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Jack Graham

Jack 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.

6 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 13, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

    I find myself stumbling regularly on the issue of blacking up performers in black and white television. Because it's tempting to treat it as equivalent to minstrelsy or the John Bennet debacle in Talons. And I'm not sure that it is – the nature of black and white television makes some degree of blacking up more plausible. Simply put, the effect actually seems to work to a greater extent. That part of it isn't an ethnic stereotyping as such.

    What really struck me about Enemy in this regard was the scene at the end of the fourth episode, in which Astrid is prepping the Doctor to impersonate Salamander. I may be misreading it, but at the very start of the scene it looks like she's applying make-up, which means that the Doctor's performance of Salamander is based on the same technology that enables Troughton's performance.

    It also seems notable to me that so much of Salamander's power comes from his own ability to act. Salamander-in-the-bunker is every bit as much of a performance as the Doctor-as-Salamander, and we see him creating the artifice of it. So much so that it becomes easy to read the stereotyped elements of Salamander as performative – Salamander acts El Mariachi as part of his own power games.

    There's not enough race in the story to hang an outright redemptive reading on. But I think the treatment of race, artifice, and performance are central enough to the story that it's difficult to muster much of a critique either. Instead the racial elements just sort of seem there, as oddly dated as the hovercar.

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  2. Jack Graham
    October 13, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

    Yeah, you've got a really good point about Salamander's own performative habits, hence the stereotypes… that could well be read as a bit of crowd-pleasing posturing (i.e. playing the nationalist folk hero or humble man), or as a way of foxing his enemies… and, of course, the whole story is much concerned with issues of pretence, performance, trust, scepticism and evidence.

    As you say, the racial elements are just 'sort of there', with lots of other stuff going on around them to which they don't much relate… which may be why they seem less bothersome.

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  3. SpaceSquid
    October 14, 2013 @ 9:43 am

    Ten points for linking "Web of Fear" with Creep. If I don't have nightmares tonight combining the two in hellish mash-up, well, you at least tried your best.

    Also, thanks so much for going into detail regarding the colonial history that surrounds the Nigeria discovery. Obviously, hooray for nine recovered Troughton episodes, but I've not been able to banish the wider context from my mind yet, even as I've started working my way through the new find.

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  4. Jack Graham
    October 14, 2013 @ 10:10 am

    Cheers. BTW, thanks for the shout-out in the Sleepy Hollow post. Interesting post… though I can't really comment, not having seen SH.

    Reply

  5. SpaceSquid
    October 14, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

    Your welcome, and thanks. SH looks like it could end up being a very interesting TV show, though there's every chance it won't be even remotely for the reasons its creators are hoping.

    Reply

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    June 11, 2020 @ 9:02 am

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