Viewing posts tagged race

The Obligatory Returned-Episodes Post

Hurrah, etc.

As Lawrence Miles says, there's no point trying act all cool at a time like this.  It's great news and I'm very happy about it.  Sincerely.  You'd have to be a miserablist of a more perverse and determined stamp than I not to be as pleased as punch.

Of course, I could whinge about some things.

And will.

This blog has a USP after all.

I could, for instance, mention the way Nigeria - where the episodes were found - has suddenly swung briefly onto the mental radars of people who, until a few days ago, probably had only a dim idea that it existed at all.  It's ironic because, at more or less the time when those missing episodes were made, the Wilson government was helping the corrupt Nigerian military dictatorship crush Biafra.  Britain continued arming the junta for years, despite government denials.  The regime was engaged in a longstanding war against the Ogoni people - one of the forgotten persecuted peoples in the world.  Shell's exploitation of oil reserves in their region has had untold environmental and human costs, making the Niger Delta one of the ...

Nerd Evidence

Canon and continuity are not the point.  Why not go ahead without precedents?  After all, a foolish hobgoblin is the consistency of someone with a dictionary of quotations.

All the same...


The Dr Speaks

Against my better judgement, I allowed myself to get dragged into the latest "is 'Talons' racist?" debate at Gallifrey Base. (You'd think, wouldn't you, that this one would've been settled long ago and been filed away in the same drawer with "is the world a sphere?" and "is the Tomorrow People reboot bound to be shit?" but nope, apparently not.)

I won't rehearse it here, since everyone likely to read this blog is likely to be able to imagine exactly what has been (and remains to be) said. 

I just wanted to post this...




...which occured during my (increasingly and pointlessly irate) involvement.  Click to make it bigger.

You know, I disagree with Phil Sandifer about a lot... but the above just made me want to hug him.

Monkey Business

On 'Ghost Light'.


Let's leave aside the aesthetic beauty of the production, with its pattern of oppositions - light and dark, day and night, madness and sanity, stone and wood, feminine and masculine, dead and alive - which alternate until they start to bleed into each other and mingle until we are left with no certainties.

Let's leave aside the willfully abstruse script; the wonderful way it is deliberately constructed as a jewelled puzzle box; something to be studied and pondered and interpreted rather than just passively enjoyed.

Let's leave aside the scrumptious bevy of literary references, sly self-referencing jokes, puns, double meanings, allusions... all of which show an intense and highly self-conscious (though not glib) awareness and playfulness with language, text, genre and storytelling tradition.  You want an example?  How about the use of the word "wicked", which - with wonderful irony - appears in both the Victorian usage and as 80s teenspeak.  It's the last word of the story - the last word spoken by the Doctor in the last-filmed story of the classic series.  And when the Doctor uses it to describe Ace, he sounds like a Victorian moralist (of times past or present ...

Beyond Redemption

I think there is something inherently dodgy about the notion of 'redemptive readings'.  It seems to imply a determination to look at a text in a positive way that is at odds with what could be called 'proper scepticism'.  This objection is itself open to the objection that it's silly to approach a piece of entertainment product with 'scepticism', especially when it is part of a series of which one is supposedly a fan.  But, this loses sight of context and agency.  There are various ways of choosing to watch the same thing.  When you sit down to enjoy an episode of a show you like, for fun, you're a bit odd if you're not expecting, hoping and trying to like it.  When you're watching it with the express intention of analysing it and then writing about what it means, proper scepticism becomes appropriate.  Trying to like what you're watching becomes a somewhat iffy strategy in that context.  Besides, doesn't the necessity of trying to find ways of praising what you're analysing tell us something in itself?  This muddle also loses sight of the distinctions that are always to be found within ...

Independence Day

This is a slightly-expanded/tweaked version of something originally published in the January 2011 edition of Panic Moon.  Back issues of this excellent fanzine (now, sadly, on hiatus) are still available, here.


In 'The Mutants', Earth’s empire is the British Empire in decline, as it disassembles itself out of economic necessity (true in general terms but misleading in particular; the British were usually savage in their resistance to independence). The Marshall echoes Ian Smith, who ran the racist apartheid state of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and tried to hang on after the British cut him loose.

We get a positive view of a national liberation movement. Ky is clearly the figurehead of a powerful anti-Overlord groundswell; they’re called “terrorists” naturally, and maybe they are, but they’re fighting for their freedom. We get no patronising sermons to oppressed people about non-violence.

The system is depicted as inherently racist, featuring a version of apartheid. The Solonians are not black, but then neither were the Irish… and they were the first to come under the British heel. 'The Mutants' shows racism, quite rightly, as the ideology of empire, not the cause.

There is an apologia for empire that stresses the “progress” it can bring to its subjects. The concept of “progress” is ...

Law & Order: Blame the Victims Unit

I bought my Mum a DVD Box set of Law & Order for Xmas. 

Sat with her today and watched a few episodes. 

The first disc had one of L&O's occasional 'race' episodes. Like every previous 'race' episode, this one portrayed black people as hysterical, touchy, unreasonable, and unjustifiably obsessed with racism. 

As always in L&O, the defence attorney was slimey, unscrupulous and cynically playing the race card. And, as always, there's a black politician who is a ruthless demagogue using the issue of race further his career. 

The only people in the story to be impartial, ethical and reasonable were the police and prosecutors.  Poor them, they spend the whole episode battling hysterical black people who fantasize non-existent racism everywhere and, by demanding special treatment, create racism themselves.

So, no disrespect to my Mum, fuck off Law & Order.

The Black & White Era

Readers of this blog (all 12 of them... on a good day) might be forgiven for thinking I do nothing but obsess over the politics of Doctor Who.  Undoubtedly, I do do that, and far too much of it.  However, in my defence, I will say that most of what I post here is the product of long-term, off-and-on, occasional, when-I-get-the-chance pondering and tinkering.  My last post, for instance, had been loitering in the 'Draft' category for months, getting steadily longer and more tendentious, before I posted it.  I spend a lot of the rest of my time thinking about and doing other stuff.  However, my practice of letting my 'essays' (I hate calling them that, but what else can I call them?) percolate means that I'm very bad at reacting quickly.  However, there are some things to which I desperately want to react quickly because I care about them so much... usually because they make me so ANGRY.

Luckily, there are people out there who

a) broadly share my political perspective,

b) are much cleverer and better informed than me, and

c) can react quickly.

So, on the subject of the recent ...

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