By the way: Dollhouse? A show pivoting around identity, misogyny, and Eliza Dushku? Was there ever a show more geared towards my own interests?
Anyway, the interview was a little bit obnoxious. Jacki Lyden asks the oft-feminist-lauded Whedon how having a disempowered identityless protagonist who is programmed to have sex with whoever is willing to pay for her when she's not going on crazy black-ops missions is remotely a feminist idea. This would be a reasonable question once, but she grills him on it throughout the whole interview. What makes the interview worth listening to is that Whedon articulates the conundrum of the politically-aware storyteller quite gracefully.
"The fact of the matter is, I've been worried about this. It's kept me up nights. But I believe the best way to examine anything is to go to a dark place," Whedon says. "You can't be a storyteller and a speechwriter at the same time."
This is something I fret over all the time. How do you create art that is dangerous, new, risky, etc., if you're hyperaware of the hegemonic potential of your medium? What if the story you need to tell involves women who are weak? I think part of why Buffy has been meaningful to so many people is that it reflects the power struggles young women face much more accurately than a consistently empowered heroine would. Guess what? We don't live in a world of consistently empowered women. We live in a world where you have to fight to become empowered, and it's so much more meaningful to see a Buffy who is sometimes naive, vulnerable, and powerful, because we know we can count on her to grow and fight exactly the way the rest of us must. I'm assuming Echo, Dollhouse's new heroine, is not going to be passive for a full season. I'm guessing we're going to get some fight out of her, and how satisfying will that be, to see her strength finally push through?
The audio is worth a quick listen (the printed version just paraphrases; the audio will be available later tonight) just to hear Whedon's calm confidence about the power of a narrative to do something that a polemic cannot accomplish.
Also, Dollhouse will be on my television this Friday, so if any of y'all is looking for a spot to watch it give me a ring.
(PS: I obviously fail at livejournal. Apologies. It has been that kind of month.)