disingenuously happy

Sexualization in Doctor Who? It's not Moffat's fault--it's apparently ours =P

So IGN has a brand new interview with Steven Moffat: Doctor Who & Sherlock: Steven Moffat & Benedict Cumberbatch on the Sexification, Fetisization & Tumblrization of The Doctor & Holmes.

OK first issue here is the order of this, in the very title:

“One of the side effects of the growing viewership has been the sexualization, fetisization and Tumblrization of the two main characters: Sherlock and The Doctor.”

Outside of the title (and its repetition in the opening paragraph), Tumblr is never mentioned again. However, sexualization sure is…. which leads me to conclude that to this author, tumblrization is synonymous with sexualization and fetishization– otherwise why have tumblr mentioned in there at all? Tumblr is known as the central hub of most fandoms nowadays, and largely is referenced to represent fandom (and fans) as a result.

And this essentially would mean that we on Tumblr are being blamed for the sexualization and fetishization– and isn’t THAT rich?

  • The sonic screwdriver penis jokes? Our fault.
  • The degradation of important historical female figures? Our fault.
  • The queerbaiting? Our fault.
  • The ~curing~ of lesbians bc they just can’t resist the Doctor or Sherlock’s sexay-ness? Our fault.
  • The lack of agency of female characters, or their existence at all outside the Doctor’s sexy!man!orbit? Our fault.

It’s not the first time fandom has been blamed for Moffat’s poor choices: we’ve already been called obsessives by some in the media for expecting clarification on major points of canonical interest, such as how Sherlock survived his fall, or how Eleven got extra regenerations.

But it gets better.

“I never know quite what to say about this,” Moffat said of the perceived sexification, or not, of his characters. “Because they’re both characters, and in my head they’re both people. My God, if that’s not sexualized, they’re not having a very good time, are they? [Laughs] I mean, people talk about sex in Doctor Who – I heard someone say that to me, ‘You’ve sexualized the Doctor.’ I said, 'Where? In what episode? What great episode are you watching!?!’

Here, Moffat seems to feed the article’s author her main point, which she sadly (and naively) buys into hook line and sinker–that any sexualization is our fault, and is perceived by us–indeed, is superimposed by us. That we’re reading things into it. That there’s some ~normal~ baseline of sexuality (which is offensive enough) that (almost) ~everyone~ has, but that above and beyond that–nope, fans, those "I’m a screamer” references are all in your head–clearly, River just means she’s gets scared a lot. The “Her nights… well, that’s between her and me, eh?” comment just means that they are secretly catburglars, obviously.

Now… to be fair, to an extent I *do* give him the benefit of the doubt on rare occasions. For example, it was easy for me to give him the benefit of the doubt of his podcast and multiple DWM claim that the dancing in Girl in the Fireplace was G-rated, and the word was used by Reinette simply as a flirtation, and that anything more would have been moving too fast since they’d just met. I have no qualms with his claim because 1) he’s right, it would have been moving WAY too fast, and more importantly 2) this is the exact same context he uses the word 'dancing’ in The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. (In fact, if you look at them side by side, both the script and the cinematography for Reinette’s and Rose’s invitations to dance are virtually identical–and Rose used that merely as flirtation, so I’ll buy Moffat’s assertion that Reinette did as well. He wrote both after all–he should know. As for the folks who insist on the contrary, well I have a whole meta about the intentions of most male, Rose-hating people there.

We also have this gem, which speaks volumes:

You know, you shove Irene Adler in front of him, and he just falls apart like most men would.

Here, Moffat attempts to speak for ~most~ men. Which is at its core another way of admitting that Sherlock’s reaction to Irene Adler is a self-insert for Moffat himself. Which is no surprise–Moffat has been accused for years now of writing his male protagonists as a self-insert, which in part would explain why their dialogue, reactions and characterizations are so similar to each other. As a corollary to this, the extraordinarily similar characterizations of the women who not only fall for these protagonists, but are attractive to the men in return (Irene Adler, River Song, Reinette, Tasha Lem) is also a clear example of self-insert per this quote. We need not wonder why these women are written so similarly in terms of their overt– and overpowering (in the case of Reinette, literally)–sexuality and sexual boldness, since they are written to appeal to Moffat’s view of what a man wants in a woman. The fact that despite being in different fandoms, these women’s sexuality and appeal to the protagonist (let alone their innuendo-laden dialogue) are often indistinguishable from each other again shows that Moffat’s not interested in creating personas for his protagonists–he’s interested in replicating his own persona, and rewriting it across series, fandoms, and protagonists.

Theeeeen we get into some characterization beauties here. Notably Moffat’s typical lack of respect for characterization and show continuity, including the continuity during his own era–this case the epicly written The Doctor’s Wife.

He’s a man that can’t drive his own time machine, right? He’s a bloke. He’s a bloke that stole a time machine and called himself the Doctor.

The Doctor’s Wife is one of the few episodes that’s been written during Moffat’s tenure on the show which has appealed to both Moffat fans as well as critics. And canonically per this episode, not only does the TARDIS put the Doctor where he’s needed (showing it’s not just a machine to be 'driven’), but he and the TARDIS are at the very least equally responsible for 'stealing’ each other–a beautiful piece of canon that was already jossed so Moffat could try to retcon Clara into playing an important role in the Doctor’s life by picking out his TARDIS for him, thus eliminating not only the Doctor’s agency, but that of his beautiful living machine as well.

It’s been noted that prior to DW, Moffat had been employed as a comedy writer–which requires minimal intraseries continuity–while RTD had been employed as a drama writer–which requires sweeping plot and characterization, at least in this day and age. So the fact that continuity clearly does not matter to Moffat may be a natural result of this more than anything else. And the increasing amount of media criticism he’s gotten over the past year not only for plot, but for his tendency to treat women poorly (often as the butt of jokes) is a natural result of the fact that we expect and want someone who can sweep us along like RTD.

The problem is when he turns this around and blames fans for his problems as a writer, as in this article. Or when his writers try to defend his lack of continuity as 'darkness’ that we fans simply do not understand nor appreciate. That’s when he and his staff cross the line from being a poor team–to a very disingenuous one happy to blame others for their own shortcomings.