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Date Posted: 07:37:49 08/01/13 Thu
Author: Sophist
Subject: Re: Dollhouse Revisited (S1): Keep the Porch Light Burning
In reply to: cjl 's message, "Dollhouse Revisited (S1): Keep the Porch Light Burning" on 15:58:27 07/30/13 Tue

I saw S1 of Dollhouse as another exploration of the themes of Buffy S4 (which didn't come off quite as Joss anticipated).

Basically, the Dollhouse is a panopticon. Here's a description of Foucault's Discipline and Punish:

“Discipline and Punish (1975) is a … study of the development of the “gentler” modern way of imprisoning criminals rather than torturing or killing them. While recognizing the element of genuinely enlightened reform, Foucault particularly emphasizes how such reform also becomes a vehicle of more effective control: “to punish less, perhaps; but certainly to punish better”. He further argues that the new mode of punishment becomes the model for control of an entire society, with factories, hospitals, and schools modeled on the modern prison.

At the core of Foucault's picture of modern “disciplinary” society are three primary techniques of control: hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment, and the examination. To a great extent, control over people (power) can be achieved merely by observing them. … A perfect system of observation would allow one “guard” to see everything (a situation approximated … in Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon)….

A distinctive feature of modern power (disciplinary control) is its concern with what people have not done (nonobservence), with, that is, a person's failure to reach required standards. This concern illustrates the primary function of modern disciplinary systems: to correct deviant behavior. The goal is not revenge (as in the case of the tortures of premodern punishment) but reform, where, of course, reform means coming to live by society's standards or norms….

The examination (for example, of students in schools…) is a method of control that combines hierarchical observation with normalizing judgment. It is a prime example of what Foucault calls power/knowledge, since it combines into a unified whole “the deployment of force and the establishment of truth”…. It both elicits the truth about those who undergo the examination (tells what they know…) and controls their behavior (by forcing them to study…).

Bentham's Panopticon is, for Foucault, an ideal architectural model of modern disciplinary power. It is a design for a prison, built so that each inmate is separated from and invisible to all the others (in separate “cells”) and each inmate is always visible to a monitor situated in a central tower. Monitors will not in fact always see each inmate; the point is that they could at any time. Since inmates never know whether they are being observed, they must act as if they are always objects of observation. As a result, control is achieved more by the internal monitoring of those controlled than by heavy physical constraints.”

What I think Joss was asking, both in S4 and in Dollhouse, was "how do I retain and develop my authentic self in the face of society's attempt to force me on to a different path?" That issue got lost when Lindsay Crouse left the show -- having Adam as the villain didn't really fit the theme. That's why I think Joss tried again.

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