July 10th, 2006

Loz Cola

Doctor Who again...

I am listening to "The Stone Rose" audio CD, Doctor Who - Ten - and I am in raptures because it's read by David Tennant, with his natural accent. And he's switching from his Scottish accent to the Doctor voice, and it's pure glee and a banana. Seriously. Beautiful, amusing, brilliant.

Which brings me to ... why did I sign up for a Doctor Who ficathon, why?

I know that some people are super clever, and can even do ficathons without ever having seen any of the source material. But I am not one of those people.

My experience this year with fandom appears to have been one orchestrated to bring me pain. I've been 'contributing' to the fandom, instead of just rolling along with it like before. I've done ridiculously complicated things, like write essays on characters and participate in ficathons and make icons. Things which have given me hours of frustration. It's not right. I should know my own limits.

Whinge whinge, whine whine.

Because I love Ten, I do. But I don't have the background of years of Who knowledge and experience to do something which will, in any way, work within wider canon. And I could grin and say "Eight! remember Eight? Canon's not strictly needed, is it?" but I am well aware of the pure outrage Eight inspires in people.

Right. I shall conquer this. I will tackle it using only the canon I know. I'll make it up as I go along. I'll sell my soul. Yes. Yes. This can work, this can totally work.

I'll be in the angry dome. No, I won't. I'll be doing the washing up with a huge grin on my face.
Loz Cola

He's racist, sexist, classist and a percussionist...

I've been thinking about this quite a bit in regards to Life on Mars, where political incorrectness is rampant. It is a question I have found myself asking many times before, as it pertains to a lot of the items I watch, and even those I have read in the past. I have a liking for historical narratives.

Is it possible to construct a text accurately depicting a time when racism or sexism were prevalent, without this text being inherently racist or sexist itself?

How would one go about doing such a thing? Perhaps you depict both of these cultural existences as being something to condemn? If so, from whose perspective do you show this from?

In the case of Life on Mars we have the contemporary eyes of Sam. Sam attempts to treat Annie as his equal, where all others treat her as an object and call her a 'plonk'. He looks thoroughly put out by racist inferences. The comments which are littered throughout the show are still sexist. They're still racist. Are they now rendered acceptable because they are shown in counterpoint to Sam's opinion? Are they acceptable because they're products of the time? In general, the racist and sexist qualities of the time are shown, through Sam, as the big bad vices of the early 70s. Bigotry is seen as an era gone by. At the same time, though, it is clearly a mirror of today.

Let us look at this through other texts. You cannot have a Sam-like figure in an adaptation of something such as the BBC's recent production of Bleak House. This depicts a world where women are most certainly seen as inferior to men in every way bar childbearing. Is this depiction not sexist because that's just 'how things were done', because it is a text of historical importance? Or perhaps it is sexist, and we accept that it is sexist, and we view this material because it shows us how far we have come, and how far we have yet to go. Does the viewer become the Sam-like figure in these situations, critically assessing the action through a modern perspective, an enactor in choosing the messages the texts present?

In order to combat racism and sexism today, you first need to admit to the racism and sexism of the past. Showing these through popular media appears to be one method currently in use. However, if we relegate racism and sexism solely as 'relics of the past', without examining how these texts are racist and sexist in their own ingrained way at the moment, how can we ever hope to succeed?