“Come in, won’t you?” calls the Doctor, “I’ve been waiting to talk to you.”
Koquillion answers the invitation.
“This used to be the Peoples’ Hall of Judgement,” remarks the Doctor, regarding the empty chamber sadly, “Fitting, in the present circumstances don’t you think? Mr Bennett, may I remind you that masks and robes such as you are wearing are only used on absolutely ceremonial occasions, hmm?”
Koquillion removes his face. Bennett is beneath.
He explains that he is a murderer.
“I killed a crewmember on the spaceship to Astra. I was arrested. The ship crashed. My crime hadn’t been radioed to Earth. I knew if I could get rid of the other crewmembers…”
“Get rid of the other crewmembers and blame their deaths on the Dido people, hmm?”
“When we crash landed, the inhabitants invited us all to a grand meeting. It was simple. I just arranged an explosive, using the ships armaments. The whole thing went up. All the inhabitants, the crew, the whole race.”
“You destroyed a whole planet to save your own skin. You’re insane.”
“The girl didn’t know I’d been arrested. When we get back to Earth, she’d support my story. I dressed up as Koquillion to show her how terrible the people here were.”
According to the Doctor they were actually hospitable and sociable people, the few hundred that used to live there anyway. The ones that survived Bennett’s explosion, and who turn up to get him, are pretty pissed off however. Understandably. But Bennet never had a moment’s doubt that his fable of their murderous fierceness would be believed.
Implicit in the very fabric of the story is the assumption that ‘Earth’ or ‘humanity’ means Whitey. Caucasians. Westerners. This is something that is far from unproblematic, and it occurs again and again, even – perhaps especially – in SF satires of colonialism. And, when the “Dido people” appear, they’re not represented as people of colour, which tends to rub people of colour out of their own story. And yet, as ever, there’s a double bind here. To represent them as people of colour would be for the culture industries Western imperialism to take it upon themselves to represent the kinds of people their own societies decimated. The solution isn’t to be found within the culture industries, or within the creation of TV texts. The necessary solution is a dialectical and political one that changes society, not just the attitudes of society, or the way society makes television.
And yet, all that being said… also implicit in this particular story is the assumption that Bennett would be believed without question when he dishonestly blamed the aboriginal inhabitants of an uncolonised ‘New World’ for a senseless massacre of his fellow passengers and crew. Also implicit is the assumption on the part of Bennett that the culture and sophistication of the Didoans counts for nothing, that their People’s Hall of Judgement is just another place that he can use and abuse them without being judged.
They key figure here is the mask. …