Why Doctor Who’s Gender Swap isn’t a Creative Decision

July 20, 2017 — Leave a comment

Oh dear, hasn’t there been a lot of fuss over this Doctorette malarkey?

I guess it was inevitable that once the announcement was made that the new Doctor Who would be played by Jodie Whittaker there would be a huge vocal digestion in the world of social media and them newspaper columns.

For some this is a positive sign that our ever-changing culture is being reflected in popular TV programming, as this seems to be the perfect Venn meeting between feminism and the T part of LGBT. Whereas for others it’s a sure sign of a crumbling society as marginal groups are apparently afforded unchecked influence over our mainstream media’s output.

For me, it’s neither of those two, it’s simply lazy creativity.

Whilst I recognise the cheers or jeers from the various camps are genuine expressions of delight or disdain, as elation or fear is projected back at screen-bathed faces by the winking pixels of a blonde actress – I admit I have no stake in this time travelling horse.

For me, this is about the artistic process and the nature of creativity. Let me explain as briefly as I can as there’s a distinct possibility this is not going to be of any interest to you.

Allow me to present two types of art (get ready for some pretentious and clumsy misuse of art terms).

The first is a form of creativity that responds to and reflects the world and environment in which it is created. This being the concerns or thoughts that inhabit the public consciousness at that point in time, which are then filtered through the artist’s own perspective and musings, to then find an outlet onto the printed page or canvas or other media. Most art falls into this category.

The second is a form of creativity that looks beyond its current circumstances; maybe not even consciously, the artist seeks a form of expression or subject matter that is not currently available within their world. A way of thinking, or an approach to a subject or medium that is not housed within the available public consciousness.

Examples of this are easy to find, particularly in music (The Beatles experimental period, David Bowie’s early work, and a fair few classical composers) and the visual arts of course (Paul Klee, Paul Cezanne, even Banksy – whose first name could also be Paul). I’m sure you can think of several pioneers yourself from the world of comics, cinema, theatre, writing and fashion.

For me, there’s an integrity about the latter approach which may not always be found in the former. And this is where I’m sitting with Doctor Who as a woman.

No doubt there will be fun for the script writers (and hopefully viewers) in exploring the idea of the Doctor as female, but it does have the suspicious smell of being a bit showy, unimaginative and pandering.

The pursuit of truly seeking a creative path ahead for this established and much-loved character seems to have been overtaken by “brave decisions” and self-satisfied back slaps.

I do question the intention and artistic integrity of all this – based on my love for art in all its guises and the basic desire to see creatives pushing towards the future, rather than simply pleasing the present. (There’s your time travel reference!)

Image copyright BBC (via Radio Times)

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