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My Fake Baby: British reborn doll documentary

My Fake Baby: British reborn doll documentary published on No Comments on My Fake Baby: British reborn doll documentary

Hmmm…interesting. Commentary later. 

LATER: I’m rather annoyed by the narration’s tendency to overdetermine the women’s experience by addressing the reborn dolls as if they are actual children, rather than dolls. From what I can see so far, owners of reborn dolls range in their reasons for owning and playing with reborn dolls, just in the same manner that people own and play with any other type of dolls [duh], from action figs to Barbies to RealDolls to 3-D models. The very title of the docu, My Fake Baby, sensationalizes the reborn doll interest as a pathological baby substitute for old woman with empty aching wombs, but, if you investigate the docu closely, you’ll see the dolls functioning as much more than kiddy substitutes.

I’m particularly interested by the woman in the first segment who freely admits that the reborn dolls fulfill her fantasy of having an odorless, docile, troublefree substitute for a child. She says that she likes kids, but she clearly likes the concept of kids, their cuteness from a distance, rather than the actual mess and responsibility. I’m not going to fault her for this ambivalence about children, and I would like to note that she’s rather pragmatic about her interest in reborn dolls. She has an idea of the psychological functions they have in her life, and she treats them like they’re real, but she knows they’re dolls. This is how most people I know play with dolls; they talk to them as if they are real, but they do know that the dolls are dolls, albeit heavily freighted with symbolic value. Despite the film’s attempt to make her come across as some sort of unhinged weirdo swaddled in the pink gauze of unreal baby fantasies, she actually appears to me as a relatively well-hinged doll owner whose major challenge is her obvious dissociation from any real-life experience involving kids.

I really like the artist in the first segment who paints the reborn dolls. She gets into the technical details and allows viewers to see that making one of these dolls is no different from any other detailed artistic endeavor. At the same time, the artist also knows that reborn dolls have a special affective power because they look like babies, which we are all programmed to respond protectively toward, and she cannily exploits the natural human interest in small Homo sapiens with her advertising techniques. She apparently goes out into public with her wares and gets people to do double-takes, then hands them business cards. She respects the emotive power that the dolls have for people and that people use the dolls for various emotional purposes, but she also has a straightforward view that she uses the dolls to make a living. Despite the paternalistic narration of the documentary, the artist also comes across as sane and average.

P.S. I’m never really impressed by the caliber of YouTube commenters, but I would like to point out that some of the commenters think that the reborn doll owners are insane because they talk as if the dolls are alive and because they spend lots of money on them. Oh good God! Just because someone treats an inanimate object as if it is alive, that is not automatically grounds for insanity. For just a few examples of the general populace treating inanimate objects as if they are alive, look at someone who gets angry at a rock after tripping over it, the loving personification that car owners may give to their cars, or the antagonism many people direct toward their electronic devices. Rather than being pathological, personification is more like an innate human tendency. There are pathological extremes of personification, to be sure, but I don’t see that any of these doll owners are manifesting it.

As for the argument that spending a lot of money on something means that someone is insane, that is just a different way of saying, “I cannot fathom what you are spending money on, so you must be nuts.” It’s not even worth a serious rebuttal, since it’s just a value judgment.

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