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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Entertainment & Interests > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Doctor Who

Doctor Who "Bigger on the inside..."

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Old May 28 2013, 05:35 PM   #76
VDCNI
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

Ubik wrote: View Post
Admiral Buzzkill wrote: View Post
She says an episode in 2007 had the Doctor speaking dismissively of Martha's fears that she would be sold into slavery as the two characters visited Elizabethan England.
The Doctor tells her to "walk about like you own the place. It works for me."
The author claims the comment "betrays the ignorance of writers about historical racial violence and contemporary white privilege".

Well now, that's a good point.
I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or not, but it is actually a good point. A black writer would not have given the white Doctor that line to say to a black companion, and a black Doctor could not have said it. (In fact, come to think of it, a black Doctor couldn't even enter the vast majority of Earth's time periods that he does and act like the leader he always does - he wouldn't have that freedom. The people from those time periods would never treat him the same way. Perhaps that's why they're avoiding making the Doctor black - because it would force the writers to deal with real-life racial politics in a way that makes them uncomfortable. This time travel show would finally be forced to present the past as it actually was, and not as the white guy's fantasy it often has been depicted as.)
I'm not fond of that line (though I've seen it argued that it 'proves' the 10th Doctor and RTD are complete racists which is absurd) but I can't decide if it's better or worse than ignoring the issue entirely.

After all they realistically aren't going to be able to address the issue every time they go back in time and as mentioned they also end up ignoring lots of other things to get away with the time travel stories particularly the way the doctor and sometimes the companions are dressed.
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Old May 28 2013, 05:35 PM   #77
Irvy
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

Aha, you've uncovered the crux of the problem. Subjective observation. People looking for racism see it everywhere. People looking for sexist material see it everywhere. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
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Old May 28 2013, 06:35 PM   #78
JoeZhang
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

No that's a nonsensical sophomoric answer that hasn't been taken seriously in decades, it's so silly it's not even worth discussing.
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Old May 28 2013, 07:46 PM   #79
Starkers
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

Mr. Adventure wrote: View Post
Irvy wrote: View Post
Take Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS as an example. Yay, we have 3 black brothers running their own business. But can the actors act? Hell no, they were awful. They weren't awful because they were black, they were awful because they were bad actors.
I guess one of the hard things about stuff like this is people see different things. You see three black brothers running a business but I couldn't help watching it thinking it was unfortunately suggestive that they were running a chop shop.
But why is this bad? In real life bad people come in all colours, shapes, sizes and sexuality. I'd be quite happy for the Doctor to be played by a black or south Asian actor, but equally I'd be quite happy for the Master to be played by a none while actor too. I am the man who wanted Paterson Joseph to be the Doctor, and I'd love to see Adrian Lester as the Master.

If I remember correctly Yaphet Kotto thought it was great that a black man was the villain in Live and Let Die, because black actors were rarely cast as the evil mastermind, just the henchmen.

I think if the Doctor had to address historical prejudice every time he travelled in time there wouldn't actually be time to have an adventure.

And of course stuff like this concentrated on Who itself and ignored The Sarah Jane Adventures, which had Rani's ethnicity brought up several times in the past, and Clyde's addressed as well during WW2.

Something else that does need to be acknowledged if the ethnic breakdown of the UK 2011 census data shows 86% of the population in England and Wales are white, 7.5% South Asian, and only 3.3% Black.

If anything I think the Doctor needs a companion of Indian/Pakistani origin (would have loved to see the doctor from God Complex back again).
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Old May 28 2013, 08:30 PM   #80
Konata Izumi
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

Irvy wrote: View Post
Aha, you've uncovered the crux of the problem. Subjective observation. People looking for racism see it everywhere. People looking for sexist material see it everywhere. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
JoeZhang wrote: View Post
No that's a nonsensical sophomoric answer that hasn't been taken seriously in decades
He was talking about implied racist attitudes. They're not clear.
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Old May 28 2013, 08:42 PM   #81
JoeZhang
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

No the idea that people who look for racism see it everwhere - it's a stock response out of the Racist handbook to dismiss concerns* about... well anything.


* note I'm not saying that he is a racist just that it is often used by that type.
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Old May 28 2013, 09:00 PM   #82
Sindatur
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

JoeZhang wrote: View Post
No the idea that people who look for racism see it everwhere - it's a stock response out of the Racist handbook to dismiss concerns* about... well anything.


* note I'm not saying that he is a racist just that it is often used by that type.
Eh...and the flipside is just as likely to be used to call someone racist. IE: Any criticism of President Obama is met with charges of Racism
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Old May 28 2013, 09:02 PM   #83
Count Zero
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

Ubik wrote: View Post
Admiral Buzzkill wrote: View Post
She says an episode in 2007 had the Doctor speaking dismissively of Martha's fears that she would be sold into slavery as the two characters visited Elizabethan England.
The Doctor tells her to "walk about like you own the place. It works for me."
The author claims the comment "betrays the ignorance of writers about historical racial violence and contemporary white privilege".

Well now, that's a good point.
I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or not, but it is actually a good point. A black writer would not have given the white Doctor that line to say to a black companion, and a black Doctor could not have said it. (In fact, come to think of it, a black Doctor couldn't even enter the vast majority of Earth's time periods that he does and act like the leader he always does - he wouldn't have that freedom.
If the show was in any way realistic in depicting how people from all time periods react to the Doctor he would hardly ever get to be the leader or someone people listen to. When they travel to the past the Doctor and his companion(s) are almost always dressed inappropriately for the time period and when people ask for his name he answers that he's "the Doctor". Yeah, how trustworthy.
In fact, that's actually what Martha's concern was about in that episode (if I remember correctly). She was dressed in modern clothes and was wondering whether they wouldn't totally stick out to which the Doctor replied that she should walk as if she owned the place. I can see how this whole exchange could be seen as insensitive but as far as I remember the Doctor's line wasn't a direct response to the slavery concern but rather to a number of concerns she raised regarding time travel to the past.
There were only very few episodes where the Doctor's authority upon arrival somewhere was questioned in a more realistic manner, the most notable being Midnight. That he and his companions can stroll around the past without raising eyebrows at least is a convention of the show.
RTD seems to have been quite aware of that - after all, he wrote Midnight and the issue was addressed in "The Sarah Jane Adventures" (as others have already mentioned) which he produced.
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Old May 28 2013, 09:05 PM   #84
Admiral Buzzkill
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

Ubik wrote: View Post
Admiral Buzzkill wrote: View Post
She says an episode in 2007 had the Doctor speaking dismissively of Martha's fears that she would be sold into slavery as the two characters visited Elizabethan England.
The Doctor tells her to "walk about like you own the place. It works for me."
The author claims the comment "betrays the ignorance of writers about historical racial violence and contemporary white privilege".

Well now, that's a good point.
I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or not...
I wasn't.
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Old May 28 2013, 09:45 PM   #85
Mr. Adventure
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

Count Zero wrote: View Post
In fact, that's actually what Martha's concern was about in that episode (if I remember correctly). She was dressed in modern clothes and was wondering whether they wouldn't totally stick out to which the Doctor replied that she should walk as if she owned the place. I can see how this whole exchange could be seen as insensitive but as far as I remember the Doctor's line wasn't a direct response to the slavery concern but rather to a number of concerns she raised regarding time travel to the past.
No, I rewatched it earlier because of this thread. She directly mentions slavery as a fear.

(copied from a transcript)

MARTHA
Oh, but hold on. Am I all right? I’m not gonna get carted off as a slave, am I?

THE DOCTOR
Why would they do that?

MARTHA
Not exactly white, in case you haven’t noticed.

THE DOCTOR
I’m not even human. Just walk about like you own the place. Works for me. Besides, you’d be surprised. Elizabethan England, not so different from your time. Look over there.
(points)
They’ve got recycling.

A man shovels manure.

THE DOCTOR (CONT'D)
Water cooler moment.

Two men conversing at a water barrel. They walk past a man preaching about the end of the world.

PREACHER
... and the world will be consumed by flame!

THE DOCTOR
Global warming.
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Old May 28 2013, 10:12 PM   #86
Count Zero
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

Ah, okay, I misremembered. I thought that was the episode where she also mentions killing her grandfather as a concern and that she said something about their clothes being out of place.
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Old May 28 2013, 10:37 PM   #87
Mr. Adventure
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

^ It is, all the same episode. (though not the clothes that I recall...)
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Old May 29 2013, 12:19 AM   #88
chelly
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

I am thinking another character mentioned something about clothes and I want to say it was Donna. (fires of pomeii)Though it is very rare for any of the characters to say anything about the clothes, even odder is the people around them not saying anthing. The only person I remember ever commenting on what a companion was wearing was Queen Victoria about Rose's outfit.
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Old May 29 2013, 12:46 AM   #89
Mr. Adventure
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

Looking again, Shakespeare mentions at one point that Martha's clothes are unusual and "so fitted". Maybe you guys are thinking of that?
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Old May 29 2013, 03:34 AM   #90
Slugboy
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Re: Doctor Who accused of racism

She says an episode in 2007 had the Doctor speaking dismissively of Martha's fears that she would be sold into slavery as the two characters visited Elizabethan England.
The Doctor tells her to "walk about like you own the place. It works for me."
The author claims the comment "betrays the ignorance of writers about historical racial violence and contemporary white privilege".
I guess I interpreted the line in that episode (The Shakespeare Code) differently. My understanding was that, in Elizabethan England, the status of black people was more ambiguous than in some later eras---yes, there were slaves, but there were also black commoners and even a few black noblemen. So by "walking about like you own the place", other people might be more likely to assume Martha is of noble parentage, and leave her be. In The Vampires of Venice, Guido was black and appeared to be well-off, and worked building warships for the Venetian navy (actually, a poster on this BBS pointed out the lack of realism here---although the status of visible minorities was also ambiguous in the Venice of the period, military technology would have been a sensitive area, and people who looked "different" would be restricted from working on it, much like naturalized United States citizens are restricted from working on certain top secret projects, despite being citizens).

Actually, I kind of liked that scene in The Shakespare Code, as it was the first time I had seen a show even address the concept of non-white people travelling into a less racially-tolerant past.

Racism is dealt more head-on in some episodes, such as Human Nature, where Hutchinson asks Martha "With hands like those, how can you tell when something's clean?" and Nurse Redfern tells Martha, "Women might train to be doctors, but hardly a skivvy and hardly one of your colour."

As a "visible minority" myself, and a Doctor Who fan, I never really found anything in the show too offensive. It's true that classic Who tended to use white actors to play non-white characters, but that was common in most shows of that era (like "Kung Fu," for example) and it may not always have been easy to find, say, South Asian actors to play South Asian roles (as acting was strongly discouraged as a career choice among many South Asian immigrant children of that era). The "new" Doctor Who uses actors of different ethnicities, and they all tend to be culturally British, as opposed to some sort of ethnic stereotype. (for example, Rita in The God Complex is a Muslim of probably a South Asian background, but she is hardly a walking stereotype).
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