This is a long and difficult post. However, I really need to get this off my chest.
A friend of mine and I had a good conversation a while back. It was about gender/race swapping comic book characters. He, as a black man, had some pretty good insights on the subject. Honestly, he’s one of the smartest geeks I know. He will beat you in quite a lot of comic book trivia. But ultimately his opinion boiled down to a simple truth;
If it doesn’t define the character, it doesn’t matter.
I’d never thought of it that way, but he’s right. That is a definitive truth that, in this day and age, should really be adopted by all of us. The original Captain America/Steve Rogers could not have been a black guy. The 1950’s America was still terribly racist and their poster boy would be nothing else. Just like there’s no way that Luke Cage could be anything but a black guy. Sorry to tell you, but Iron Fist kind of has to be a white guy, read the comics.
On the other hand, Batman does not have to be white. Wonder Woman probably should not be white. Aquaman, doesn’t matter. Spider-Man? I frakkin’ LOVE Spider-Man. I love Peter, I love Miles too, and I cannot remember in which specific issue it was said, but it WAS said that it didn’t matter who was donning the Spider-Mantle as long as their heart was right. That’s true. The best part of Spider-Man is his heart. That’s the best part of any hero, it has nothing what-so-ever to do with the color of their skin, or what’s between their legs, or what gods they do or do not worship. What matters is that when the chips are down, they’ll do what is right and sacrifice everything to save the day.
I mean, I’m your average hetero (questionably so, granted, haha) white guy, and I grew up in a series of melting pots, so of course I recognize the issues with sexuality and race, (yeah, this is a tricky and difficult subject, especially in this day and age, but for crap’s sake, I’m trying to say something positive here, so I’m going to straight up tell you I will not suffer any turd-comments from people, so cut me a break and if you can’t say anything nice or constructive, keep it to yourself) and I sympathize with people of different races, cultures, etc, but I’ve always felt the best I can do as an individual, and as a life-long geek is support them, stand by them, and by all means, remain blind to their differences as a friend because, shit, it really should not matter. Differences should be celebrated, never demeaned.
But then, that’s a remarkably simplified version of my personal belief, and really, that is a much, much larger and longer discussion and here is not the place for it.
On the other hand, you have the issues with sexism. That’s almost a more difficult discussion. In ways it goes a lot deeper. Example, when I see guys on tv, movies, etc, they’re just guys. But when I see an attractive woman, yeah, I’m gonna think sexy. Granted, I still don’t care about skin color. Boobies are boobies. But, let’s get my point to the topic at hand. I grew up recognizing strong female characters. Ellen freakin’ Ripley. Storm (still one of my top 3 favorite mutants). Wonder Woman. Sarah Connor. Jean Grey. Sarah Jane Smith (oh, my Sarah Jane), Major Matoko Kusanagi. Red Sonja. Alita. Miriya Sterling. Capt. Janeway. Dana Scully. River Tam. Princess Leia Organa. My mom. The list goes on. Here’s the thing, these are all original characters in that they are not gender-swapped. The best thing though? It can be argued that Ellen Ripley of the Alien series is one of THE greatest sci-fi heroes of all time, and her part was originally written to be a man. The argument lies in the fact that, were the character left and cast male, I honestly don’t believe the series would be anywhere NEAR as popular nor have the longevity that it has enjoyed. I simply can’t believe that. Sigourney Weaver KILLED it.
Also, what geek worth their cred doesn’t love Kara “Starbuck” Thrace?! Guess what? Yep. Starbuck was originally a male character, gender-swapped for the new series and nowadays, Dirk Benedict is only really remembered as Templeton “Face” Peck from the A-Team. Katee Sackhoff IS Starbuck. That other guy was just a throwaway prototype. Missy was a deliciously insidious form of the Master. We can all agree on that. So why are so many people bothered by a female Doctor?
Taking all that into account. There is nothing about the Doctor that is dictated by race or gender. Just like there is nothing about the Doctor’s story that is dictated by Time or Space. That’s the magic of the character. That’s also a very fun and interesting piece of it…you really can’t say him or her anymore. It’s forever now cemented that this person shall henceforth be simply, “The Doctor”. Personally, I’m surprised they waited this long to cast a female Doctor.
I’ve wanted Helen Mirren in the role long before Karen Gillan said anything about it.
The only, ONLY thing that matters in this series is the story. If the stories aren’t good, it doesn’t matter one damned bit WHO is playing the Doctor. It could be a lesbian, left-handed, midget, albino, eskimo, but if the stories, director, et cetera are good, that’s all that counts.
I wasn’t a big fan of Matt Smith, but that was less to do with the actor, more to do with the showrunners. There are a few stories from his run where you see him acting beautifully and you just know he’s got the chops. But if the material isn’t being worked properly, that’s an issue.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace had an AMAZING cast. But damn. George Lucas can write, by gods the imagination on that man….however, he should not direct. That’s a perfect analogy for this situation. Jodie Whittaker is a talented actress and I for one am excited to see what she does.
What we, as fans, should really be more concerned with the new producers/show-runners of the series. Bookmark this article and let’s revisit this after her first season. Then tell me if you’re still mad.
I, for one, welcome my new Doctor.