I can crush science fiction TV shows in the same way Oliver can crush an entire bag of gummy sharks: hungrily, greedily, and in one night. Okay maybe two nights for me. What can I say? We all have our talents.
In addition to just being a guilty pleasure, these TV shows teach me a lot about life and the way we live… and I have an especial soft spot for Joss Whedon scifi TV shows, many of which were tragically cancelled far too soon for anyone to believe in any kind of divine justice.
Anyway, his show “Dollhouse” is set in a futuristic world in which an illegal luxury business rents out custom-made people for weekends at a time. The company takes people, erases their entire personality, and can imprint and erase new personalities onto the individual’s body at will. They thus have the ability to offer the rich the perfect date, the perfect private detective, etc., etc.
In the words of the detective: “Nobody has everything they want. It’s a survival pattern. You get what you want, you want something else. If you have everything, you want something else, something more extreme, something more specific, something perfect.”
And it’s true. If we get caught up in the vicious cycle of wanting the next thing, where do we stop? We don’t. It always has to be bigger, better, louder, faster, more. Lucky for us there’s a way out unbeknownst to Detective Ballard; we can get what we need. We get loved and feel cared about and worthwhile. But gee, if we don’t remember that or even know that, nothing is too extreme to dull our pain– even manufacturing people.
Because at the end of the day this may seem like a romanticized, crazy notion, but this is exactly what we try to do to people on a daily basis. We try to control them.
What’s the real difference between us and the Dollhouse?
The company is more effective.
Essentially, that’s it. Our intent remains the same: satisfying another whim or desire at the expense of a human being. Our methods are simply messier and less effective since the only tools at our disposal are intimidation and bribery. Oh honey could we please do what I want this weekend? Gee honey, you promised. Well honey, you better. It’s easy to identify that it’s wrong when confronted with the idea of a company handling these transactions for a profit. Somehow adding money makes the whole operation seem that much more sinister.
But again we turn to Detective Ballard: “In order to give somebody a new personality, you have to wipe their existing one. As far as I’m concerned, that’s murder.”
Again, easy to label as a freakishly exaggerated dystopia, but it is still somehow accurate and applicable. Every time we go to control someone, no matter how seemingly insignificant, we’d do well to recognize that we are attempting to destroy a piece of them and replace it with our own arts and crafts, our own creations.