Okay, I will admit it. It’s only two weeks in to Dollhouse, and I am a little disturbed by the weekly rapes. This is despite of, or more accurately because of, the way the rapes have been glossed over during the first ten minutes or so of the show. In addition, it is made very clear that despite the action/adventure tenor of the episodes so far, that the primary role that all of the actives will find themselves in is that of a living sex doll. With so many potential military and espionage uses for actives (programmable humans), the fact that they are mostly used as playthings for the rich is obviously a deliberate choice on the part of the writers.
Some people will probably cry foul at my characterization. They may note that any sex that Echo has with her clients is consensual, or at least that the personality imprinted on her at the time consented. This argument doesn’t hold much water though, as it is obvious that Echo is incapable of granting consent. Her default personality is child like and seems incapable of doing anything except smiling and wandering around in a dazed state. Meanwhile, her programmed personalities are tailor made to please her client, which means choice is really not part of the equation.
It might be possible to argue she signed away all rights when she signed on with the shadowy organization that runs the Dollhouse. While I am not a lawyer, the contract she signed is obviously an illegal one. First, she obviously signed it under duress, as she was in enough trouble that she felt she had no option except to join up. More importantly, I don’t believe it is possible to sign away basic human rights, like the right not to be raped. Of course, even if the contract is somehow “legal”, it still makes the actions of the Dollhouse morally reprehensible.
Still, I have a lot of faith in Joss Whedon. The show is not attempting to present what the Dollhouse is doing as a moral, so it is probably a good thing that I am discomforted by their actions. Also, Eliza Dushku has stated that Joss Whedon has a five year plan for the show. This has me hopeful.
One worry I had after the first episode was that the show could fall into a comfortable groove. Sort of like Quantum Leap in a mini-skirt. If that turns out to be the case, then using Echo’s programmed liaisons to “sex things up” is reprehensible. However, if this is just an opening gambit in a five year arc, then I am a bit more willing to withhold judgment until I see where the arc is going.
So I am going keep watching and trust that there is a plan. Don’t let me down Joss!