Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Echoes of a River being Buffed by Angelic Evil Leagues

WARNING: There are spoilers here if you have not seen all of Joss Whedon's TV ouvre.

I had a few free moments and decided to finally take advantage of my roommate's wide screen TV and popped in Serenity for a few minutes. The movie begins with a flashback dream and then moves into a scene where River, the 17 year old psychic is being manipulated with some sort of device injected through her forehead into her brain.

Immediately I thought of Dollhouse and the Mind Wiping device which of course led me to think about Joss Whedon's recurring themes of female empowerment, family, sexuality and language.

But for Angel, all of Joss Whedon's shows feature young women who mostly through involuntary means are given extraordinary abilities of one kind or another. I take that back, even in Angel, Cordelia is granted certain abilities and made half demon in order to accommodate those abilities.

Buffy, the chosen one. Selected from an array of 16 year old girls from around the world to fight vampires and demons alone. Towards the end of the series we learn that Slayers were created by ancient medicine men in Africa embueing the chosen young female with demon strength. The rape allegory is not lost here. Buffy eventually finds a way to harness that very energy and transform its ability to empower potential slayers all over the world.

Cordelia, see above.

River (Firefly), essentially lured by The Alliance into a phone school and experimented on to enhance her abilities, those abilities later lead to a potential downfall of the Alliance. The series was not allowed to run its full course, but by suggestion in the movie "Serenity" I get the idea that that was the direction of the story.

Echo (Dollhouse), coerced to become an "Active" with abilities that can be altered for any mission. Like River, her abilities may be developing in a way that will ironically take down the Dollhouse organization.

In all of Whedon's series we get to know a disparate group of individuals who become close and dependent upon eachother through extraordinary circumstances, which leads to Joss' recurring theme of there's the family you are born with and the family you find yourself in. Joss always seems to express a preference for the latter. Paging Dr. Freud.

This is not a criticism, just an observation. God knows I love Whedon's storytelling and all prolific TV writers end up revisiting ideas and concepts all the time. I've mentioned I am a fan of Fringe and I know at some point we will learn of Olivia's complicated relationship with her father, a theme that runs through all of JJ Abrams' series. (Whedon has this two for Buffy and Angel but far less prominently)

I was raised by a feminist through the 60s and 70s. My mother was part of Consciousness Raising Groups, all sorts of therapy, etc and down to being a regional VP for the National Organization for Women.

I think that's why I've always found Joss Whedon's shows so resonant for me. Also I tend to relate to the characters of Xander and Wash deeply. (Hell I even took the Facebook test of which Firefly character are you and I came up Wash. I should have known). Female empowerment has always seemed important to me. I think as I've gotten older I've come to understand too that the empowered women are, the more empowered men are. I can get into what that all means to me another time.

I write all this to say why it is that I love Dollhouse. That is comes back to the themes I always love in Whedon's work. Also, as I've said, Eliza Dushku is the guiltiest pleasuriest guilty pleasure I have. Why else would I have posted that hot picture of her the other day.

Tomorrow, when I have time, I'm going to post more links about Dollhouse and a podcast I listen to weekly where they have a Dollhouse store through Amazon that will enable us to continue to do what we can to make sure FOX understands that there's money in it for them to keep the show going.

I leave you Joss' immortal words. "Always be yourself...unless you suck"

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