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15 February 2009 @ 10:04 am
The Hoard Potato shares some thoughts on Dollhouse, sight unseen.  
I'm finding it hard to get excited about Joss Whedon's new show, Dollhouse.

The premise is very, very close to the recently-canceled Christian Slater vehicle, My Own Worst Enemy -- without the promise of that show's continually-evolving character dynamic, and the wonderful interaction (via cell-hone video messages) between Slater's two personas.

Yes, everyone's sure that the Dollhouse story arc will involve the system breaking down, and "Echo" slowly retaining memories between downloads. Enemy started with the breakdown, dropping you right into the middle of things as poor schlub Henry finds himself in the middle of his super-spy alter-ego's anarchic existence.

Please note that I was somewhat "meh" about Dollhouse's premise even before I'd started watching Enemy.

quelonzia and I will give Dollhouse a try, but I may find myself in the unlikely position of wishing I was watching Christian Slater instead of Eliza Dushku.

Yes, I know, after snarking on the shows we DROPPED, I never got around to posting about the new shows we LIKED this season. And now one of them's gone.
I feel: apatheticapathetic
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on February 15th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
Please say something about it, too. A friend of mine was actually a little offended at the premise - y'know, the female sex doll component of it. I said that since the show is about one of the characters breaking free of the control it might be an allegory for women breaking free of their own oppression and oppressors, but even as I said it I had no real confidence that was the case (because of the fairly ugly sexism in Firefly). So someone's eyes on the show might not just help me but someone you've never even met. ;)
Your Obedient Serpent: barcodeathelind on February 16th, 2009 06:41 am (UTC)
Ugly sexism... in Firefly??

The show whose female regulars included a tough, smart, savvy soldier who's far more together than any of the menfolk, a top-notch engineer/mechanic who's not afraid to be a girl, and quite possibly the only sex worker in television history who was portrayed as a valued, respected member of society rather than a skank?

I can't think of another show in any genre that's showed a wider mix of social roles and personalities for characters of either gender.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on February 16th, 2009 07:09 am (UTC)
Yeah, where the hero of the show called another one of the characters a whore constantly in order to humiliate her, and then she falls in love with him. I find sexual humiliation of women to be pretty offensive, yeah.
McGuffinhitchkitty on February 16th, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC)

I don't recall Mal ever referring to the engineer or his second-in-command as a whore, and certainly never River. So I can only assume you're talking about Inara.

Inara, the sex worker to whom Athelind earlier alluded.

And offensive though you may find it, she was a whore. She accepted monetary compensation for sex. There is, frankly, a word for that.

And note, please, that Mal never actually used that term to humiliate Inara. His goal was simply to get under her skin. Not once did he refer to her as a whore in the presence of someone who wasn't part of the crew -- who wasn't in on the captain's habit of trying to rankle people, and thus might mistake it for genuine hostility (and license to treat Inara as, to use Athelind's term, a skank).

Y'know, come to think of it, I seem to recall someone treating Inara with all the contempt the label "whore" seems to suggest to you; if I remember correctly, Mal didn't react well.

So...where exactly is the humiliation, here?
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on February 16th, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
His goal was simply to get under her skin.

Yeah, but publicly humiliating her with sexual overtones.

I actually am aghast that people don't get this. I mean, this isn't on the line. When a man calls a woman a whore in order to publicly humiliate her - to "get under her skin" - he's being a sexist fuckwit. When the woman he's publicly humiliating falls in love with him, she's falling for an abusive fuckwit.

It doesn't matter that Inari was a prostitute. Mal's words were intended to humiliate her and they did. That's sexist and abusive. People get humiliated all the time for things they "are." Let me give you an example. If I call a black person a nigger, I can't they hide behind them "being a nigger". The term nigger has been used by white men to humiliate black people for a long time - that, by definition, the word nigger refers to a black person does not stop it from being humiliating to that person!

That Mal didn't like it when someone else abused Inari is about as relevant to his piglike behavior when an abusive husband stops a stranger from being his wife. It doesn't make him less abusive. It just makes him a hypocrite who patriarchally claims he has the sole right to sexually humiliate Inari.

Ugh. I don't get it. What's so hard about admitting that calling a woman a whore in public is intentionally humiliating to that woman? It was clearly Mal's intent *to* humiliate her, and she *was* humiliated, but when I bring this up it's like calling a woman a whore is suddenly not sexist. V. weird to me.
McGuffinhitchkitty on February 17th, 2009 01:07 am (UTC)
Now, I'm tempted to dismiss you out of hand. You've made an incredibly racist analogy -- whore:prostitute::nigger:black person -- and so by your own standard of "one strike, context be damned, you're out", I should just let this go. However, there are some things that need to be addressed.

I do not recall Mal actually calling Inara a whore in public -- and again, by "in public", I mean "in front of people outside Serenity's crew". But okay, we'll assume for the moment that he did.

Calling a woman a whore may be sexist.

Calling a women who sells sexual favors a whore is not.

It's derogatory, vulgar and crude. But it's not sexist.

And for the record, Mal doesn't refer call Inara a whore for the sake of sexual humiliation or domination. Humiliation and domination, perhaps, but there's no sexual component to it. He calls her a whore because he knows it bothers her. Why he would seek to annoy her, that's another matter.

And why does it bother her? Because Inara -- and had you actually watched the series, you would know this -- is not just a prostitute. Calling her a whore cheapens what she does, the training she went through to become a Companion.

Mal isn't saying "you're a whore, and thus it's okay to abuse you, so long as I pay". He's saying "you're just a whore, anyone could do your job".

However, when Mal encounters someone who very clearly from the context is saying the former, he reacts violently. Not because he thinks of Inara as his alone to abuse, but because he thinks of her as no one's to abuse.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on February 17th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
And why does it bother her? Because Inara -- and had you actually watched the series, you would know this -- is not just a prostitute. Calling her a whore cheapens what she does, the training she went through to become a Companion.

Yes. That's my point. Precisely. Mal used the word "whore" to shame Inari. Yes. Precisely. He was a sexist pig. YES. EXACTLY.

I'm glad we've had this little conversation. If you don't grasp, now, what I'm talking about - that Mal was being sexist by publicly (even if it was just to the crew of the Serenity, which *is* public, of course, it isn't like they were a family or something but just other people aboard the ship by and large) referring to a Companion as a whore, a crude and intentionally insulting term to refer to a sex worker - after seeming to grasp that Mal's intent was to insult her, that she knew it was an insult, it was an insult in the fantasy cultural context . . . okay, if after all of that you're STILL not of the opinion that Mal is a crude sexist pig, I honestly don't know what to say.

Well, I have one more thing to say. Firefly didn't exist outside of context. In our world it is *always* an insult to call a woman a whore. At least in *my* society. Maybe you can imagine in our world where calling a woman a whore isn't insulting, but I can't.
McGuffinhitchkitty on February 17th, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC)
Shaming someone because she is a woman, that would be sexist. The a priori assumption is that, as a woman, she is automatically inferior and thus deserving of ridicule.

Shaming someone who, to invoke Carlin, "just happens to be" a woman, however, is not necessarily sexist. You ascribe to mysogyny what can be attributed to plain garden-variety jerkitude.

Inara did not choose to be female, any more than Bishop chose to be black. She did choose to make a living as a Companion, and it's her career -- not her gender -- that Mal is slandering.

Yes, Mal was being a jerk. But "jerk" and "sexist" are not synonymous.

Also: On a ship that size, with a crew that size, yes, they are a family. Family is defined by more than genetic and legal relationships.
McGuffinhitchkitty on February 17th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
Ahem. Any more than Book chose to be black. Not sure why I can never remember the character's name.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on February 17th, 2009 02:49 am (UTC)
I'm also going to address your comment that I was being "incredibly racist". See, I don't think I was being racist and I think you're just demonstrating your lack of sensitivity to gender issues.

You said that comparing the word nigger in relationship to a black person was wrong because there is no comparison between those terms compared to "whore" and "prostitute". I agree.

However, I wasn't regarding Inari as a prostitute, but as a woman deserving dignity regardless of her profession. I was saying that Mal calling any woman a whore, even if her profession was in fact prostitute, was insulting - that he knew it was insulting, that the person he spoke about was insulted and that their society generally regarded it as insulting. Ours, too.

I'm sorry if I don't think it was cool when Mal called Inari a whore because she was a sex worker.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on February 16th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
Ahem. Beating his wife.
A Fox for the Agesswinburnea on February 16th, 2009 03:53 am (UTC)
I liked it. A lot. So. :)