HIGHLY CONTROVERSIAL OPINION HERE: YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
With the recent reveal of the new regeneration on Doctor Who, I have had a difficult time. I cannot escape posts and tweets about it and resisting the urge to respond is something I have not yet accomplished. Here are most of my thoughts, compiled from many of my Facebook and Twitter posts/responses.
I am SO against this choice, that I REFUSE to put an image on this blog post. For those that disagree, you may hate me when reading it. Do know that I put a lot of thought into this and that I am not sexist (that would be self-destructive), just a traditionalist, and there are many things on which we CAN agree, if you stick through and read the entire thing. Here it is:
This whole gender-switching crap (and it is crap) is a NEW thing that Mr. “Agenda” Moffatt has been grooming fans for but DOES NOT EXIST in the remaining 45ish years of canon on a long-standing, established character. Why is it ok to ignore that?! (It’s not)
Moffat is a mediocre writer and AWFUL show-runner who has been dismantling the mythology of this beloved character ever since he took the helm. The ONLY canon change I can forgive him for is granting Matt Smith’s Doctor another set of regenerations. Without it, there would be no show after he left. (It’s dead to me now, anyway, but we wouldn’t have had amazing Capaldi.) Although it’s not a surprise the show went this direction (it may not have been his choice but it’s his agenda and he’s been paving this for years) it’s a poor choice for this show.
Gallifreyens (the Doctor’s species), although they regenerate & can change appearance, are like every other species – born male or female. And though their appearance changes, the biology stays the same. Romana was a Time Lady, not a Time Lord who chose female. And she regenerated within the same gender. (off screen and by choice, so the 70s apparently did not require “death” to start the process) If they can’t change the fact that they have two hearts, they should not, logically, be able to add/remove other organs. I didn’t like it when it happened to the general, but that wasn’t a character that mattered. Missy bothered me more but again, major villain but minor character. (Didn’t show up until the 70s). If Gallifreyans historically switched it up, I really wouldn’t care. But they don’t. This was too much AND to put the cherry on top she’s (Jodi Whittaker) not a great actress. I’ve see her in several things and she plays it all the same.
Worse? Anyone with this opinion automatically becomes a sexist misogynist, and that is untrue and unfair. My reaction to this has nothing to do with the gender specifically and everything to do with crap storytelling and a blatant disregard for what has been established.
I’m all for a strong female lead, especially in science fiction (which this show no longer is for many reasons with the gender change but one example) but wedging them into existing shows is not the way to go. They need their own – and lots of them, especially in science fiction where there are so few. BUT THEY NEED GREAT WRITING AND CASTING TO SUPPORT THEM, something that (most of) the attempts to do this have failed. The fight for equality will not be won by hijacking what is already established and beloved. We are not going to win over any men (or even some women) by stealing their stuff, any more than boys could win over girls in grade school by pulling their pig tails.
DW has come a long way in opening minds – heck, they were one of the first to do away with the damsel in distress (thank you Sara Jane, Leela, Romana 1, the Rani, and others). But they did it by working it into the storyline and obeying their own established rules. Even fiction needs boundaries. They can be crazy unrealistic ones but they have to exist and BE CONSISTENT.
And like it or not, she WILL be judged more than any other regen and not just from two angles (the change itself and the gender) – she will also take the hit for any poor writing and directing. We already know they cannot write or direct a strong woman lead. Most of Rose’s run was passable, but that was lead by RTD. Look at poor Martha, all but Amy’s last couple of episodes, and the entire Clara saga. Bill was the strongest and best written female companion in ages, with the strongest dynamic seen with the Doctor since Sara Jane (or maybe Leela), and now she’s a robot.
And on the subject of writing…any time we have a female antagonist it’ll just be a good ol’ cat fight, although I think we’ve progressed beyond the mud…
She will also take the blame when the show tanks – even for reasons that may not be her fault – and it will be as a representative for all women. And thus a woman will be blamed for ruining an awesome show and the longest running SF show in history. This, in turn, will make it more difficult to cast/write a female lead in future similar projects. It’ll be the “New Coke” debacle of the SF world.
I wish it didn’t matter, I really do, but it DOES. (For the show AND society.) Gender is a major contributor in dynamics, so the entire show dynamic will change. For 50+ years, the Doctor’s sexuality did not matter (even with Rose & River and the woman in 1996, though putting him in relationships is also a poor choice), now it does. And while a take-charge male is seen positively, a strong a leader. A take-charge woman? Well, she’s a b$&@*. I hate that society views it this way, but they do. And all of that is bad for the show. The show won’t change society’s view on this but instead will prove their point.
I’m also tired of being preached at constantly and having agendas forced on me. The writers, show-runners, and directors have been bad enough, but in recent years, the actors on this show have been allowed some input, and I know JW’s leanings, and I’m not sure I can handle that week after week while watching something that was once an entertaining escape for me.
Gender changes everything. In the case of this show, it’s not for the better. Call it pandering. Call it jumping the shark. All that matters is that the death toll has been rung for a show that has been deteriorating swiftly in the last few years. I AM a true fan and will happily rewatch episodes before my franchise failed me. Before it stopped being a true fan of itself.