Dollhouse’s Secret War On Women

Joss Whedon is often heralded as a feminist TV writer because he brought us Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and while Buffy was an excellent show (probably my all time favourite) with some incredible female characters, a few of his other shows have been a bit more questionable.  In 2009 Whedon created a short two season show called Dollhouse which centered around an evil corporation who would wipe the brains of people (referred to as ‘actives’ or ‘dolls’) and implant them with entirely new personalities and skills customized to the desires of their wealthy clients.  There is no sugar coating this: it was a high tech, high end brothel.

In “Dollhouse’s Secret War On Women”, Henry uses clips from Dollhouse to demonstrate just how much the writers of the show relied on violence against women for sensationalism and ratings. Henry prefaces the remix with, “Joss Whedon’s complex, nuanced rumination on identity and morality seems suspiciously obsessed with beating up its female characters.”

Trigger Warning: This vid uses an abundance of clips of violence against women.

He couches the vid with short scenes from the show to set the stage of his commentary. It opens with one of the male stars saying, “I will never trust another woman as long as I live,” and the music swells to the lyrics of “These girls fall like Dominos,” underneath images of women being thrown, punched, kicked and strangled.  Henry continues to say, “I don’t think Joss Whedon is a misogynist, but I do think he was being consciously provocative in regards to gender and sexuality in Dollhouse. There was equal-opportunity gender violence in the series, but a disproportionate amount of it was male-on-female or female-on-female, and making this video served to highlight that and stimulate a discussion about it.”

Since violence against women in the media is most often glamorized, appropriating those clips in a remix video can easily celebrate the footage instead of being critical of it.  The visual arrangement and the artist’s intent can make a difference whether a remix will be interpreted as a glorification of violence or as critical.  This concept is discussed more on the post for Women’s Work a vid by Luminosity & Sisabet exposing the violence against women in the television show Supernatural.

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