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Speculative Fiction, Intersectional Feminism, and Dirty Jokes
I’m tired and have a busy day tomorrow, so no clever commentary today. Shana and I chatted “Doctor Who and the Silurians” and basically acted like a sickening married couple. Get it here. (Direct download.) Enjoy.
Main Topic: Doctor Who and the Silurians. Nazi Godzillas. Titles. Hate having guests. Daniel was right. Pacing. Black and white. Pigtails. So married. Liz. Fulcrum. A37 and Z13. Squishy-squishy. “White Man Sit Down and Think.” IT Crowd reference. Greatness. Lesbian innovation. “More like Twelve Monkeys.” Noir Who. Peter Myles. Compression. White guys with clipboards. “Not my kink!” No sonic. Coup. The Upside of Dragging Ass. The Chick and the Doctor. Is the Doctor Right? Twilight. Alternate Hulke. Does the Brig have a point? Litter. Not genocide. Interpretation. Ambiguity. Palestinians. Allegory. Complication. Shades of gray. Bessie. One day, even here…. Excuse. Paperwork. Pet dinosaur. Missing. The one peacemaker. Nuance. Mind power in the bedroom. Jabberwocky. Boring biowarfare. Stupid faux-science. Continental drift. A more relevant statement. The Tenth Planet. Shut up. Mistaken title. Daniel was right. What this era looks like. “Is this why we have guests?”
Daniel and Shana discuss “Spearhead From Space” in “Thunderballs and the Dirty Old Box.”
This week Shana and I are joined by the wonderful Jane Campbell, who not only blogs as Jane Says over at Eruditorum Press, but has podcasted with several of our prior guests as well. Jane brings a very different (but no less queer) perspective to Doctor who than we do, so it was a joy to have her on to chat about one of the unsung relics of the Pertwee years this week.
After the end of the podcast recording, Jane and I kept chatting for about two hours regarding a whole host of topics tangentially related to Doctor Who. I forgot to stop recording, so that may end up as a bonus episode sometime down the line. We’ll see.
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.)
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?