Doctor Who accused of racism

Discussion in 'Doctor Who' started by Candlelight, May 26, 2013.

  1. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  2. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    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
     
  3. Count Zero

    Count Zero Watching Moderator

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    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.
     
  4. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I wasn't.
     
  5. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  6. Count Zero

    Count Zero Watching Moderator

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    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.
     
  7. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    ^ It is, all the same episode. (though not the clothes that I recall...)
     
  8. chelly

    chelly Commander Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  9. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    Looking again, Shakespeare mentions at one point that Martha's clothes are unusual and "so fitted". Maybe you guys are thinking of that?
     
  10. Slugboy

    Slugboy Commodore Commodore

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    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).
     
  11. ROBE

    ROBE Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't think a black person would have automatically been viewed as a slave in the Elizabethan era. Slavery was illegal no matter what your colour in England during this time period. Later on in the late 18th century court cases confirmed this fact.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2013
  12. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    I tend to agree, but the Doctor's dismissive attitude of the possibility reeks of privileged. Sure, he's not human but he sure passes for a white guy real easy. The Doctor's attitude might be fine for Martha had she been taken from the Elizabethan period to the 21st century, but in reverse it is trying to impose a modern sensibility on the past. At least the show acknowledged the idea of racist attitudes toward Martha from her questions, whether or not they were realized, but to decry the work as racist is tendentious at best. Martha was treated as a social equal to everyone else within the story, so far as I can tell. That is unrealistic for the time, perhaps though not so much as having Will Smith being free to wander about indiscriminately as he does in' The Wild, Wild West', but to describe the work as pejoratively racist is ridiculous. Neither work is racist, per say, but they do try to ignore the racism of the periods in which they are set for the sensibilities of the audiences to which they play.
     
  13. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Ian and Barbara were taken as slaves in The Romans.

    Any non Dalek the Daleks "saw" and didn't kill was technically a slave.

    Ditto for the Master.

    The Master and the Dalek's secretly enslaved the other all the time.
     
  14. Slugboy

    Slugboy Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, but they both had safe words, so it didn't really count. :lol: :p
     
  15. Tom

    Tom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Don't forget about the Master's Dalek 'bumps'! LOL
     
  16. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    Ah, but, "Walk around like you own the place" is The Doctor's M.O. That is the way he always approaches every situation and often works (and often doesn't, sure, but, that is his typical attitude and advice). He didn't tell her that because she's black and was concerned about prejudice, he told her that, because that's his typical response.
     
  17. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    I'd say it's especially in character for 10. I've been rewatching some of S3 and we can see he's similarly unconcerned about what Martha has to sacrifice in Human Nature/Family of Blood or about the feelings she has for him. And he seems to me dangerous to be around, I guess the Doctor always is but 10 seems quite ready to give a "sorry, so sorry" without missing a beat.
     
  18. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    Yea, people want equal treatment for the benefits, but, don't want the drawbacks that come with it.

    Yes, Mickey was treated like an idiot by the Doctor, but, not because he's black, but, because he was Rose's boyfriend, but, his arc turned him into a great hero. Rory was treated as the exact same idiot because he was Amy's boyfriend/husband, and he got killed several times and was plastic, standing guard over Amy for 1000 years, seems like he got a bit more of a raw deal than Mickey did.

    Yes, martha got a raw deal with her unrequited love for the Doctor, but, Donna got a much more raw deal when she left.

    We Gay people want Same Sex Marriage, but, wait for the uproar when the working spouse gets treated exactly like a Straight husband in a divorce and has to pay a settlement or monthly payment to the non-working spouse.

    Women want equal treatment, but, try telling your date you want to split the check on your first date and see how long it is before the second date (if ever)
     
  19. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Not the first time Doctor Who has had that problem.

    A black actor was cast in role in the Pertwee story The Mutants and while its not a well regarded story, the abysmal performance of the actor in question doesn't pass without comment (though more for what's on the screen that actor's ethnicity).
     
  20. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ Ah yes, "Cotton", :rolleyes: