Tag Archives: doctor who

Who-mogeneous: If Doctor Who Doesn’t Diversify, Will It Last Another 50 Years?

By Guest Contributor Anoosh Jorjorian

When I was 13 years old, my best friend introduced me to Doctor Who. Growing up as a brown girl in a predominantly white neighborhood in Sacramento, people would ask me, “What are you?” When I explained that my family came from Armenia and the Philippines, I might as well have said they were, like the Doctor, from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. The show played perfectly to my fantasies of escape into wider possibilities. Yes, funny smart man with your English accent, please whisk me away in your blue box as far in space and time as I can get from 1980s Northern California.

Nearly two decades have passed since I first watched the show, but on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, to my eyes, the show looked a bit… like 1980s Northern California. “The Day of the Doctor,” the episode marking the special occasion, was simulcast globally in 94 countries, an official Guinness World Record. So why was so little of the world in it? I had expected the diversity of the audience to be reflected on the screen, but instead the episode seemed Anglo in every dimension.

I monitored #DoctorWho50th on Twitter but couldn’t find many people of color livetweeting the simulcast. The few that did seemed to have “the feels” like everyone else. No one mentioned race. With Matt Smith’s tenure in the title role ending on Wednesday, I turned to Facebook to find more Whovians: friends, friends-of-friends, and strangers, mostly Americans, mostly people of color. What did they think about the whitewashed “Day of the Doctor”?

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Undo Process: The Racialicious Review For Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor

By Arturo R. García

The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith, left) and the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) find themselves confronted by their past in “The Day Of The Doctor.”

On Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary, Steven Moffat decided to give the Doctor a birthday gift. But as with all things Moffat, it comes with strings attached.

SPOILERY-WOILERY UNDER THE CUT. And since enough of us here watch the show (often despite itself), call this a weekend special.
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Doctor Who Moves Backwards In Time

By Arturo R. García

Peter Capaldi addresses his casting as the Twelfth Doctor in “Doctor Who.” Image via Mashable.

As jarring as it was to see Doctor Who get the kind of drawn-out prime-time infomercial special reserved for reality show winners, the confirmation that Peter Capaldi got the nod to play the Twelfth Doctor is also striking, for a number of reasons — many of which, it should be mentioned, have less to do with Capaldi than with the program itself.

Make no mistake: Capaldi will emerge as a capable, perhaps superlative, lead for the show. But it’s fair to worry whether he was the right person for the job, or just the one best tailored for showrunner Steven Moffat.
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Race and Gender in Doctor Who: Beyond Who Plays The Doctor

By Guest Contributor Joy Ellison

stevenmoffatt

Current executive producer Stephen Moffatt on the Doctor Who set. Image via WhatCulture!

Over the last few weeks, fans have called for a person of color and/or a woman to star in Doctor Who.  If you care about race and gender presentation in Doctor Who, then pay attention to who serves as the show’s next executive producer.

When it comes to who should replace Matt Smith as the next star of the TV show Doctor Who, many fans are hoping for one thing: anyone but another white guy.  

For nearly 50 years, the Doctor, the time-traveling main character of Doctor Who, has been portrayed by white men.  Fans concerned with social justice are right to clamor for a different sort of Doctor.  While the Doctor may be an alien, over the course of the show the character has come to represent the best of humanity.  That’s why it is especially important that the Doctor be portrayed by a person of color or a woman – or, dare we dream, a woman of color, a person with a disability, a queer person, or transgender person, or a combination of all the above.

But while we wait to meet the new incarnation of this beloved sci-fi character, fans should turn their attention to racial and gender representation in an area of Doctor Who that isn’t immediately visible on screen: the executive producer.

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Chromatic Casting: Doctor Who

By Arturo R. García

The debate regarding Doctor Who and race and gender reopened in a major way on Saturday when Matt Smith announced he will leave the show after this year’s Christmas special, meaning the search is on for the Twelth Doctor — an especially crucial role, according to series canon, since this would be the Doctor’s final regeneration.

Naturally, it’s not just showrunner Steven Moffat looking for a new Doctor, but fans and bookmakers.
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The Racialicious Entertainment Roundup: Welcoming in June

Child’s Tonto costume, via. the Disney Store

By Kendra James

Halloween’s gonna be a doozy this year.

Instead of just selling the usual generic “Sexy Native Princess” or “Indian Brave” costumes, Disney  gets to go a step further! We have the upcoming film The Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp‘s portrayal of Tonto –complete with styrofoam crow– to thank for that. You can find this child-sized costume online for order here on The Disney Store website, along with several other pieces of questionable taste. The movie hasn’t even opened yet, and I can only imagine this is just rubbing salt in the wound for those who have openly addressed Disney with their concerns over the film.

While Tonto’s costume is available in full, you can only buy The Lone Ranger’s hat. I guess a blue shirt and a black mask weren’t exotic enough for the studio merchandisers, who are probably banking on sales to bolster a film whose production supposedly went way over their $250 million budget.

Unfortunately I don’t think merchandising is going to help Will and Jaden Smith’s After Earthwhich opened in a disappointing 3rd place this weekend with a domestic box office of $27 million. Personally, I don’t think the film didn’t look all that interesting or complicated. Professionals agreed, and the film led Adam Thompson of Shadow and Act to question Smith’s apparent aversion to controversial roles:

What’s surprising then is the lack of “risky” roles in Mister Smith’s nevertheless glorious resume. The nineteen films he’s starred in have grossed a total of almost six billion dollars, but only one of them – to my mind, at least – can be considered controversial. Six Degrees of Separation (photo above) based on a John Guare play – itself based on the antics of real-life con man David Hampton (with whom I share a birthday) – introduced Smith as a serious dramatic actor who could sink his teeth into a nuanced role. Stockard Channing got the Oscar nod but it was “Big Willie” who stole the show.

Despite the opportunity, Smith refused to kiss (in character) another man (fellow thespian Anthony Michael Hall).  Instead, the two actors were filmed at an angle that implied a kiss. Smith’s reasoning, later blasted by Sir Ian McKellen as “the disease” of homophobia, was that his kissing another man would “gross out” his fans. Smith wasn’t the first actor to “go gay” for a major film role (think Al Pacino in Cruising); in fact, playing a homosexual while being straight nowadays can actually up one’s acting cred  – you’re welcome, Jake Gyllenhaal. (It should also be noted that Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the duo behind Independence Day, specifically cited Six Degrees as the reason they picked Smith for the breakout role of Capt. Steven Hiller.)

I’m not saying Mister Smith or any other actor has to play it grimy for accolades, but it’s a shame that the star of Pursuit of Happyness hasn’t at least tried to take on more risky roles. Besides Six Degrees, the only other “controversial” movie I could even point to would be Ali, and even then only with regard to past issues of race in America and concerns about historical accuracy. All the great actors have played against type, showing the range that the truly talented chameleons are blessed with. If Smith counts himself among them, I implore him to consider going in a direction opposite that of a Hancock or Robert Neville or Agent J. In other words, don’t turn down another Django!

After Earth certainly wasn’t going to rock any boats (unless you count the rumblings that it proves the Smith family’s Scientologist leanings, mentioned in almost every major review), and this desire to blend in and stay bankable seems to have been a desire from the first ‘Big Willie Summer’. His Independence Day co-star Vivica A. Fox had this to say at the NYC premiere of After Earth: ‘“Will Smith told me years ago when we were doing Independence Day to become colorless to people. Yes we are African-American… that is who we are. But when people internationally can love you, trust you deliver a good film, trust you to save the world, it’s a good day.” 

If by ‘colorless’ he meant ‘one of the blandest Hollywood careers of our time,’ then Smith is golden. If not, well… international superstar status aside, the color of his skin hasn’t changed and judging from that appearance on The Graham Norton Show, plus the nonstop world promotional tour for After Earth  international love isn’t too much of a problem. It’s understandable that as a Black man in Hollywood, Smith treads and plays the game carefully, but it’d be nice to see him pop up in a small indie or Sundance film. Something unexpected– the proverbial Magnolia, if you will, before his next summer action blockbuster.

I’m not sure if Forrest Whitaker’s casting as Martin Luther King Jr. for a new Paul Greengrass flick is anymore of a risk, but I’d lay down good money that it’ll be a better movie. More interesting is  J. August Richards‘ suddenly being on the television come up again. He’s been cast as lawyers in a few cancelled shows since Angel ended it’s run, but this year he’s involved with S.H.I.E.L.D  as we discussed here beforeand now there’s a rumored involvement (thanks to a series of tweets between Richards and cast member Sarah Paulson) in the new season of American Horror Story. Between Richards, Angela Bassett, and Gabourey Sidibe consider my interest piqued.

'American Horror Story' Twitter Exchange

Tweets between Sarah Paulson and J August Richards via International Business Times.

And I’d be remiss to let you go without mentioning the News Of The Weekend brought to us first via. Bleeding Cool: Matt Smith won’t be joining Doctor Who for an eighth season and this year’s Christmas Special will be our last outing with Eleven. The crossed fingers for a Twelve who’s not a white male begin now. Arturo will have more for you on Wednesday, but for now my two favorite tweet suggestions on the matter:

 

Some Doctor Who Fans Like Their Racism Bigger On The Outside

By Arturo R. García

Promotional poster for “Doctor Who.” Image via crimsontear.com

Calling this past season of Doctor Who uneven might be doing it a favor. Presented as two separate seasons marked by a change in companions for the Eleventh Doctor and capped by the prelude to the show’s 50th anniversary special in November, critiques of the show under Steven Moffat’s watch got louder than ever. That discussion, we hope, will only get louder when Doctor Who and Race is released in August.

Edited by Dr. Lindy Orthia — who has published several academic works dealing with the shows including one on Who’s “inability to acknowledge the material realities of an inequitable postcolonial world shaped by exploitative trade practices, diasporic trauma and racist discrimination” — the anthology will feature more than 20 essays explicitly tackling several aspects of the show’s presentation (and, one presumes, lack thereof) regarding issues regarding racial issues.

Naturally, some people are out to silence her efforts before the book’s even released. Warning: Misogynist language just under the cut.
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Work It Keeps Getting Its Heel In Its Mouth

By Arturo R. García

Hola mi gente. Seems like a few of you felt uncomfortable with a line my character said on #Workit. I understand your feelings. The show is a comedy and is meant to be viewed in that context. Soy Boricua de pura sepa. I am proud of our culture and I’ve always strived to uphold the positive image of my beautiful island and our people in both my career and personal lives. Pa’lante mi gente.
- Jan. 11 statement by Amaury Nolasco posted on WhoSay, as quoted on LatinoRebels

As his show Work It continued to get skewered by both activists and critics, Amaury Nolasco released the statement above in an attempt to defuse some of the tension.

To be sure, Nolasco’s in a tough spot, seeing as how he’s still under contract. But there’s no way not to consider the statement a missed opportunity. The best he could do here was to hide behind the “it’s a comedy” card, a tactic which is especially unhelpful when nobody’s laughing at any of the jokes – let alone the line, “I’m Puerto Rican. I’ll be great at selling drugs,” which he was forced to deliver in the premiere.
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