August 24th, 2014

granada holmes

Steven Moffat thoughts (non-spoilerish)

(No spoilers for "Deep Breath," though I will be talking about some of the Matt Smith Doctor Who episodes, so as River Song would put it, spoilers...)

Leading up to the new Doctor Who episode, I ended up watching rewatching most of the Matt Smith DW episodes, including some Christmas specials which I'd never seen before. there may be such a thing as consuming too much story out of Team Cardiff, and it really may be as simple as siting through the better part of three series in the last week. But at the moment I really have one thought running through my head It would be so, so nice if Team Cardiff could stop making woman-bashing into a joke.

I try to be realistic. I know that sometimes it makes sense for a certain character, for them to have a less than positive view of women, and I can run with that. But in the years since Steven Moffat's taken over as the show-runner, there's been a serious uptick in jokes made about how awful women are. They're not even particularly good jokes - it's like the mere presence of a woman is enough to earn a cheap laugh. A few examples that jump to mind: the bit in "Let's Kill Hitler" where the Doctor says on top of being a psychopath, River Song is a woman so of course she'd behave irrationally; the description of River Song in "The Wedding of River Song" as "hell in high heels"; the way the monk crosses himself at hearing the person reaching out to the Doctor in "Bells of st. John's" is a woman; and other cheap one-liners like that. I wouldn't mind these so much if they actually wored at some level, if they told us something about the Doctor, but they just don't add anything at all to the story. Casual misogyny seems to be what the current DW crew thinks is funny. And it just doesn't match with the Doctor we've seen so far.

The weird thing is, I actually like what they did with Amy Pond's character. I found her easily the most compelling of the companions, psychologically; the only one I found who really came close was Martha, and it was less that I liked her arc as much as there was just something about her spunk and the fact that she actually had her life halfway together that I found compelling. River Song, too. I found her an exciting, fun character when she wasn't a wreck over the fact that she had to kill the man she loved. But I'll admit on both fronts, I got pretty frustrated pretty quickly with how the Doctor tried to shoehorn them into those roles, of emotional lover and mother-figure. I thought "The Asylum of the Daleks" was one of my favorites once it got started, but I really, really really hated what they did with Amy's and Rory's relationship. The whole idea that she couldn't have kids so she wasn't entitled to marital happiness was bad, even if Rory denied that he'd ever have wanted anything like what she was doing there. And the fact that Amy was suddenly a professional model was just... yeah. I've watched that opening enough times to suspect I'm never going to be able to make sense of it. I don't know what they were thinking there, because on top of sexualizing her (this is the only possibility once you strike off motherhood?), but it also made seeming like successful fashion model was something any kissogram from Leadworth could just kind of stumble into with no connections and no work-up to it? It infantilizes women - I mean, you'd never accept Rory turning up as a professional football player in the same time window, even if Rory was the naturally athletic type.

There's also this sense that women are supposed to be natural carers. This can be in a good sense -- Clara is the governess and the girl who cared so much she can't be turned into a dalek; the mother in the WWII-era Christmas special is strong precisely because she is a mother; etc. -- but also in a bad sense. I'm thinking of the way River Song's not wanting to kill the Doctor even if it means time itself ends in "The Wedding of River Song," where the Doctor basically tells her to pull it together, compared to the way we get a very similar scene in "Big Bang" (or was it "Pandorica"?) where Rory basically says that Amy does matter more to him than all those other people who will die if the Doctor takes the time to save her, which is treated as a sign that Rory's back to his true self. I definitely felt my love for Amy taken a notch or two down the longest they focused on her pregnancy and missing child (and in the way it was always Amy asking after her daughter and being upset by that more than Rory).

I don't know. I feel like I'm complaining quite a bit here and still haven't listed everything about the way this creative team is handling women that really, really goads me. I think at some level it's a loss of faith, though. I can't trust these people to handle a woman as something other than a very specific type (love with a strength strong enough to melt carnivorous snow; have kids or be defined by the lack of that ability; be the caring, emotional one but not too caring and be ready to be corrected by the clear-thinking man when necessary). That means that when a female character does have a fault my mind will read it as bad writing rather than a seriously flawed character. It's actively getting in the way of my ability to connect with the story, and that's a Problem with a capital P.


On a more personal note, I had a viewing party for "Deep Breath" tonight,but didn't actually get to watch it. The neighbor who usually watches the small kids of the people I was having over had to do a work thing. She let me use her apartment but I had to do the hostess thing and do the actual babysitting myself while my friends watched the episode in my flat. I have the copy I bought off Amazon, though, so I can wath it tomorrow. It's actually just as well. I'll benefit from a bit of breather and a cleansed palate, I think. As it is, I'm more frustrated with Team Cardiff than anything and not feeling ready to really open my heart to what they've got in the pipeline.

In otehr-other news, I still haven't written. Second day I've had a ficlet all but planned out in my head (fleshing out a friend's headcanon re: John, Sherlock and bees). The file has been open. I want to write it. But it's just not happening, no matter how hard I try. Ah, well. Maybe tomorrow.