Even though I personally haven’t seen any of the Dollhouse series, I think that this episode gave a pretty good representation of what a person should expect from this series. With a little bit of Gerry’s commentary, I was able to understand the concept of the Dollhouse (kind of), a little bit about some of the main characters, and even that the operation takes place on a global scale. That said, I too called the ethics behind the Dollhouse into question. Personally, I find it morally wrong to wipe people’s brains clean and reprogram them to be characters in other people’s lives. I’m sure most do. But the thing that surprised me the most came towards the end of the episode when Mellie was activated and killed handler that was having sex with Sierra. This incident revealed 2 things to us: 1) Mellie is actually a doll, and 2) the dolls can be programmed in such a way that they can be trained killers without knowing so themselves. This second fact seems very disturbing in this world, especially because by the end of the episode, we know that dollhouses exist in other parts of the world.
While this brainwashing seemed odd and disturbing initially, the more I thought about it, the more practical it appeared. No, not the reprogramming of the brains and the bizarre command phrases, but the idea of having complete control over another human being’s actions without their full understanding of your intentions. This kind of control reminded me of a cult following or a soldier’s unconditional acceptance of his commander’s directives. Just like Adelle, the leaders of both of these groups rely on their followers to simply act without thinking to accomplish any set goals. The followers in these groups have almost no say in any decisions being made, but they are expected to do exactly what they are told, just like the dolls. Also, just like Mellie, these followers are subject to doing things that most people would consider wrong based on public opinion, and this unfortunately can be seen with some cults throughout history.
Would I say that the Dollhouse has elements resembling those of a cult and operates in a manner similar to a stereotypical secret government agency? Sure. But wouldn’t you too? Do you think that the show’s writers were making a statement about the government’s occasional acceptance of less ideal means to accomplish goals? Did it strike you as odd that the FBI initially just closed the case on the Dollhouse?
1 Comment »
Originally, I wanted to write about some of the minor details that Doctorow chose to include in the book, namely the actual name “Bitchun Society” and the hilariously provocative play on words that Jules makes with the phrase throughout this second part of the novel (“Ad-hocracy was a great thing, a Bitchun thing…” on pp 90-91). However, I really didn’t have a set point that I wanted to make or anywhere that I could think to go with it. I just found it funny. That and it made me wonder what Doctorow’s purpose for choosing such a humorous name for his hyper-technological society. Any ideas?
Besides that more fun detour, I think this section of the book somehow made me even more opposed to this society, if that is at all possible. The weaknesses of this society become even more apparent as the section goes along, namely the concept of the Whuffie. While I admit that I don’t know exactly how it works yet, I understand that they are essentially respect points. Like we discussed in class, you need Whuffie in order for people to do the things you want them to do, and if you have enough Wuffie, you can essentially do whatever you want. It was created as a way to eliminate the need for money and as a more accurate way for society to function by. Jules points out that people from his and Dan’s generation respect the existence of Whuffie, but people of the newer generations (Lil’s generation) essentially live and swear by it. Call me crazy, but is this not still money? It essentially works as a way to measure a person’s worth based on some arbitrary number that you gain or lose based on the quality of your interactions or deeds. At least in the current world, you can choose to keep your monetary worth a secret whereas in this society, everyone is free to know. Is this really a desirable change?
1 Comment »
I suppose I should preface this post by saying that this topic has nothing to do with my E4 or my intended E5. For both of those, I’m using the concept of suffering as it applies to the novel and to our lives. However, while I was reading the last few pages of the novel, a thought suddenly sprung into my mind: hadn’t the Anarresti built just as many walls as the Urresti?
In the beginning of the book, Le Guin begins with the simple phrase “There was a wall” (Le Guin, 1). It is implied further by the next few pages that this is the only wall on the planet and that the people that had gathered to watch the freighter Mindful take off hadn’t had experiences with other physical walls. However, it should be noted that Le Guin doesn’t say “the wall”, but “a wall.” This intentional phrasing implies that walls are not as foreign of a concept to the Anarresti as the reader might initially think. But if this was the case, what were these additional walls?
As I said, the existence of other walls jumped out at me as I was reading the final chapter. As Shevek was talking to the first officer Ketho, he describes how the Anarresti knew of the Hainish existence but they still didn’t attempt to make contact with them because “‘[their managers] were just building more walls’” (Le Guin, 384). Le Guin makes it clear that the people who were in charge (who weren’t really “in charge” because no one is accountable to any particular person on Anarres) frowned upon communication with other species because Odonians were supposed to be self-sustaining.
While these ideas of isolation and self-sustentation may seem like somewhat plausible excuses, the Terms of Settlement seem to come into direct contradiction of Odonian principles. Based on the terms, no Urrasti were ever to be allowed off the ships, no contact was ever allowed between the two planets, and there was never to be mixing between the races. However, if someone should want to become an Odonian, why should they not be allowed to? This additional wall put up by the Odonians pushed them past the seclusion that was initially desired in order for the settlers to be self-sustainable. They had progressed to a point where the walls were an essential part of what defined being a member of this exclusive, Odonian group.
When it is all said and done, I only have a few questions left that I can’t quite answer. How could a race of people that avoided the creation of physical walls allow other metaphorical walls to be built without seeing the direct conflict in ideology? Is there a way to salvage Anarres and return it to its true anarchist state, or is Shevek right in deciding that perhaps he and his followers need to move to yet another remote region to restart the true anarchistic colony? And finally (sorry Hunter), can either of these two planets be considered a true utopia? Can we even say that a faction of either of the planets is utopian?
P.S.- Sorry for the cheesy Shakespeare play on words. I couldn’t resist.
6 Comments »
In “The City on the Edge of Forever”, the crew of the Enterprise are faced with the task of intercepting a delusional Dr. McCoy from the war-bound, 1930’s America. By sending McCoy to the past, the concept of time travel is brought into question in the episode, and the method suggested by the show’s writers is highly questionable. When McCoy jumps through the portal, the future is instantly changed so that the Enterprise no longer exists. Therefore, in theory, the remaining voyagers from the Enterprise should have no longer been on the planet’s surface. One cannot clearly say whether or not the crew would exist in this altered future, but if there was no feasible way for them to have traveled to the planet, how could they have been there?
If this initial point is ignored and the episode continued unaltered, then Kirk and Spock would have traveled back in time to New York in the Great Depression. The pair would have arrived at a point a few days before McCoy’s arrival in order to intercept him, which is what happens in the episode. However, again in theory, this plan should have only worked if Spock and Kirk traveled in time and didn’t have any interactions with anyone or anything on Earth. This was obviously not the case in the episode and this duo had multiple interactions with several people. These interactions should have also altered the future just as McCoy saving Edith changed it. Therefore, even though the duo did catch McCoy and stop him from saving Edith, their presence should have had effects on people in New York: a homeless man ran off with one of McCoy’s devices that appeared to beam him somewhere, Spock and Kirk paid their tenant $2 a week for their room, and Jim Kirk’s relationship with Edith was actually the factor that inadvertently led to her death. Given all of these occurrences, why was it implied that the world returned to its original state? Shouldn’t at least one of the many changes affected someone’s life in a way that it wasn’t affected before and therefore changed Kirk’s present?
I’d suggest that this approach to time travel is slightly flawed, but highly convenient. By having a relatively simple solution to an unimaginably complex problem, “The City on the Edge of Forever” was able to create a conflict, show some rising action, climax at a dramatic point, and then allow a little bit of time for falling action without making any lasting changes to the franchise’s storyline. Did the writers create this scheme for time travel because they thought it to be the most logical or simply because it was the most convenient to squeeze into 50 minutes? While only they truly know, what do you think?
3 Comments »
Hey guys, I’m Kyle Davidson. Like I said, I’m a first-year here and I live in Southgate. I come from Smyrna, GA which is just outside of Atlanta. A few days ago I came across one of my old friend’s blog and it reminded me how strange most people are back in middle school. At any rate, I’m looking forward to class on Wednesday and I’ll see you guys there.
No Comments »