On Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor (NSFW, not even fucking slightly)

Firstly; I am very happy that Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor.

He’s a wonderful actor, and in the relatively short space of time that he played Malcolm Tucker, Capaldi has created (along with Armando Iannucci and Ian Martin, of course) one of the finest comic characters in recent TV history. In the same way that Rowan Atkinson’s Blackadder took a simple simile and turned it into an art form (“This is a crisis. A large crisis. In fact, if you have got a moment, it’s a twelve-story crisis with a magnificent entrance hall, carpeting throughout, 24-hour portage, and an enormous sign on the roof, saying ‘This Is a Large Crisis’.”), so Malcolm Tucker took the simple swear and proved that it was not just big and clever, it could also be monumentally funny:

  • The simple swear: “Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off.”
  • The anatomically dubious swear: “Allow me to pop a jaunty little bonnet on your purview and ram it up your shitter with a lubricated horse cock.”
  • The nested swear loops: “If some cunt can fuck something up, that cunt will pick the worst possible time to fucking fuck it up cause that cunt’s a cunt.”
  • The swear as everyday discourse: “How much fucking shit is there on the menu and what fucking flavour is it?”

Secondly; I’m glad that Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor.

And here’s where I prepare myself for stick (please hear me out); it’s because the Doctor is a male character. I’m perfectly aware that in regenerating there’s the possibility that the Doctor could change gender, in just the same way that as he could grow an extra ear (a final frontier, perhaps, har har), change his skin to be as blue as a Smurf, or look exactly like Peter Andre. Just because these these things are possible, it doesn’t necessarily make them desirable.

And that’s because I’m not convinced that the cause of feminism is advanced by having a female Doctor. I think it’s better served by having a female companion who is viewed as an equal to the Doctor. We’ve seen, with Amy and Donna, that the Doctor has weaknesses and idiosyncrasies that female companions help him address and overcome, such as when Donna’s character convinces him to save the family at Pompeii. The Doctor – despite having justification for having a sizeable chip on his shoulder (he is, after all, a fricking Time Lord) – shows that he is able to stop, listen, and overrule his own opinions when it’s clear that his companion is right. In the relationship, power can be shared and decisions can be made jointly when it’s recognised that both parties have a valid point of view.

Isn’t that a better message to send out pre-watershed to family audiences where young girls may be watching? Having a female Time Lord with a male companion still implies that power structures and hierarchies are acceptable – all we did was reverse the old structure – when I think that a better message would be to say that the genders are equal and complimentary.

I’d probably go one step further and ask if a female Doctor was even that great as an aspirational role model. I wonder if it would be better to set sights a little higher. 27% of Fortune 500 companies have no female executives, for example, with 95.8% of all executive roles in the same companies being occupied by males. As far as I could tell, only 18 countries (out of 206) have female elected heads of state. Germany and Brazil both have them, but after that not many of the world’s economic or military powerhouses have female heads of state – it’s generally smaller countries like Iceland, Thailand, Jamaica, Costa Rica and so on.

I accept that in some fights all victories, no matter how small, are great victories. It might well be that if the new Doctor had been female, it would have counted as a great victory. But I think that it might be better to aim higher. The four main political parties, just as an example, are headed by male individuals who range between woefully ineffective, intensely offensive and (to borrow a Tuckerism) colossal cunts, and are often all of those things simultaneously. I find it hard to think that a female leader would have been quite as dispassionate as the last few clueless clots that have run the country into the ground. So why not aim for the stars in real life and leave the fictional universe as what it is – inconsequential make-believe.

In what way would you like to disagree with me?

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