Viewing posts tagged vietnam

Unhappy Soldiers (The 1917 Zone - Part 2)

On 'The War Games'. From the January 2012 issue of Panic Moon.


The last Doctor Who story of the 1960s is the high point of the show’s attempts to engage with the radicalism of that era. It was made just as the worldwide protests against the Vietnam war reached a crescendo. It’s been called an ‘anti-war’ story, but this is wrong. It’s an anti-imperialist story and, up until the last episodes, it supports revolution.

Pacifism is not advocated. Carstairs uses his pistol to protect the Ambulance and the Doctor never bats an eyelid. The Resistance kill guards all over the place. The Doctor’s aim for much of the story is to raise an army to fight the aliens. 'The War Games' supports revolutionary violence.

The violence that 'The War Games' condemns is that of imperialism. The aim of the aliens is conquest. That’s all that lies beneath everything that goes on in their War Zones. Meanwhile, ‘Butcher’ Smythe and von Weich amuse themselves playing Risk with human lives. It goes beyond noticing that top brass can be callous. The British and German commanding officers have more in common with each other than with their men ...

Reithian Values Meet 'The 60s'...

The old show was frequently highly reactionary but it also did better than most shows when it came to challenging establishment, bourgeois ideology and/or imperialist assumptions.

This division is the 'ethos'. Frequently reactionary but with a proportionately greater tendency to buck this trend.

The hero of the show is a white male with a professional title, a line in Edwardian clothing (which retains a formality despite veering between scruffy, dandified, bohemian, etc.) and who travels around in a symbol of the British state. The odd Jacobite aside, his companions are usually thoroughly respectable types.

So, even when he takes a moral line against exploitation, it can seem like the civilized Englishman taking it upon himself to explain ethics to the barbarians.

However, while it may be possible to characterise this as an "overall or originating ethos" (as a poster at Gallibase put it) it's one that has also been challenged from within.

At the start of the classic series, the Doctor is adamant that he cannot and must not intervene in history... including the religious practices of the Aztecs, a people destroyed by imperialism.

Then again, in that very same story, we also get a dose of condescension ...

Dwarf

In response to 'Day of the Moon'


So... the Doctor is now turned on by talking about shooting people and is happy to shake hands with a genocidal mass murderer.  Meanwhile, he hypnotises the entire human race into becoming unthinking, automatic killers in order to wipe out a race who stand around in corners doing nothing.

Of course, we know they're evil (and thus deserve it) because they're ugly.  And say generic evil things.  And killed a lady in a toilet once for no reason at all.

I can handle the Doctor having a different morality.  Shaking hands with Nixon (who was, by the way, as fascinating and complex as he was despicable... not that you'd know it from watching this) and utilising him as an ally.... yeah, okay.  The Doc's an alien.  He's not Noam Chomsky (not that one should need to be). 

The trouble is that Moffat evidently has no awareness of any kind of the queasiness (to put it mildly) inherent in a largely neutral portrayal (some digs about tapes and being "tricky" aside) of a man who conspired to sabotage peace talks in order ...

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