Sunday, 14 June 2020

Why does everything have to be so POLITICAL?!!!1!

The BBC Doctor Who social media team have posted a statement about racial equality and standing with Black Lives Matter. The last Lockdown story mentioned the protests currently sweeping the world. Now some fans are complaining that Doctor Who should just be escapist fiction and not bother people by being all political.

These people have apparently missed the point of the entire franchise so far. Doctor Who has been political, and indeed, predominantly left-leaning, since 1963. If you can't see that for yourselves, here are some examples from the last fifty-six years.

An Unearthly Child/100,000 BC: Ian teaches the cavemen that “Kal is not stronger than the whole tribe,” providing an early lesson in socialism and democracy against authoritarianism.

The Daleks/The Mutants: An extended lesson on the danger of arms races and eugenics, although it does stray worryingly into Aryanism with the “perfect” blonde Thals.

The Aztecs: Barbara tries to instil modern western values onto another culture, and is doomed to fail.

The Sensorites: Exlpores the damage wrought by colonists on another culture, although reveals some latent racism with aliens who can't tell each other apart because they all look the same.

The Reign of Terror: It's the French Revolution, fer cryin' out loud.

Planet of Giants: An environmentalist tale where the travellers tackle pesticide pollution.

The Dalek Invasion of Earth: Not so subtle allegories of Nazi occupation and slave labour, with a futuristic resistance movement.

The Romans: Explores the horrors of slavery.

The Crusade: A pretty even-handed tale of the Crusades, with decent and cruel people on both the Christian and Muslim sides.

The Space Museum: Vicki leads a youth revolution against a colonial force.

Galaxy 4: Fixes the questionable racial politics of The Daleks by having the blonde humanoids be the villains and the ugly aliens be the good guys.

The Massacre: War and slaughter between Christian denominations.

The Ark: A parable on colonialism and indentured servitude, as the (all white) survivors of the human race keep the dark-skinned Monoids as a servant class until they rebel.

The Celestial Toymaker: Dropped the ball on that one. Pretty racist, even for 1966.

The Savages: A planet where the dark-skinned “civilised” folk rule over white-skinned “savages” and use them as a resource.

The Tenth Planet: Exploring the risks of extensive surgery and over-conformity. Seems old-fashioned now but topical at the time.

The Moonbase: A very deliberate attempt at a multinational base crew.

The Macra Terror: A very sixties exploration of conformity with a touch of McCarthyism.

The Ice Warriors: A look at the dangers of excessive carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Although they got it the wrong way round back then and thought it might cause global cooling.

The Dominators: Pro-violence, anti-protest, anti-hippies. Political, yes; good, no.

The War Games: A long treatise on the horrors of war and conquest, and how people will fight blindly for their leaders.

Doctor Who and the Silurians: The rights of the indigenous against the rights of newcomers.

The Ambassadors of Death: A story about how extremists will lie, cheat and use people to further their agenda, and the human fear of the other.

Inferno: The perils of progress, set against a background of a Britain under fascist rule.

The Mind of Evil: Is it right to take away the capacity of men to do evil? What are the rights of prisoners?

The Claws of Axos: The dangers of unfettered greed and national interest against the greater good of the world.

Colony in Space: While agrarian colonists fight with corporate miners for who has the rights to a new planet, no one asks the natives what they think.

Day of the Daleks: Discusses the morals of collaboration with an occupying power and terrorist action to avert a war.

The Curse of Peladon: An extended metaphor for Britain's entry to the European Common Market, with a side of interference with developing cultures.

The Mutants: The whole thing is a thinly-veiled look at British colonialism and South African Apartheid, with segregated teleporters for natives Solonians.

Frontier in Space: Interstellar politics, looking at the risks of miscommunication between cultures, with a bit on unfair treatment of political prisoners.

The Green Death: Pro-environmentalist, anti-corporate look at pollution and the exploitation of miners.

Anything with Sarah Jane: 70s men try to write about feminism.

Invasion of the Dinosaurs: An environmentalist story that looks at the risks of going too far, into extremism.

The Monster of Peladon: Miners rights and the influence of foreign powers, especially during a time of war.

Planet of the Spiders: Barry Letts's big book of Buddhism.

Robot: The villains are a “progressive” terrorist group who want to run the world as a rationalist meritocracy (but are also weirdly sexist).

Genesis of the Daleks: All about war and thinly-veiled Nazis.

The Masque of Mandragora: Rationalism and science vs. superstition and faith

The Deadly Assassin: Of course this is about Gallifreyan politics but it's amazing how many people miss that the Time Lords here are a parody of the British establishment.

The Face of Evil: Rationalism and science vs. superstition and faith

The Sunmakers: Robert Holmes complains about taxation.

The Ribos Operation: Rationalism and science vs. superstition and faith, again.

The Stones of Blood: Please tell me you can see the lesbian subtext in this story?

The Power of Kroll: Anti-colonialism, albeit through a pretty racist lens.

Nightmare of Eden: Anti-drugs story.

Full Circle: It's an alien society, but there's a lot here about how people in positions of power will lie to keep their power safe, and how people will follow anything if that's what they're used to.

Four to Doomsday: Not perfect, but Who's biggest attempt to show different cultures on screen. Tegan speaks an Aboriginal dialect, which is a pretty big deal.

Kinda: Another Buddhist parable.

Warriors of the Deep: We're still in the Cold War, and a century later, there are two power blocs threatening the world with destruction.

Planet of Fire: Rationalism and science vs. superstition and faith once more.

The Two Doctors: Robert Holmes teaches us about vegetarianism.

Remembrance of the Daleks: Ace is disgusted by the casual racism of the 1960s, while a neo-Nazi group works with the Daleks, who have a renewed interest in eugenics leading to their civil war.

The Happiness Patrol: Space Thatcher rules through fear in a society where people can't express their true emotions. People take to the streets in demonstration and commit destruction of property to make themselves heard. Has been seen as a gay rights allegory, your mileage may vary.

The Greatest Show of the Galaxy: About the perversion of sixties ideals to eighties consumerism.

Ghost Light: Ace remembers the racial attacks on her friend Manisha by white kids, ending in the firebombing of her house. Also mocks British imperialism.

The Curse of Fenric: In reality, the Cold War is just coming to an end, and in the story, the British and Soviet troops join forces to defeat a weapon of mass destruction.

Survival: More lesbian subtext.

Rose: A little bit on plastic pollution for a quick bit of environmentalism.

The End of the World: Religion is banned on Platform One.

Aliens of London/World War Three: “Massive Weapons of Destruction.”

The Long Game: Explores the insidious power of the media, and how it can twist our view of the world by controlling the news we read and hear.

Anything with Captain Jack: RTD's so-called gay agenda (although Jack's pansexual).

Boom Town: “Cardiff could fall into the sea and for all London cares.”

The Christmas Invasion: “Tell the President that he's not my boss and I'm certainly not turning this into a war.” Then has Harriet Jones destroy the Sycorax ship in a reference to Thatchers order to destroy a retreating ship in the Falklands War.

Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel: The dangers of unchecked technological advancement and consumerist culture.

The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit: Science vs. religion again, but fails to explore the concerning parallels between the Ood and black slavery.

Fear Her: Explores abusive family life.

Army of Ghosts/Doomsday: The villainous head of Torchwood wants to bring back the British Empire.

The Shakespeare Code: Doesn't dwell on it, but it does touch on the poor treatment of the mentally ill.

Gridlock: Rationalism vs. religion again, and you're missing the snark if you think RTD has suddenly gone pro-religion here. It's people's faith that has kept them trapped, unquestioning, in this impossible situation.

Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks: You can't look at the Depression and the homeless of New York without looking at our own economic system and its failures.

Human Nature/The Family of Blood: A whole story purely about the horror of war, the folly of blindly following orders and why we must “never forget.” Plus, the classism an racism that's still deeply embedded in British culture.

Voyage of the Damned: Discrimination against cyborgs stands in for any oppressed group you want to identify with, with a side of corporate greed.

Partners in Crime: The obesity epidemic and the monetisation of health problems.

Planet of the Ood: Addresses the slavery issue from “The Impossible Planet” with a look at corporate greed as well.

Midnight: The most RTD thing ever: people are stupid and awful, especially in a group.

The Beast Below: The possible perils of democracy, and is it ever OK for one group to suffer for another to thrive? Plus a gag about Scottish independence.

Victory of the Daleks: You can't make a Churchill story without it being political. This one comes down on the “Churchill was a war hero” side of history.

The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone: This, and later stories in River's era, redress the balance somewhat when looking at religion.

Vincent and the Doctor: Yes, talking about mental health is political too. The way the mentally ill are treated by society is still an issue.

The Day of the Moon: Canton's fiance is a black man, which is too much for America in 1969 and, let's be honest, today.

The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People: Could be looked at as a piece on slavery, or on workers' rights, or human rights in general.

A Good Man Goes to War: The fat-thin-gay-Anglicans... Moffat's gay agenda was much bolder than RTD's.

Let's Kill Hitler: Literally attacking Nazis.

Closing Time: Comedy, yes, but with a little look at same-sex parenting.

A Town Called Mercy: This one's about how we treat soldiers after they return from war.

Cold War: If the title and setting aren't a clue...

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS: I'm sure this one didn't mean to be political, but making the three criminals who are ordered around by the Doctor young black men was perhaps a subconscious statement on someone's part.

Deep Breath/The Girl Who Died/World Enough and Time: For someone who eats meat, the Twelfth Doctor makes a lot of comments about how pigs have feelings and your bacon sandwich once had a mummy and daddy.

Into the Dalek et al: The Twelfth Doctor is distinctly anti-military in the beginning.

Kill the Moon: Comes across, deliberately or not, as a take on the abortion debate, but without ever picking any side of that debate.

In the Forest of the Night: Love the trees.

The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar: The old “would you kill Hitler as a baby?” debate.

The Zygon Invasion/Inversion: A serious look at how refugees are demonised by our society when all they want is to live peacefully within it; how so demonising other cultures leads directly to the radicalisation of members of those cultures; how tit-for-tat violence is unending and escalating; ending a rallying anti-war speech.

Face the Raven: More refugee/asylum seeker allegory.

Anything with Bill: You can't make a conscious choice to feature a black lesbian character without it being a political statement. More than ever, this was Moffat saying “this show is inclusive.”

Thin Ice: The Doctor talks long about how our compassion defines how good we are, not how we exploit those weaker than us; then he punches a racist right in the face.

Oxygen: Far in the future, the Doctor dismantles capitalism (allegedly), for treating people as disposable resources.

The Pyramid at the End of the World/The Lie of the Land: Join forces to save your world against a greater enemy. Failing that, fight the system.

Empress of Mars: A look at British imperialism and our treatment of other races. Originally started as a Brexit parody.

The Eaters of Light: A pretty even-handed look at the conflict between indigenous cultures and invaders, and how working for an army does not automatically make one an enemy. Plus, pointing out how LGBT people are in no way a new thing.

World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls: “Like sewage, and smart phones, and Donald Trump, some things are just inevitable.” “Never read the comments!” Making its allegiance to the left pretty clear here, even before the “stand and fight because it's right” speech.

The Thirteenth Doctor era so far: Deliberately the most ethnically diverse TARDIS team and writing staff in the series' history.

Rosa: An episode about protesting against racial discrimination and segregation, and a warning that we should never get complacent for racism is always there, at the edge of being “acceptable” again.

Arachnids in the UK: A muddled environmentalist message.

Demons of the Punjab: An exploration of cross-religious relationships and the damage that the British occupation of India and the following Partition did to millions of people. Also a look at how easily people can become radicalised.

Kerblam! A look at corporate greed and workers' rights, which somehow manages to come down on the side of Amazon.

The Witchfinders: None-too-subtle attack on sexism and misogyny.

Resolution: Among the Dalek attack, a message on coming together to fight common threats and a poke at Brexit.

Spyfall: Looking at the contribution great women have made to history and how they are overlooked; the danger of corporate greed and commercial control of the media and Big Data; plus Nazis are bad.

Orphan 55: Seriously blunt environmentalist message.

Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror: A little bit on treating immigrants with respect and courtesy.

Fugitive of the Judoon: Perhaps it shoudn't be, but casting a black woman as the Doctor is definitely political. Plus, the Judoon's shoot-to-kill policy when faced with the tiniest assaults is clearly an attack on the US police force.

Praxeus: A better environmentalist message, specifically about plastic pollution.

Can You Hear Me? A reminder that Islamic culture was far more advanced than western culture for centuries, and a discussion of mental health issues. Plus, a pro-police piece for a change.

The Timeless Children: Again, having children of various ethnicities play the Doctor's earliest incarnations is a definite statement.

So there we have it. Doctor Who has been political since the very, very beginning, right through to today. If you can't see it, you've really not been paying attention.

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