As geekery, games, and comics take the helm as the “new cool”, for many life-long geeks it feels like all those “Revenge of the Nerds”-esque movies of the 80’s have finally reached their prophecy hour. Everything that was once totally lame, uncool, and like “like, gag me with a spoon” weird is stealing the spotlight. Yet, as creators and consumers of all different genres, creeds, and cool levels, we still struggle to remember that trying to fit the mold will only lead to bad imitations. Anything that’s ever had a chance at being cool or awesome or revolutionary started off super weird.
So, this is just your friendly Monday reminder to keep it weird!
And here’s a little inspiration from some gurus of weird:
#1 “Weird” literally means “Winning” in Middle English
Okay so it literally meant “having the power to control destiny,” but you get the drift. Either way, being weird= being awesome.
#2 Being weird helps you appreciate the little things.
#3 Sometimes it turns out your weird isn’t actually as weird as you thought!
This guy was just some weirdo who danced the streets of New York, now he’s started a phenomenon (and basically the coolest friggin’ health program ever on earth).
At first that headline might sound a little sarcastic– Okay, so it is, but I’m also dead serious. In recent years, the old British TV show has branched out and reached new audiences, primarily in the U.S. But when Zoe Ball announced the newest Doctor, I’d venture a guess that 70% of the American fans waiting at the edge of their seats for the announcement let out a collective and ironic “who?” before heading straight to the Wikipedia app on their smart phones.
But Peter Capaldi is no stranger to many English fans, who seemed genuinely stoked to get a good and well-known actor for the role. There seems also to be some enthusiasm for the general curmudgeonly disposition of the roles Capaldi tends to play. So the 12th Doctor will be breaking old crumbled barriers by moving away from the recent trend of increasingly younger, hipper Doctors, and bringing back the old white dudes of the past.
When interviewed during the live announcement, Rufus Hound (go ahead and imdb him too) said that he was proud of Doctor Who because it’s British. And indeed, the show is so very British. It’s kind of a thing. It’s a thing like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song is a thing for American 80’s babies, except that it’s a thing for Brits across several generations because of the show’s absurdly long run of quirky white dudes running around time and space pestering people. Granted, Capaldi is actually Scottish, but, despite the fact that most American fans will now refer to him as “that doctor guy from World War Z,” he was clearly a British fandom favorite for the 12th Doctor. Matt Smith was a no-name but his young, popular charm appealed to the suddenly booming fandom on this side of the Atlantic where our heroes aren’t allowed to age. (You gotta admit, you were totally relieved not to see some baby-faced pop star take the helm, right?)
But to any disappointed American Who fans, BBC basically says, well… eat it. It is after all a British show, steeped in British pride, culture, and a lot of talk about tea. So right on. Who cares if non-U.K. folk don’t know the guy?
We haven’t seen Capaldi in action yet, so we don’t exactly know what kind of personality he’ll bring to this new incarnation of the Doctor, but the man is obviously a talented actor (no seriously, go now and check out his imdb page). So, what’s to complain about then?
Well… frankly nothing. As nice as it’d be to have a brown-skinned Doctor or a woman Doctor or a Doctor who falls in love with a male companion, maybe we can just settle for a good Doctor backed by good writing and stories that don’t act like race isn’t a thing, or gender isn’t a thing or sexuality isn’t a thing. Because, honestly, we hoped, but what were we really expecting from a show built on the legacy of quirky white guys barging into homes and offices telling people “it’s okay, I’m the Doctor” (seriously, make him a Black guy and let’s see how that scenario changes), a show who decided that its two major Black characters (from separate seasons no less) just had to get together, a show that deals with race in Shakespearean England by saying “you’d be surprised, it’s not so different from your time”, a show whose supporting cast is pretty impressively white given how much of it is set in the colorful city of London?
So yea, there are some things Doctor Who could work on to paint a more dynamic and realistic picture of the planet the Doctor is so fond of, but the main reason I think people are disappointed is actually because of the strides the show has made since the reboot — the first Black companion in Martha Jones, the first LGBTQ companion in Captain Jack Harkness, a prominent middle-aged female hero in River Song. These things are super awesome, and everyone loved them! And now we want more!
The thing is, the hope for a break from the white guy tradition of Doctor Who is particularly unique, because Doctor Who is an iconic hero, and while the lamer type of fan tends to balk and whimper when the race or gender of an iconic hero is changed, with The Doctor the mechanism for such changes is built in! He regenerates into vastly different phenotypes while always maintaining his Time Lord quirkiness. So, not only is it surprising that a non-white, non-male Doctor hasn’t already happened, it’s a special brand of disappointing when fans hope for something different and exciting only to find more of the same, especially when it actually would make more sense that the Doctor wasn’t always white. I mean… it’s kinda like rolling snake-eyes 12 times in a row. At the very least, you’d expect one ginger.
All that said, I’m sure that Capaldi is gonna be great, and the wompy sigh at the announcement is not a comment on his talent or his appropriateness for the role. In fact, given his previous appearance along with Karen Gillan in “The Fires of Pompeii” episode when he confiscates the TARDIS, we know he’s got talent, and it will be really interesting to see how the writers bring it all together in making him the next reincarnation.
It’s just that usual sigh we’re used to letting out when we dare to imagine someone other than a white dude in the sci-fi spotlight and find ourselves disappointed… again. Oh well, maybe next time. In the meantime, I for one am gonna marathon some Luther.
In case you missed it yesterday… THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT (DOMA) WAS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL!! The internet literally exploded with rainbow flags. It’s a great way to end LGBTQ Pride Month. But for the geeks for equality out there, I thought I’d offer up a nerdier celebration. Here are 5 couples that should tie the knot in celebration of this (long overdue) step towards social equality in the U.S.!
Batwoman (Kate Kane) & Maggie Sawyer
Kate and Maggie have had flirty repertoire ever since they first met on the pages of the rebooted Batwoman in 2006 and they hooked up not long after. By issue #17, Kate risked it all and exposed her Batwoman identity by proposing to Mags in full Bat costume. It’s four months and four issues later and I’m feenin’ for some wedding bells. Batwoman is pretty much the most high-profile lesbian character in comics (who wasn’t relegated to an alternate universe at that), so this wedding oughta be a Huuge and super awesome. Come on, just imagine the complementing black & red tuxes… right?!
Stahma Tarr & Kenya Rosewater
Okay so this one is a lot of wishful thinking, but when big things like the government actually supporting gay rights are happening, we gotta dare to dream big. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been absolutely adoring this duo. They’re pretty much perfect for each other, both straddling that strange complex line where they are both incredibly strong and powerful women, yet they have found themselves in abusive relationships….
The Doctor is a transient man. Even aside from all of his hopping around galaxies, eras, and plot devices, he’s constantly running (lot’s of running), he talks like a quirky auctioneer, and even his beloved late companions the Ponds couldn’t inspire him to share a slice of their domestic lives for more than a few hours. That said, though he changes faces, companions, and physical locations at the drop of a hat, there are certain things about The Doctor that always stay the same…
The TARDIS, the universe-saving antics, and The Doctor’s race and gender.
Right. The Doctor regenerates every few years due to fatal mishaps or angsty blondes, and every single one of the doctor’s 11 incarnations has been a (progressively younger) white guy. I’m not so sure about the mechanisms of how the reincarnations work. I always imagined it’d be random generation or a composite based on the demographics of the place where he was reincarnating.
Or maybe it’s just that Time Lords are always white and reincarnations don’t include sex changes (though The Doctor alluded to the possibility when, realizing he had longer hair, he exclaimed in fear after his 11th regeneration “*Gasp!* I’m a girl! No!”). Not to mention, River Song exists, and in fact, one of her incarnations was a Black woman… Or maybe maaaybe this gimmick is much smarter than that. Maybe it designs The Doctor’s face and body according to what would be the most beneficial to him in the places he spends most of his time — in this case the wacky alien-invaded eras of England. Hell, if I was going to be running around England (present day or past) barging into homes and shady situations, telling folk to “trust me, I’m The Doctor” and inviting young white women to run away with me in my special blue box… yea, I’d probably wanna be a white guy too.
Doctor Who has explored questions of race, gender, and class in the scope of the universe and time through its companions. Martha Jones, the 10th Doctor’s second companion, steps out of the TARDIS into 15th century England and halts, “Am I gonna be okay?”
Cue The Doctor’s colorblind “huh?” face.
Martha: “I’m Black.”
Turns out 15th Century England was progressive enough that the worst Martha encounters are a few “Moor” comments and some really forward flirtation by a foul-breathed William Shakespeare. Of course that’s not the case when Martha has to pose as the humanized Doctor’s servant when they hideout in the early 20th century English countryside.
As for class, there was Rose Tyler, a working class girl living with her mum in the grittier side of London. Orientation? There was the wonderful flirt, Captain Jack Harkness. And gender? Well, all of the doctor’s steady companions are women, though occasionally they come with a tag-along boyfriend. But more importantly, though they might frequently find themselves the damsels in distress, The Doctor’s lady friends and companions are made of tougher stuff. I think Martha Jones rescued herself and saved The Doctor more often than he did. Then there’s Vastra, the reptilian warrior, and her girlfriend Jenny. And of course, there’s River Song… She bucks all the trends – a sexy middle aged woman saving the day,adventuring through time, jumping out of space ships, and talking dirty to the practically pubescent Doctor. She might not be full-on Time Lord, but she’s always in control, she dead sexy, and she’s oh so cool. She’s the closest we’ve gotten to a female Doctor so far…
But, what if we took the conversation about race and gender out of the sidelines and put it front and center? What if the next incarnation of The Doctor was Black? Or Muslim? Or Gay? Or *gasp!* a woman?! Would a female Doctor still take on companions? Female companions? Would strangers be so trusting with an Arab Doctor? Would a large chunk of human history be off limits to a Black Doctor?
Doctor Who has always given us engaging stories that explore the big questions of time and space, and reality, and the universe, of what our history means and what it is to be human. It’s a browner, gender mixed world out there, and a show with such great scope has the power to ask really interesting questions, to explore the vast worlds of experiences right here on earth, right there in London even. With Matt Smith leaving, I think a radically new look for The Doctor would make for a really dynamic next season…
So, Moffat and crew. Here’s my wishlist…
Richard Ayoade – With his thick-rimmed glasses, skinny ties, and quirky locks, he kind of already looks like The Doctor. He’s hilarious, he’s certainly oddball enough, and he’d be a smooth transition from Matt Smith’s tall, skinny, cool tie and notable hair Doctor. He’s got screen cred too, with a role in The Watch alongside comedy geniuses Vince Vaughan, Jonah Hill, and Ben Stiller. And from his central role as geeky Morris Moss in The IT Crowd, we know he could spout bad jokes and supergenius sciencey mumbojumbo talk to baffle his plucky companion. Others clearly agree.
Dev Patel – If we’ve got to keep our Doctor getting younger and younger, then at a fresh-faced 22 Dev Patel would be perfect. He ran around plenty in the blockbuster that shot him to fame Slumdog Millionaire, so we know he could keep up (literally) with The Doctor’s manic pace. And in his role as Neal Sampat on The Newsroom, he’s got the uber-excited geeky fast fact spouting thing down packed. He’s got a killer smile that’ll win him some pretty companions, and seriously who wouldn’t trust a guy who smiles at you like that? It’s possible he’s a little too cool, but throw a sweater vest on the guy and boom. Doctor.
Lenora Crichlow – She stole hearts in fantasy drama Being Human as the smilingly neurotic ghost Annie Sawyer. As Annie she literally single-handedly saved the world, had her own little timey wimey weirdness, and was mildly obsessed with tea. If that doesn’t qualify her for Doctor-hood I don’t know what does. I’d even say the vampire and werewolf she roomed with were basically her bumbling companions! Then, of course, as always, there’s the fabulous hair. Just Imagine all of the hair gloriousness that would occur whenever her time-path crossed with River Song…
Okay, let’s be real, my actual dream Doctor looks something more like Idris Elba. But he’s waaay too suave to give the doofy performance that defines the newest incarnations of The Doctor. Nonetheless, I hope the boundless exploration that Doctor Who has come to represent will come to explore new ways of being The Doctor.