Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Gender is Over (If You Want It): Musings on the Reaction to the 13th Doctor

Look, she's already put together a better workshop than Peter Cushing ever had
Okay, listen motherfuckers, it's been a long time since I've done a blog post about something other than an episode, but the fandom is officially in crisis.  The news of the 13th Doctor has come out, and I couldn't be more ecstatic, and I'm ready to learn as much about her as I did about Peter Capaldi shortly after his announcement as Doctor.  It's such big, earth shattering news that people who do not watch or particularly care about (or for) Doctor Who are weighing in.  And what are they seeing when they look at our fandom?  Utter, blatant, vile misogyny, from period jokes, to jokes about women drivers, to the Sun putting out a disgustingly sexist editorial about how bad the decision was to pick a female Doctor, immediately followed be a collection of nude pictures of Jodie Whittaker from her movies.  I thought that was the kind of flagrant sexism that anybody would recognize, but when I posted about this on Facebook, and made the mistake of making it a public post, I got this advice on how I should properly react as a real feminist:

"A smart feminist here says 'so what, she's lovely and talented, now can we discuss something important'. I recommend you try that"

I don't know what's harder:  holding back the urge to vomit or holding back the urge to correct his grammar.  Apparently, according to this guy, the pictures are okay because they were taken with consent in the first place, and there's no way that consensually taken photographs can be recontextualized in a way that humiliates and degrades the person in those photographs.  Men who are not seeing this right now because you're men, this is the level of misogyny we're dealing with here.

Here's some examples of fucked up things author Aaron Gillies saw people writing on the Daily Mail website about just the (then, seemingly remote) possibility of a female Doctor shortly before the announcement:

I'm sure their mothers would be so proud of them.  You see, this announcement has brought out the worst MRA bullshit you could possibly imagine.  This is Ghostbusters to the 100th power.  This is still not about ethics in video game journalism.  And when it isn't vile sexism, it's just garden variety sexism like claiming the Doctor is a father figure and that means he can never change because only men are fathers, which is a wonderful way of saying "I don't love my mother" and "I have inappropriate thoughts about my father."  And is it true that I was once on the other side of this debate?  Yes.  But, I also once held the belief that I could only ever be male as well, and I have done a complete 180 on that as well.

Now the people on the anti-woman side are complaining that those of us in favor of the casting choice are being just as venomous as the anti crowd.  Here's the thing, a) no we're not and b) long hair, don't care.  I spent all day Sunday, and a good part of my time since, mocking the haters who are running around saying the sky is falling.  I'm not apologizing for one second of it because, you see, it's not like this is an argument between two rational point of view.  This is an argument between one side with a rational point of view, and the other side whose whole argument boils down to "Girls are icky!" And yes, I'm including all the self-hating women and my former self in the girls are icky crowd.

The anti-female Doctor crowd are mostly represented by people whose responses would put Milo Yinnapoulos to shame. And as a trans woman, I resent the implication that a man changing into a woman is the worst thing in the world. So I'm not sorry if my celebration of the Doctor somehow hurts your feelings. It shouldn't; get over it. I'm not sorry that you think that I'm gloating. I'm not sorry that I literally spent all day on Saturday mocking the haters. We don't live in a PC culture where all the liberals want to be coddled, we live in a sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic culture where those who are spewing the hate expect to be coddled with the mantra of "Everyone is entitled to their opinion." Yes, and I'm entitled to express my opinion that you should be ashamed of your opinion.

The future is all girl. The Doctor is a woman. Get over it. I'm done.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Original Me: An Overanalysis of "The Doctor Falls"

If you met yourself, as a different gender, would you not spend all your time fucking?
I know I'm in the minority in saying this but, despite thinking this was a good season (albeit not as good as Capaldi's other two seasons), I thought the two part finale was just so-so.  I mean, it's got some great moments, and the first two-Master episode is a certainly a prospect that I was excited to see, but "The Doctor Falls" set up a lot of expectations that it didn't deliver on.  The two Masters together were woefully underused, and I think there could have been a lot more fun interactions with those two.  Also, I expected this episode to explain the Master's motivation for turning Bill into a Cyberman, and the answer in the end seems to just be "to be a dick."  Frankly, I would rank this as the weakest Moffat finale, as even Moffat's disastrously weak 7th Season still ended strongly (even though I said it didn't at the time).

They keep calling this the origin of the Cybermen, which makes little sense because it's been well established that Mondasian Cybermen come from...well, Mondas, not a Mondasian colony ship.  Even if this isn't explicitly stated in their debut episode, "The Tenth Planet," it is in what is generally considered the best of the Doctor Who audio stories (which, remember, are canon) Spare Parts, in which the 5th Doctor visits Mondas just before the creation of the Cybermen to see their real origin.  Moffat tries to fix this in the dialogue by saying that the Cybermen start a lot of places, here, Mondas, Telos, Earth.  Okay, not only does that not explain the fact that these Mondasian Cybermen are identical to the ones in "The Tenth Planet."  Also, the Cybermen never started on Telos.  Telos is the planet that the Mondasian Cybermen moved to, displacing (or killing, I don't remember) the residents because their home planet of Mondas had been destroyed by their own stupidity.

And what does the Doctor accomplish with this episode, anyway?  He manages to leave Nardole behind to continue to help protect the people from the Cybermen for eternity.  Good luck with that Nardole, you useless lump.  But there's really no climactic scene in this episode.  There's a big, muddled scene of the Doctor battling the Cybermen (and the sonic screwdriver is used as a weapon, which is breaking a rule of Doctor Who) and the Doctor is basically killed and then he spits out a 1st Doctor quote that's based on a 4th Doctor quote, but nothing really feels like a climactic moment of the episode, and I think that's what I disliked about this episode the most.

I also didn't feel satisfied with the interactions between The Master and Missy interactions.  In "Day of the Doctor," I felt like Moffat hit all the right notes of everything I wanted 10 and 11 to say to each other.  I didn't get that from the Master and Missy.  I did love the Doctor's speech to them to stand with him, and that, at the end, Missy tries to but the two Masters kill each other.  But I didn't get why the Master was so opposed to standing with the Doctor.  The last we saw the Saxon Master, he was standing with the Doctor against Rassilon.  And then he got sucked into the time lock and cured of being Skeletor (which seems unlikely, but okay) and this is him after the events of "The End of Time."  So why has his tune changed so much?  Missy's right in "The Magician's Apprentice," the Doctor and the Master have always been as much friends as enemies, and the Saxon Master is no exception.  There were plenty of moments where he and the 10th Doctor had a mutual respect and admiration for each other.  Where'd all that go?

I thought it was a shame that the Doctor never explained the concept of regeneration to Bill (even though he demonstrated it to her) so she just leaves him not knowing she could stick around and wait for him to regenerate.  Although, she does repeat the Doctor's line about it being a big universe and hoping she'll run into him again.  And I've been having the same argument about this episode that I had about "Time of the Doctor":  Heather showing up is not a deus ex machina.  Something that was set up previously cannot, by definition, be a deus ex machina.  It's just another one of Moffat's methods for killing off a character but not really killing them off (but really killing them off).

The Doctor then wakes up and starts babbling phrases from other Doctors before him, and people are already complaining about this Doctor not wanting to regenerate and it being like 10's big whiny speech about not wanting to go at the end of "The End of Time."  But that's not a fair comparison.  My problem with 10's speech was that a man was about to die if the Doctor didn't spend a regeneration.  That's not happening this time.  Very.  Big.  Difference.

Me every morning before work.

And then the 12th Doctor runs into the 1st Doctor (played by a new actor, of course, because Billy Hearts is long dead) and the 1st Doctor repeats the same 1st Doctor line that the 12th Doctor said earlier.  Moffat couldn't leave us without lying one more time, because he said like 6 months ago that there would be no more multi-Doctor episodes, and he's clearly just set us up for a 12th Doctor/1st Doctor Christmas Special.  It looks like a lot of fun.  But I have to say, what right does the 1st Doctor have to be criticizing the 12th Doctor about not wanting to regenerate.  He's the 1st Doctor.  He hasn't regenerated yet.  As old as he may look, he's a child compared to 12.  He should shut the hell up.

Well, that's it.  My last blog entry for Moffat's final season.  I put together Julie's Punk Rock Doctor Who Playlist Season 10 of songs that represent season 10 for me, partially based on my blog titles, partially based on what I would have titled the blogs I skipped, and a little editing to make sure no band gets used twice.  I can't throw up a link to it like last season because I'm on Apple Music, not Spotify, now and I don't know how to do that, so I'll just write it out.  Feel free to put it together on your device and play along with me:

1.  The Pilot - Drown With the Monster by White Lung
2.  Smile - Smile Smile Smile by The Dollyrots
3.  Thin Ice - The Unseen Tears of the Albacore by The Vandals
4.  Knock Knock - Safe European Homes by The Clash
5.  Oxygen - For Your Lungs Only by Alkaline Trio
6.  Extremis - Bad Catholics by The Menzingers
7.  The Pyramid at the End of the World - Pyramid Scheme by Mad Caddies
8.  Lie of the Land - Die for Your Government by Anti-Flag
9.  The Empress of Mars - God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols
10. Eaters of Light - All My Best Friends Are Metalheads by Less Than Jake
11. World Enough and Time - Hospital for Heroes by Direct Hit!
12. The Doctor Falls - Original Me by ALL

That's it until Christmas, where I'm going to be really sad because we're not just saying goodbye to a great Doctor, we're saying goodbye to the best showrunner Doctor Who has ever had.  Fuck the haters.  Until next time:

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hospital for Heroes: An Overanalysis of "World Enough and Time"

Nice job bringing back the original design, Moffat, but somebody forgot about the crotch flashlights
I've missed a whole chunk of the season on this blog, including what I call The Pyramid Trilogy, one of the weakest Moffat episodes in a while, a mediocre Gatiss episode, and the first episode of the new series to be written by a classic series writer, "The Eaters of Light."  Overall, the season has been pretty good.  Not as good as the other two seasons of the Capaldi era, but both of those seasons were just extraordinary.  Oh, and I guessed a major plot point.  I guessed, not only that Missy was in the vault, but that she was in there because the Doctor promised he would guard her if she was spared from execution.  The only thing I guessed wrong was that I guessed it was the Time Lords trying to execute her, but other than that I think I was pretty dead on with that.  Now, onto this week's episode.

I feel like I'm the only one with mixed feelings about this episode.  Not saying it wasn't better than an everyday old throw away like "The Eaters of Light," it was definitely a good episode, but I didn't get the thrill out of it that I thought I could have.  I largely blame this on the BBC announcing the episode's big surprises months ago.  Sure, if they hadn't said that the original Tenth Planet Cybermen were coming back, I would have guessed it halfway through.  It was hard to miss that design.  But they not only announced, before the season started, that John Simm would be returning as the Master, they made sure to tell us that it would be in this damn episode.  So I'm a little surprised to find that some people didn't see what was coming when John Simm removed his disguise.  That was a bit obvious to me.  I'm like "Well, I'm looking for John Simm to show up in this episode, this guy is vaguely the same height and weight as John Simm, sounds kind of like John Simm, and the Master did love disguises like this in the classic series.  That's probably John Simm in a bunch of makeup."  Sure enough, it came out that Brian Minchin wanted a twist pulled straight out of the classic series, and John Simm pulled off the dupe as well as Anthony Ainley ever did.  But Ainley used to have his name taken out of the credits sometimes to avoid spoiling the surprise.  The BBC made it blatantly obvious that this guy was John Simm, and if they hadn't made announcements about him, I never, ever would have guessed what was happening.

If you notice, in one scene where the Saxon Master is still in disguise, the music in the background is the same used in some of John Simm's other scenes as the Master during the 10th Doctor era.

I'm so glad that when they brought back the Tenth Planet Cybermen, they kept their bizarre speech patterns, because that's what I loved most about those Cybermen.  It's creepier than any Cybermen that have come since.  It also underscores the creepiness of Bill's death in the final scene as a twisted robotic voice informs the Doctor of who she is.  I think Bill is pretty clearly dead at this point, as there's never been anyone in any episode, or even any expanded universe materials, who has become a fully converted Cyberman and was brought back to human.  But of course, Moffat likes to kill off characters, but then give them some sort of weird, extended life like River being saved in the library and Clara having a TARDIS and some adventures with Me before she actually returns to her moment of death, and I imagine Bill will get something like that. Perhaps that's where Heather, the girl from "The Pilot," will come back in "The Doctor Falls," as everything in "The Pilot" pointed to the Cybermen being involved, and pointed towards her coming back, and we're running out of time for her to come back.

Some people I've been talking to have been saying that the Doctor has little connection to Bill and doesn't really care about her, and that he might have sacrificed her in a larger scheme to save Missy's soul.  I find this theory extremely suspect because I think we've seen plenty of signs this season that the Doctor cares about Bill.  I think he's going to be really torn up about Bill, seeing as how he lost Clara and River Song.  Moffat is getting pretty kill happy in that he's killed off two companions in a row, whereas there had only been one long-term companion before the Moffat era to die while traveling with the Doctor.  The 12th Doctor is officially the worst babysitter of any of the Doctors.

Why the hell is the Doctor regenerating at the beginning of the episode?  Obviously it takes pace at some point in the future.  The Doctor's hair is a lot longer than it is in the rest of the episode, suggesting it's very far off in the future for him.  But is this from the end of "The Doctor Falls"?  I think "World Enough and Time," "The Doctor Falls," and the Christmas special are all going to be a three part episode, and either that regeneration scene from the beginning of "World Enough and Time" won't actually come to pass until the end of the Christmas special, or else he's going to somehow begin regeneration in "The Doctor Falls," but not fully complete his regeneration until the end of the Christmas special, which has already been confirmed to be Capaldi's last episode.  That or it's all a fake out; this is the second time we've seen him "regenerate" this season, after all.

There's this one scene in the trailer from next week with the Doctor, the Master, and Missy all standing together on a clifftop pointing their screwdrivers (or in Missy's case, an umbrella) at the same target, which gives me hope that maybe the Doctor brings out the good in both of them, not just Missy.  It occurred to me that Moffat writes Missy more like an antihero than a true villain, and I wonder if this finale is actually going to end with Missy's redemption and transformation into full-on good guy...who's still an antihero.  Someone will inevitably reboot it in the past, because the Master is too good a villain to waste on redemption, but it would still be a great ending for the time being.

Well, we'll see today as we brace for Moffat's final season finale as showrunner.  I think this one could be a real doozy.  Until then: