Doctor Who and Feminine World Domination
The Internet was all a-Twitter in Summer 2017 with the BBC’s announcement that the
thirteenth regeneration of the popular time-and-space traveling alien, The Doctor, will
be portrayed by English actress Jodie Whittaker–the first woman to play the role in the
54-year history ofDoctor Who.
When a TV series has as rich a history as Doctor Who, it wasn’t surprising that some
narrow-minded fans would be less than impressed with a groundbreaking casting choice. Among claims of the BBC giving into political correctness and the disappearance of positive role models for boys, there were people who honestly lost their collective shit.
But, with such a controversial move that shouldn’t be controversial at all, there are also
steadfast fans, including the sixth Doctor Who, actor Colin Baker. He praised the Jodie Whittaker’s arrival with these words, “Change my dears and not a moment too soon -
she IS the Doctor whether you like it or not!”
Of course, The Doctor isn’t the first beloved character, or franchise, to face a gender-
swap. Let’s look at the other times the Internet blew up when about women adopted
iconic male roles, and how exactly the world didn’t come to an end.
Starbuck - Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galatica became a science fiction classic of the late-70s and a clear hit for the
struggling Syfy (then SciFi) network. And rightfully so. The actors, including well-known
stars Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, led a cohesive cast with fantastic
chemistry and a touch of mystery. (I’ve also met and partied with Aaron Douglas, who
played Chief, which is a pretty cool thing to say.)
Fans greeted the news that the series would be reimagined in 2005 with smiles all around. Until the announcement that the character of Starbuck would be played by Katee Sackoff. That response wasn’t pretty. But then, she rocked the part, and people realized that maybe she wouldn’t ruin science fiction forever.
Fun Fact: The female Starbuck was a NotMom. Characters got married and had kids throughout the seasons, and while Starbuck tied the knot, she never had any children.
Conversely, the childhood memories of Boomers and GenXers were apparently destroyed around the world because director Paul Feig, decided to cast women in thelead of his remake of Ghostbusters.
1984: Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson andHarold Ramis.
2016: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.
Unfortunately, the updated film really did suffer from the sexist backlash. The movie wasn’t without its flaws, but feminization wasn’t one of them.
Star Wars Gets Girly
When it comes to an obsessed fan base, it doesn’t get much better than the Star Wars
franchise. Surely producers anticipated the 2015 firestorm that followed the announcement of a female main character, Rey, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Never mind that the films in the ‘70s and ‘80s franchise introduced us to another kind of
princess, iconically portrayed by the late Carrie Fisher. In 2015, she’s General Leia. In 2016, the one-off movie Rogue One also featured a female star, and a continually expanding cast of diverse characters. What is this universe coming to?
Wonder Woman, the Revolutionary
The Daily Show contributor Michelle Wolf said it best when she quipped, “No one left crappy
Batman v. Superman saying ‘Well, I guess we’re done making man movies!’”
The truth is, movies about DC Comics’ superheroes have had an image problem since Michael Keaton hung up his bat belt in 1989. DC’s overly long, overly wrought, and overly dark movies didn’t reach the same level of acclaim that rival Marvel was scoring in the theaters.
In 2017, DC pinned its hopes and dreams on the back of one Amazon, knowing that even the Daughter of Zeus might not turn things around. Except, Diana Prince and actress Gal Gadot brought it, and now everyone is praising the cast and director for making women in superhero movies relevant for everyone. So, Doctor Who is not the first, nor will it be the last beloved classic to advance gender equality. And that’s good.
Because the only thing that will change the world is if we keep doing it until it’s not news any more.