Posted by: heb7 in coursework, tags: Dollhouse
“Man on the Street” is a fitting yet limiting title for this episode (I just found out that “man on the street interviews” actually refer to a real news term). I was just surprised that the title of this episode would focus on these interviews as opposed to the mass amount of action throughout the episode. I do not recall our exact discussion from class, but know that the original goals of the series differed from Fox’s plan (even down to the filming, I seem to recall that one of the parties wanted a continuous, flowing storyline, and the other desired a more episodic filming plan). Since this episode is filmed quite differently, apparently, I am just slightly confused why a different, more inclusive title would be chosen. Examining the themes and plot of the episode, perhaps too much occurred for one inclusive title to “sum up” the action. In this case, do you think there was a specific reason for including so much action and information? Is this the creator’s attempt to reclaim his own project as quickly as possible, or do you think the fast paced nature is necessary to keep today’s audience hooked?
In addition to my nitpicky addressing of the title, I am really bothered by Mellie’s character now that I have learned (through Laura’s blogging) that she used to be a doll. Once your brain has been usurped by the house, do they always maintain some hint of control? What was that strange “flowers in a vase…the third one is green” jargon. It seemed like some sort of code, which would make sense if that’s how they controlled the dolls, especially if Mellie was indeed a doll in a former portion of her life. What will Mellie’s role be, then? Why was she not completely killed off (did it not seem to everyone else that she had a sudden burst of energy and pushed the creep off)? Maybe she is still under control (or at least surveillance). What a complex plot line, and all this with only one episode!
1) Did you all find the dolls’ personalities, especially that of “Echo,” to be extremely discomforting? Had I not been provided with the background for the “dollhouse,” I probably would have flipped past the show on T.V. and equated the characterization of Echo, Sierra, and Victor to be the result of bad-acting, not the show’s plot-line. The subtle emotions and inability to express themselves at the dollhouse (and also muted personalities even while playing another role) bothered me and, while I may be thinking too much into the show, lead me to wonder why the dolls even existed at the “dollhouse” in a humanoid form. Even as “Rebecca,” Echo’s emotions seem dulled and rehearsed, is this just the result of the computer program? I would assume so, but why do the doll’s need a personality at all outside of the house. It was terrible to watch Echo paint and seem honestly dismayed that she had not finished the picture, and hard to watch Victor and Sierra both be frightened, regardless if they did not express their emotions as vehemently as one with a “real” human brain and conscious emotional state would.
2) Was anyone else surprised that Fox would show this rather racy program? I guess I am just used to their more conservative news and talks shows, and I understand that “sex sells,” but based on previous information, it seems like their focus on sex throughout the initial episodes does indeed go against the project and perhaps even doom the series.
3) Does anyone know what happens with the dollhouse at the end of the series? Do the good guys win? Is Caroline rescued, and restored? Does Ballard end up with Caroline or Mellie? Who is trying to contact him? Is it the programming assistant who refused to fetch the programmer a sandwich a feminist working within the organization to contact Ballard and bring down this SF form of pornography? I have a lot of questions after this episode, and I hope they are eventually resolved. Perhaps I will have to consult the wiki page to see what happens.
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After reading the first three chapters of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, I find myself both horrified by the future of humanity presented and questioning the logical progression of technical advancement in the novel.
First of all, the inhuman qualities and unanswered questions of the first fifty-eight pages leave a lot of room for speculation. After being sized up by Jules’ internal computer in the Prologue, Keep-A-Movin’ Dan later directly addresses the lack of individuality and difference in society by noting the statement substantiated by the “Hope” designer face and the incredible amount of “teenage” girls who choose to sport it. Also, aside from a lack of individuality, the amount of “humanness” lost with each death and rejuvenation is not adequately addressed. Debra, having perished multiple times, lives for the “synthetic clarity of it all.” (58). With each uploading of memories from a body and subsequent downloading into a new body, are there any bits of information that are lost? Any signals that are not adequately converted from one body to another and therefore lost, such as the specific emotions, for example? In general, this is what frightened me about the world depicted by this novel, the utter lack of emotions. For brief moments, Jules reveals his inner thoughts and feelings for Lil, but so far the secondary characters of the book, at least those of the ad-hocracy, seem to be devoid of most emotions—fear, regret, hope, and other feelings are simply thrown away and have no place in the digitized central processing units that are the conscience of the people. Dan mentions early in the prologue the sense of fear and hardship necessary to feel true accomplishment; thus far, the book has eliminated this necessity (at least within the aggressors of Disney World and those fully assimilated into the Bitchun Society) and left its readers questioning the outcome of a world without emotions and a real sense of accomplishment (Jules does not seem particular proud about his multiple symphonies and degrees, but rather seems to have pursued them at his leisure during a boundless lifetime).
In addition, the use of the “Whuffie” and the ability of one another to instantly search people seem unnerving (although not too unfamiliar—a la facebook “stalking”). Using a number as an immediate way of a judging someone seems rather off-base, especially when Dan is initially judged by Lil—“I knew she was pinging his Whuffie and I caught her look of surprised disapproval. Us oldsters who predate Whuffie know that it’s important; but to the kids, it’s the world.” (22) Just as many people on facebook try to accrue as many friends as possible, the “brownie” points associated the “Whuffie” system seem like another way for people to immediately judge one another. Keep-A-Movin’ Dan is a perfect example, a book should not be judged by its cover; and a points system propagates a society of judgement and externalized self-worth.
Finally, a list of my more looming questions:
1) Why does Disney World remain untainted by technological advancements for so long? My momma used to tell me stories of her trip to the Magic Kingdom as a child, and as far as I could tell, it had not changed too much between roughly 1970 and 2000, the year we took a family vacation to just the Magic Kingdom. “It’s a Small World,” for example, had perhaps a few more dolls and some additional length to the ride, but overall was comprised of the same glass eye’d, eerily singing, ethnically diverse children that had endeared themselves to my momma so many years before. Perhaps the magic of Disney World is at once its technological marvels and uncanny ability to evoke the nostalgic past, but it still seems as if the theme parks in the world Doctorow described would have been one of the first things to change, a glimpse at tomorrow (such as Tomorrowland) in which young amuse park guests would first envision the future and one day help to reach it. Disneyworld’s “archaic” technology appears odd in a world of “deadheading,” “cloning” and “refreshing.” It seems as if the Imagineers may have sought to expand the park or include rides and technologies that predicted this future long before it became a reality.
2) This question does not relate exactly to the texts, but rather the graphics surrounding the chapters and adorning the front cover. Do you think the odd two-headed man chasing a smirking plug has an special significance (or could the two heads actually be two hears of an oddly shaped Mickey Mouse (his appearance has morphed significantly since the early days of the 20th century)?
3) The Ad-hocs are upset that new technologies will undermine the original artistic nature of Disney World, and it is a real marvel if you consider the life-like presidents, the lavish buildings, and devout attention to detail (especially for the time period in which it was constructed). Do you feel that technological innovation/renovation is indeed an impurity or rather a completely different form of art? Considering the societal context in which these alterations to the rides of the Magic Kingdom are occurring, which is more relevant? Is Disney’s initial goal of nostalgia and timelessness completely outdated in a world where one may expect to live thousands of years?
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Momma always warned me to be wary because teenage boys don’t think with their brains, therefore I was interested to read the gender-bent position of the chauvinist Urassti scientists, “what women call thinking is done with the uterus!” (72). Based on my current Women’s Studies course, “Taking Our Bodies Back,” I have read a decent amount of articles on the 1970’s Women’s Health Movement, and I found both the language and Le Guin’s strong pro-female stance to be relevant to both the time period in which the book was published and the underlying themes of varying walls and perspectives. From page 73 to 75, language salient to the women’s movement and patriarchal past abound; therefore I chose to examine this particular passage and attempt to relate the meaning of the word choice and style to the initial themes of The Dispossessed.
When Shevek first asks “Where are the women,” he asks a genuine question but is offered a prostitute (“almost anything you had in mind”). Not understanding, he continues his line of questioning and finds “an impersonal animosity that went very deep.” Finally, finding that these men were “possessed” themselves, he changes the subject and asserts the beauty of the planet while intimating that he came to learn from his “history” as a probable “future” of the Urassti.
The opinions of Pae and Oiie are made blatantly clear throughout this chosen passage. First, they automatically assume that Shevek is looking for a woman to copulate biologically, not just communicate scientifically, with. On page 73, an example of the recurring repression of women may be found. Since females never surmount the Certificate level, they are left teaching in some of the girls schools. The men are educated further, and the next generation of male students receive education of these furthered scientists and teachers, therefore new generations of women are not given the same advantages with their studies and are never given the opportunity to get ahead (or, in respect to the boys’ academic levels, get even). “What women call thinking is done with the uterus,” definitely may be viewed as a put down to the traditionally more emotional nature of women and the Urassti thought that this sensitivity inhibits intellectual discourse and development. In a cruel double standard, the men on Urassti are the ones actually thinking with their genitalia, given that their first though when Shevek mentioned women was prostitution and sexual gratification.
Furthermore, female anatomy is turned upon women again when Pae says, “of course, there’s always a few exceptions, God-awful brainy women with vaginal atrophy.” First disregarded for not using their brain, then ridiculed for using it too much and being less feminine, these lines are a cruel representation of the prevailing patriarchy of the 1970s and it is significant that Le Guin, a famous female author in a male-dominated genre, would right such scathing and temporally relevant words. In my Women’s Studies class, our current focus is on the politics of sexuality and the female orgasm. A recurring theme of the articles and chapters we perused was the male desire to build up their own ego by putting down women in bed. Following the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, many feminists probably felt compelled to “be like a man,” sleeping around to use that new freedom, and therefore would have shied away from being called frigid. “Vaginal atrophy” is a clear attack upon these women that would focus more on a career than pleasing the men around her (a stark contrast to the comradeship in labs of Shevek and intelligent women like Rovab, who were “casually wary” and “wanted to complete their training” (55)).
Pae’s and Oiie’s statements are steeped in patriarchal elements. Pae, in particular, patronizes women and sticks to an ideal of Victorian morality when he states, “A beautiful, virtuous woman…is an inspiration to us—the most precious thing on earth.” He always diminishes a woman’s ability in the laboratory but feels her presence would free up men to perform more exciting, intellectually taxing, and “original” work. While Pae is respectful of Shevek’s society (merely surprised), and more of an unconscious perpetuator of societal norms, Oiie represents a more militant suppressor. He as a “secretive” smile when he mentions that his wife was at the gathering, and his responses and attitudes are clearly against women. He wants to “keep’em in their place” and decides that the only reason women are “equal” on Annares must be that there is less distinguishing between the sexes (he comes to this conclusion quite negatively, as if accusing the Annares doctor of also being feminine, devoid of the masculine sense of control).
Beyond his literal surprise at the dearth of women in science and the overall negative perception of women, Shevek’s conclusions about the society are significant and may be further unraveled. Using the simile, “they, like the tables on the ship, contained a woman, a suppressed, silenced, bestialized woman, a fury in a cage,” it seems that Shevek almost negates certain aspects of womanhood as well. He mentions male freedom versus womanly possession (as in the earlier conversation with Vokep about sexual relations). I was and remain slightly confused about this particular portion of the passage. What does the simile “tables on a ship” specifically mean? Are these tables a physical portion of the ship, a type of logarithmic table or navigation device, or something else? This particular simile convolutes Shevek’s own positive perception of women, but perhaps he just intends to relate the fact that there are elements of both sexes in all of us (aside from various shared emotions, we biologically are comprised of the same essential hormones as well; just in different concentrations).
Finally, Shevek reveals his position on the Urassti on page 75 when he says, “We ignore you; you ignore us. You are our history. We are perhaps your future.” The parallelism of the sentences show that he places equal blame on each society, and it is significant that the two societies, both contemporary, could serve as the past and the present at the same time. Shevek indeed desires to “unbuild walls,” whether between the sexes or the twin planets; his desires to communicate will hopefully be reciprocated and ensure that both planets may work together to tear down divisions and form, not an ambiguous Utopia dependent upon “which hill you sit on,” but rather a mutualistic society in which the Urassti and Odonians are able to work together to create and achieve the common goals of a true Utopia. As an outsider to both worlds, perhaps Shevek does indeed carry the tools necessary to, in the words of Reagan, “tear down this wall.”
1) Pg. 84 “Laia Asieo Odo
To be whole is to be part;
True voyage is return”
What is the significance of the metonymy here? Providing Shevek’s “two-step” metaphysical separation from society, may he still be considered as a part of either Annares or Urra? Is he more wholly Odonian for further rejecting the society of Annares (which had long ago rejected Urras)?
2) Ursula K. Le Guin, a pre-eminent SF author, excels in a genre that is stereotyped as wholly male and largely adolescent. What is the significance of her musings about the treatment of women? In 1974, when this novel was first published, the Women’s Liberation Movement was in full swing. Does Urras, in a way, represent the somewhat “backwards” way of Earth compared to a futuristic society in which women have been accepted and their value acknowledged? What does it mean that Odo, the original activist and reformer, is female?
3) Do you think there is any significance to the name Odo and the term “Odonians” in the novel. When I first read it I immediately thought of Greek gods (then I realized that it was “Adonis” not Odonis). When typed into wikipedia, I found that Odo is a common name from before the Middle Ages, from the Germanic “possessor of wealth.” Given a conversation between Shevek and Vokep, (page 52) that “all women are propertarians,” does the entire society of the Odonians focus too much on property (because the society was formed by a women)? I questioned this, feeling that Annares was based on a more communal system (via the exchange in which baby Shevek couldn’t have “mine sun”). Therefore, do you find a significance in the nomenclature of the anarchic society? Or any other puns throughout the text? Ex. Pg 19, “ammar” for brother sounds like “amor,” thus the Urrasti man may have been confused by Shevek’s goodbye (or perhaps, as the text said, he really just didn’t understand); also, perhaps Ainsetain of Terra and his theory of Relativity (pg. 70) are definitely a reference to Earth and Einstein, thereby forming a sound basis for the novel’s futuristic setting?
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Posted by: heb7 in coursework, tags: Star Trek
As Susan deftly noted in this week’s post, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” definitely relates to the racial tensions in the southern portions of the United States, along with the generalized oppression of marginalized groups throughout history. In particular, I found it interesting that the Enterprise crew does not place the blame solely in the hands of the oppressor, but rather chastises both men for their general hatred and immediate tendencies to press for violence. In developing this theme of racism from both sides, the writers and director of this episode employ various images, examples of which I aim to examine in the paragraphs below.
The audience’s first glimpse of Lokai is the dark side of his face, immediately initiating a conversation of race. As soon as the humanoid turns to the side, the white half of his face may be viewed, and the stark dividing line between the two could be related to the clear-cut racial divisions. (Star Trek, Season 3, Episode 15) In fact, based on a later conversation of Bele and Lokai, the black and white skin-tones may be seen as the status of integration anytime after the Emancipation Proclamation—even though black men were considered to be free, or God created men that deserved their unalienable rights, they still were subjected to Jim Crow laws and separate-but-equal segregation. The two Cheron “races” perfectly embodied this ideal; despite being a portion of the same body (unified, as the freed black men were all citizens), the position of the black and white color patterns definitely represent the continued segregation.
Filmed in the later half of the 1960s, it is interesting that this episode represented the human future in such a positive light. The Civil Rights movement had largely just occurred, but the Enterprise’s human crew, already largely multi-cultural, perhaps due to the futuristic setting, already had a utopian view of individual rights and freedoms for all (another interesting portion of the episode, when the space race with Russia was occurring, it was quite forward-thinking to have many nations all working together). As the doctor says to Spock, “Blood is blood, even if it is green like yours.” (Star Trek, Season 3, Episode 15) As a way to appease all sides of the struggle for civil rights, however, I found that this episode did indeed hold both sides accountable for certain atrocities that occurred (as Lt. Scott, the Scottish man said, both aliens were “disgusting”). (Star Trek, Season 3, Episode 15)
Another reason aside from various bits of dialogue that demonstrates the accountability of both races comes from an interesting fact I noticed that the episode does not directly address. While Bele claims that the superior race has black on the right side, and therefore Lokai is “an evil mound of filth,” what exactly does he see when he looks in the mirror? (Star Trek, Season 3, Episode 15)
Playing off of the question of reflections, perhaps racism, especially in the case of black and white racial tension, is frightening because we look in the mirror and are able to see the similarities of other people, races, and cultures, especially in the melting pot (or politically correct salad bowl) that is North America. In the tensest scene of the show, where Captain Kirk threatens the complete deconstruction of the ship in order to regain control, this idea of seeing ourselves in the faces of others resounds. While the minutes tick by, and each commander and lieutenant make their commands for the computer, the camera switches rapidly back and forth between close-ups of the eyes and mouths of the men (and bi-color humanoids) on the ship. (Star Trek, Season 3, Episode 15) Staring at the screen, one could definitely see the similarities between all people, even the humanoids, with their heavily painted faces. With all but their inner-eyelids and inner-lips painted, the very human eyes of the aliens may be viewed. In examining the alien’s images, the audience is definitely able to see elements of themselves, regardless of painted eyebrows and eyelashes, cheeks and noses. While this may just represent a limit of 1960’s special effects, I believe the manner in which the actors are painted definitely serves as a “mirror” for our own twentieth century prejudices and the practices with which we propagate or counteract them.
Essentially, there may never be a “last battlefield.” Yes, this particular episode lauded the integration and complete cooperation of the U.S.S. Enterprise crew versus an extreme example of two unnecessary “enemies”, but racial, religious, and gender divisions will persist as long as humans still view their reflection and are continually afraid to admit that they see similarities to others.
Questions for continued analysis of the episode:
1) Despite the multicultural crew, I have an issue with the gender roles. With the exception of Lt. Uhura, all of the other women were beautiful, white, and leggy versions of nurses, secretaries, and waitresses. In the first scene in the sick bay, the nurse serves absolutely no purpose. She simply stands there, looking lovely, until the patient moves. While the doctor stood right over the patient, it is still the nurse that must alert him that the patient wakes (in essence, she is just an object, a pretty thing to keep around). Even Lt. Uhura, a representative of the traditionally repressed class of black women, serves menial purposes. She is smart, but Captain Kirk cuts off her legal jargon when she describes the position of the Command fleet regarding the return to base over Cheron, and she is constantly given, while important, largely secretarial duties. Is the crew therefore a good representation of equality and individual rights (perhaps in the later Star Trek series with a female captain one may argue that point). Also, despite the forwardness of international cooperation among the crew during the age of the Space Race, why is a white, male American still the leader? Perhaps the Star Fleet still has a long way to go.
2). Another interesting aspect of the show is the costume design. Once futuristic but now very retro, it still serves as important visual rhetoric for the themes of the show. For example, the gray costumes of the Cheronians are essentially the same, a monochromatic blend of black and white, but Bele, a member of the superior race, has both a shiny silver necklace around his collar and iridescent cuffs about his wrists. Perhaps this could represent the equality of all (gray suits), with the only differences stemming from circumstance (the jewelry). In light of this observation, what about the crew’s uniforms? Are there any noticeable differences? What about the females dresses and short skirts? Does this objectify them? Or what about the color choices? Why does Spock wear blue, Uhura red, Kirk and several others yellow, etc.?
3). Finally, as I mentioned in my body paragraphs above, do you think there is a significance of the men’s reflections? When they look into the mirror and see a reflection identical to the other race, does this bother them? Perhaps I read too much into this, but I found it to be a specific component of divisiveness—we fear seeing what we don’t care for in others, in ourselves (via a physical or definitely metaphorical reflection). Also, and this may be a bit offline, but due to the racial tensions when this episode aired (1969), do you think it is significant that “black is on the right side” as opposed to white? This is a complete reversal of the standard white supremacist ideal of “white is right,” therefore, what do you think were the writers’ goals—to denounce white racists or to emphasize the fact that both sides may be racist, in different forms and for vastly different motives, against each other (again, I hope I am not forwarding this too much but in light of historical precedents, I found the position of “superior” versus “inferior” significant)?
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Posted by: heb7 in coursework
My name is Haley Barrier and I am from Salisbury, North Carolina.Since my small hometown is rather uneventful, I find pleasure in simple activities such as reading, gardening, knitting, and spending time with family. During the next three and a half years, I plan to double-major (hopefully) in English and Women’s Studies and complete the pre-health professions requirements (if difficulties with chemistry do not thwart my progress). Finally, I end this preliminary post with a completely random fact. Ever since I received my first feline stuffed animal toy at three years old, I have been a “Crazy Cat Lady.” The following photograph is of my cat, Lucy Ellen Ray Barrier, and me last Halloween. As my preschool graduation present, Lucy has been an integral part of the Barrier household for nearly fifteen years.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to reading everyone’s posts.
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