Two weeks ago, I said to archivecats
(in a forum other than LJ) in response to a comment she made about feminist Joss fans finding the treatment of women on Dollhouse
As a feminist Joss fan, I don't think the treatment of women is its biggest problem - it's certainly problematic, but Joss has said it's supposed to be disturbing, so I'm willing to entertain the possibility that it's going somewhere. The three biggest problems I see with it:
1. They haven't made me care enough about any of the characters to care very much about what happens to them. I sort of care about the doctor, but that's less about her and more about the fact that I adore Amy Acker.
2. It's not funny. I can't understand why Joss would make a show without humor.
3. It suffers in comparison to Sarah Connor Chronicles. I actually liked this week's ep a lot better than any of the others, but I think that's less about the ep itself and more about the fact that I wasn't home last night and watched it this morning, while I'm saving SCC for this afternoon.
Last week's episode was better, this week's episode was even better, and next week's episode looks to be really good. Part of what made the last two episodes good was that Joss finally started writing them, and they were consequently funny. The ( Spoilers )
were the funniest things I've ever seen on this show, and ( Spoilers )
nearly made me do a spit-take all over my keyboard. The humor helps with the comparison to SCC, too, because it means there's enough of a shift in tone that it's not such a direct comparison. They still haven't made me care about anyone, though, and that's a real problem.
I also have an issue with how they've handled the set-up/payoff of Joss writing. There have been interviews and whatnot for weeks saying, "Well, it really gets good with the sixth episode where Joss takes over." To me, this reeks of petulance: "You won't let me do what I want, so I'm going to give you a crappy show until you do." It's also a little cultish in how it treats the audience: "WHOSOEVER believeth in JOSS shall be REWARDED with a quality TV SHOW."
Of course, the downside for Joss of the show being better in other ways is that my focus is now free to pay attention to the problematic treatment of women. I've been reading a lot of discussions/resources about race, racism, and anti-racism recently (partly because I was leading my [all white] writing group's craft chat about writing race/ethnicity and partly because of a the link to debunkingwhite
I followed from the discussion on hederahelix
's post about anti-racism work and white allies
), and, to attempt to connect oppressions without playing Oppression Olympics, it's having the side effect of resensitizing me to issues of sexism. I'm having a real problem with violence against women as entertainment. Part of it is that I don't have the stomach for violence I used to. (Although Supernatural
's violence and gore doesn't bother me at all. I think it's because it's kind of cartoonish in my mind.) But part of it is specifically about violence against women.Dollhouse
is, in some ways, all about violence against women, so why is the violence bothering me so much? There are two specific instances from the last two episodes that I'm having the biggest problem with: ( Spoilers )
In both those instances, the violence is presented as-is, with no commentary in the text and no sense that it was anything other than just another plot point. If Joss is trying to make some point about violence against women, he needs to make it instead of dragging out instances of violence across episodes. I'm also troubled by something I remember reading in a women's studies class long ago (so long ago I don't remember specifically which class and don't have a reference for it) that cited a study that found that people with racist views/actions found any portrayal of racism/racist acts on TV (I think; possibly TV and movies), even in a clearly negative context, to reinforce their racist belief/conviction that their racist act was okay. This is what's in the back of my head, making me cringe, every time I see Joss (or anyone else - a recent local theater production is also a grave offender) just showing us violence against women.
In a more subtle bit of problematic treatment of women, the creepiest line of dialogue in this week's episode was ( Spoilers )
It's the kind of line that, in the right context with the right delivery, could be romantic/sweet, but came across to me as seriously creepy, especially since ( Spoilers. )