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Speculative Fiction, Intersectional Feminism, and Dirty Jokes
Since I’ve apparently decided to do a little mini-essay with each episode we do now, I figure I owe you a bit to chew on. The advantage to having the extra few weeks to get this episode off the ground (and the fact that I bought the disk) meant that we had the ability to watch the DVD extras, one of which was a thirty-minute documentary that discussed the “political” nature of Doctor Who during the classic run. A documentary that, frankly, I found fairly laughable, as it basically ignored the revolutionary politics at the heart of the character in favor of a fairly dull reading of the “ripped from the headlines” stuff from the Pertwee years, and the various sea changes that came with Thatcher and the like.
Which made me think that while Doctor Who is a show that is almost always aggressively political in nature, it’s much less often partisan in some obvious “go vote for such-and-such” kind of way. And that when most people think of “politics,” they’re ultimately thinking of election campaigns, legislation, or a voting booth. Which, sure, the 24-hour news networks treat “political” coverage as that kind of horserace, but it’s certainly not by any stretch the most interesting kind of politics out there. Politics, for me, is simply the word that we use to talk about the interactions, ideological or not, between groups of people in and among societies. Wage theft, cross burnings, transphobia, heteronormativity, et cetera are political issues above and beyond any ballot issue or piece of legislation. They are issues involving human dignity, oppression of viewpoints, and ill-treatment of people who don’t deserve it.
And that’s ultimately what Oi! Spaceman is. A forum to discuss those kinds of issues. (Mostly.) So the Maggie Thatcher impersonation is a “political” issue in that it’s about a public figure, I’m far more interested in what’s going on in other areas: with the gender representation, the treatment of authoritarian rule, the suppression of those who engage in thoughtcrime….
Anyway, if you haven’t heard the episode yet please give it a listen. We’re joined by Josh from The Web of Queer podcast, and it was a really fun conversation that didn’t end when the mikes stopped recording. He was a great guest who I hope will be back sometime. Despite my joke about sexy totalitarianism in the intro. Check it out here. (Direct download.)
This week, instead of a regular episode, Lee, along with Daniel, bring a casual Intermission episode where they talk about sequels they think are better than the original films in the series. Also covered: what they’ve watched in the last little while.
This week Lee and Daniel get back to some Italian weirdness in order to spice up their mini sci-fi break before starting up their look at sex comedies again. This week they ponder the mysteries of John Huston as an alien intergalactic warrior, sent to Earth by Franco Nero as a sort of SPACE JESUS, in order to turn a very evil little eight year old girl to the light side before her evil nature threatens the very universe with destruction. Well, they think that’s what’s happening. Join in with them as they watch “Stridulum” (A.K.A: “The Visitor”) from 1979. They also tackle the much less confusing influx of listener comments from the past week or so.
Featured Music: “Stridulum Theme” by Franco Micalizzi.
I’m just going to have to admit to being perpetually behind a couple of days in getting these official posts up. I’m a very bad blogger, I know.
That said, this way you at least get a bit of my additional thoughts having had the episode sitting in my brain a couple of days. I’ve been thinking about exactly why so many of us in the lefty/feministy Doctor Who world have such a raging affection for Tegan, an affection that in my case feels both deeply personal and almost possessive in its intensity. More so than Barbara, or Zoe, or Ace, or even Sarah Jane Motherfucking Smith, Tegan just feels like my companion in this weird way.
And not to oversimplify, although I need to get to work so this has to be quick, but I think with the other classic Badass Female Companions, one gets the sense that despite all the issues the actresses faced, the show was more-or-less on their side. Yes, even Leela, despite Tom Baker’s asshattery and the barely-there costume and the drastic level of underwriting, gets at least some support for her basic competence and badassery from the production team. (In Leela’s case, I think it’s because they were making horribly racist points about “savagery,” i.e. of course Leela’s independent and badass; she doesn’t have those Good Moral Values that would be expected of a Middle Class British Person, but that’s beside the point for right now.)
We know that Janet Fielding fought tooth and nail for every scrap of attention she got that wasn’t devoted to her legs. We know that she was then, and is now, a great champion of the female viewer and of the feminist way of making Doctor Who in general. We know that JN-T shit all over her ideas and basically patted her on the head and told her to not worry about it. We know that she spent a year in that horrible purple costume. And she stayed with it, fought where she could, lost some battles, but on screen dialogue that –let’s face it– was likely written as “whiny” comes across as brassy and empowered.
Tegan is a badass because Janet Fielding made her a badass, in full sight of and largely against the wishes of the production team. That by itself rockets her towards the top of my personal favorite companions, and for me at least explains some of the personal protectiveness I feel towards the character. Not that Tegan would put up with me trying to protect her, of course.
Or maybe I just have a thing for women who don’t take any shit from misogynists. Who did I marry again?
Lee and Daniel are back for the first episode of a three episode sci-fi break before moving on to continue their sex comedy series they started last year. Since they’ll be jumping right back into tits and other adult low brow content, they decided to get really damn high brow and look at what is considered one of the greatest films ever made… and it’s not-so-loved sequel. In this episode they look at Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece “2001: A Space Odyssey” from 1968, and then Peter Hyams’ 1984 sequel “2010: The Year We Make Contact”. A lot of the conversation revolves around comparing the books to the films; Lee and Daniel’s personal connections to the films and their source material; how the sequel stacks up to the original film; and how dated these films feel in the post 2010 world of today. There is no pretense here about covering every aspect of the films, as there’s already been far too much written and said about just the production of “2001” alone. Lee and Daniel do try to touch on every aspect of both films to some degree, but the conversation is far more casual than it is scholarly.
“Also sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss; “Lux Aeterna” by Gyorgy Ligeti; “The Blue Danube” by Johann Strauss; and “Daisy Bell” by Harry Dacre, performed by the IBM 7094 computer.
(If I’m going to pay for a website, I really need to remember to actually post my fucking content here.)
So here it is, in case you missed it on the original Libsyn feed, the second episode of our Red Dwarf podcast (on “Future Echoes”) for your entertainment and (maybe) enlightenment. Rewatching Future Echoes made me think about just how much the episode is fundamentally about our cultural fear of death, and there are some really interesting parallels between the way that Lister and Rimmer deal with their own mortality along the way.
One gag that I forgot to mention in the episode (it was in my notes but I got distracted by my own format and missed coming back to it at the end) comes during the sequence where Lister is convincing Rimmer that there are a ton of people who died and have gone on to do great things. Lister mentions the newsreader on Channel 27, and Rimmer pooh-poohs the idea with a derisive “..groovy, funky Channel 27…”
The treatment of the hologrammatic members of the Dwarf-iverse outside the confines of the Dwarf itself is a topic barely considered by the series itself, but Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers includes a childhood memory of Rimmer’s in which there is a protest march of the dead at which Rimmer throws a rock through the head of one of the “Deadies.” It seems that in the mind of the creators the dead are a despised class, struggling for their right to survive in a hostile society. (Although one would presume that the status that comes with the wealth to afford the energy and processing requirements of hologrammatic reconstitution of personality would provide at least some comfort….)
Channel 27, then, is probably intended to be a bit of a counterculture station, television for those interested in representation, in voicing the concerns of the marginalized, in trying to confront the squares of proper society with the things they’d rather not think about. Oi! Spaceman’s spiritual bedfellows, if you will. Any station sneered at by early-series Rimmer is probably a station worth paying attention to, anyway.
The apocalypse is upon us and I’ve somehow been convinced to podcast a Joss Whedon show. Shana and I are going to be doing Firefly, episode by episode, and since she’s a big Whedon fan and I (to put it mildly) am not, this will be a more contentious journey than our fans may be used to. Don’t worry, Shana and I still love one another.
In this episode, we take a look at the very first episode of Firefly, confusingly enough given the eventual feature film entitled Serenity. We discuss each of the major characters and how they’re introduced, the role of sexuality within the ‘Verse, whether or not Mal is a total asshole, and the use of gender in the show. I also have opinions about the way the show’s iconography implies a problematic connection to the American Civil War, so be prepared for that as well.
This week Lee and Daniel conclude the podcast’s first serious look at noir, neo-noir, and crime films in general, with Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice”, from 2014. Because Daniel is such a big fan of both director and author, the conversation gets in depth about PT Anderson and Thomas Pynchon. Lee and Daniel also converse about their different takes on the film and how it’s held up for them with repeated viewings. Also discussed in some depth, in an effort to perv up the podcast’s reputation a bit, the career of actress Michelle Sinclair, formerly known as the porn star Belladonna — who had a minor role in the film — is talked about. It’s almost a mini bit of what the amazing Rialto Report does on a regular basis. Also covered: listener comments and what they’ve watched as of late.
Featured Music: “Harvest” by Neil Young; “Never My Love” by The Association; and “Any Day Now” by Chuck Jackson.