Tag Archives: documentary

Beyond Barbie: Real Dolls as Companions

2 Mar

My roommate and I got hooked into watching four consecutive episodes of TLC’s My Strange Addiction, promising ourselves at the end of each episode we’d walk away and accomplish something else. But, the introduction for the next episode would begin and we’d sit back down for another 30 minutes. It’s a fascinating show, although some things are tough to watch. I could do without watching a twenty-something eat glass for attention, or seeing a grown woman pick at her scabs.

What really compelled me, though, was a feature on Davecat’s relationship with a Real Doll. My own “strange addiction,” which the majority of my English MA projects resorted to, is cyborgs or hybrid bodies either animate and inanimate, as imagined in science fiction, and Davecat’s fascination with the doll somewhat exists within that vein.

While watching the program, I would repeatedly ask myself: is this even real? I wondered if I was being duped so that someone could claim 15 minutes of fame, like many of the terrible singers on American Idol auditions. And if it is real, what job does this guy have that he can publicize his “strange addiction” on national television without fear of repercussion. A separate interest to this story, aside from a synthetic companion, is how a self-aware man (he acknowledges the doll isn’t real and never will be) publically disregards social norms that really aren’t up for debate. Sure, people are forgiving if you’re Ryan Gosling and mentally unstable, but otherwise it’s generally regarded as disturbing.

E. directed me to the documentary Guys and Dolls, which is online and follows various men (including Davecat) and their use of Realdolls. What initally piqued my interest was that I found these relationships funny because of their absurdity. In the documentary, there is the one man who uses eight dolls, all with comically large breasts and over-done make-up as some glorified form of masterbation. I’m more intrigued, however, by the stories that document loss and social exclusion,  and was grabbed by the “human” aspect of many of these stories. I’m sure that most of us can sympathize with what it’s like to feel undesireable or disconnected from other people in some point in our lives. And in the case of many of these men, what would it be like to live for many years with unbearable loneliness?  There’s a sort of quiet desperation to many of these stories, and the documentary is worth checking out.