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Doctor Straight White Male

In: Film and Music

Submitted By JoyIngle
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Doctor Straight White Male

It is highly unlikely that you have never watched an episode of Doctor Who. It’s just part of being British, along with tea, sarcasm and aggressively insisting that you’re ‘fine’ even if your legs have just blown off.

You either grow out of Doctor Who, or become an avid fan – there is no in-between. However, recently more and more fans have been switching off on a Saturday night, for one main reason – Steven Moffat. The showrunner has created some kind of Doctor Who formula, which is becoming increasingly over used, resulting in confusing story arcs and predictable characters, causing viewers to be bored and repelled by the show due to sexist undertones and lack of diversity.

In the early days of the show, the female companions were there to look pretty, to attract the male gaze, but the 2005 reboot saw the Doctor’s companion’s become just as important, with just as much screen time and character development, causing many of these companions to be seen as role models for young girls, and rightly so. Rose Tyler, Martha Jones and Donna Noble, all proving that women are capable of anything despite their background, but now the characters are being recycled, and development is being lost inside complex story arcs. It is a shame, as there was so much potential in both Amy Pond and Clara Oswald. Moffat sees their positive traits as their ‘feistiness’ and ‘sexiness’ and admits that those features in Karen Gillan swayed his judgment – ‘’I saw Karen walking on the corridor towards me and I realised she was 5'11, slim and gorgeous and I thought 'Oh, oh that'll probably work.'"

Both Pond and Oswald’s marital statuses became character traits, they both flirted extensively with the Doctor (Moffat said that companions would have to ‘have a crush on the Doctor ‘) and the once very progressive and independent Amy Pond, was dulled down, her whole arc in season six revolving round her reproductive system. It’s not a problem that the characters fall in love, it’s a natural human thing to do, but for Moffat’s women it is all that matters to them, they have no clear goals and their life seems to revolve around the Doctor. Rose, Martha and Donna had families and goals – Martha left the Doctor when she realized that her love for him was ruining her life and became a doctor, whereas Amy had no life beyond the Doctor.

I cannot write about Moffat’s portrayal of women without mentioning River Song. When I first saw her in season four, I thought she was brilliant. An archeologist, a leader, full of wit and intelligence. But when she became a recurring character, Moffat took this wonderful character and essentially took a massive dump on her. Her whole existence revolves around the Doctor, she doesn’t have an interest in archeology, and she just uses it as way to track down the Doctor. Moffat just seems oblivious to the fact that women that aren’t conventionally pretty, white, and man-orientated exist.

(Season Eight’s promo photo compared to the Season Two promo)

Just take a look at the promo photo for the latest season. Take it all in. The bent leg, the coy, dreamy look into the distance, the Henry VIII stance. Now compare it to the promos for Season two, which show the Doctor and Rose both looking directly into the camera, on an equal footing, both as involved with the show. Moffat presented the characters as tropes before the season even aired. From this photo we see that, to him, the Doctor is a MAN. Look at him with that MANLY stance. He is the MAN IN CHARGE, while Clara looks like she has no idea what’s going on and is not an equally important character and so is hiding in the background while the Doctor marches around being a MAN. The point is that women are being hugely misrepresented in the show, and that’s unfortunately true for film and television as a whole. Last year, women only made up 43% of speaking characters in TV, with only 22% not being white. Women of colour are incredibly misrepresented, which is a glaring fault in our entertainment system if what they’re trying to do is accurately portray real life. I have a colour TV but all I see are white people. In film, only 3% of female major characters were Asian, the same amount as alien female characters. You were just as likely to see an alien, something that doesn’t exist, as you were to see someone of an ethnicity that makes up 60% of the world’s population. This lack of diversity is actually very harmful, especially to children of colour, who will grow up seeing white people succeed again and again, with no mention of people of colour.

It is a shame to see such a loved show slipping backwards in a time when diversity and liberation are becoming more of a concern in many people’s minds (although governments in the English-speaking world are doing very little in the cause). It’s such a real problem and Moffat needs to stop acting like he’s God, get off his high horse and do something about it.

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