You’re a Beautiful Woman, Probably
I’ve been thinking about doing another essay on monstering in Doctor Who, especially with regards to Amy Pond, but it occurs to me that this would really benefit in hindsight of a full survey on the show’s conception of beauty. Which is to say, I think the process of “monstering” is part and parcel of the modern show’s aesthetics, and what better way to explore those aesthetics than to come to some sort of understanding of the place where the Beautiful stands within it? Well, there’s probably several other better ways, but when it comes to Amy Pond, I think “beauty” isn’t a bad place to start. Not because Karen Gillan is classically beautiful, but because the character she plays actually articulates a philosophy of beauty that I find altogether more interesting:
WARRIOR AMY: All those boys chasing me, but it was only ever Rory. Why was that?
AMY: You know when sometimes you meet someone so beautiful, and then you actually talk to them, and five minutes later they’re as dull as a brick? Then there’s other people, and you meet them and think, “Not bad, they’re okay.” And then you get to know them, and their face just sort of becomes them, like their personality’s written all over it. And they just turn into something so beautiful.
BOTH: Rory’s the most beautiful man I’ve ever met.
Which kind of gets where I’m going with this idea, namely that we have multiple conceptions of beauty, which we can roughly bifurcate into those predicated on appearances, and those predicated on interiority. This is actually a false dichotomy, which we’ll get to later on, but for now this represents the axis I want to explore, especially when we get to the Revival. Anyways, what I’ve done is look for instances of the word “beautiful” and its variants within the show’s dialogue. This was done using a blanket google site search on Chrissie’s Doctor Who transcripts at chakoteya.com, coupled with individual searches of all the remaining Revival episodes, plus City of Death, for as it turns out google site search isn’t as thorough as I’d hoped. As such, I’ve haven’t thoroughly surveyed all the Classic stories, so if you remember any pertinent lines from something not covered here, please say so in the comments.
Now obviously this isn’t going to fully capture what the show actually finds beautiful. Dialogue, after all, is more reflective of the characters speaking it, and as such certainly can’t represent the implied authors of Doctor Who. Still, for a character to conceive of something as being beautiful, the implied authors have to conceive of it too, even if they might disagree. Which is to say, there’s still an acknowledgment of a kind of beauty that someone can behold. Furthermore, it’s much more difficult to pin down an acknowledgement of “beauty” without being explicitly told. Not impossible, no – for example, the production cues of Doomsday, when Rose is finally torn from the Doctor through their last moments on the beach, clearly flag an understanding of tragic beauty, whether it’s from the score or the location design or just from the story itself. …