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ANU academic denounces Dr Who as racist

By Ben_Dover 26 May 2013 57

This in from the Daily Mail:

The Doctor’s new foes claim that his dismissive attitude towards black companions, his contempt for ‘primitive’ people, and even his passion for cricket are all proof of a reactionary ‘whiteness’ pervading his adventures.

Their concerns are published in a new book, Doctor Who And Race, which says the BBC programme is based in attitudes ‘that continue to subjugate people of colour’.

But fans dismiss such criticisms as ‘groundless’ and ‘ridiculous’.

One of the more bizarre theories is offered by Amit Gupta, an American professor, who argues that Peter Davison’s cricket-loving incarnation of the character in the Eighties was thinly disguised nostalgia for the British Empire. He wrote: ‘[He] portrayed the amateur English cricketer of the late 19th Century when the game was characterised by both racial and class distinctions.

‘Cricket also had a role in maintaining the status of British imperialism through the exercise of soft power as it was successfully inculcated by the colonial elites. Davison’s cricketing Doctor once again saw the BBC using Who to promote a racial and class nostalgia that had already outlived its validity.

Australian academic Lindy Orthia, who compiled the anthology, concluded: ‘The biggest elephant in the room is the problem privately nursed by many fans of loving a TV show when it is thunderingly racist.’

Wonderful! The racism industry ratchets up the divisions in society once more.

What’s Your opinion?


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ANU academic denounces Dr Who as racist
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Ben_Dover 3:37 pm 03 Jun 13

David Tennant….and Billie Piper return for the 50th Anniversary special in November. I guess one episode will do

Billy Piper? Phwooaaaar, she could have the top off my egg any morning.

astrojax 3:22 pm 03 Jun 13

Onceler said :

Time for the Doc to reflect his true age a bit, I reckon.

so, burt newton it is then… (he’s about 900 isn’t he?)

Gerry-Built 2:49 pm 03 Jun 13

astrojax said :

didn’t the last episode end with john hurt being credited as ‘the doctor’?

It is probably preparing for a Prometheus/Alien/Dr Who crossover… :/

Onceler 2:48 pm 03 Jun 13

Sorry Poetix & LSWCHP, I got mixed up.

John Hurt as the Doctor? I’d watch that. The very first Doctor was an old geezer. Since then he’s been getting progressively younger in appearance. Time for the Doc to reflect his true age a bit, I reckon.

Dilandach 2:42 pm 03 Jun 13

astrojax said :

didn’t the last episode end with john hurt being credited as ‘the doctor’??

anyone? (noting he’s neither non-caucasian or female) i rekkun he’d be a bonza doctor.

Not sure why my comment previously ‘disappeared’ but whatever.

Yes, that is correct with John Hurt. The two possibilities that are being bandied around at the moment are that he’s the doctor before Hartnell. IE, the very first doctor. The other possibility is that he’s jammed inbetween 8 and 9 having had a hand in ending the time war by the genocide of two races at once.

Its a pity that they’re only including Tennant and not at the least including McCoy and McGann. McGann certainly deserves more screen time as the doctor than what he got. Eccleston, seems to be just an all round jerk when it comes to doctor who. He hated the show and working for it. Its a pity.

astrojax 2:30 pm 03 Jun 13

didn’t the last episode end with john hurt being credited as ‘the doctor’??

anyone? (noting he’s neither non-caucasian or female) i rekkun he’d be a bonza doctor.

poetix 2:17 pm 03 Jun 13

Onceler said :

poetix said :

LSWCHP said :

I’ve been watching Dr Who for over 40 years, and I’ve never picked up on anything like this, so I’m with Ben and Matt.

I believe Poetix is the resident RA expert on the Doctor, so I’d be interested to hear what she has to say on this subject.

I’m by no means an expert on the Doctor, although I have met some real experts at SF conventions. The idea of a female Doctor is something that is quite often discussed, and it is a little strange that he can change bodies, but always has to have the dangly bits!

As to racism, I do think, in the older series there was the occasional strange moment; I can remember a series where, I think, Buddhist chants were used to summon spiders, just taking bits of a religion and implying it was somehow connected with evil. (Of course Buddhism is not confined to any one race.) It scared me more than any other episode, when I was little. Of course, I didn’t know that they were Buddhist chants until much later, and it hasn’t given me a morbid hatred of Buddhists. I’m sure today they wouldn’t use part of a minority (in the UK) religion like that, and offend people. (Some real Doctor fan will know the story-line I mean.)

I don’t see anything wrong with analysing the Doctor in terms of race, or gender. It’s something academics do all the time! Apart from the obvious time travel books and films, you could trace a line through Sherlock Holmes, Richard Hannay and so on to the Doctor and compare his adventures with narratives of the colonial hero, or the hero thwarting dastardly plots. Even the wonderful Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser could be brought in; both have recurring characters, in a sense, that have travelled though time, from one series or book to another. Tom Brown’s Schooldays, in Flashman’s case. These are all characters that are more famous than their authors.

I would love to see The Master come back. Played by Richard E Grant, although he recently played another role. The Master was just like Holmes’s nemesis, Moriarty. There used to be more of a military support to the Doctor, with the Brigadier and so on, which gave things a very different feeling. The new Daleks, too, in the pretty colours, seem to have lost the NAZI references which were there, I think, in early series. The whole Doctor Who adventure started less than twenty years after WWII.

I like the Victorian stories best, which was, I suppose, when British colonialism was at its peak, but we don’t really see that in the series. Unless the aliens are the Indians…but they’re always invading Britain, reversing history.

And cricket does show the one-time extent of British colonialism, even though they are not so good at either thing these days.

Sorry, I’m just thinking about all this as I write, so it’s a bit rambling!

Nice rambling there, LSWCHP! I remember the story you describe. I think it was Jon Pertwee’s last adventure. I’m old enough to remember that the evil “Buddhist” chanters who fell under the sway of the giant spiders of Metabelis 3 were misusing the teachings of a Tibetan lama, who certainly didn’t approve of their activities. I think he reappeared in the final episode to help sort things out. Then Pertwee metamorphosed into Tom Baker to tackle a giant robot. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

I reckon a non-caucasian Doctor would be good. But I’m not really a fan of the modern version, so, whatevs.

I’m the rambler, in this case! LSWCHP always sticks to the point..like a fly in the web of a giant spider. (-:

Onceler 2:02 pm 03 Jun 13

poetix said :

LSWCHP said :

I’ve been watching Dr Who for over 40 years, and I’ve never picked up on anything like this, so I’m with Ben and Matt.

I believe Poetix is the resident RA expert on the Doctor, so I’d be interested to hear what she has to say on this subject.

I’m by no means an expert on the Doctor, although I have met some real experts at SF conventions. The idea of a female Doctor is something that is quite often discussed, and it is a little strange that he can change bodies, but always has to have the dangly bits!

As to racism, I do think, in the older series there was the occasional strange moment; I can remember a series where, I think, Buddhist chants were used to summon spiders, just taking bits of a religion and implying it was somehow connected with evil. (Of course Buddhism is not confined to any one race.) It scared me more than any other episode, when I was little. Of course, I didn’t know that they were Buddhist chants until much later, and it hasn’t given me a morbid hatred of Buddhists. I’m sure today they wouldn’t use part of a minority (in the UK) religion like that, and offend people. (Some real Doctor fan will know the story-line I mean.)

I don’t see anything wrong with analysing the Doctor in terms of race, or gender. It’s something academics do all the time! Apart from the obvious time travel books and films, you could trace a line through Sherlock Holmes, Richard Hannay and so on to the Doctor and compare his adventures with narratives of the colonial hero, or the hero thwarting dastardly plots. Even the wonderful Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser could be brought in; both have recurring characters, in a sense, that have travelled though time, from one series or book to another. Tom Brown’s Schooldays, in Flashman’s case. These are all characters that are more famous than their authors.

I would love to see The Master come back. Played by Richard E Grant, although he recently played another role. The Master was just like Holmes’s nemesis, Moriarty. There used to be more of a military support to the Doctor, with the Brigadier and so on, which gave things a very different feeling. The new Daleks, too, in the pretty colours, seem to have lost the NAZI references which were there, I think, in early series. The whole Doctor Who adventure started less than twenty years after WWII.

I like the Victorian stories best, which was, I suppose, when British colonialism was at its peak, but we don’t really see that in the series. Unless the aliens are the Indians…but they’re always invading Britain, reversing history.

And cricket does show the one-time extent of British colonialism, even though they are not so good at either thing these days.

Sorry, I’m just thinking about all this as I write, so it’s a bit rambling!

Nice rambling there, LSWCHP! I remember the story you describe. I think it was Jon Pertwee’s last adventure. I’m old enough to remember that the evil “Buddhist” chanters who fell under the sway of the giant spiders of Metabelis 3 were misusing the teachings of a Tibetan lama, who certainly didn’t approve of their activities. I think he reappeared in the final episode to help sort things out. Then Pertwee metamorphosed into Tom Baker to tackle a giant robot. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

I reckon a non-caucasian Doctor would be good. But I’m not really a fan of the modern version, so, whatevs.

Gerry-Built 11:15 am 03 Jun 13

“an American professor, who argues that Peter Davison’s cricket-loving incarnation of the character in the Eighties was thinly disguised nostalgia for the British Empire. He wrote: ‘[He] portrayed the amateur English cricketer of the late 19th Century when the game was characterised by both racial and class distinctions.”

wow… talk about drawing long bows. The best thing about representation, is the colour of the lenses you can apply with any modern interpretation of a bygone era…

When I studied for my Education degree at UofC during the late 90’s, we had a lecturer for the Diversity subject, that openly called her assembled students “whities”, referred to “whiteness” in culture and openly declared “minorities; by definition, cannot be racist”. Perhaps some academics seek notoriety as a form of validation.

Genie 9:16 am 03 Jun 13

Brianna said :

miz said :

Hope they bring back David Tennant! I never really warmed to Matt Smith.

Agreed. David Tennant OWNED that role. Matt Smith is a poor substitute. I don’t think David will ever come back but god knows, there’s got to easily been anyone better than Matt Smith!

David Tennant….and Billie Piper return for the 50th Anniversary special in November. I guess one episode will do.. 🙂

DrKoresh 10:42 pm 02 Jun 13

HiddenDragon said :

miz said :

Hope they bring back David Tennant! I never really warmed to Matt Smith.

+ #43 – who’d ‘ve thunk that Matt is a Rioter – he’s got the message – “it’s time to walk!”:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-02/dr-who-actor-matt-smith-closes-tardis-door/4727832

I don’t watch DW, but is it possible that the reason everyone wants the new guy to go is because he looks a bit like Frankenstein’s Monster?

HiddenDragon 10:14 pm 02 Jun 13

miz said :

Hope they bring back David Tennant! I never really warmed to Matt Smith.

+ #43 – who’d ‘ve thunk that Matt is a Rioter – he’s got the message – “it’s time to walk!”:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-02/dr-who-actor-matt-smith-closes-tardis-door/4727832

Holditz 8:00 pm 02 Jun 13

astrojax said :

Holditz said :

Any Australian would be an expert, compared to an American academic.

i see what you did there; a racist comment in a thread on racism. well done…

Not really. In the US Doctor Who is a fan thing; little known until 2005, when it started getting pushed by BBC money counters. In Australia Doctor Who is a family thing. Most baby boomer Australians have their favourite or their first Doctor, and fans run in generations.

If anything it’s a fancist comment, not racist. 🙂

poetix 6:25 pm 02 Jun 13

LSWCHP said :

I’ve been watching Dr Who for over 40 years, and I’ve never picked up on anything like this, so I’m with Ben and Matt.

I believe Poetix is the resident RA expert on the Doctor, so I’d be interested to hear what she has to say on this subject.

I’m by no means an expert on the Doctor, although I have met some real experts at SF conventions. The idea of a female Doctor is something that is quite often discussed, and it is a little strange that he can change bodies, but always has to have the dangly bits!

As to racism, I do think, in the older series there was the occasional strange moment; I can remember a series where, I think, Buddhist chants were used to summon spiders, just taking bits of a religion and implying it was somehow connected with evil. (Of course Buddhism is not confined to any one race.) It scared me more than any other episode, when I was little. Of course, I didn’t know that they were Buddhist chants until much later, and it hasn’t given me a morbid hatred of Buddhists. I’m sure today they wouldn’t use part of a minority (in the UK) religion like that, and offend people. (Some real Doctor fan will know the story-line I mean.)

I don’t see anything wrong with analysing the Doctor in terms of race, or gender. It’s something academics do all the time! Apart from the obvious time travel books and films, you could trace a line through Sherlock Holmes, Richard Hannay and so on to the Doctor and compare his adventures with narratives of the colonial hero, or the hero thwarting dastardly plots. Even the wonderful Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser could be brought in; both have recurring characters, in a sense, that have travelled though time, from one series or book to another. Tom Brown’s Schooldays, in Flashman’s case. These are all characters that are more famous than their authors.

I would love to see The Master come back. Played by Richard E Grant, although he recently played another role. The Master was just like Holmes’s nemesis, Moriarty. There used to be more of a military support to the Doctor, with the Brigadier and so on, which gave things a very different feeling. The new Daleks, too, in the pretty colours, seem to have lost the NAZI references which were there, I think, in early series. The whole Doctor Who adventure started less than twenty years after WWII.

I like the Victorian stories best, which was, I suppose, when British colonialism was at its peak, but we don’t really see that in the series. Unless the aliens are the Indians…but they’re always invading Britain, reversing history.

And cricket does show the one-time extent of British colonialism, even though they are not so good at either thing these days.

Sorry, I’m just thinking about all this as I write, so it’s a bit rambling!

Brianna 6:01 pm 02 Jun 13

miz said :

Hope they bring back David Tennant! I never really warmed to Matt Smith.

Agreed. David Tennant OWNED that role. Matt Smith is a poor substitute. I don’t think David will ever come back but god knows, there’s got to easily been anyone better than Matt Smith!

miz 9:46 am 02 Jun 13

Hope they bring back David Tennant! I never really warmed to Matt Smith.

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