Review: "Dollhouse" - Theia
Cellophane – the packaging and wrapping material – was extremely popular from the 1920s to the 50s in the states. I like to think its popularity was the result of Du Pont Cellophane’s advertisements. Specifically, the advertisements that featured babies wrapped in cellophane. These iconic ads showed off the transparency of the material and reflected one of the biggest problems within the idealized nuclear family: the objectification of children. Children were not thought of as human beings - they were flaunted off as milestones of accomplishment and wealth. A tradition heteronormativity has not only continued, but has since expanded to uphold gender roles as well. In “Dollhouse”, Theia explores how this objectification has negatively impacted young girls.
“Dollhouse” not only introduces riot grrrl culture to a new generation of music listeners, but also highlights the restrictive conditions placed on girls whilst growing up within the heteronormative nuclear family. For some background, the heteronormative nuclear family is a familial structure that reinforces the misguided ideology that a person’s end goal should be a heterosexual partnership that results in producing children (who also prescribe to this lifestyle). This in turn solidifies the concept of gender roles: the predetermined assumptions for how a given gender should behave. The grunge-pop single lays out how both parental figures build and maintain the cages girls are confined in under this family structure by identifying the two functionalities of objectification: presentation and expectation. In the first verse, Theia details how mothers teach girls how to present themselves. Girls must always maintain a doll-like appearance with “pigtails and curls” while having the patience of a saint. And trust me, she’s going to need all the patience in the world when we get to the expectations in the second verse. This verse outlines how a girl should expect to be perceived by her father as still “art” that can be openly criticized. And what’s the purpose of this objectification? To prepare girls for their future role as the puritan matriarch in their own nuclear family. This outright denies growing girls’ any agency – and the lack of agency is skillfully characterized by Theia in the song’s bridge as she pleads to be let “out of this dollhouse”. Despite heteronormativity going out of its way to make these cages look aesthetically pleasing, “Dollhouse” makes sure listeners know they’re a “madhouse” with sinister intentions for girls.
New Zealand native turned Los Angeles local, Theia, is a singer and songwriter with a talent for delivering brutally honest confessionals and whimsical odes. Theia’s been serving up nothing but hard-hitting alt-pop and electronica bops since 2016 with singles like “Roam”, “Not Your Princess”, and “Girls!”. The last song is featured alongside “Dollhouse” on Theia’s latest EP that shares a title with the most recent release. For fans dying to be in the gracious presence of Theia, she’ll be performing at the four-day and three-night SUM OF US Festival; the first wellness festival for LGBTQ+ women and trans identities in Pinecrest, California. Theia will be the headliner on Saturday, September 16th – tickets for the festival can be found on the festival's website. Not states’ side? No worries. Theia is returning to New Zealand for her GIRL IN A SAVAGE WORLD tour for the entire month of October. This tour will be the first time the artist will be performing as Theia and TE KAAHU. TE KAAHU is the artist’s reo rangatira project: it honors Māori songwriting and storytelling. Various venues and their tickets can be found on TE KAAHU’s website. If you’ve enjoyed Theia’s challenge to heteronormativity, show the artist some virtual love in the form of streams, likes, and follows.
Written by Giavanna Gradaille