Male Objectification Monday- David Tennant

In honor of Boston Comic Con (and the legions of women and girls dressed up as TARDIS and Daleks) and John Barrowman; I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s Male Objectification post to the real reason I got into Doctor Who: David Tennant.

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And yes, I pretty much am one of those “fake ass Doctor Who ‘fans’ who only likes the Tennant Years.” I liked Eccleston ..I was “eh” about Matt Smith. But Frigging Tennant just brought it every time.  The style, the quirkiness, the angst.

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How could you not love that face?!

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Capaldi is taking the Doctor and his current companion down a darker, more serious road (SPOILERS) So let’s take a moment to appreciate the proper slim, zany, kooky-on-the-outside-damaged-on-the-inside Doctor. The Doctor who drew in more female fans than any other.  Played by the actor who loved Doctor Who so much he wanted to act, who reportedly got the credits changed from saying “Doctor Who” to “The Doctor” (because his name isn’t Doctor Who). The Doctor who wore Converse with a three piece suit.

And wore it so well that it’s hard to find a picture of Tennant in anything else.ten4

Except this one shirtless pic from the Fright Night remake.

 

John Barrowman singing his song about when Jack Harkness meets the Doctor.

Fantastic Female Friday- Joan Watson (Elementary)

There are 1,000 reasons why Elementary is a show better than Sherlock. At the top of my list for reasons that this is inescapably true: Moffat can only write one character at a time, Sherlock gets called out on his irrational bullshit -his actions have repercussions!, and Lucy Liu as Watson.

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(Semi-)Recently Liu discussed being typecasted because of racism and stereotypes in Hollywood. In the interview she mentioned how she is always given the roles of “emotionless Asian woman,” this trope currently rears it’s ugly head in Agents of SHIELD with Ming-Na Wen’s character, and this has been following Liu since the mid nineties with her role on Ally McBeal. She discusses her favorite roles, including one of my all time favorite movies Lucky Number Slevin. In that film (which was a snappy dialogued conspiracy-riddled action flick) she played Josh Hartnett’s love interest. And I remember leaving the theater thinking “Wow, I didn’t know Lucy Liu was so cute. She was adorable.” 

And she was, she babbled on about nonsense and wore pigtails and cute sweaters and was not a “tough chick” or an ice queen. She fell for Slevin Calebra hard. And she did a great job. And the only reason I was surprised was because I’d only ever seen her as a butt-kicking babe (not that I’m anti-action-chick by any means). Charlie’s Angel’s, Ballistics: Ecks vs Sever, Kill Bill, Ling Woo on Ally, Domino… fierce. But not much range. Her role as Lindsey the neighbor who stops in to borrow a cup of sugar and ends up embroiled in a con in which Slevin seeks revenge on mobsters for the death of his father changed that. She was sweet, she thought it was a game, but she was scared. No Matrix action scenes, no impossible stunts. Just smart and sharp behavior. Just a plot twist and a crush.

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And so when I heard she was going to be playing Watson. I ran the whole Watson is a woman? Watson is a woman of color? Holy shit, awesome. I’ve read a Sherlock adaptation where Sherlock is a woman (and didn’t care for it in that case), but even Watson as a woman in a Sherlock Holmes adaptation for a major network… MAJOR. Even better still when I started watching.

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It doesn’t have the same style, flair and effects budget as BBC’s Sherlock (it also has more than 3 episodes in a season). While it’s written more like the procedural dramas that CBS is known for cultivating well, it doesn’t lack character development. As Joan Watson progresses into helping Sherlock with his consulting work, she tries to keep up the boundaries but stumbles into it naturally. When she shows Sherlock how doing squats will help him stay awake and focussed I started to become impressed. She’s making a new life for herself but she isn’t burdened with psychosomatic disorders or self doubt. She gave up medicine because she second guessed herself, but she takes pride in the work that she’s found and where it leads her.

She also doesn’t put up with half the shit that Martin Freeman’s John Watson does. Freeman’s Watson is constantly dragged around Sherlock as if he has nothing else to do, he counts Sherlock as his friend and it seems to be enough that he is basking peripherally in his greatness. For Joan, this is not the case. She has her own intentions, first to keep him sober, then to learn investigative skills (because it’s still helping people). As the season 2 progresses, she starts choosing cases on her own, whether or not Sherlock is on board. We get inside to her motivations with becoming a sober companion- her father was a drug addict. She still loves him, he had an untreated mental illness and this doesn’t defeat her, it envigors her to help others (and still keep an eye out for him). In last week’s episode, she investigated a doctor that she used to work with who may have undertreated a murderer. Sherlock found something he felt was more important to do. But she did things her own way, proving that she doesn’t exist to orbit around Sherlock Holmes and bask in his glowing aura of pompousness and arrogance. 

And Elementary‘s Sherlock is arrogant. his pushy investigative style got an ex-con on his last chance fired from his job. The man, in turn, went to shoot Sherlock and Detective Bell got caught in the crossfire. She doesn’t sugar coat it for Sherlock that he caused this.

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And she doesn’t back down when he hooks up with her friend. She even pranks him into thinking that he impregnated her. She goes along with small shenanigans (like dressing up the turtle) but that’s about it. 

Often her medical expertise saves the day, her interpersonal skills keep them out of more trouble. She’s the perfect companion, the perfect sidekick, and a great friend. She’s always willing to help short of running headlong into danger, she’s not reckless, she’s not broken. She’s just trying to do what she can. A life in progress. But nothing about her character is bogged down. Joan Watson is a very positive and driving force for Sherlock, not the other way around.

CBS has some love connections on their procedurals (Deeks and Kenzi NCIS-LA, Ziva and Tony NCIS) But thus far they have not touched that with a ten foot pole (because women and men can just be friends! hooray!) as Liu said in an interview on CBS This Morning, “Maybe in ten seasons, when we’re out of ideas.”

Elementary was recently renewed for season 3. They’re well on their way!

Steven Moffat

Yesterday I watched the 6 episode season of 2007’s BBC TV series “Jekyll” And found myself thinking and thinking about what the hell is up with Steven Moffat.

Now, Steven Moffat; known for writing “Sherlock” and  “Doctor Who” is frequently criticized with how he writes women. From the girl who waits Amy Pond (although it is worth noting that Rory also waited for Amy) and River Song a seemingly badass archaeologist who we find out revolves solely around the doctor to the waffling behaviour of Irene Adler in “Sherlock” to reimagining history in the recent 50th anniversary of Doctor Who special with Queen Elizabeth I. You can read a really rad rundown here.

He also says stupid, shallow and misogynist things. Repeatedly.

In Jekyll we have Dr. Jackman (who we never see doing any “doctor” things, but who had worked for biotech company Klein and Utterman before Hyde started taking over) who at first appears to have a split personality with the alternate personality having severe violent tendencies. But then it’s more than that: there’s a physical change. But then it’s more than THAT: Hyde is actually the next step in human evolution.

And being the next step in human evolution: People rally around to get a piece of him.
But not just that: they exist solely to facilitate bringing around Hyde.

Uh huh.

The real catch is that no one was really sure if Hyde will exist at all even though they have committed their lives to it and unsurprisingly, since it is Moffat, most of these people were women.

When Jackman starts losing control of Hyde he separates himself from his wife, Claire, and their two children without explanation. He locks himself up and hires a psychiatric nurse. Through a series of events Dr. Jackman finds out that Jekyll and Hyde wasn’t a work of fiction but a fictionalized account of real events. He begins to think he is a descendant of Dr. Jekyll (but Dr. Jekyll had no children… which is repeated so many times that I was left ready to scream “Hyde had children, you twits!”) but instead they somehow come up with Dr. Jackman must be a clone.

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All the while: Claire stands up to Hyde. Albeit for some very “faithful wife” and very “maternal” reasons. She’s mad at Jackman for keeping his condition a secret from her. She worries for her children above all. We never see any of her personality outside of this except for a flashback when she first meets Jackman and is so funny and weird (and cool). But anyway, she is sassy and unafraid. She slugs Hyde with a wine bottle and chains him up. And later, she tries to rescue him: because Hyde is her husband, too. While that last part might make your eyes roll, or not, I don’t know, and the amount of time she yells “my husband” or “my children” was cringeworthy… it was still kind of okay… until…

They find out that there was never any potion… that it was “a girl” that brought it on. Then they find out that his wife, Claire, is actually a clone of Dr. Jekyll’s maid.

Cloned by Klein and Utterman strictly for bringing out Hyde in the modern Dr. Jackman.

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Claire’s entire reason for existence is to fall in love with the drab Dr. Jackman and bring out Mr. Hyde.

Huh.

Katherine, the psychiatric nurse that Jackman hires also turns out to be working for someone else. So her adult life is also revolving around Jackman-Hyde. She also inexplicably has a crush on Jackman.
But I can’t even chalk (well… all) this up to Moffat’s incredibly archaic views on women.

Longtime friend Peter Syme’s life revolves around keeping tabs on Jackman. It’s the whole reason they are friends. For decades.

So the question I would really like to pose: While, mind you, I am not arguing that Moffat doesn’t see women as fragile discounted versions of men; Is Moffat just plain incapable of writing any characters that don’t just orbit around the MC? 

It happened in “Doctor Who” repeatedly: Clara “the girl who would save the doctor” and Amy Pond who wasted her childhood staring at a crack in the wall, and Rory as “the last Centurion” and River Song.

It happens in Sherlock. Let’s face it, this needs no explanation.

It happens in Jekyll. With every other character. Including the two PI’s who would have been more awesome if they just cashed their paychecks and left. Why would they continue to help Jackman 1) not knowing him previously 2)knowing that he could turn into a violent and powerful being at a moments notice 3) knowing that huge government agencies would stop at nothing to obtain him?

While assembling my thoughts I also read this article that discusses Moffat’s inability to have his characters deal with loss and grief. This also happens in “Jekyll” where we get to the end. Every one who the audience cares about is okay. Even Tom Jackman… and probably even Hyde. 

(and then his mother turns out to be the descendant of Hyde?! But then who brings Hyde out in her if they needed to clone the maid? what sense can that make?!)