Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Attack the Blockheads: The Doctor Is a Woman, Deal With It

Jodie Whittaker debuts as 13 in the announcement video.

It's as simple as this: the "the character must be a man" argument is invalid. The Corsair, the General, the Master/Missy all prove canon allows it. Time Lords can change gender and skin pigmentation during regeneration, exactly as you'd expect given their hair color, eye color, apparent age, etc., can all change. (We'll come back to skin pigmentation in a bit ...)  There is absolutely no canonical, in-universe reason the character we know as the Doctor can't be female. The argument that the Doctor must be a man, when made despite these clear examples, reveals itself to be no more than: "I can only accept the character as male." You don't have to like it. But, I'm afraid you do have to accept that you can't argue against it except to argue that your feelings on the matter should trump the decisions of the shows producers. Which, of course, is patently ridiculous.

If you can't accept a female Doctor, then see you, wouldn't want to be you. I'm sure the feeling is mutual and we can agree to disagree without speaking to each other about the matter again. But what that means is if you go on twitter or the fan group on facebook to continue making the bad argument, the rest of us don't have to humor you.

Nobody's saying you have to like the casting, or even that you aren't entitled to your opinion based on your feelings about the whole thing. Only that you need to recognize an opinion isn't an argument, and doesn't warrant being treated like one. When you've got a reactionary opinion, you should expect to mocked and/or blocked for it.

There's an argument that the decision is bad because the show's ratings are down, and the controversy will drive away more fans than it will draw back or retain, and this could kill the show. That's a lousy argument as well. For one, we won't know until next season starts how the ratings will be impacted. Even when we get the overnights for the first episode, we'll need to see how the new writers do, and what impact the new production team has on the show overall, as well as how well Whittaker does in the role; it's only the combination of all those factors, plus other factors (what the show is up against on other networks, for example) that will drive the ratings. It's far more likely, IMO, the first episode will get higher ratings because of all the attention the casting has received ... how much of that initial bump can be retained once the novelty wears off will be interesting to see. Without the data, arguing that "change is too risky" with regard to this show in particular looks disingenuous. Leaning on this argument signals that you're concern trolling to mask the fact you're actually making a case for your He-Man Woman Hating Club position. All the indications I've seen are that there's skepticism about Chibnall, and had he cast another white dude, it would've only endeared him to reactionaries, while giving fans looking for the show to stop emulating the post-Jackie Robinson Red Sox (famously and shamefully the last MLB team to field an African-American player) even more reason to de-prioritize watching.

I hope to see more public support from past Doctors and companions ... Sylvester, Billie, Freema, Karen, Arthur, Janet Fielding, and others have shown their support. Hoping to see a new video message from Tom Baker, something from McGann, Eccleston, Tennant, and Smith.

I've been watching with interest how Six has outclassed Five by a wide margin since the announcement. What's with Davison saying give the frightened a coddle first thing, anyways? That's your first reaction, before congratulating the new Doctor? Harumph. I've always liked Davison, never saw or heard anything that made me think he might be a jerk, but this hasn't sat well with me ...

I didn't make it to Raleigh's Con this past weekend, but there's video of the Alex "River Song" Kingston getting the news ... and it's priceless:

A little more intersectionality might've been in order, the Doctor is *still* white. Let's hope that's also addressed in the next regeneration. We don't know yet how they'll handle her sexuality, it's been a little fluid the last several years, but it remains to be seen if she'll have any, for starters, and how much of whatever type it turns out to be.

Some more tweets that caught my eye getting appended below:
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