News from Elsewhere II: This Time It's Polemical

I've done another guest post for Phil Sandifer's site, here.  He wanted someone to put a case against the Moffat era before he proceeded to post his own thoughts about it.  He asked me to provide and, despite the obvious dangers, I bravely agreed... to attack someone who can't answer back without looking like a massive prick.  Still, I've done it before.  Just never on a site with an actual readership.  The scarier thing is how Phil's own subsequent posts will stamp all over me. 

I've steered well clear of having a go at the man personally, which means I've not engaged with any of his troubling public statements.  I've tried to argue from the texts.

Phil has called my post 'A Case for the Prosecution'.  I'm glad he put "A" rather than "The", because - inevitably - my attempt will disappoint some of the many people who care about this issue, not least because I didn't have time to do much more than cobble together a (relatively) brief overview. 

To me, this bit of writing will always be called the 'Anti-Moffat'.  Not that I compare myself to Engels.  In his Anti-Dühring, Engels not only wrote a blistering polemic, he also did the one thing that genuinely makes polemic valuable: he explained his own, alternative view.  It became one of the most brilliant and inspiring elaborations of Marxism ever written.  I, by contrast, have failed to even come away with something positive to say about what my favourite TV show should be like.  I also failed - apart from the odd hint - to find space to put the Moffat era in its historical and political context, as the Who of late neoliberalism, ongoing crisis, backlash and austerity.  (Maybe I'll put all that in the book.)

So, basically, it's just a whinge.  But an entertaining one, I hope.

Engels.  Some people say Marxism wasn't as good after he took over.

ADDITIONAL, 23/03/14:  Richard Cooper, over at his blog 'Finger-Steepling and Sharks', also has an excellent essay about the issue of Moffat and sexism, here, which pre-dates mine.


frank fair 6 years, 11 months ago

I have had an actual nightmare years ago where I was the last Who fan left who didn't like Moffat's version of Who. And everyone else was saying things like "Turn off your brain and enjoy" or "If you squint hard and then it's sort of about this bland tihng" or "My girlfriend loves it so there can't be a problem"

After the first few episodes of Series 6 I thought 'That's it, I've grown up, I'm too critical I probably wouldn't enjoy Gridlock or Carnival of the Monsters anymore either'. Thank goodness I thought better

Thanks Jack for this critical brilliantly worded article. You never descend into pettiness like other Moff critics, you're ultimately very fair and you get so much right. Now in an ideal world the scales would fall from people's eyes, Beast Below would be burnt, and "I've just trodden in a Wedding of River Song" would enter common parlance. But I know that's not going to happen

It's enough you help me remember it's not 'wrong' to feel this way.
For 4 years I really haven't liked my all time's favourite show (with a few exceptions), and that's a pity because I liked parts of all other eras but at least I'm not alone. So thank you again. Take a bow

BTW Don't suppose you've read "proper writer" Naomi Alderman's 11th Doctor book Borrowed Time Just discovered it-brilliant and actually about something. May now be my favourite story of the era.

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Matthew Celestis 6 years, 11 months ago

Good for you.

Moffat's writing is just unbearably awful. I can never read too much criticism of his work.

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liminalD 6 years, 11 months ago

It was a good read, and you make some brilliant observations (Moffat being the Great Intelligence, for one - I laughed at that because it's just so true), but I'm not entirely convinced. I'd like to hear you elaborate a bit more on your reasoning behind the Silurians as Palestinians, in light of what some of the comments said about them being a better analogy for Nazis, particularly. And I flat-out disagree about Rory being the 'nice guy' and the Silents not being all that evil - I think it's pretty clear that the Silents are a metaphor for government/religious (and possibly even business) forces quietly manipulating society for their own ends, on the one hand an embodiment of a particularly American paranoia, and on the other an actual auteur attack on the state of American politics as seen from a more international perspective.

Of course, you do say at the beginning that it is a polemic (which some people in the comments seem not to have understood or registered), and that there is a lot more that you would have liked to have said but you lacked the time and space to do so, I'd be interested to read the expanded version if you put it up one day. But Your post seems to be generating some good discussion of the issues, and comes across as far more reasoned and fair than a lot of the STFU Moffat stuff out there, so I think you've done an admirable job. Well done :)

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Jack Graham 6 years, 11 months ago

On the Silurians and Silence. As usual, I have caused myself problems by not making myself sufficiently clear. The Silurians are analogous to the Silurians within the schema of Doctor Who because they are the displaced who wait eternally for justice. The point was that the question is left unexamined because it is evident to the creators of the text that the existing system is inescapable. I understand why and how the Silence are *meant* to be evil; I just don't think they do anything in the course of the story in question which demonstrates how they're any worse than Nixon. The point was that the question is left unexamined because it is evident to the creators of the text that the existing system is inescapable.

And yes, the longer and expanded (properly sourced and researched) version will hopefully see the light of day one day fairly soon.

And thanks for putting me above STFU Moffat, even if that is faint praise. I tried to stay away from anything personal. And thanks for noticing that I was deliberately writing a polemic. As you say, that passed many of them by.

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5tephe 6 years, 11 months ago

Jack - I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every episode of the Moffat era has rung as false to my wife, myself, and our close friends. To read so many people praising and loving his work over on the Eruditorum was frankly weird. (I know there are dissenting voices, but overall it seems people really love Moffat over there.)

You have managed to articulate every part of the current era that I have hated, along with crystalising several niggling irks I have with it, but couldn't have expressed myself. I've only wandered over here every now and then in the past, but you will find me a more frequent visitor in future.

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