– Or Tech in Dollhouse

Mag (regarding the Dollhouse): They really thought they were helping, huh? Giving people what they needed. Is this what we needed?
Iris/Caroline: No. Kids playing with matches and they burnt the house down.

Epitaph 1, Dollhouse

I find the relationship between tech and the supposed ‘human soul’ in Dollhouse to be…disconcerting. Perhaps it’s because, for the most part, Adelle thinks she’s doing good by ripping the personalities out of people and then using their empty husks as wish fulfillment for the rich. Or maybe it’s because sometimes I find myself agreeing with her, at least in some cases. (Most of those cases include helping the helpless or helping those in mourning.)

For the most part, the concept of a ‘dollhouse’ and ‘actives’ is one that terrifies me. For one, how does the person uploaded into a wedge know that Rossum will keep their word and release the active (with the correct memories) after five years? More than that question, though, I find the concept of personalities being interchangeable unnerving. To me, the soul and the personality are the same thing, and the remove one constitutes a crime against the very nature of humanity.

I think that, especially in Epitaph 1, this view becomes more common, especially when Rossum asks Adelle to offer eternal life, to sell the actives, and she refuses. It also affects Topher (who previously did not believe in a soul) in the form of guilt and mental illness, in response to the ‘army in an instant’ situation that resulted in the collapse of society. The problem is that it takes the extreme to make the administrators of the LA Dollhouse realize that their actions are fundamentally wrong.

Of course, this is probably intentional – as an exploration of what makes us human, as well as what humans would do with the technology that allows us to rip personalities out of a body and replace them with another, Dollhouse probably accurately recreates the ‘oh shit’ moment. People only ever seem to react to extremes, or when it’s too late.

What I do agree with, most definitely, is Caroline’s quote from Epitaph 1, listed above. The dollhouse is a box of matches, waiting to catch fire, as we see through the ‘memories’ left behind for Mag, Zone, Iris, and Whiskey to go through. (I only put memories in quotes because Joss Whedon has stated before that the memories may not be ‘actual’ – like the personalities routinely put into the dolls, they could be fabricated.) Technology in Dollhouse may be extreme, but it makes you think about how we currently use the tech available to us, and whether or not we are just children playing with matches.