Excerpt from my close reading:
“This opening scene is all about Whedon defining the stereotype of a male gaze culture. The character Matt has rented Echo who has an ego version implanted in her that he would find most pleasing. This implantation is representative of the male gaze: she is only as important as how he defines her. She is shapeless and transformative until Matt requests her (and in later episodes, others request her.) Echo’s only power is her passivity. Whedon uses several items of misé-en-scene to display this stereotype. The most crucial of these items is the costume choice for Echo. During the dancing portion of the scene, Echo wears an extremely white, shiny, and short dress. This costume choice represents Whedon’s stereotypical vision of the feminine. It is not until later in the scene when the viewer understands Echo was being rented that it becomes clear Echo is being controlled. This motif of Echo being controlled by the client is a motif throughout Dollhouse.”
Failed Social Feminism Counterpoint: Promoting a rape culture/Objectification
Of all Joss Whedon’s works, Dollhouse is the most offending to social feminist goals. As discussed in the excerpt and “Hot Chicks with Superpowers,” Joss Whedon shows rape after rape to create the juxtaposition to analyze feminism, rape culture, and objectification. While this is understandable from an analytic feminist perspective, how it affects the real people who watch this show is socially harmful. The viewers who don’t understand or care to look deeper into a show will only see the “44 minutes of rape” and the objectification of Echo and other actives.