Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The New Dr. Who Really, Really, Really Should have been Black or Female



A response to GerryD on TARDIS Musings: You Can't Please All of the People All of the Time...

Gerry wrote:

"I've made my views on the ethnicity of the role clear before. I would only want to see an actor from an ethnic minority if he was the best for the role - but would have serious concerns about tokenism - giving it to a black actor just because there hadn't been one before. Positive discrimination is, well, a different form of discrimination. A white actor would be denied the role because of his colour."

You have to look at the big picture. Women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds are disproportionately represented in key sections of society. This has to be taken into consideration within the selection process.

Suppose the prime minister appointed only white males to the cabinet. He could argue that the people he chose were the best men for the job and that they had the talents he was looking for. However, we would rightly be inclined to be suspicious of this selection and could reasonably protest that there might be women or black members of parliament who possess the talents for ministerial office.

No doubt Peter Capaldi is a brilliant actor and will do great stuff with the role of Dr. Who. However, are there no female, black or Asian actors who could have done great stuff with the role? Gerry says a black actor would have been fine if he was 'best for the role.' Just what does it mean for somebody to be 'best' for the role of Dr. Who? Every single actor who played the lead character has brought something different to it. Troughton's approach to the part was utterly different to David Tennant's. To say that Peter Capaldi was the predetermined choice to be Dr. Who is ludicrous.

Supposing the next Doctor is played by a white man. What if the show should continue for long enough for there to be twenty Doctors, all played by white men (and a line in The Deadly Assassin is not going to stop that). At what point do we start to get uncomfortable about the fact that the Doctor has been played by a string of white men?

Gerry continues:

"Are the people arguing for a black Doctor, applying the same logic, equally arguing for a black Monarch? We haven't had a black king or queen before, so we really should have one next?"

Gerry is comparing apples to oranges. Nobody chooses who becomes the monarch. The person next in line succeeds to the throne. When somebody who is black marries into the royal family, we will get a black king or queen. The person who plays Dr. Who, however, has been chosen by the producer with the approval of the BBC. That is a decision. That Moffat has overlooked all the talent present in female, black and Asian actors and sees no problem with every incarnation of the Doctor being white shows just how lacking he is in political awareness. Shame on him.

28 comments:

  1. According to Neil Gaiman a black actor had been approached for the role before but declined.

    What does skin colour have to do with anything anyway?

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    1. That story conflicts with Moffat's claim that his shortlist was Capaldi and nobody else.

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    2. It wasn't for 12, it was a while back.
      Probably for 10 or 11.

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    3. What a shame that the only ethnic minority actor in the country turned the role down. I suppose that explains why the last two Doctors are white men.

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  2. Saying it shld be black or a woman as the next Dr is just as narrow minded as those saying it should be white. Its not about black or white, it should be open to all colours and I believe it is. As for a woman, it's not something I'd like to see, just the same as I wouldn't want a male playing Miss Marple in a reboot. Why can we just have male hero's if we want them?

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    1. Open to all colours? In theory lots of jobs are open to people of all colours and both sexes, yet there is institutional racism and sexism that ensures those jobs are predominantly held by white males. That reality can't be ignored and it's a consideration that should have been applied to casting the new Dr. Who.

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    2. I meant people saying it should be a black actor next. Thats reverse discrimination. There are other 'colours' out there. It was offered last time to a black actor. He turned it down.

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    3. I'm sure poor Peter Capaldi wouldn't have been on the dole for very long had they given the part to a black actor.

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    4. Sorry genuinely don't understand what you are trying to say in answer to my last comment?

      Cheers

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    5. I'm just suggesting that it would not be a big tragedy for Capaldi if he were the victim of what you call 'reverse discrimination.'

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    6. Ah that's not what I meant ie about one person. If you have a policy of saying 'right the next whatever is going to be'.... then you are being as bad as those people who are accusing the production office as just casting white actors.

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    7. Talking about 'reverse discrimination' trivializes the massive level of discrimination suffered by women and many people from ethnic minorities.

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    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    9. No it does matter. Discrimination is Discrimination. And it's wrong no matter how you dress it up. Reverse, obvious or otherwise.

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  3. Do we even know that there were black Time Lords? He's an alien!
    Changing Starbuck to a female in BG was stunt casting, although it worked out OK. The Americans tried to redo Fawlty Towers casting Raquel Welch as the Fawlty character. Crashed and burned. I wouldnt want to see Poirot as a woman, or Mr Marple. Or Sherlock Holmes, or Captain Kirk (and yes, I wasnt a fan of Janeway...)
    But I'd be up for a River spin off, if she went and lived her clearly otherwise full life. She doesnt actually need the Doctor to be interesting.

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    1. Poirot and Sherlock Holmes didn't change their physical appearance. Dr. Who does.

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  4. Here's the thing: Suppose the 13th is female. What do you do for the 14th? The 15th? Black? Indian? American? Older female? Younger black female with a Northern accent and a limp? The choice of actor ceases to be based on storytelling sense and becomes a matter of demographic market research. After awhile the Doctor ceases to be a character and becomes a flag. (And Anonymous, yes, there were black Time Lords in the "End of Time" story, off the top of my head.) What they really need is to introduce more Time Lords. Seems completely arbitrary that the Daleks survived and there wasn't even an ark full of Time Lord kids floating around.

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    1. I think it would be a very positive thing to see at least one Doctor who is female or black or Asian.

      Let me ask you; supposing the show lasted long enough for there to be twenty Doctors. Would it be a problem if all of them were white men?

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    2. Why would it be positive? Positive for what? Why throw an a gender/race at this character? There's never been a bald or ginger Dr, would that be positive and if so who for? Who would it satisfy?

      As a side thought RTD said he'd never cast the Dr with an actor over 40 on the very same day that Age discrimination was being talked about and trying to be addressed in the UK. Moffat has changed that, So for those looking for 'positives' you have one!

      As for would it be a problem if all of them were white? No not at all!

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    3. You are suggesting that the positive move of casting an older Doctor was a good thing? But you don't think casting a black or female Doctor would be?

      "As for would it be a problem if all of them were white? No not at all!"

      You don't think that in a multi-racial society, in which there are many talented black or Asian actors, it would be a reasonable expectation that at some point, a non-white actor played the Doctor?

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    4. Nope, I'm saying those who are looking for positives have one there if they want one. I don't care about positives. I don't think it should be about point scoring.

      If he was just played by a white man for the next 100yrs it wouldn't bother me either. If he was Indian or mixed race, black for the next 20 regenerations it wouldn't bother me either. What does bother me is the way people are talking that for some reason this part has to show positive or be put on a PC agender.

      For the record I don't want the Dr as a woman and as my wife said, 'that's just a silly idea, he a man, what the point of that?'

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  5. As an Asian guy, I can't really see us playing a Doctor, even if I cosplay very well. >.> The only parts I hated about Doctor Who was when it becomes a sounding board for political correctness in the recent episodes and the new series in general. I don't mind the Doctor being a white male, since that would make most sense for continuity and expectation, and there's already backlash with Peter Capaldi as being too old.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts.

      I think sometimes peoples expectations need to be defied. I think Doctor Who should challenge us as to what we expect the program to do.

      I think the 'backlash' about Peter Capaldi's age is being exaggerated a bit. I don't think that many people are actually bothered by it. We unfortunately have a double standard in television where a man can have a glamorous television career into even his sixties, while female television personalities have to be young and beautiful.

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  6. Matthew: It's not that I see a problem with any future Doctors not being white male, it's more that once you start down that road you invite expectations that every group will be represented. There's a Ray Bradbury story about a Martian who shape shifts to look familiar to whoever's looking at him; eventually he walks into a town and is torn apart trying to become all things to all people. It's not that I want the Doctor to stay a white male because that's the best thing to be; it's just that that's who he is. But he shouldn't be the only Time Lord out there; even Clark Kent has relatives out there.

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    1. Given that the Doctor's appearance changes, what is it that makes him a white male? Why do you think whiteness is essential to his character as opposed to being short or being tall?

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    2. I don't know where you live but suggesting the experience of being a woman or black or white iscompletely interchangeable would get me a nice punch in the nose across the dinner table. What makes the Doctor a white male, to me, is 50 years of 12+ white male actors. Whatmakes Paddington Bear a bear? Well, he's a bear. The examples above -- female Watson, etc -- they exist in different shows. You won't see Martin Freeman turn into Lindsay Lohan on the next Sherlock. My point is just that humans can turn male to female--it's a little rougher than regeneration but it's been done. I know some. And it's not a whimsical process physucally or mentally. It's a bit demeaning to make this sort of a change just to see what it looks like, I think. It might look like diversity but to me it feels like a white male `trying on' other lives just to amuse me. I'd rather see fewerteen girl companions and more real humans from diverse backgrounds get a chance to go along for the ride.

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    3. So could we never have a ginger-haired Doctor because there has not been one so far?

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  7. I wonder how many White males are saying that the Dr must be black or a woman? Has there been a survey among female and other colour fans? Does it bother them, what would they like to see? The problem I have with the statement heading in this debate is SHOULD.

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