I wasn’t originally going to bring this subject back up until next year upon watching Jodie Whittaker‘s first episode, thus giving an honest final verdict on the whole argument based on Whittaker’s performance and the writing. However, a lot of shit has gone down since my first article and it is because of this that I feel I need to express myself one last time in order to establish some sort of stability within this heated debate, and perhaps finally shed some light onto the ins-and-outs of why I feel this radical change has brought more harm than good.
As the title suggests I wish to talk about why I can’t FULLY get on-board with this whole idea. I have been jumping backwards and forwards with acceptance, and how much I am willing to do so for the sake of my love for Doctor Who, and above all, my sanity. It’s affected me a lot this past month, causing me all kinds of stress and emotional outbursts (not helped by the fact that I’m going through some personal issues at the moment revolving around mental health).
But, for the most part I have come to accept this radical change as REALITY, and I am willing to give it a fair chance. That doesn’t mean that I have thrown away my beliefs and jumped to the other side, far from it. I am simply doing this for my own personal good, and to show that I am a better person for doing so.
I guess this can be identified as the first major reason why I don’t wish to jump on the bandwagon completely because I don’t want to sell my opinion down the river. I want to remain an individual, filled with my own opinions and views about the world around me, and this means I’m not about to give-up years of rationalised thoughts just because the majority wish me to do so.
So it’s a case of principle. It’s about remaining true to myself. I won’t go into any more detail as to why I believe The Doctor shouldn’t have been turned female, I’ve spent two articles doing so. That’s not what this article is for. But, I have a lot of clear, and justified, reasons for wanting the show to follow the tradition that it has happily followed for the last 54 years and I don’t want these views to be altered or misguided so that they share the same opinions as those who want the change to happen.
Another clear reasoning to my hesitation towards this whole debate is the way it has been brought about. Now, I have mentioned on multiple occasions that I’m not a big fan of change. It affects me in different ways, resulting in emotional episodes beyond my control (to which I need time to calm down and rationalise my thoughts). The same can be applied to this entire situation. I didn’t want the change to happen. I had very clear reasons why and believed these ideas made a lot of sense, thus having some clear backing that surely meant that I knew what I was talking about.
So when the change happened, and I felt that my rationality meant nothing anymore, it made me feel quite small as a person, that my opinions had no purpose in this world of irrationality. It isn’t made much better when the implications of the change were led mostly by the cruel means of “political correctness” and over-enthusiastic people pinning for “equality”, forcing ideas upon a show that didn’t even warrant any form of change because it didn’t breach anyone’s rights as a person. Doctor Who has always been fairly innocent with its ideas and structure, so to suddenly have it change for backwards reasoning made me really angry and depressed (and it still does).
But, I’ve had time to rationalise my thoughts, given myself time to breath, and thus have come to accept the change enough to deal with it. Though that doesn’t mean that my anger towards the change has gone away, merely controlled so that I can be more open-minded for the purposes of being a better critic. Heck, I’m not going to lie, despite my anger towards the change I felt that The Sun and The Mail‘s attacks on Whittaker in a sexualised manner was completely uncalled for. And it was (without a doubt) sexist. David Tennant wasn’t panned for appearing in the sexually-orientated Casanova prior to his Doctor Who commitments. So why was Whittaker being penalised?
I suppose this comes down to the fact that my problem with the radical change was never down to the fact of, “A woman could never perform such a role [because she’s a woman],” but rather that I was thinking about the structure of Doctor Who itself and the characterisation of The Doctor. It’s not about who plays The Doctor but rather what is best for his character, and how the show’s 54 years onscreen has defined his character and how all that history helps us to recognise who he is today. Looking at it like that (a massive character study if you will) then that is the basis for a lot of my opinions on why the change just doesn’t have much justification.
This brings me onto the simple fact that Steven Moffat has forced all of this into the canon. Now, I am well aware that it is the job of the show-runner to help redefine the show, help it move forward with ideas and approaches, even helping with re-establishing the mythology. But, this doesn’t give him the right to let his ego control his decisions, thus pushing ideas that only further his own personal agenda. If his approach was pure, and it helped benefit the show, then yeah, I probably would’ve been eased into this transition, to the point when Whittaker was announced as The Thirteenth Doctor I would’ve been totally prepared for it (and more accepting).
But I wasn’t. None of what Moffat did reassured me but rather reminded me why I felt the idea wouldn’t work and bring hindrance to the show and The Doctor’s character. His radical change to The Master was most of the problem. The fact he just randomly (out of the blue) changed The Master’s gender made me feel unclean, to the point where my trust was severely damaged. And I will admit that I tried really hard to accept Michelle Gomez as The Master but no matter how much I tried telling myself, “She’s The Master,” I kept feeling doubts.
She wasn’t The Master. Moffat changed the character too much in order to accommodate the fact that The Master was now female, making the whole change feel like a massive gimmick, or joke, to the point where The Master’s character was tarnished. This was made more apparent when John Simm returned and upon looking at the two characters standing next to each other onscreen it made the massive differences in personality all the more apparent. It wasn’t about genders but about the writing, and this is the important step towards making this radical change work or flop.
Plus, Moffat’s constant teases, jabs, and clearly forceful dialogue throughout Series 10 only further ticked me off. It just wasn’t done with much taste in mind. It constantly felt awkward, or irritating, just to make himself look impressive, when he should’ve been more bothered about making the idea fit within the canon properly instead of trying to make a political statement or a new renowned gimmick. The best example of this was The General. His forced regeneration in “Hell Bent” established everything I hated about Moffat’s approach as he went about to tick all the boxes in order to force the radical changes into play, thus showing a Time Lord can change both gender and race.
My final reason for not wanting to join the other side of the argument is because of the people. I touched upon this in my last article and this viewpoint hasn’t changed one bit. In fact, with everything that has been going on since that article was published I’m more inclined to say that this is my main reason for not becoming a sell-out. The majority of the people that want a Female Doctor don’t have much respect or understanding. They judge people like me and fail to understand my side of the argument, quickly resorting to childish methods of fighting back like name-calling or simply lashing out with aggression.
The vicious nature of these people is enough to make me give-up on society. They sound like tantrum toddlers demanding to get their own way and won’t shut-up until they succeed. And now they have succeeded they feel they hold the moral high-ground, thus their egos have gotten even bigger, to the point where they naturally believe their opinions are the only opinions. Any opinions that challenge theirs are instantly attacked and judged. I mean for fuck-sake Peter Davison got attacked. He actually PLAYED The Doctor and yet even he’s not allowed to state his opinion, despite being very justified and friendly with his views.
Heck, he didn’t even criticise Whittaker’s casting and wished her all the best, but nope, he still got attacked and the result was he felt he couldn’t remain on Twitter anymore. Some might call him a coward, or that it furthers his guilt, but these are clearly bullshit statements. Like myself, Davison had simply had enough, grown tired of constantly trying to explain himself against people who are clearly obnoxious and insensitive. It pissed me off even more that Colin Baker (another actor to PLAY The Doctor) took a jab at Davison, calling his opinions “rubbish”. What right does he have to say that? Honestly?
And there’s Moffat calling us “tiny mad people”, which again, feels rather disrespectful. But the worst one I found was the moderator for Doctor Who‘s panel at San Diego Comic-Con (Chris Hardwick) who stated that anyone who was complaining about the radical change were “arseholes” and “weren’t true fans of the show”. Do I really need to go on and explain how unfair this whole situation is to people like me?
I’m done with all these insensitive pricks. I really am. It makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong, especially when I’m potentially being branded a sexist, or that I’m not even a real fan of the show that I’ve loved and followed faithfully since I was about 3 years-old. Whilst the other side of the argument remains like this I will never fully agree to this change.
I don’t want to give them any kind of satisfaction. Plus, I still believe that the reason behind their lashing-out is due to the simple fact that they never had any clear justification for the radical change in the first place. And they still don’t. Or at the very least I haven’t heard a genuine, respectful, thought-out answer. All I hear is reasoning backed-up by “political correctness” and “equality” which hold no real backing. They’re just excuses to try and claim a moral high-ground when in reality they just make these people look like bigger tools who think they look big because they’re thrashing around mighty words.
All I will say is I am happy for Whittaker. I’m glad that she is excited for the role and I really do wish her the best of luck. She really needs it because she’s got a lot of pressure riding on her shoulders. I don’t particularly want this idea to succeed because I don’t necessarily want to be proven wrong, nor do I want these insensitive arseholes to get a bigger ego, but at the very least I hope it works within the context it needs to, thus allowing the show to move forward in the best way possible.
I want Chris Chibnall to utilise this idea wisely. Not make it a gimmick. Not make it a joke. Not make a political statement. But be a fully realised idea in order to make the most of it. We don’t need any more bad writing infecting the stories’ quality and the actors’ capabilities. Allow Whittaker to shine, allow her to become her own incarnation of The Doctor without her gender becoming a major eye-sight that takes over the entire structure, thus both changing the character and making this change an event rather than a clear progressive move.
If I tune into Series 11 next year and see Whittaker play The Doctor (the same character I’ve grown to love for nearly 25 years) then I’ll be satisfied enough to play along and see how this radical change progresses further. That is the least I can do.
All I ask in return is for these people to stop being insensitive and just learn some respect and to know when somebody is being a twat, i.e. being whiney for the sake of moaning or being outright sexist, and when somebody is genuinely being polite and honest with their opinions, and that those opinions have innocent backings. Understand where we’re coming from. And in return share with me why you think this radical change will evolve The Doctor’s character.