Ethical Pondering The Dollhouse In Real Life
What if the Dollhouse were real? Where would you fall in the debate of is it a good idea. In Japan there is a growing business called Hagemashi Tai. clients can rent someone for a scenario like being best man at a wedding or playing an uncle for a school event. At face value this sounds really cool, what a way to avoid awkward or embarrassing situations at social events, but is it ethical? Part of me loves the idea of a real Dollhouse. To be able to rent someone for a short period of time to help out with whatever is kind of cool. But then there are the ethical questions we as SF fans must address. Is it Prostitution? When does it become inhumane to rent someone? Where do we draw the line?
Renting Someone: Prostitution?
Renting someone is prostitution if the renting is to have sexual relations with them. The Dollhouse definitely engages in prostitution one could also argue even rape since the dolls do not have the free will to chose whether they want to engage in the act.
Is prostitution unethical? That is a fun debate because there is data that supports prostitution lowering the quality of life for a society mainly through the tertiary criminal acts around it and the spiritual / self-esteem loss from being used and treated as a tool. There is data to support that it raises the quality of life by allowing the "Johns" an outlet that they may not normally have and providing a means for the prostitutes to pay their bills. To me it seems that prostitution could be ethical but there are too many pitfalls that lead most situations to be unethical.
Renting Someone: Ethical?
Renting someone is an uncomfortable concept for me at times. We rent people to collect our trash, wait on our tables, drive us around the city, and for many other tasks. The service industry is all about paying someone money to provide that service and most never even stop to think it wrong or even think that they are renting the person.
Why does the dynamic change slightly when it is renting a maid, or a chief for a weekend party? I would not think twice about renting a maid or a chief but then there is still a clear social delineation amongst my piers that the maid and chief is staff. For others they get uncomfortable renting a maid or chief and it may be just because we use the words rent instead of hiring a maid or chief.
How about upping the ante. Are you comfortable renting someone to give you a massage or to take you shopping and give social interaction while shopping? I always thought it would be cool to be a professional shopper so I never really looked at it as uncomfortable. It is still ethical because all parties are having their quality of life improved.
What if you are a working professional, haven't had time to persue relations with another and have a school reunion coming up. Is it unethical to hire someone to act as a significant other at the reunion so that you can avoid the social awkwardness? On one hand it's lie which is unethical to do but it is a small lie in order to not hurt another's feelings which is a white lie. Society has said it is alright to do.
When does renting another human being become unethical?
The Humanity Factor
To me it would be unethical if renting someone would lower their quality of life or took some of their humanity away. Part of being human is having free will. People should have the freedom to choose. This is where the Dollhouse dances a fine line and I haven't decided which side it falls under.
In the Dollhouse every one of the dolls have the free choice not to go in. Yet the alternative choice is not a good one either. How free is the choice to become a doll knowing that the alternate one is so bad? Is that a coerced choice?
Then once you are a doll you no longer have any free choice. That is a part I definitely take issue with. All dolls are programed with the desired personality to say yes to the scenario that the client paid for. There is no free choice there. A false choice is not a free choice.
With the Hagemashi Tai in Japan the staff have the choice to join, the choice to leave and I hope the choice to turn down assignments so it isn't as bad as the Dollhouse yet. There still exists the possibility of coercion to get staff to sign up but since they have free will to get away that is less likely. There is also the possibility of coersion to encourage the staff to not use their free will in taking assignments with the threat of being fired, I also hope that is not the real case.
Where do we draw the line?
Mainly for me I draw the line with when hiring another violates their free will and / or the scenario perpetuates an unhealthy lie. I think the Dollhouse is a dangerous idea but it is mainly for the removal of the dolls free will to chose and change their minds. Does that mean we abandon the whole thing? Heck no!
There is still value in providing that kind of service and I'm very intrigued by the Hagemashi Tai. I can only hope that they have a strict ethical guideline to keep them from going wrong.
Mangas NOT To Waste Your Money On
Some of you might think I like all manga. The reason that I don’t usually review mangas I dislike is because I’d rather not give them the attention. I feel like they don’t deserve my time if they have not done their job and entertained me. In this post, I’m going to warn you about several books I did not enjoy.
- Bizenghast, Volume #1 by M. Alice LeGrow I was first attracted to this manga by the spooky gothic artwork on the front of a girl whose body is a violin. The cover stopped me in my tracks as I perused the manga aisle. The artwork inside is just as breathtaking, but with such beautiful artwork, you would assume the story would be just as chilling. Sure there was a graveyard, lost souls, riddles, and keys, but somehow it wasn’t as scary as I had hoped. I may, in time decide to return to this series and give it another chance, but at this time it will stay on my shelf.
- Dark Hunger by Christine Feehan, Illustrations by Zid & Imaginary Friends Studio I have not read any of Christine’s novels and am sure they are good by the reviews I’ve heard from some of her fans. This book seems like a mistake made by the publishing company. It was overly illustrated, not like a manga at all. I felt like I was reading some 1980’s comic out of the back of my mother’s Redbook. This was definitely a stab by the publisher to try and get in on the manga market, but it was done very badly. The underlying plot was interesting, so I don’t fault the writer. I think it was probably just made by people who have never read a manga before in their lives. Perhaps it will interest Christine’s fans to own a copy of the manga just to say they have the whole collection. I doubt it though as the fans I’ve talked to have said things like, “I don’t read those weird manga things.” So, if the publishers were trying to corner the manga market, they missed it by a long shot. I’m glad I only paid a dollar for it from the sale aisle.
- I Luv Halloween, Volume #1 by Keith Griffen & Benjamin Roman I really wanted this to be a great book. Halloween is my favorite holiday. The art promises greatness when you see kids dressed in costumes and spooky jack-o-lanterns around. How can you get that wrong? Well, they did. I think perhaps you would love this book if you were a ten-year-old boy who likes boob jokes and farts with the intention of grossing out your friends. Reading this manga is like being trapped in a station wagon with pre-teen boys all the way across the Great Salt Lake. No one wants to do it and once you reach Nevada, all you can think of is leaving them at the pitstop so you don’t have to listen to their nonsensical chitter chatter any longer. I pitched this book out of my house the first chance I got.
- Ghost Talker’s Daydream, Volume #1 by Saki Okuse & Sankichi Meguro I almost bought this book, but thankfully for a long line at the register, I was saved. This cover was so beautiful, I was about to be fooled again! If there is one thing these manga companies are getting right, it is the glossy cover art. If you get a chance, check out the cover at a store because the photo online does not do the cover art justice. When I saw the cover, it reminded me of spooky Japanese movies I’ve seen where there is some sort of ghost presence in the closet waiting to kill you. Something I awe at when reading manga is that the artists are able to redraw the characters in so many different moods and poses, but they still look like the same character. This manga’s art was very inconsistent and the characters even sometimes ugly. The lead girl pictures were so different, I had trouble knowing it was her. There was a parental guidance label on the cover, which was warranted because of the strange “up the skirt” shots the artist chose to depict. At times these shots were awkward and not in pleasant proportions. The reason I finally put it down was that although they had the parental advisory, talked about the lead having a job at an S&M club, and showed various vulgar shots of her womanhood, they didn’t allow her to say the name of her body parts. Perhaps in some ways, it is more x-rated to say the word than to see it displayed on the page in art? I have no idea, but didn’t want to find out.
If you’ve read these mangas and have another view, I’d love to hear it. I’d like to know if there is something I missed. Feel free to comment here and let me know.
Interview With Jeff Carlson
The Plague series by Jeff Carlson is about a nanotech plague that erupts in California and soon takes over the world. Supposedly a cure for cancer, this plague begins to eat away at anything under roughly ten thousand feet. People are forced up into the mountains for fear of dying from the completely debilitating flesh-eating nano. Soon, the global population is hiding on various heights seemingly floating above the invisible sea of computer plague. These books are so real that you begin to find yourself asking, “What if this happened tomorrow?” According to author, Jeff Carlson, it could. What makes him the authority on the realness of the computer plague? He’s been talking to scientists working on similar projects as we speak.
The trilogy has been called ingenious, thrilling, and cutting edge. Here are my thoughts on each of the books:
The first few pages of Plague Year confused me because I am not used to reading a book that jumps so quickly into action. I thought perhaps it would be too "fast-pace thriller" for me to finish. However, Jeff’s ability to make you feel emotion about the characters when you hardly know any back-story on them really amazed me. He did get into their back stories as the novel progressed. There were exciting surprises later on as far as who did what before the plague. These characters are real and once you start reading, you begin to feel like they are your buddies out on that hill. It’s as if you are standing in the huddled masses with them.
This book can scare the crap out of you. Living in Nor Cal, the news reports about what cities the plague takes over as it eats its way across the country seemed too real. Jeff makes you feel like you are watching the news reports on TV. Maybe you’ll be the one making a call to your mom in the hotzone. Maybe you’ll be the one gathering supplies and heading for the hills.
While I was reading Plague Year, I found myself thinking about how long it would take me to pack up my family and flee. My mind would start charting ways to get to Tahoe if the roads were blocked. Then I'd remember it wasn’t really happening and calm down.
As far as all the scientist and military stuff is concerned, I am not an expert. Jeff explained well enough for me to understand what the nano does without making me bored or feel inadequate.
One portion of the book I thought he did particularly well was where one of the characters is in a wheelchair and unable to express himself. The anger and desperation Jeff creates is quite powerful.
While reading the Plague series, you might find yourself taking a few more showers than usual as his descriptions of grime, bugs, sores etc... are excellently detailed.
When I read the first book I thought the end of the book portion where they finally go into a city could have been longer. I felt like I missed out on what they actually did while hiding. Good news! He goes into that more in the sequel.
Overall I was surprised how much this book pulled me in and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to read something no one's ever done before.
I was surprised to find that although this sequel was in the same style as the first, it had a different sort of tone. The relationship between the two main characters Ruth and Cam is infectious. They each have their issues and it’s interesting to see how they interact with each other. The sexual tension that Plague War delivers is amazing considering all the characters are grimy, nano-bitten, unwashed, scrappers who will do anything to survive.
This book causes you to feel the desperation of a world that is in constant threat of annihilation. However, the characters have the hope to survive and the power of the human spirit to carry on, no matter what the obstacle.
Some of the untouched mountain people infuse this story with a newness, that by this time you would expect not to exist. The contrast of the beaten down warriors against these innocent, fresh-snow-like individuals is really an excellent contrast in a book that is about fighting for life.
There is a lot of war talk in this book. Military actions, governments colliding, plots foiled, plans carried out. Since I am not a fan of military stories, I was slightly distracted by this. However, the human relationships of the people in those uniforms carried me through those sections of the book. If you are a military enthusiast, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how detailed this book is.
I was happy to see the reappearance of some of the characters from book one that I did not expect. Hernandez was a pleasant returnee. His point of view was intriguing because of his lack of control over the situation that was happening to him. I felt his struggle between what he knew was right and how he was going to survive.
Ulinov, who I disliked the most after book one, was one of the most interesting characters to read about because we get to see his allegiance to his country. It may not be a very popular thing to say, but I think I was actually on his side when the bomb hit.
With the set up of possible resolution in book 2, I am expecting great things from book three, Mind Plague, which comes out Summer 2009.
To find out more about Jeff Carlson, visit his site at: http://www.jverse.com and listen to my podcast interview on the Project Shadow Informant podcast:
I sat down to watch a good monster flick. My expectations were reasonable for a monster movie: A Big Monster rampaging a city, Military trying to stop it, citizens running from it. As the movie loaded I got a great laugh at the parental guidance screen because it promised me Violence, Terror & Disturbing Images. This was funny to me because that was exactly what I was expecting from the film and it gave me hope that it might deliver.
Cloverfield is a nice monster film that delivers terror disturbing images and lots of violence. The story is told from a first person view point which makes it more compelling. I love how we actually get to go through a monster film where the monster is rampaging in the background and impacting the story line but only in a more random manner. This would have been an awesome film but the camera technique, though compelling and adds a lot to the suspense was too jarring.
- The first person viewpoint way of telling the story.
- The suspense that is maintained
- The confusion and terror is really conveyed through the filming style with us having only a limited view.
- The way the monster is handled and I mean in all of it's parts it's vague because I don't want to give away a nice surprise
- Keeping the focus actually on the personal story and quest of the main character Rob.
- I love that there is no explanation for the Monster. No reason where it came from or why it was doing it's random things. After the film watch some of the special features they do explain some of the monsters background and motivations there.
- The riderless carriage shot: nice touch, nice symbolism
Dislikes / Concerns
- The shaky camera: Though it added to the experience it shook so much I could not have watched it in the theater without Dramamine. I was pulled out of the experience of the film and the tension was broken at several instances when I had to just look away because of the over shaky camera. If they would have left some of it in but toned it down a bit more they could have conveyed the same feel and believability without giving the audience motion sickness.
- The creature is a little goofy looking when you finally get to see it, and the other parts looks like something out of starship troopers.
- The constant references to terrorism in the beginning & setting it in New York felt like a cheep shot to me.
- The defiant military guy that was too helpful and breached orders in a moment of crisis was too hackneyed.
- The Rambo effect of the characters was a little annoying: a girl gets impaled through the shoulder on rebar and is able to run for many more hours through the film.
- The set up was way too long: it introduced too many people that were not necessary and never come up again. I wonder how many viewers get bored and turn the movie off before the first attack.
Get you copy from: Amazon or
Sometimes X-Teasing Can Be Annoying
It's confession time, I really want to like this movie. I love the story of the X-Men and my personal history with the setting and characters go back over a decade...
I would not characterize my self as a fan because I have not read all of the comics- but I am an enthusiast and could hold my own in a conversation with a hardcore fan.
That having been said, I have a tremendous amount of concern over this film. The last one really let me down. How in the hell can anyone screw up a cool storyline and character like Phoenix. I don't know... but I digress.
The picture looks cool though and from the little bit of info revealed in the USA Toady article this story will cover-
- Wolverine's surgery where the adamantium skeleton and claws were added to his person
- His relationship and origins of the feud with Sabretooth
- and maybe some of the other Weapon X creations.
Will they cover???
- Logan's youth and the tragic incidents around discovering some of his powers (bone claws)?
- The fact that he is over a hundred years old?
- His time in world war one and two?
- His lost lime in Japan?
Time will tell.