Monday, 17 July 2017

Quick Post: Women can be Doctors too

So I've just finished the first episode of Season 7 of Game of Thrones and I have so many thoughts buzzing through my brain. Which is why I'm not trying to get an early night ahead of my 7 am start tomorrow morning. Instead I wanted to write a quick post in response to yesterday's announcement about the new Doctor Who as there has been so much controversy. Naturally, people have a lot of feelings on the matter... but that's hardly new. Every regeneration has had some amount of hatred. Even the amazing Peter Capaldi still has his doubters as I discovered today when a female coworker proudly proclaimed that she hated him. I really had to bite my tongue at that moment. Capaldi has suffered because of terrible writing but has done wonders with the character. His version of the Doctor is one of the best we've had in years but his stories haven't served him well enough. I have nothing against Matt Smith or David Tennant but Capaldi tried to do something different with the character and I will defend him to anyone. I imagine that the people who dislike him are also the same stupid people that fail to accept that Donna was the best companion. I reckon they're all fans of David Tennant and Billie Piper and just can't move on. Speaking of moving on...


After the men's finals as Wimbledon yesterday, the BBC annonced that Jodie Whittaker will take over from Peter Capaldi and become the next Doctor Who. Yes, the new Doctor is a woman and I'm pissed off. Why? Because I wanted to be the first female Doctor. But I'm not an actor and have never wanted to be so that's fucking crazy. So, putting those jealous feelings to one side, I've decided I'm okay with it... but I have some provisos. As a proud feminist, I'm all for better representation of women on television and better roles for women. As a fan of pop culture, I'm also all for making sure this happens organically and not for the sake of it. I understand why people are so excited that after 50 plus years the Doctor will be played by a women but I also worry about permanently tying the news to some sort of political benchmark. It should be about making sure the transition is handled correctly. Which is where I really worry.

In my opinion, Doctor Who has been steadily declining in quality since the fourth season. That's not to say before then was all stellar but it's undoubtedly gone to the dogs since Russell T's final episodes. I can barely remember anything about Matt Smith's first two series and the first two with Capaldi were abysmal. Moffat can crank out astonishing one-off episodes but, when it came to his time as showrunner, he's allowed a lot of shitty episodes to make their way on screen. If Jodie Whittaker's entrance is handled that same way Matt Smith or Peter Capaldi's were then we're in trouble because she'll fail to make an impression. If the switch is handled for laughs then it will play into the naysayers hands. Whittaker needs to be given a well-defined and new characterisation of this well-known character. It's going to be tricky.

But that doesn't mean I don't think it should happen. I love the idea of a female Doctor and I think Whittaker is a great actress. I'm remaining hopeful that this could be the best thing ever. Even now, as a 29 year old woman, I'm excited to see this character that I grew up watching is becoming someone I can relate to more. The image I have of Doctor Who from my childhood is Jon Pertwee's face. Doctor Who has always been a white haired, white skinned man. Maybe this is why the show didn't really stay with me as I grew up? Well, that and the fact that the older series were so rarely shown. When it came back in 2005 I watched it and loved it but it was always lacking. There was no really powerful female presence. I know people loved Rose but she didn't cut it for me. Especially when she started going ga-ga over Tennant. That's why Donna, so underrated, is my fave. She's a genuinely strong and independent female who shows real growth. We need a female Doctor who takes after Donna.

And we do need a female Doctor. The show gets a lot of views and has a young audience. It is right that we show young people that women can take roles like this. It's wonderful to see the reactions of young girls or parents who are rejoicing that their Doctor is a women. In the same way that we needed someone like Rey to be the hero of the new Star Wars films. It's important and is everything this show has been about. The Doctor has never been about a specific gender but more about the ethos that has stayed with every incarnation. It's about this good being who wants to explore and helps people along the way. The show has always been trying to encourage it's audience into taking an interest in science and the universe around them but it's always been a very traditional take on that world. The older male scientist and his sexy young assistant. It needed to be changed to reflect the real world.

And, no matter what the majority of angry fans are saying, there has always been room to make this work. The Doctor is an alien being who travels in time and changes his face every few years. If you can accept that but can't accept that he can change into a woman then you really are a narrow-minded fuckwit.

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