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01 May 2014 @ 03:56 pm
Out With the Different, In With the Same  
This article discusses and asks some questions regarding the zero female writers who have been hired by Steven Moffat for Doctor Who this coming season.

I can't really comment on how the last few seasons of DW have been as I stopped watching. But I do agree with the article that the usage of female writers in other scifi shows have certainly never hurt the show itself. And I do find it disappointing (if true) that DW has lost its progressive edge and gone back to the more conservative format of a mostly White cast where the White men get all the interesting lines.

The article asks: "The question is, does Doctor Who have a duty to represent its audience and continue to break boundaries in the world of science fiction TV?"

My short answer is yes. Yes, it does.


Media has an impact on its viewers and in this case it's not so much is representation necessary but rather what happens when there is a complete lack of representation. Whether the showrunners mean to or not, there is a message that gets sent out when a beloved series shows only White men being intelligent and clever while the women are only there to support them and their cause. It provides a role model that says that as a woman you can only be a sidekick and as a person of color, you are not relevant to a story about heroism.

I'm sure Moffat didn't become a showrunner or writer for the sake of being a social justice activist so on one hand I don't think it's his JOB necessarily to do this. But he does have a responsibility when asked questions around this to be aware of what he's talking about. These are his viewers coming to him and when he dismisses these queries and view points, he's doing both himself and his show a disservice.
 
 
 
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on May 1st, 2014 09:04 pm (UTC)
I'm always torn about stuff like this, because on the one hand, of course every show should have a diverse team of writers and a diverse cast of characters. On the other hand, they should be hired because they fit into the show and not because 'we need a female writer, people are getting angry'. Like, last season on Downton Abby we got a Black character, who was literally only there because people were complaining the cast was too white. He did nothing all season and was casually dismissed at the end and the whole thing seemed to be Julian Fellows going 'ha, see, we can be diverse'.

I was always quite impressed with just how many women worked on Merlin, though, and it certainly never felt forced or hurt the show in any respect.

I think Moffat writes his fantasies, and they are White Heterosexual Guy Fantasies, and so his shows, as a result, are not diverse. Which why I seriously do not understand why there is no one around to poke him and go 'really? Is this what you want to do?'

I have to confess as a Caucasian person who grew up in a very Caucasian environment (three POC I can think of in both elementary and high school), I used to have to sometimes remind myself to diversify my characters. Now, as a result, the theatre in my head tends to be more diverse, and characters arrive more varied instead of me taking one of them and waving my magic wand and going 'diversify!'. Like, Q's R in my stories was always a woman, and Dr Forrester's wife was always South Asian, and Alec's godson was always half-Afro-Carribean and adopted by a same-sex couple, and I didn't have to make those choices. So, you can change the way you unconsciously do things, if you're willing to be a bit more conscious about it. I don't think Moffat is the sort of person who is willing, though.

But I certainly think that Doctor Who especially is a show about the future and should be a show about the best humanity has to offer. If you are in a world where anything is possible, why are you using it to only reflect the same thing that has been going on for years? It's a perfect opportunity to do what you want, and no one can complain and tell you its inaccurate. So, there is totally a responsibility to do that. And if you hire a diverse group of people, you're going to get a diverse POV and the show should, I think, get more varied as a result.

Edited to fix spelling, my new browser didn't have any dictionaries installed. I'm sorry you to had see what my writing looks like before spellcheck!


Edited at 2014-05-01 09:06 pm (UTC)
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on May 1st, 2014 09:18 pm (UTC)
I'm always torn about stuff like this, because on the one hand, of course every show should have a diverse team of writers and a diverse cast of characters. On the other hand, they should be hired because they fit into the show and not because 'we need a female writer, people are getting angry'.

I agree. I'm actually rather hesitant to say Moffat must incorporate diversity because I have a feeling he'd just do a hash job of it. I would, however, at the bare minimum like for him not to be a jerk when this issue of diversity comes up in his interviews.

I think Moffat writes his fantasies, and they are White Heterosexual Guy Fantasies, and so his shows, as a result, are not diverse. Which why I seriously do not understand why there is no one around to poke him and go 'really? Is this what you want to do?'

Yeah, this is the problem for me. A good writer writes good stories and your fantasies are not necessarily good stories. I could write just pure id-driven fic but I don't think they're necessarily good fic or fic anyone outside of myself would want to read (hi, That Crossover Story That Involved Cloud Atlas and My Trickster Character!).

And this isn't even fic. Moffat is the showrunner to one of the biggest series out there. It's not for him to just write for himself.

So, you can change the way you unconsciously do things, if you're willing to be a bit more conscious about it. I don't think Moffat is the sort of person who is willing, though.

No, he's not.

My other issue is that it seems Moffat sticking to what he knows, what he knows and does best isn't that good. Again, I haven't seen the latest seasons of Who but I largely left because the writing had gone a bit downhill.

Hannibal has started to lose the diversity of their once very well integrated, diverse cast (Damn you, Fancy Cannibal!) And yes, I was really sad when it started happening. But the difference seemed to be that Bryan Fuller as a showrunner is telling a story where the central relationship is between two white men. So that's where we're starting.

But since Doctor Who is more expansive where like you said, you can show the best humanity has to offer, you can explore any relationship or any character interaction with perhaps the Doctor at the head but so are his companions. It seems like diversity has been lost for this show to tell stories that aren't even that interesting or unique.

Now, as a result, the theatre in my head tends to be more diverse, and characters arrive more varied instead of me taking one of them and waving my magic wand and going 'diversify!'. Like, Q's R in my stories was always a woman, and Dr Forrester's wife was always South Asian, and Alec's godson was always half-Afro-Carribean and adopted by a same-sex couple, and I didn't have to make those choices.

I've always noticed that about your writing where the diversity of your characters are seamlessly woven into the story. It's not spotlit like "Hey! Two non-White people! Gay characters!" but I can always tell who everyone is and it feels very natural, like the way I would notice someone's race or gender when I meet them where it's just par the course of getting to know someone.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on May 1st, 2014 09:59 pm (UTC)
I would, however, at the bare minimum like for him not to be a jerk when this issue of diversity comes up in his interviews.

He is so defensive, OMG. I honestly just want to punch him the face when he starts into that condescending, smirky answers in response to criticism. Like, even just acknowledge people have a right to their opinions, and don't act as though we're all stupid. I remember watching the PBS interview where one of the fans asked him about the Irene Adler issues, and his answer was perfectly logical, and I got where he was coming from to some extent, but his tone was so 'listen to me, woman' that it just put my back right up.

My other issue is that it seems Moffat sticking to what he knows, what he knows and does best isn't that good.

He's better at one off episodes, not storylines and arcs. He needs to tell stories where we don't have an opportunity to go 'wait, but that doesn't make sense'. When he's not running the show, and subscribing to another person's version, he's much more tolerable. He set the tone for Jack Harkness, he wrote Nancy and Sally Sparrow and Reinette and Nurse Redfern, who are all characters who are strong, but have their weaknesses and yet still manage to save the day. But when he took over, we lost all of that.

I've always noticed that about your writing where the diversity of your characters are seamlessly woven into the story.

That's a great relief to me, because I try very hard to just let the characters exist and only comment on things if it's relevant to the situation. And honestly, most of the time it isn't.
aelfgyfu_mead: Ivanova & Delennaelfgyfu_mead on May 1st, 2014 11:54 pm (UTC)
I've always noticed that about your writing where the diversity of your characters are seamlessly woven into the story.
Same here.

And yes to the one-off stories! The arcs and continuing characters are problems for him. I loved the first couple of episodes with Jenna Coleman, but when she became a regular (and settled down as one character), she got duller and more stereotyped, when I'd hoped she'd develop!
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on May 2nd, 2014 12:49 am (UTC)
Same here.

Thank you!

I loved the first couple of episodes with Jenna Coleman, but when she became a regular (and settled down as one character), she got duller and more stereotyped, when I'd hoped she'd develop!

I stopped watching before I ever found up what was up with Clara, though I did read spoilers later on and went 'meh'. I think Moffat has this idea that what people want to see is extraordinary people doing extraordinary things, when what we actually want, or I actually want, is ordinary people put into extraordinary circumstances, and managing to deal with them. Because what it says to me is that the Doctor won't care about you unless you've got some cosmic weirdness going on. When what RTD's run said was that the Doctor loves you because you're just human, and that's not only okay, that is awesome. Look at all you've done, without being anyone but the girl from the estate or the temp in Chiswick or the almost doctor who got sent to the moon and just dealt with it.
aelfgyfu_mead: Doctor Donnaaelfgyfu_mead on May 2nd, 2014 01:37 am (UTC)
I think Moffat has this idea that what people want to see is extraordinary people doing extraordinary things, when what we actually want, or I actually want, is ordinary people put into extraordinary circumstances, and managing to deal with them. . . . When what RTD's run said was that the Doctor loves you because you're just human, and that's not only okay, that is awesome.

YES!