Why do you care?

Jon in cloak and jacket pointing into the camera.

Jon Pertwee was the Third Doctor (1970-74).

I’m a big nerd and long-time Doctor Who fan. For years my favorite was Jon Pertwee, and not just because he totally rocked a velvet jacket, ruffled shirt, and opera cloak. I was watching years before the BBC revived the show with Christopher Eccleston playing a decidedly dark and delicious doctor. I’ve got piles of DVDs with at least some of the adventures of all the doctors (William Hartwell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davidson, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tenant, Matt Smith, and even both of the 60s movies starring Peter Cushing as a Doctor Who that was not a time lord, but traveled in a Tardis and fought Daleks).

Okay, that’s still not complete. I don’t have a DVD of Doctor Who and the Curse of the Fatal Death,in which the Doctor was protrayed by Rowan Atkinson, Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, and Joanna Lumley. I’ve seen it, they’ve just never released this parody special for charity on DVD.

I am an enormous Doctor Who fanboy. In the years since many of the old adventures have become available on disc, I have reached the point where I now frequently say that my favorite Doctor is whichever one I happen to be watching right now.

Despite that, I don’t think every episode or serial has been awesome. There has been more than once that I thought the new actor cast to play the Doctor was a terrible mistake. There have been companions that I wanted to strangle, stories that made me embarrassed on behalf of the actors, endings that made me want to drown the writers (or at least shake them by the throat and yell, “That really insipid, self-indulgent pile of refuse you spewed out there could have been saved with just two lines of dialog!”).

A picture of the cover of the VHS release of the special.

Doctor Who and the Curse of the Fatal Death.

So I’m a super fan, but not a blindly-love-anything-they-put-out fan.

I understand why I watched the announcement of the new actor who will take over the role at the end of the 50th anniversary Christmas special. I understand why I, and many other fans, may have been disappointed, or are feeling apprehensive about the new actor chosen.

What I don’t get are the people (and there was more than one being re-tweeted around the internet yesterday) who say they have never watched a single episode, and that they are angry about the actor who was cast.

Images of each actor who has played the doctor, over the current show's logo.

The eleven official Doctors.(Click to embiggen)

“Why do you care?” isn’t really the question, because they have an answer to that. They are upset that the actor cast was a white man. They wanted either an actor of color or an actress cast as the next Doctor. And I understand that, boy do I understand not feeling included when you don’t see actors who look like you in lead roles or even recurring roles.

I was not terribly happy when Matthew Smith’s casting was first announced specifically because I really wanted to see a comedienne cast. Someone like Jennifer Saunders was what I had in mind. I didn’t see any reason the Doctor couldn’t regenerate as a gal instead of a guy. Smith won me over, and I’ve been very sad since learning that he is leaving the show.

I’ve also wanted to see someone like Idris Elba or Adrian Lester or Paterson Joseph play him, because I like their work in other shows, and I don’t see why, even if the Doctor does regenerate as a dude, he has to be white.

I really do understand the diversity/inclusivity issue. For instance, even though at the time I was amazed that they let Eccleston flirt with and eventually kiss John Barrowman, I’ve grumped a bit since then at how little non-heterosexuality has been allowed (other than as a joke or misunderstanding) in the main Doctor Who show unless Captain Jack is visiting.

Acto Paterson Joseph standing in front of the Tardis.

Seriously, why couldn’t Paterson Joseph play the Doctor? (Click to embiggen)

So while I agree with the point that it’s disappointing that they haven’t gone outside the white dude box in the casting, I don’t understand why someone who has never, ever watched a single episode out of the 798 that have been made during its 50 year run, feels the need to express a public opinion on this casting decision.

What fuels your sense of entitlement? Seriously. I have plenty of friends and acquaintances who share your disappointment or outrage for exactly the same reason, and I sympathize with them. I share, to a lesser extent, their disappointment (not really the outrage, but I understand the outrage). I have absolutely no objection to them posting long screeds about it, tweeting about it, re-tweeting other disappointed fans comment about it, and so on.

But why expend time, effort, and bandwidth (not a lot of bandwidth to post, I know, but every one of your followers and the followers of your re-tweeters have also had to use bandwidth for this) for a show that you have never, ever watched? If you can’t be bothered to watch the show, even once, then please don’t bother those of us who have with your “opinion.”

Someone’s going to respond to this either accusing me of censorship or at the least harassing someone just for expressing an opinion. I’m not in a position to silence them, so the censorship argument doesn’t apply as a matter of definition. This is nothing to do with whether you have a legal right to express yourself. It does have to do with whether you ought to be commenting on something you’ve never seen.

Freedom of expression does not mean freedom from disagreement or from other people expressing the opinion that you are a complete and utter git.

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About fontfolly

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. I write fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and nonfiction. For more than 20 years I edited and published an anthropomorphic sci-fi/space opera literary fanzine. I attend and work on the staff for several anthropormorphics, anime, and science fiction conventions. I live near Seattle with my wonderful husband, still completely amazed that he puts up with me at all.

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