Seriously guys? We’re doing this again?
Ok, background first. So the BBC announced that the new Doctor Who will be played by actor Jodie Whittaker, who happens to be a human woman. For people who don’t know, Doctor Who is a long-running sci-fi, adventure TV show about a time travelling space alien that transforms into a new body every time the previous actor’s contract runs out. So far, all the actors to play the role have had a few things in common – the Britishness of their accents, the pasty whiteness of their skin, and dicks. Basically, it’s been a conga line of crumpets, whiteness and dicks floating around in space.
A mild spanner has been thrown into this happy tradition by Whittaker, who, while she definitely checks the first two boxes, is, according to all accounts, a vagina-haver. This has caused a backlash, because OF COURSE this has caused a backlash. Various categories of whiny man babies have crawled out of their internet hidey holes in defense of dicks, and the contribution of dicks to the vast and deep Doctor Who mythos.
“This is PC culture gone wild!” thunders someone on Facebook. “What next, a female Bond?” laments another on Twitter (would totally watch a female Bond BTW). “9 innovative strategies to polish your resume.” posts someone on LinkedIn. Ok, so it’s not happening on EVERY platform, but it’s close. And like every single time, I am mystified by this phenomena.
Let me clarify that I am a stereotypical fat neckbeard. I watch pro wrestling, play video games, spend a large chunk of my disposable income on books with colourful pictures on them and overall, refuse to grow up and split logs or whatever it is that real men do. However, I am a fan. A very excitable, passionate fan. Always have been. I remember when I first read that robin would appear in a Batman movie. I went to every single family member screaming and squealing with joy, leaving my septuagenarian grandmother absolutely mystified as to why I was so excited about birds. Point is, as a fan, the ONLY thing that matters, other than consuming the media I enjoy, is talking and sharing and geeking out over the stuff I like with other fans.
Change is good, guys. Change brings in new ideas, new concepts, new things to be fans of. Remember when Batman changed from a portly man in a blue costume to an ass kicking granddad in a metal suit? Remember how awesome it was? Or when Captain “Fuck-everything-you-see-and-sort-out-STDs-later” Kirk was succeeded by Captain “Uncomfortably-hot-dad” Picard? That’s why we are fans of legacy characters and stories that are so prevalent in comic books and long-running TV shows and movie franchises – their sheer potential and how different creators and actors and ideas shape and mold them. Yes, the core of those characters should remain, but is the core of Doctor Who really just…dicks?
And yet, these brave dick-defenders rail and scream and gnash and moan just because Thor’s luscious locks now adorn a female head rather than a male. They ignore the revitalized storytelling opportunities that this represents and automatically start blaming “PC culture” and “SJWs” and “pandering”. Pandering? Seriously guys? If your time travelling, ageless, genderless, alien time lord finally occupying the shape of a woman is pandering, then occupying the shape of a man was pandering 14 times over! It’s time to pander a little to the other side, you know. If telling stories from their perspective is pandering, bring it fucking on. It just makes for more fun, more interesting, and more different stories.
So no. You’re either lying or you’re so incredibly stupid that it has to be some kind of radiation poisoning because it sure as hell isn’t natural. Because your argument makes no sense whatsoever. You cannot claim to be a “fan” of a character that champions inclusivity, selflessness and social fucking justice and yet pick “dicks” as the bulge you want to die on. If you do, you were never fans anyway, or, you simply hate women, and their representation.
Oh, you don’t hate women in the whole “burn the witches” kind of way. At least, I hope not. But you hate them so much that you don’t want to see them as anything other than window dressing. You don’t want to see them take charge. You don’t want to see them take the lead. And it fucking terrifies you to see them order a man around, or tell him what to do. It just shatters your worldview. And to assuage your fear and confusion, you tell yourself and others in your little echo chamber that it’s all PC culture, SJW and what have you. You are so scared that “Justice” is a bad word to you. Batman would be ashamed of you.
Here’s the truth. It IS pandering. You know why? Because that’s what companies do. They pander to the people who will give them the most money. That’s why, for hundreds of years, they pandered to straight white men. Because those were largely the only ones with money.
But it’s changing, isn’t it? Brands are now realizing that women and POC and all the other marginalised people ALSO have money. And unlike you guys, brands don’t hate them. It doesn’t make a difference to them, because dollars are dollars, and so, slowly but surely, the echo chamber is shrinking, and it terrifies you. So you lash out at fiction forgetting that it is only a reflection of the real world around you. Or maybe you do understand that, but lashing out at the real world is just not an option. Because it would force you to crawl out of your internet anonymity, your murky little digital clubhouses of false bravado, and stand there in the sun, blinking, with all the world to see and judge YOU, and not just the fake online avatar you built to feel better about yourself.
And then where would you be?
**If you think I am overreacting, take a gander at just some of the social media posts accompanying the announcement