I confess I don’t know the first thing about Doctor Who, and have only heard of it through the background noise of popular culture and the occasional reference to daleks. I have absolutely no idea who he is or what he does, which is why I care not a damn that the character has been switched to a woman played by actress Jodie Whittaker.
I don’t know if this switch will be good or bad, but the early signs are that it is highly politicised which rarely makes for good programming. The media – including the BBC which owns the Doctor Who rights and makes the programmes – is full of people saying how important this is, how glass ceilings have been broken, and how this is unprecedented, none of which is likely to be true. There is absolutely no reason why a female lead in a sci-fi series cannot be excellent, but it is more a question as to whether the demands of the SJWs in charge at the BBC and their cheerleaders outside can be satisfied while making the damned thing watchable. Somehow I doubt it.
I’ve already expressed my opinion that House of Cards started well, sucking in audiences with a strong male performance, before the feminists hijacked the script and made it all about his damned wife. I suspect the same thing will happen with Doctor Who, only from a much weaker position. From what little I have read about Doctor Who on various blogs, it’s gone from naff but popular with kids to rather wet and overly keen to push the BBC’s preferred brand of politics. Having not seen a single episode that might be an unfair summary, but it would hardly be surprising if accurate. I expect a female Doctor Who will be used to push lefty agendas even further, alienating core viewers, delighting a gaggle of feminists who will blame collapsing viewing figures and poor reviews on misogyny, and wrecking the brand.
The problem is as I described in this post:
A female lead these days needs to be one of the following:
1. An innocent victim of some more powerful force (such as a violent husband, or asshole boss) who she eventually overcomes through perseverance and/or being much cleverer than her adversary. (A Goody)
2. A ripped, kick-ass chick straight out of comic-book fantasy who beats up Samoan extras and can throw knives through chipboard. (Can be a Goody or a Baddy)
3. A sassy, independent, fuck-you-in-your-face, policewoman, soldier, politician, or CEO. (A Goody)
4. A woman who saves her husband/boyfriend from his own stupidity. (A Goody)
Laurie Penny has weighed in with a New Statesman article which, as David Thompson observes, is largely about her:
When I told my mum that Doctor Who was a woman now, I wasn’t sure how she’d react. In fact, she was remarkably accepting. “After all this time,” she said “I’m just happy for you. I know you’ve thought about it a lot, and it’s practically normal now. I hear they’ve even got female Ghostbusters these days.”
I wonder how many takes that took before Ma Penny finally said something which Laurie could use? It has all the authenticity of the raspberry flavouring in a bright blue Slush Puppy. But on this point she’s right:
Even now, female protagonists are still rare enough in popular culture, and most of them tend to win the day by showing up in undersized perfect hair and kicking people in the face. This is the sort of female hero we’ve learned to tolerate, the “fighting fuck-toy”, in Anita Sarkeesian’s immortal words – damaged but sexy, a stock figure for whom “well-rounded” is a strictly physical description.
She’s describing No. 2 in my list above, and I find them as annoying as she. But Laurie and her ilk think the answer is to make female characters like No. 3 instead, despite what she says here:
Doctor Who is a different sort of hero. The Doctor solves problems not by being the strongest, the fastest or the one with the biggest army, but by outthinking everyone else in the room. Far too many female characters are two-dimensional.
Feminists think a character has depth if she upholds values they agree with. For instance:
I’m ready to watch a woman save the world again and again by being very, very clever and very, very moral, without having to have a man sort anything out or come and save her.
Does that sound like a multi-dimensional, complex character to you? To me it sounds more like a woman trying to play a dull man. I find overly moral male characters painful to watch, which is why I don’t like Tom Hanks’ films much. I prefer to watch characters that have major flaws like the rest of us, or those that are generally assholes but we like them anyway. Decent female roles are almost impossible to come by thanks to the very same SJWs that are now complaining they are two-dimensional. Which producer would dare sign off on a character like Scarlett O’Hara these days?
Jodie Whittaker might be the first female Doctor Who, but she runs a real risk of being the last – of any sex.