Criticizing Feminist Frequency: Dollhouse vs Terminator

So the first thing Anita Sarkeesian did under the Feminist Frequency banner that she still keeps on her Youtube channel and her website is called: Dollhouse renewed? Why not Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles? .Also a disclosure of bias: I have a bone to pick with Dollhouse because it took a good human horror concept and utterly failed to make good on its potential and I was also never very interested in the Terminator universe.

This post deals with the fact that back in 2009 Fox had chosen to renew Dollhouse: a show by Joss Whedon about a human horror scenario that involves the extraction, manipulation and implanting of memories into human subjects that are called dolls in-universe and are people who have signed over their bodies to this process for a set number of years (of course that is just the official version of how dolls are introduced into the dollhouse).  Considering that when you say Joss Whedon is making a human horror story most people actually familiar with this type of horror treat that as a red flag. You see Whedon can write a lot of things pretty good, but human horror is not one of them. In fact I can think of only one human horror story Whedon was involved with that had a level of competence: Beauty and the Beasts. And that was only because Whedon did not write or direct that episode of Buffy. You’ll also note that neither the writer nor the director of that episode can be found working on any of the Dollhouse episodes.The post also deals with the fact that Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles made by Josh Friedman was not renewed by Fox even though Sarkeesian considers it the better of the two shows because it had two strong female leads.

So what is there in this post to be critical about? Well for starters Sarkeesian is too vague: she barely describes anything about either of the shows.

With Dollhouse she describes that she feels that the show did not do a good job of portraying the people working for the Dollhouse and with the Dolls as evil, I would point out that that is one of the few things Dollhouse did get right: in human horror one of the ways you create an atmosphere of horror is by having the villains that are people you can sympathize and empathize with doing these horrific things to ordinary people and rationalizing their crimes against their fellow humans as just doing their job. The first season of Dollhouse fails as a human horror story because we do not have a Doll that has regained their freedom by some accident or a rare bug in the system that lets them in on the full nature of their existence and is on the run from the Dollhouse to contrast against the sympathetic people that work for the Dollhouse casually and without any empathy discussing resetting that runaway Doll to factory setting. Tell me that the idea of people who have ordinary lives you can sympathize and empathize casually treating another human being as a piece of hardware and nothing else would not send chills down your spine. So as Sarkeesian points to the characters working for the Dollhouse being too sympathetic and the main character Echo having too little agency, I would point to Dollhouse having a horrible sense of pacing as it does not start with the last day that Echo spends in the Dollhouse before she escapes from it or by having Echo already on the run, no it starts as just another day at work and goes on being another day at work for most of season one.

As for what Sarkeesian said about Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles it comes down to two things: There are two well done female lead characters and it is set in the Terminator universe. I honestly don’t know what to add to the topic of this show. Where Dollhouse pissed me off for running a good human horror story concept into the ground, Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles is a show I am only familiar with in passing and Sarkeesian did not say anything that would make me want to go and watch this show.

This oldest post under the Feminist Frequency banner shows just how inexperienced (no examples of things done right or wrong, links to articles that go a lot more in depth about the problems she mentions in her own video) Sarkeesian was when she started the feminist web series everybody loves to bash on these days and yet I have never heard her complain that people were twisting her words in her oldest videos to attack her these days. Strange that.

Update 1: I forgot to mention that Dollhouse works as a show on many other levels, but that because of its pacing, my own preference for human horror stories and the places the plot does not go to I have a bias against the show.


About dmol8

I am a young Serbian gamer and a male (in that order), who lives in Belgrade with his brother and attends Belgrade university.
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