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I walk the streets of Japan ’till I get lost ’cause it doesn’t remind me of anything

October 30, 2011

I apologize for the longer-ish title, but ’bout a week ago, I picked up Audioslave’s album “Out of Exile” and the lyrics to the song “Doesn’t Remind Me” really stuck with me, especially considering what we talked about this past Monday in class about looking at things more deeply and analytically rather than associatively, which is something I’m incredibly guilty of.  So, this is my attempt at trying to put the associative thought process of mine aside and just go straight analytical.

To start with, though, I do have a confession: as of my writing this, I have yet to finish Season 2 of “Dollhouse” (I finished Episode 8, but I haven’t watched the rest), nor have I read the secondary article; I did, however, re-read the comics (since I read them last week).  What I really want to focus on right now is what I was discussing in class on Monday about Affect and how it relates to Topher, especially considering we see a whole new side of him in the first few episodes of Season 2.  One thing I remember discussing on Monday was Topher’s conscience, or lack thereof.  I forget which episode it is, but we do see that Topher does have a conscience: in the episode where DeWitt was basically forced to put Sierra/Priya into captivity with the man who drugged her and constantly had engagements with her, Topher is incredibly reluctant to do so.  Part of the reason why Topher finally does imprint Priya back into Sierra is because Langton and DeWitt are forcing him to.  Topher asks (if I remember correctly), “Do I have a choice?”  DeWitt responded that he didn’t.  The fact Topher questions the order given by DeWitt in my mind proves that he thinks it’s a bad idea to put Sierra or any active into that situation.  Granted, yes, Topher is still manipulating the actives because he’s in charge of the chair and they’re basically his “toys”, but he does have feelings towards them and doesn’t want to see them get hurt or put into a position where they may suffer needlessly.

In addition to this aspect of Topher, we also see how Topher lives; to be honest, it was somewhat depressing to see that.  I empathized with him that much more because of the pity I felt.  He sleeps on a cot in the server room with his belongings strewn about the room.  Again, I felt bad for him because he had to live in those conditions.  Does he deserve this?  He might because of his treatment towards the actives and his being complicit with what’s being done towards them.  I’d argue that while he deserves some of what he gets, he doesn’t deserve all of it.

To relate what I’ve discussed here with something else we’ve covered thus far in the semester, the best example I can think of is Powers’ character in Galatea 2.2.  Powers is sort of like Topher with Helen in that Powers has the best of intentions with Helen and tries to protect her, but in the end, destroys her or, more accurately, causes Helen to commit digital suicide.  It’s a bit of a stretch, I know, but it’s the best connection I can make.

Right now, that’s about all I’ve got for this.  There’s a lot more that I could write about in thinking of humans as machines/databases (it’d get really weird and Commander Shepard from Mass Effect would show up, along with The Matrix and “Dollhouse”), but that’s for another time.  Until next time.


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  1. Actually, I wish you had written more about the idea of humans as machines/databases– I think it would have fit in really well, and you already started to go in that direction. With Dollhouse, you can definitely make the connection jump from Galatea to the dolls– you’re cramming information into someone’s head via a computer. Looking at the dolls as Helen 2.0 definitely isn’t a stretch given they are constantly being imprinted. This is especially true, I noted in my blog, with Echo– she remembers flashes of the personas she has been imprinted with, and, after having her very own composite event courtesy of Alpha, her brain literally becomes a database for all of her past imprints– one she learns to access as she gains personhood throughout season two. In my blog, I talked about how she was a combo of database and collective intelligence a la Henry Jenkins.

  2. Kaitlin permalink

    I’m really fascinated with Topher as well. I think that all of the characters embody moral ambiguity, but this is especially the case with Topher. He seems to be split down the middle as far as morals are concerned, and this ends up getting physically manifested in his nervous breakdown. The scene that really captures this for me is in Epitaph One where he simultaneously wonders why he wasn’t the genius to come up with the idea of creating an army of imprinted murderers and is anguished when he realizes that he did come up with the idea. I think that your connection between Topher and Powers is interesting. I hadn’t thought of it, but what seems to be significant is the way in which Helen starts out as a blank slate and the characters in Dollhouse start out as human and often get turned into a blank slate. In a lot of ways, I think that Topher is more connected to the dolls than Powers is to Helen, and I wonder if this comes down to an issue of human and machine. For Powers, creating the database gives Helen life and for Topher imprinting leads to an eventual dehumanization of society. This could be a great final paper idea : )

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