Jack GrahamJack Graham wrote about Doctor Who and Marxism, often at the same time. These days he co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper.Support Jack on Patreon.
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August 8, 2013 @ 12:09 pm
I have no objection to an actor in the title role who is Black, Asian, female, American, ginger, gay, older, or any combination thereof. I'd like to think that fandom would put their prejudices aside and the show would survive.
My question about precedent was not intended to suggest "We can't do that, it's never been done before!", but just informational. Has it been done before? Beyond a scene Douglas Adams hurriedly scribbled in to explain why the new actress playing Romana looked so familar, that is.
Bring on the Meddling Nun, the Mistress, the Raja, and Helen Mirren as Borusa. Especially the latter.
August 8, 2013 @ 12:47 pm
As much as I love Lalla Ward, it would have been seriously cool if Romana had kept the blue-skinned look.
August 8, 2013 @ 3:14 pm
One of my biggest pet peeves right now is that a show that supposedly can "do anything" is so set in its ways, and a lot of its fans see it as governed by some sort of set of rules and limitations.
I made a post the other day saying that a show about an immortal time travelling alien named Doctor Who was meant to do the impossible (in reply to a post saying that it was "biologically impossible" for the Doc to become a woman) …. the response was someone promptly telling me that his name is not Doctor Who and he is not immortal.
Where's the magic gone?
I thought Doctor Who was for dreamers.
Oh well, why do we bother 🙂
August 8, 2013 @ 7:05 pm
I know, John. I was mucking about. Sorry. I didn't mean to give the impression that I'd gotten the wrong impression about you.
August 9, 2013 @ 5:10 pm
Who-dom is becoming like comic fandom, where way too much attention is spent on the past and canonical trivia. I don't care if the Tardis is the "proper" shade of blue every week. Or if the Daleks are party-colored. Really, so much of what fans argue over was simply made up as a plot gimmick 50 years ago and promptly forgotten by the original writers. All I want is a variety of good stories that feature the Doctor as a catalyst–that's all. Of course the Doctor must have personality, but I also remember that Charles Bronson was a movie star, too, so what constitutes "personality" is also open for interpretation. I suppose there is some chromosomal argument for the Doctor being a male — regeneration is not total reprogramming, I don't think — but skin color is more problematic. And of course, I would think Captain Jack would drop in occasionally just to see what the Doctor looked like from year to year, since he does owe his longevity to the Timelord.
August 9, 2013 @ 6:30 pm
You seem to contradict yourself there. On the one hand, you say continuity shouldn't be a bind, on the other you seem to suggest that the Doctor should stay male because regeneration has kept him male so far. And in what way is skin colour "more problematic"?
Let's not be bound by any chromosomal arguments at all, not in terms of the Doctor's fictional chromosomes or the worst of the show's narrative ones.
August 9, 2013 @ 9:19 pm
I did say "I suppose" and the skin color was "problematic." As in, I can understand the argument from that position. And changing the Doctor's sex and color is not a small change to be taken lightly at the BBC — it's a profitable franchise that would be researched and scrutinized every time the lead actor changed. Plus, if it ain't broke,they probably aren't going to mess with it to such a major extent.
Actually, I enjoy the combination of familiarity and unpredictability of Doctor Who the way I liked Marvel Comics in the 60s and 70s. Which means I'm not AGAINST a female and/or black Doctor, but I don't see an overwhelming need for it either, other than to pursue a social/political agenda. Again, that's not a crime, and science-fiction has always disguised such issues. I guess I just question hijacking the 50-year history of the Doctor, capitalizing on his accomplishments, instead of presenting a character that stands on its own as a heroic ideal. I acknowledge there are larger, deeper, more core complex gender and race issues involved, but I do not think they will be resolved by making the Doctor female and/or black just to wind people up. The Doctor is like Batman — the artists/actors change, but there are core concepts that remain the same, otherwise the character is Superman or Wonder Woman or The Hulk. In short, I can't help it if there is not a female or black equivalent to Doctor Who in existence, but that is not a sufficient reason to muck around with the original, successful version we DO have,
August 10, 2013 @ 4:20 am
But that's just it – why is it "problematic"? I agree that changing the colour and/or gender of the actor heading up their profitable franchise is probably a nervy prospect for the BBC – but what an indictment that is, of either their prejudice that it would damage profitability, or a society that would go off the show if a black or female actor took over, or possibly both! And if it's a question of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' then why is it thought of that way? Why is it considered such a major overhaul, by them or anyone? Why is it such a big deal? Because, surely, we live in a society that unduly privileges white males. Well that's the whole problem to start with!
You say there's no need for a black or female Doctor "other than to pursue a social/political agenda"… but surely keeping the Doctor always a white male has an inbuilt "social/political agenda" of its own! A tacit one that is not acknowledged, or even sensed, by many people – precisely because it seems so implicitly natural, in a racist and sexist society, that the default "hero ideal" should be a white male, and that anything else constitutes an "agenda". Why is it that changing the character into a black man or a woman (rather than into a slightly older or younger white male) would "wind people up"? And don't people who would be wound up by that deserve to be wound up?
And I agree that making the Doctor a black woman wouldn't "resolve" any of the deeper social problems. I don't think I've ever implied that it would – I certainly never meant to. But we do need to reform society to make it more inclusive and equal, and less discriminatory… and one way you do that is to campaign for changes to culture. Culture is hugely powerful as an expression of a society's nature, and it feed back into that nature.
There seems to be an implicit fear that 'mucking around' with the Doctor's white maleness would put the "original, successful version" into danger… but why would that be dangerous? And if the Doctor's white maleness is so integral to his success then I'm not sure he's a character I want to continue to succeed. If he has to be a white male then his so-far white maleness must be more than a by-product; it must be ideologically integral to who he is. And that's not a comfortable idea. Not for me anyway.
August 10, 2013 @ 11:46 am
Not really sure your political discussion points have anything to do with the kids show Doctor Who. They've only just gotten past rubber suits and solarized video effects, and finally cracked the US market. Your agenda is simply not theirs, kinda like Marvel Comics fans don't read Archie Comics. I came here because I like the Doctor Who that has been evolving for 50 years. You seem to have a deeper philosophic agenda than the show can carry — hell, they can't even sustain the repercussions of the physical transformations they've done so far. Wouldn't an old man be thrilled to be young again, and what of the ancient memories locked in the Smith Doctor's brain? Having a new Doctor constantly degraded and attacked racially and sexually just to satisfy someone else's moralistic program seems a bit harsh for Who. I think you may be looking for Mr. Cleese down the hall — he does arguments.
August 10, 2013 @ 3:04 pm
'Black people and women exist' is "a deeper philosophic agenda than the show can carry"?
Oh well, I guess that makes everything nice and easy.
August 10, 2013 @ 7:48 pm
It's interesting that it always comes back to Doctor Who being just a "kids show" when we talk about what it can and can't do. If it is a kids show, then there should be absolutely no issue with the Doctor changing genders/race, as no kid would even bat an eye at that. Speaking as a parent of two young Dr Who fans, my daughter would be astounded if the Doctor became a woman, and I'd be happy for her to have a female hero that (presumably) isn't all about telling girls they have to be pretty and famous to be a worthy human being.
August 16, 2013 @ 3:38 am
I can't embed a picture in a comment, but of course the blue Romana (and the Doctor's answer to Clyde) were only following on from the 'canon' laid down by the originally-presented-as-godlike Time Lords: after his sentencing in The War Games, the Doctor is presented with a number of god/state-approved new incarnations, one of whom is clearly black.
All of which is only additional "Nerd Evidence", as you say, but it's there.
November 27, 2013 @ 5:27 am
SWP and OWS rapists, the labour movement at its lowest, resurgent far-right…
IF ONLY DOCTOR WHO WAS A GIRL, IT'D ALL BE FINE AND DANDY
A fucking disgrace to the people who actually fought to change things – if only the Suffragettes, NAACP, liberation movements and everyone else wittered about the pulp magazines/telly shows/whatever crappy commoditiesb were being sold at the time.