from self.

@cabell Is Dollhouse biz model realistic? Only if u assume rich ppl are all in a big self-protective club… so yeh, probly.

@swanberg Dollhouse is a big hot mess. Sometimes the mess outweighs the hot, sometimes the hot outweighs the mess. -Kater Cheek

@swanberg Hiring a doll is like saying to Jessica Fletcher “Yes, I’d love to come to your cottage.” -Kater

@swanberg Enver was the best part of the show. He is amazing. – panel & audience

@madmarvelgirl ‘a piece of art does not have to be a female empowerment story to be profoundly feminist

@swanberg I don’t think a story has to be a female empowerment story to be proundly feminist. – member of audience

@cabell How does English prof afford Echo? Tempest: He edited a book all freshmen have to buy that w/new edition every year!

@cabell Tempest & Ana agree: any feminism in Dollhouse happened by accident & had nothing to do with Joss Whedon.

@tinytempest “The less I liked Echo, the more I liked the people who were keeping her down.” Kater Cheek

@madmarvelgirl ‘i will take evil & competent over cute & feckless any day of the week’

@swanberg Black handler with no sexual interst in Echo. If her handler had been white “what, is he gay?” Erases Boyd’s sexuality

@jdawley Audience member: Alpha gave Echo the ability to integrate her personalities. Charlie Jane: Well, she had midichlorians.

@cabell Come on, if ur working w/Eliza Dushku, u need her 2 act confused as much as possible. Play 2 her strengths

@Hamaker88 Oooh. Panel fight!!

@cabell I have no patience with authorial intent. Intentions don’t matter. WHAT YOU DID/PUT ON MY TV matters.

@rhiannonrevolts @cabell That’s my POV. Also, cultural studies all about reading any authorial intent through lens of sociocultural influences, so…

@sigridellis Dollhouse panel was raucous and wild, but ultimately productive, I thought.

Dollhouse, Mary Sue, And Trying To Figure Out Just What Is Wrong With Whedon

Dollhouse, Mary Sue, And Trying To Figure Out Just What Is Wrong With Whedon

I’ve had this swirling around in my head since the last Dollhouse episode aired but haven’t had a chance to make it solid, so I want to discuss. I’ve been thinking about the whole concept of Echo being “special” and how this keeps being repeated over and over and hammered in, but we’re never really given a reason why. The show upped the ante with the recent revelation that Caroline (the pre-Echo) did something horrible to this Bennett individual which caused her to lose functionality in her arm and also to hold a very deep grudge. Bennett said something about how Caroline always charmed people and such, and that inate awesomeness apparently still comes through even though she’s Echo.

Thing is, I really just don’t buy this.

Not even just because Eliza Dushku’s acting doesn’t convey all this awesomeness terribly well. Beyond that, this whole concept feels really contrived and pushed on us by the writers instead of something the audience actually experiences. It’s very much like a Mary Sue plot, but whose Mary Sue is Echo?

You could say she’s Eliza’s since she is an Executive Producer and must have some say over plot elements. I don’t get that feeling, though. I feel like this is all coming from Whedon. That doesn’t disqualify this trope from being Mary Sue-ish (after all, Stephen Moffett just loves his female Mary Sues), but I wonder if something else is going on. Like, this is some weird male-centric fantasy that has the Mary Sue flavor but behind it is not some fantasy about being awesome and loved but a fantasy deeply centered in the male gaze and psyche.

Am I making sense? Are you seeing this, too? WTF is this all about? I am sure I’ve encountered all of this before but damned if I can remember a specific show, movie, or book.

A Cold Day In Hell: I’m Actually On FOX’s Side For Once

A Cold Day In Hell: I'm Actually On FOX's Side For Once

Over on Tor.com I’ve got a piece up priasing FOX for its decision to cancel Dollhouse. I know, a bunch of you will disagree. A whole bunch of you won’t, though! I hope you’ll join me in supporting FOX at this difficult time. I wonder if I should grab up the URL dontsavedollhouse.com? Because there are already campaigns to save it. For once, I think we need a strong anti-campain so FOX won’t start to second guess itself. Down with bad television!

My (Long Overdue) Thoughts on the Dollhouse Finale

Over at Fantasy Magazine:

Eliza Dushku has had the opportunity to dazzle us with the range of her acting over the course of this season. She did not. In this final episode she had one more chance to shine. She had a great example before her — Alan Tudyk as Alpha struggling with the different brains in his brain, switching smoothly between them without making it look hammy and overdone. Then he puts a ton of personalities into Echo’s head and Eliza gives us… well, the same vague “kick-ass chick” character she’s been playing for eleven previous episodes. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we never saw her switch between them. There was nothing to switch.

There’s… a lot more. It took me a whole week to write because every time I sat and thought about ti some more I was like, “Oh, and ALSO I hated this! And this!” Watch as I also compare the show to Family Guy and Heroes. Clicky for the fun!

Dollhouse: Is It Done Yet?

Dollhouse: Is It Done Yet?

My thoughts on the latest Dollhouse episode are over at Fantasy.  One aspect that bothered me that I didn’t mention was the character of Mellie/November.  Mellie, specifically.

Ever since Mellie first showed up I have been super-annoyed and wary of her character. In the beginning because I am so over the I Am Desperately In Love With Man Who Ignores Me stereotype.  She seemed so pitiful and desperate that I was really rooting for her to be a doll just so it wouldn’t be so horrible for her to exist. It makes sense for the Dollhouse to program her to be desperate for Paul, even if it is still annoying.

So then we discover Mellie is a sleeper doll — fine. But THEN.  Then the annoyances keep coming.  Paul has wet dreams about Caroline even though he is sleeping with a woman who is — pardon me for being so crass — about 20,000 times more attractive than Eliza Dushku. Later Mellie tells Paul right out that she does not care if he doesn’t return her affections in any way, as long as she can keep doting on him. I’m paraphrasing — the actual sentence was so much more sickening than that. Yes, I know Mellie was put there to keep an eye on Paul by being the kind of woman he would want, but what man who is not an asshole would find a woman who would say such a thing desirable? It speaks to Paul’s character, I think, that they programmed her that way. And, of course, his response to this speech was not “Hey now, I return your affections, you do not need to say that or feel that way.” (Yes, I know, this would have been a lie.  Still.)  No, he responds by engaging in an excessively problematic “sex” scene.

Dear Show: WTF.

I have to wonder if there wasn’t some way to achieve the same goals with Mellie/November without making her character so awful. In fact, it would have made me feel so much more sympathy for Paul if the kind of woman he desired was not someone who only had one want or need (him) but was ultra-kick-ass and also thought he was attractive. It would have been so much more interesting if he really did have to struggle between being in the present moment with someone who cared for him and being obsessed with the Dollhouse (and Caroline). Lack of stereotypes is always a big turn-on for me.

Poor Mellie. I mean, I do definitely feel for the girl. Even knowing she’s a doll, I still felt really sad when Paul walked out and cruelly told her to go to hell.  (This is perhaps due to the fact that I think the actress is doing a damn fine job with this inanity she’s been given.) It was clever of him to do so in order to track her back to the Dollhouse, but think about that: he purposefully emotionally abused a woman because he essentially ceased to see her as a real person. He flat-out refused to save her even though she was just as much a “victim” as Caroline because he decided that Caroline was indeed real.

I have a problem with that.

If anyone is supposed to be a hero in this show, it is Paul. He falls very short of that label.

And if anyone can be said to be a victim here, I would definitely nominate Mellie. That she was created in such a way, subjected to such things, and will probably cease to exist from here on out is depressing. But not more depressing than another season of this show.

My Friends and Feeds List, A Snapshot:

OMG Dollhouse was the best thing I have ever seen!

OMG Dollhouse was a piece of shit!

OMG Dollhouse, I am so excited and Eliza is hot.

Dollhouse: Snarky snark snark, it was a piece of shit.


DOLLHOUSE I loved it!



Valentine’s Day sucks


Dollhouse: Snarky snark snark, it was a piece of shit.

OMG Joss Whedon is a genius!

Valentine’s Day is damn awesome

Joss, I love you!

Joss, when I find you, I will shiv you