It has finally happened. Today in the afternoon, the BBC has announced who will play the next regeneration of the Doctor after brilliant Peter Capaldi. It will be Jodie Whittaker, known from the series Broadchurch. The first female Doctor in all time. Here is the official revelation:
Now, let me say – this is really badass. There is nothing not to love about it. The scenery, with all the nature, the withered wheels. How Jodie Whittaker walks along with those silent, thoughtful steps. The way she receives the key. The hood, finally taken away, revealing the true nature of the next Doctor. And, the TARDIS, showing up and welcoming her in her old and new role.
Actually, I don’t know anything about Jodie Whittaker. I haven’t seen Broadchurch (yet), but I am pretty sure she is a brilliant actor if chosen for this particular lead role. Just remember the last Doctors: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi. They all were just brilliant, each and every single one of them in his own way. I am not super thrilled about the 13th Doctor being a woman. But for a good reason: thanks to Kathryn Janeway, I am absolutely familiar with a leading female role in science fiction productions. And hell yeah, Captain Kathie was the best captain Star Trek ever had. Sorry, Patrick Stewart, but you got no chance here! Janeway will always be ahead of Picard.
Unfortunately, many male viewers do not share my loose point of view. They are annoyed, angry, disappointed. Quite a lot of them announced that the Christmas Special would actually be their last Doctor Who episode ever to watch. The Doctor has always been a male role – and thus has to stay a male role. Forever. No changes possible. It seems to be unbelievable that the time travelling alien from Gallifrey could turn into a woman. It was hard enough to understand with the Master, who turned into Missy. But the Doctor? Are you serious?
Okay, I have to agree – I myself have some problems here. It seems that Time Lords/Time Ladies can change their sex. And at the beginning of Peter Capaldi’s existance as the Doctor we learned that the regeneration actually becomes what is needed most. When he wanted to impress a young woman, he turned into a young man. When he wanted to be wise, he turned in the elderly version. Now, he turns into a woman.
This actually leads to a lot of confusing – and super interesting – questions. How much control do they have? What role does gender play in the Gallifreyan society? What about the children – are they raised in families, like we have them? Is it strange for the children if one of their parents changes their sex? Probably not, as they are used to it – but it IS confusing for us humans. Or are children raised by the Spartan approach, where the whole society was meant to take care of the children? Ah, so many questions, almost all of them the questions of children (humans) towards adults (Gallifreyans), as we realise things which are ahead of our mental horizons.
Nonetheless, I still wonder why so many men are not just disappointed about the choice, but really angry and offensive. First, Doctor Who is a fictional story. From time to time, the stories of our favourite shows turn into “wrong directions”. Either you stick to it and follow it, as you are a true fan. Or you stop watching and look for something else. Life is actually that easy. Nobody ever forces you to watch a show you cannot identify with. I’ve never seen a single episode of Breaking Bad, and most certainly I won’t. I still live! Second, Jodie Whittaker is a WOMAN! Not a monster. Women make around 50% of our societies. Your mothers are women! So, for God’s sake, show some respect! Let’s face it – most of you conservative guys can identify with Jodie Whittaker as a woman just as much as with David Tennant as a handsome lad. Third, this is the year 2017 speaking. Plus, we are in Europe. The dominance of the white alpha male has been broken. That’s hard to grasp, yes – but better go ahead and adjust, as anything else won’t work anymore. I especially loved the messages full of hatred of a guy on Twitter who called himself a member of the Liberal Democrats in his bio. I am no expert, but I am pretty sure the LibDems are not for going back to Stone Age.
Of course, attacking those with a conservative approach for their lives is not the right way. We need to ask ourselves: why do some people still have problems to accept that women, LGBTs, Muslims, all minorities have the same right to show up in shows and games and books? Why do those men feel so offended?
I myself think that one major aspect is “change”. There are a lot of changes these days, as I’ve already mentioned above. And not everybody is able to adapt to these changes in the same speed. Some may still struggle to find their role in this world, where it is not enough anymore to just bring home the money. They struggle – but the rest of the world is moving on. They are overwhelmed by what is going on next to them. They come home one day, and when they leave their house the next day, everything is different.
This shall not be any excuse. But we need to realise those problems to be able to react to that. I somehow have the feeling that shouting at them, pointing at them, accusing them of being conservative dinosaurs will not do any good. I mean, if I publish my opinion (like I do here) and suddenly dozens of people I do not even know shout at me and call me a monster, would I reconsider and change my mind? Hell no! I would feel confirmed. The world has changed in an evil way, and my point of view is the correct one.
So, to lead those people into our century, we need to build bridges. We need to take their hands. And we need to change the ways we are talking to them. Maybe we should stop stressing all the negative aspects of the past time, but stress all the good moments of the future. Remind them, that fictional characters do not know the physical limitations we humans have. Show them the positive aspects of spreading minorities for the youngsters – little boys and girls who grow up seeing a strong female in their favourite show, who will be shaping their perception of the world. Besides, all the story changers! Let’s be honest – Doctor Who has become a little bit boring over the last couple series. Him becoming a Time Lady might be a more than necessary game changer! A woman can finally bring the new power!
No, seriously. We live in a free and open world, and no show does a better job than Doctor Who in reflecting our world into a ficitional one. Oh gosh, I remember this one episode with that sun-collector, where one of the guys turns into a living torch, trying to burn all the others. There is this moment when Martha and that other guy sit in a small capsule, sent into the space. There is this sad moment, when she asks him: “Is there nobody waiting for you at home? No girlfriend?” followed by a quick “Boyfriend?”. That’s Doctor Who. Where minorities are just normal. Where Bill Potts is a lesbian and nobody cares – but everybody knows what a fantastic character she is.
Last paragraph. Promised. It is super important that TV shows, video games, books depict the colourful plurality we have in life. Equality and respect for everybody is not just a wonderful phrase you can shout when being drunk. It has to be shown, depicted, such that people can get used to it. First and foremost, think of those who will be affected the most. Young girls who see powerful women in the world (the Queen, the Prime Minister, the Doctor), who realise they can become anything they want to be – without a man. Young boys, who realise that it does not matter whom you love, but how you treat them. Making the Doctor a Time Lady is a step long overdue. But I am pretty sure – all those men how howl tonight, they will be the first ones sitting in front of their TVs on Christmas Eve. And they will be the first ones to hype the new series with a female Doctor. They will love it. And afterwards, nobody will ever understand why anybody could ever have argued about the gender of the Doctor – because not the authors, not the viewer, only the Gallifreyans choose their sex.