Everybody make a pug face!
“Pimps and Killers—But in a Philanthropic Way”: Posthumanism and Immorality in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse
Those of you who know me personally and recall my intense dedication to the following essay may be wondering, “Why now?” Dollhouse is now long over, and it’s been nearly a year since I wrote this term paper about it for my Cyber Cultures seminar at Hunter. I suppose the motivation came from the book I’ve found myself immersed in (no pun intended) over the last few days, Frank Rose’s The Art of Immersion. Rose analyzes the current narrative shift toward interactivity in various media, such as the 3-D movement in film, the integration of web content into TV series, and the prevalence of social networking (message boards, fan sites, etc.) as a tool for engagement with these stories.
The book is categorized under Business/Marketing, but what really keeps me intrigued is its exploration of literary theory and fan culture. Reading Rose’s take on popular TV shows like Lost, The Office, and Chuck has reminded me why I enjoyed analyzing Dollhouse so much. Like any good Whedon venture, it had its cult following. But like Chuck and Firefly, it went under because of a hopeless weekly time slot that produced ineffective Nielsen ratings. Not to mention, viewers were lured in by provocative ads where Eliza Dushku promised to be their Friday night date, and instead they got a cerebral drama about ethics and posthumanism. In short, this series just went over most people’s heads.
With that, I give you my essay, “Pimps and Killers—But in a Philanthropic Way”: Posthumanism and Immorality in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. It’s lengthy, it’s academic, and it’s full of spoilers, but if you’ve watched the show, you’ll enjoy it. (Note, this is only a temporary 30-day link while I work on getting long-term web hosting.)
Here’s the complete list of the 50 books I read in 2011. I’ll be keeping you up to date on my 2012 list! (The goal for the new year is 25, so I can fit in some longer reads.)
1. Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work, Tim Gunn, 2010
2. White Noise, Don DeLillo, 1985
3. The White Castle, Orhan Pamuk, 1998
4. Beyond Ebonics: Linguistic Pride and Racial Prejudice, John Baugh, 2000
5. English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States, Rosina Lippi-Green, 1997
6. Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century, Mark Dery, 1997
7. Pattern Recognition, William Gibson, 2005
8. Exposing Prejudice: Puerto Rican Experiences of Language, Race, and Class, Bonnie Urciuoli, 1996
9. Galatea 2.2, Richard Powers, 1995
10. Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, Julie Powell, 2005
11. Everyday Talk: Building and Reflecting Identities, Karen Tracy, 2002
12. You Are Not a Gadget, Jaron Lanier, 2010
13. Discursive Practice in Language Learning and Teaching, Richard Young, 2009
14. Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart, 2010
15. The Everyday Language of White Racism, Jane H. Hill, 2008
16. Inside Joss’ Dollhouse: From Alpha to Rossum, Ed. Jane Espenson, 2010
17. Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste, and Style, Tim Gunn & Kate Moloney, 2007
18. The Skinnygirl Dish: Easy Recipes for Your Naturally Thin Life, Bethenny Frankel & Eve Adamson, 2009
19. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams, 1979
20. Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides, 2002
21. The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry: Love, Laughter and Tears in Paris at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School, Kathleen Flinn, 2007
22. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris, 2004
23. Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, Julie Powell, 2009
24. The Secret Lives of Dresses, Erin McKean, 2011
25. The Secret History, Donna Tartt, 1992
26. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Laurie Viera Rigler, 2008
27. Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, Tom Bissell, 2010
28. Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America, Firoozeh Dumas, 2004
29. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell, 1949
30. My Father’s Daughter: Stories by Women, Irene Zahava, 1990
31. The Definitive Book of Body Language, Allan and Barbara Pease, 2006
32. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, 1818
33. Naked, David Sedaris, 1997
34. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943
35. The Film Club: A Memoir, David Gilmour, 2008
36. Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, Anthony Bourdain, 2010
37. Rules, Cynthia Lord, 2006
38. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros, 1984
39. Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel, 1989
40. Seriously…I’m Kidding, Ellen Degeneres, 2011
41. Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain, 2007
42. Libro de Horas. Poesia y Pinturas, Alfredo Castaneda, 2005
43. The Clash of Images, Abdelfattah Kilito, 2010
44. Personal Days, Ed Park, 2008
45. Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table, Sara Roahen, 2008
46. The Ararat Papers, James C. Baloian, 1979
47. The Naive and Sentimental Novelist (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures), Orhan Pamuk, 2010
48. Great Short Poems, Ed. Paul Negri, 2000
49. The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance: Poems 1987-1992, Audre Lorde, 1994
50. Our Dead Behind Us: Poems, Audre Lorde, 1994
I can diagram a sentence.
I can map a language and
do it with a smile.
“To be or not to be?”
Don’t tell me that’s
not a question just because
you can’t see all the words.
I can dissect what you say,
break it up, and make it poetry.
Crystal writes what she can do:
“I brew strong coffee and break shit.”
and I can break that down,
start with the big stuff:
then go smaller:
PRONOUN (it’s personal)
VERB (Crystal’s in action)
OBJECT (direct, this one),
in CONJUNCTION with
VERB and OBJECT all over again.
This girl brews strong thoughts in me
and doesn’t break a sweat.
Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and/or lines (and consequently meaning), or by altering the text by additions and/or deletions. The resulting poem can be defined as either treated: changed in a profound and systematic manner; or untreated: virtually unchanged from the order, syntax and meaning of the original. (Wikipedia)
During an inspiring writing date yesterday, my friend Crystal introduced me to the poetry of Robert Creeley. If you’re familiar with his work, you can probably imagine how taken I was, and I vowed to read his collected works cover to cover as soon as the time to do so presented itself. In the meantime, we waxed poetic about living and writing—creating yourself as opposed to finding yourself, and I flipped through the book, assembling this found poem. The twelve stanzas are pulled from twelve different poems, and my title is an amalgam of some of theirs. Hope it resonates with Creeley fans and unfamiliars alike.
All generality? There is
no one here but words,
no thing but echoes.
No harm in
nor in remembering all
you can or want to.
Say yes to the wasted
empty places. The guesses
to other preoccupations—
with the future, with
when I was young—
Neither one nor two
but a mixture
I feel the mark of one
who has been born and grown
She was young,
she was old,
she was small
She was tall with
a movement of legs and hooves
upon a timeless sand.
Inside You would also be tall,
more tall, more beautiful.
of writing done—
all form derived
with that in mind.
I believe the words “meat” and “treated with ammonia” should never occur in the same paragraph—much less the same sentence. Unless you’re talking about surreptitiously disposing of a corpse.
Anthony Bourdain, Medium Raw
Answer? I don’t know.
Glee, Season 3
The Next Iron Chef, Season 4
The Office, Season 8
Parks and Recreation, Season 4
Project Runway, Season 9
Top Chef, Season 9
Party Down, Season 2
Glee, Season 3
The Office, Season 8
Parks and Recreation, Season 4
Project Runway, Season 9
Party Down, Season 1
Entertainment takes it as a given that I cannot affect it other than in brutish, exterior ways: turning it off, leaving the theater, pausing the disc, stuffing in a bookmark, underlining a phrase…Playing video games is not quite like this…Games are patently aware of you.
Tom Bissell, Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter
Parks and Recreation, Season 3
Instant Star, Season 1 (second view)
I was charmed by his conversation, and despite its illusion of being rather modern and digressive (to me, the hallmark of the modern mind is that it loves to wander from its subject) I now see that he was leading me by circumlocution to the same points again and again. For if the modern mind is whimsical and discursive, the classical mind is narrow, unhesitating, relentless. It is not a quality of intelligence that one encounters frequently these days. But though I can digress with the best of them, I am nothing in my soul if not obsessive.
Donna Tartt, The Secret History
With written words I can persuade, tease, seduce. My words are what make me desirable. So it’s really no wonder that I barely ever use my phone for actually speaking to people.
Julie Powell, Cleaving
This is the reason for my recent reading challenge lapse. To be fair, these are “books” I’ve read, for the most part, from cover to cover; they just don’t count toward my 50 for the year, obviously.
- Brides, July 2011 (and August 2011, not shown)
- Contemporary Bride: New York Edition, Summer 2011
- Martha Stewart Weddings
- The Knot, Fall 2011
- Wedding Sites and Services: New York and Connecticut Edition, Vol. 18.2
- Brides: New York, Spring/Summer 2011
- Inside Weddings, Summer 2011
- The Knot: New York, Spring/Summer 2011
- Real Simple: Weddings, 2011
- New York: Weddings, Summer 2011