• jenesee@greyareapodcast.com

Tag Archive DoctorWho

The BBC advertises the 13th Doctor like a “pussy”

Disclaimer: This article is purely about the BBC choice of advertising for Doctor Who (Jodie Whittaker) and does not reflect the content of the episodes or Jodie herself. Chill pills ready? Let’s go!

The first woman Doctor is a seminal (forgive the term) moment in the series and an important validation for geek women overall. We need strong, smart, capable and independent heroes that reflect who we are as women and that can be admired and beloved by every gender. It’s been a great year for changes in that archetype beginning with Wonder Woman and now Doctor Who is following suit. That’s why I was so surprised to see the tone difference between the advertising we’ve come to expect from the BBC to introduce and promote their other Doctors.

Take for example, Peter Capaldi the 12th Doctor:

Notice anything? He’s “funny, amazing, and dangerous”. Here you see him blowing things up and walking triumphantly.  He looks strong flanked by his companions. Here’s another one during season 8 when the doctor was figuring out how to be “human” and more empathetic. It’s exciting, there’s fire and electricity and a glimpse into his intimidating eyes.

And last but not least. “I’m the Doctor, I will save all of your lives and you’ll spend them wondering who I was.” Pretty much says it all.

Let’s contrast this to the new 13th Doctor Jodie Whittaker. Keep in mind these are shorts that appear on the BBC as advertisements, not official trailers. Call them a quick snack to entice you to watch the show that week. Her intro begins with the lines “All of this is new to me.” and ends with “If I asked nicely will you be my best friend?” Does this not strike anyone as markedly unlike the previous Doctor allure that we were expecting? Creating a likability and friendly aspect to the extremely powerful Doctor is familiar , after all we had the charming Matt Smith. Call me cynical, and I swear that I’m not the typical person who is overly concerned about words over the intentions and meaning of something. but….BUT….the line “can we be BEST FRIENDS????” leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

As a woman, I’m often requested to smile, speak softly and encouraged to be a relationship builder/connector for people around me. I really want to see a hero(ine) that isn’t adhering to the same societal restrictions. While I get that there is a lot of controversy even among the Whovians over this choice of gender, it’s saddening to think the pressure might cause the BBC to emphasize an exaggeration of the sterotypes of the nonthreatening and appealing aspects of”female.” It’s not sitting well with me.

Follow that last trailer with this one where she is almost apologetic about actually being the Doctor at all. Cue random dude asking “are you the Doctor”? and her answering, barely in the affirmative, “yeah, I am.”

There are a number of other shorts currently promoting this week’s episode that I won’t list here. They involve the quotes “I’m just a traveler”, “I really need you right now” and similar passive responses that certainly don’t speak to being empowered or confident. While it might be easy to say that the 13th Doctor is newly regenerated and acclimating, we don’t see this type of self-effacement in any of the other trailers for the male Doctors. My personal favorite trailer (again playing currently on BBC and not yet on the internet) is when a random man turns to Jodie Whittaker and irritatedly quips, “who says you’re the boss” and her male companion pipes up and yelled, “she’s in charge bro!” while she stands idly by. Thanks man, thanks.

What do you think? Will the new season reflect these trailers and shorts or is it simply a case of bad editing and tone deaf advertising?