Thursday, January 06, 2011

Dollhouse: Humans Have Never Failed Their Imagination

I've just finished watching the 2nd & final season of Dollhouse. All in all, it is a great show that succeeds in telling an important story about Identity, an intriguing dystopia, a Matrix variation (it's a positive connotation).

In the Matrix, humans are nothing but a network of shells, "living" a computer-generated reality. Only few evolve beyond this embryonic stage and become "aware" of their previous, shell-state, and the fake reality inside which their false ego has so far dwelled.

Dollhouse, like any honest work of art, is aware of its predecessors, and is building a narrative on top of the Matrix mythology, as well as on some of Philip K. Dick's major themes, such as "The Simulacra" (1964) and "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" (1966), aka "Total Recall".

Unlike The Matrix, in the Dollhouse world we "really" are. But a technology has been invented that allows for the downloading, alteration, and uploading of brains into humans. Like in Total Recall, people can get imprinted with a completely different personality, memories, or shortly – being. People, who praise spirit over body, can switch bodies at their will, given they have the means to hire this kind of a "Service". Other people, "modern" slaves, are used as Dolls, who get imprinted on-demand, based on the client needs.

This naturally leads to a series of questions about Identity:

Mind/Body or just Mind?

If your brain is entirely wiped out and replaced with another brain, what part of "You", if any, is still there in the newly configured Mind/Body construct?


One can be imprinted with "awareness" of the imprinting/Doll technologies, i.e. awareness of the process of falsification of Reality. And yet, this "awareness", this "evolved being", can be in itself just another imprint. It doesn't make him or her less of a Doll. Seen through this perspective, "we" are all potentially dormant Dolls.

We can never know if we're really awake.

The Future

A good dystopia is one that provokes uneasiness and even some fear from the future to come. Dollhouse is certainly a good Dystopia, even better than the Matrix in this sense.

Although we might be dormant, we can, nevertheless, see patterns in the currently lived History of Mankind, the most prominent being that Humans have never failed their imagination.

What we imagine comes true.

Notes on the show

Dushku's really great, as well as the rest of the cast. The story's ideas, though, are slowly exposed, so the beginning of each season is just "ok". But it really gets excellent as each season evolves toward its climax.

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