The Usurping of Dr Who

Anne C. Miles > DrWho > The Usurping of Dr Who

There is only one 60-year-old character on television. He’s been a staple to British culture and generations of children have looked up to him. I’ve been a Whovian since the reboot with Christopher Eccleston. My gamertag is R1verS0ng. I drive a Mini Cooper CARDIS. It’s bigger on the inside. I carry a sonic screwdriver in my purse.

All of that will now change.

My complaint about making the Doctor a woman primarily regards the story, not my political viewpoint. Choosing a gender of a character shouldn’t be evidence of sexism, it should reflect the actual story. Not all of us enjoy every darn thing in our lives being politicized. Some of us watch TV  to escape from that. I also object to the very bad writing of women that has dominated Dr Who since the Pandorica opened. Lastly, I object to bullies, pandering and selling out, all of which I feel occurred with this decision. I have nothing against Jodie. She’ll be fine. Doctor Who is British, everyone will carry on. But the Doctor will never be the same. For that reason, I will stop watching the show. I don’t want to watch a character I truly love morph into this other thing all at the whim of a grasping, shrill, demanding public who didn’t watch the show to begin with.

Apparently, little girls shouldn’t admire men, since they can only now  look up to the Doctor since “it” finally has female parts.

I looked at the history of the show. The first showrunner was a woman and the first director was a gay Asian. The show has hardly been regressive. The choice for the Doctor to be a white male was, I always felt, because he was born that way. For most of the show’s history, the canon has reflected that he couldn’t choose his traits. That has changed in recent years, specifically in 2011 when Neil Gaiman opened that door in the episode “The Doctor’s Wife.” It was expanded upon with the episode “Hell Bent.” Yes, the original creator toyed with the concept in 1986, but the BBC decided not to go with it and the idea  was only pitched in a last ditch effort to save the then-dying series.

Men who have actually played the Doctor have both opposed and supported the idea of his being a woman. Peter Davison and Sylvester McCoy have both publicly opposed the idea. Any opposition to the choice is immediately labeled “sexist” and condemned. (But no. It isn’t political. Really. )

When the Master became a woman, none of us really got too upset because the Master has taken over bodies before when he ran out of regenerations. It could be explained away. All due respect to the nemesis, it wasn’t the Doctor.

This regeneration changes the dynamics of every single relationship the Doctor has had in the past. He has had children and been a father and grandfather. He has had multiple romantic entanglements, some with companions. They have made him sexist and racist by saying he chose to be a white male this entire time. If he could choose this entire time and didn’t switch it up, then his entire backstory becomes open to the accusation. It must be explained. You have diminished 60+ years of canon.

The idea of the 13th Doctor becoming female could have been really interesting because it was ever meant to be his last incarnation. But they added the War Doctor, they added Missy. They diluted the impact and we know they won’t end it with  the “official” 13th Doctor. Now the number of regenerations is in doubt and since he has control over his regenerations (so does Missy) and … we have in effect an entire race of transgenders. It affects all of them and their culture. It has never been explored. And it really isn’t supported by canon, not at all. It should have been part of the story before now, an integral part, and to have it left out for five/six decades and then thrust it upon the true fans of the show is to insult our intelligence and test our patience. The implications are simply staggering.

Then, while I’m objecting,  we have the extremely poor writing of women characters on the show. Amy Pond was arguably one of the most selfish brats I have ever had the displeasure of watching. I cheered when she and Rory left the show. I really did. Finally, she would quit torturing poor Rory. The role of motherhood thrust on her and weirdly distorted when Mel became her best friend was awkward and ridiculous.

We won’t even discuss the obsession of River Song with the Doctor, the twisted motives of Madame Kovarian or Tasha Lem and Missy. Even Donna Noble, arguably my favorite female character since the reboot (and the only hetero woman to NOT have romantic interest of some sort in our good Doctor) dealt with a shrill meddlesome streak that made her as ridiculous as she was lovable. Her entire goal in life was to marry. Other irritating things happened. You did what to the Statue  of Liberty? Clara was a confused mess and most of us lost interest in her by her third episode. We also didn’t understand the Silurian Sherlock Holmes. It wasn’t clever or fun, it was mostly icky… or is that Icke?

This is your writing of females, Moffat. The ratings have dropped because you changed the Doctor. We had a redemptive relatable hero in David Tennant, then a fun and childlike old-young man in Matt Smith. But after the Pandorica opened, the writing changed. The Doctor changed.

I had high hopes for Capaldi. This year, with Bill Potts, he has finally had some decent episodes. And he is leaving. Had he gotten the quality of story the BBC has given him this season, he might not have dropped in the ratings. Alas. It was not to be. We instead were forced to watch him be tortured over and over, literally for billions of years.

And now you want me to trust you, BBC, and you’ve made my Doctor a woman. You have a history of mucking up women since Mr Davies left. I’m not amused.

Looking at Chibnall’s episodes, I’m not heartened. He wrote “42,” not great. Gave us lizard people again with “The Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood” (I’ve already stated how I feel about Silurians. Were you making fun of David Icke?) “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” wasn’t terrible, although an obvious stab at Hollywood’s “Snakes on a Plane.” I thought it was at least fun that they tried it.

“The Power of Three” might be the best of what he has written in the Whoniverse. Even with a trite ending, he at least tried to add depth to the Ponds. No one will dispute the success of Broadchurch or its genius. The female characters there at least, have depth. I suppose by casting the same talent he hopes lightning will strike twice.

But why now?

So finally we turn to politics and the endless mewling of the women who aren’t secure enough even yet, in 2017. They still believe they must take over everything in order to be “empowered.”

Tell me, how does changing a beloved character radically empower women? When will women have enough? You want to say “IT’S FICTION, it doesn’t matter.” But then you also want to crow over the feminist victory. You want to say it isn’t political and then you also want to crow over the feminist victory. You can’t have it both ways, you misandrist hypocrites.

Yes I said “misandrist.” Much of what I see passing for feminism is thinly-veiled hatred for men.

What is next? Woman Santa Claus, Tarzan, James Bond? Sam and Dean Winchester should be female! Let’s make Jesus a woman. We should have a female pope. Buddha as a chick, anyone? Then, finally, you can say you won.

Won what? Why do you have to replace men to be validated?

A woman who is secure in her equality to a man doesn’t need to pull down men from every position or role they hold. We don’t hate men. We don’t feel the need to upend them or replace them. In fact, some of us quite like them in their roles and don’t want them to change. Not everything must be swapped. You’re being selfish and unreasonable. Someone who has to step on a group to pull themselves up? That person is a bully.

Let me expound on this.

If a person tells a supermodel that they are ugly, the supermodel doesn’t get offended, because the person that insulted them was laughable. They’re stating something that isn’t true. She is a supermodel and demonstrably not ugly in any way. It is only when the supermodel secretly AGREES with the person that insulted her that it bothers her. If she agrees with that person’s opinion then she is likely to become extremely upset and agitated.

I think, I really do, that these militant have-to-tear-down-all-male-goodness women are insecure harpies. They somehow deep down agree with the idea that women are less than men. That’s my theory.

I have never in my life encountered actual misogyny. Quite the opposite. I’ve enjoyed a great deal of benefit as a woman in the US, benefit not extended to my son or my husband. I have opportunities for government grants and scholarships for school and business. I have leniency given to me by the legal system. I’ve enjoyed preference given to my company. That’s personal benefit. And many women, if being honest, will admit to the same.

Might I suggest that if you’ve been treated badly perhaps you lack talent or are in some way unpleasant? I know it’s not fun to hear, but it does happen.

There is a documentary called The Red Pill  that explores misandry. I think anyone who wants to shout about feminism needs to watch it. I care because I have a son and grandsons. I quite appreciate them and don’t like their heroes being appropriated in some misguided political stunt. The Doctor provided a way for nerdy, unathletic boys to be men. He showed them how to do that. In a world of diminishing male heroes, that mattered. Now you’ve made him not really a man. We all lost.

Finally, none of us who write or paint or perform wish to be thought of as sell-outs. We want our art to at least have some semblance of purity. If the story called for it and if this wasn’t an obvious political issue then the gender of the Doctor wouldn’t be a problem. I think all of us would be able to celebrate if we were sure that this decision happened because the actor best for the job was female, and it was because of merit and story that the choice was made.

But no, Chris Chibnall has “always wanted to have a female Doctor.” The announcement specifically referenced feminism. The choice was born from an agenda. So it was poorly handled.

This choice was totally political and any other position is dishonest. This was on par with making the Doctor half-human. (Yes, that happened too.)  It was a mistake. I feel very sorry for Jodie.

Unfortunately, nothing but politics matters to those at the top now. It felt to many of us like a betrayal.

My Doctor would understand why I’m upset. But he died Sunday.







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2 thoughts on “The Usurping of Dr Who

  1. I agree with everything you said here, but I have also seen Dr Who (as a female) done right. I did not believe that it could be done before I saw it. Unfortunately the people who made it probably got their work deep sixed by the BBC.
    It was a fan project in the 1990s done by the same people who gave us “Star Trek : The Pepsi Generation”. Also probably deep sixed for copyright reasons. But they argued that the Doctor became female after he ran out of regenerations. It was a fluke and completely unexpected. They also took a completely apolitical approach… So the transition was charming and in some ways a comedy of errors. The actress even looked a bit like the current female doctor, only more alien somehow.
    This new incarnation only seems like a bad parody of what I remember. Such a shame.

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