Review of 'Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture'
By Christina Schultz
If I’m being honest, Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture is one of the strangest films I’ve seen in a long while. It certainly has its merits, and I can see why it has created a stir among the film festival circuit (most notably Cannes and Slamdance), but it is certainly not for the prude or faint of heart.
The disclaimer at the end of the film states:
“Even though this film accurately depicts the actual, crazy shit that people do to women, the characters in this film, including those based on real persons, are fiction.”
Reality, however, is stranger than fiction, and unfortunately the scandalous, outlandish, misogynistic occurrences similar to the ones in Dollhouse have actually happened.
Nicole Brending’s film makes it painfully clear that women have no subjectivity, especially in the pop celebrity world of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and the fictional Junie Spoons (voiced by Nicole Brending). I remember consuming the tabloids, perhaps not as avidly as some, in the 90s and early 00s, unable to believe what I was reading. Female celebrities were particularly demonized and I was made to believe they deserved the “crazy shit” that happened to them. Rather than defend the women for being exploited or question the shady managers and insiders trying to earn a quick buck, I scoffed at them.
What the hell is wrong with society? We have systematically tolerated and even financed the eradication of female subjectivity from American popular culture. Even as a young woman, I had unwillingly aligned myself with the dominant male perspective. The literally frightening puppet show Brending uses as a vehicle for her brutal feminist takedown of the pop (prison) industrial complex jars its viewers to arrive at this realization. We are a large part of the problem.
There are certainly some that still might find Dollhouse hilarious and reminiscent of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Team America: World Police (2004), even in this woke, intersectional feminist, Instagram activism culture, despite the fact the film shows how every point in a womxn’s life is scrutinized to the point of hysteria (another problematic historical term linked to women). The supposed adoration of teen pop stars reveals a scarier obsession and downright hatred, where a woman cannot own her own body, cannot make her own choices, cannot simply be.
Junie Spoons winds up fading away - she literally becomes a sidebar in her own mockumentary - to be replaced by “Trans Junie Spoons” (previously a man named Larry) who undergoes multiple surgeries to become the pop star she felt she was all along. Trans Junie Spoons, however, finds more public support, and literally pushes the real Junie Spoons out of the public eye, because everyone is afraid of appearing transphobic. It is a strange end to this pop puppet porngraphic mockumentary, but it again drives home the sad truth that we might come inside the dollhouse, but certainly without consent.
Rock Salt Releasing will release Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture onto various digital platforms August 11th (Amazon, inDemand, FlixFling, Fandango, Vimeo on Demand).
So be sure to check it out and let us know what you think of the film!