Doctor who?

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.

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15 thoughts on “Doctor who?

  1. I was a big Dr Who fan way back in the day, my oldest son was similar and my wife kept tabs on it for that reason. She showed me this latest appointment on her phone a couple of days ago and said that it was another first in the way that they revealed who the new Doctor was prior to their first episode. When she showed me the new one my only comment was that at least she isn’t black as well.

  2. “Even now, female protagonists are still rare enough in popular culture”

    Actually, no, they really aren’t rare. 30 Rock. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Parks and Recreation. Desperate Housewives. Would soap operas count? One of the key protagonists in The Man in the High Castle is a woman. Glow. Orange is the New Black. Outlander. Every Jane Austen story that is constantly recycled. Supergirl. Wonder Woman. The Hunger Games. The Divergent series. The Shadowhunters stuff. Frozen. Moana. Fleabag.

    This is a constantly irritating thing to me that these feminists can never just leave something for the guys. They’re constantly complaining about blokey TV, lack of women in blokey places, but the amount of blokey stuff is already tiny. Top Gear, Who, comedy panel shows, Family Guy and Match of the Day. They lost the guts of Top Gear. They let Family Guy go (which is actually a blessing as ITV have it on streaming). They were like “yeah, we had to let F1 go because of the cost”. But almost no money is spent on the male audience. The rest of the BBC is awash with stuff for women: soap operas, Strictly Come Dancing, singing shows, hospital dramas, cookery shows. Cop shows are all about the feels rather than the nicking perps.

    Every bloke talks about what’s on Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. If I was a single man, there’s no way I’d have a license.

  3. So what you are saying is there are 4 types of people in the world? Dicks, pussies, assholes, and feminists?

  4. Ms Whittaker must be so proud to have been appointed to take the heat off the Beeb in the new “gender pay” row. Still, a part’s a part.

    If women are so wonderful why did, and indeed does, Mrs T get treated to endless misogyny?

  5. “Jodie Whittaker might be the first female Doctor Who, but she runs a real risk of being the last – of any sex.”

    This.

    I feel sorry for her. She’s taking on all of the risk in this.

    It sticks out like a sore thumb that the showrunner, Steven Moffat, is leaving at the same time as the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi.

  6. A female Doctor Who is much likely to be successful than shoehorning women into other fictions. The Doctor is calculating and manipulative; a female Doctor won’t be throwing men three times her weight or performing pixie ninja back-flips.

    You must also consider that the main antagonist has already switched gender several times without raising a fuss, and I’d be hard pressed to rank any iteration above the others.

    Political writing can of course destroy any show, but historically the gender of the doctor has not been particularly salient. The show is devoid of romance, and half the interactions are with aliens who would be hard pressed to even recognize human gender in the first place.

    Just to provide contrast, I feel that SJW control of Star Wars is causing severe damage.

    PS. Moffat is garbage and pretty much ruined the show already.

  7. I gave up on the BBC years ago when I realised that pretty much every straight white man they featured(especially English men) were nothing more than stupid/bigoted/violent/incompetent fools who had to be rescued/humbled by either black men or women (preferably black and preferably wearing African/ethnic clothing, thanks for the red pill `Casualty` and `Holby City`) and sadly Dr Who has followed this same theme. these days I view BBC output as nothing more than left wing PC propaganda.

  8. Some random observations.

    Strong women helming SF franchises wasn’t new when Star Trek: Voyager did it 22 years ago, since Sigourney Weaver did it in 1979 in Alien. The ass-kicking Action Girl has been a stereotype since Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1997. I suppose one could say that what angry feminists want is not so much a female at the head of a series, but a female at the head of a series that used to be headed by men. They want to take it away from the blokes.

    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.

    That’s not feminists. That’s pandering to their female audience. All TV shows do this if they go on long enough because in the North American market at least, TV is watched by women, and women control the household purchasing. This is why all TV advertising is aimed at women. Men watch sports or movies. (Yes, these are generalizations; they also happen to be true). Complaining that long form television is pandering to women is like complaining that romance novels depict men unrealistically; that medium isn’t aimed at you.

    Does that sound like a multi-dimensional, complex character to you?

    I’ve pointed out in the past to angry feminists that the reason people don’t respond well to these kinds of characters is the same reason people don’t consider Mack Bolan: Executioner “novels” to be very good literature. They’re the female equivalent of adolescent power fantasy stories, the Mary Sue that solves every problem, saves every day, beloved by all, with no character flaws or internal conflicts that might create some actual drama. It’s not that they’re female; it’s that they’re badly written.

    The show is devoid of romance

    The Doctor has had a hard-on for his Companion since the finale of Series 1 (of the new drivel).

    SJW control of Star Wars is causing severe damage.

    The box office figures disagree. I’ve been rather shocked by the animated series Clone Wars; if you can get by the obvious pandering to the pre-teens parts, there’s some surprisingly good we-actually-get-Star-Wars writing in there.

  9. D. Ream –

    I suppose one could say that what angry feminists want is… a female at the head of a series that used to be headed by men. They want to take it away from the blokes.

    That’s a bingo. They want to claim a scalp.

    Of course, what they’re perhaps failing to understand is that just changing the gender of a male character to a female one isn’t enough to make that character appealing to a female audience (Cf: The Lady Ghostbusters). Imagine if they redid Die Hard or Predator with the roles reversed: how many women would actually want to watch that?

    SJW control of Star Wars is causing severe damage.

    The box office figures disagree.

    Time will tell on that score. Generations hence will not be fondly recalling these last two movies the way they did the originals. Avatar has already proved that you can make a hit out of a pretty mediocre movie as long as you’re prepared to spend a billion dollars marketing the thing.

    Also: Dr. Who is absolutely terrible.

  10. That’s not feminists. That’s pandering to their female audience.

    Yes, that’s a good point, one you made on the other thread. I’ll rethink that, but I couldn’t help seeing Season 4 of HoC as a vehicle to prepare the public for Michelle Obama’s run for President.

    I suppose one could say that what angry feminists want is… a female at the head of a series that used to be headed by men. They want to take it away from the blokes.

    Spot on.

  11. This is a constantly irritating thing to me that these feminists can never just leave something for the guys.

    Yup.

  12. A thought occurred to me last night; a very clear signal that this decision is about the politics, rather than the character, or the show, would be the argument that the Doctor is a woman, so it must be written by a woman, or the show runner must be a woman. The sooner that happens, the stronger the signal.

    I make that evens before the end of her first series.

  13. Sarah Hoyt has written about a process she calls “roll hard left and die.”

    Basically the way this works is a publication (or TV series…) that is gradually failing / losing readers/viewers will decide on a new strategy of hard left virtue signalling to get media coverage. This will guaranteed alienate a good 50% of the remaining audience and so it fails faster. Typically they then double down on this and drive off another 50% and then fail.

    I suspect that Dr Who is some way down this process. The good news is that Dr Who has been killed before and resurrected so there’s no reason why the likely failure of the next Doctor will mean the permanent end of the programme.

    Mind you I haven’t watched an episode since the era of Tom Baker so this isn’t really a subject I can make an expert comment on

  14. ” 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.”
    Hits the nail on the head..

  15. Season 4 of HoC as a vehicle to prepare the public for Michelle Obama’s run for President.

    That’s quite likely, and the two phenomena are not mutually exclusive – rather one’s a subset of the other. Women who watch power politics shows like House of Cards or Game of Thrones are going to want to see female characters getting one over on the men; women who watch shows like Warehouse 13 or Bones are going to want to see the cool, collected female investigator one-upping the goofy meathead male partner (or if unresolved sexual tension was part of the premise, taming him and getting him to settle down, a la every romance novel ever). That they can slip in some half-assed agenda is just a side bonus.

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