First of all I loved the post about the Latin farewell ten song, especially the comment about the Latin dictionary. Second, why the Norway do people hate Martha Jones and Mary Morstan?
If you want the short answer, people hate them because they
threaten the fandom’s fave white ship.
If you want the long answer… well…
Any hate I’ve seen about Mary has
always been nonsensical - e.g. meta that doesn’t make sense, hypocritical
arguments and basically a lot of double standards, mindless hostility and misogyny.
People will go on and on about how Mary is an irredeemable monster for shooting Sherlock and then talk about how romantic it is that John shot someone for Sherlock their first case together. Or they’ll ignore the obvious parallel of John being a soldier and a doctor vs Mary being an assassin and a nurse and the fact that neither John nor Mary have qualms about killing those who ‘deserve’ it - (‘But he wasn’t a very nice man’ / ‘People like Magnussen should be killed that’s why there are people like me’). Sherlock also kills or hurts people who ‘deserve’ it, but while Mary is a monster for trying to kill Magnussen to protect John and her unborn baby, Sherlock is a hero for actually doing it. And Sherlock can fake his death in front of John, pretend to be dead for two years and send him spiralling into depression, but when Mary lies to John about her past, also to protect him, she’s scum. Apparently something is only immoral if a woman does it.
And oh lord. Don’t get
me started on Martha Jones or we’ll be here all night.
Martha’s situation is
similar in that she too threatened the fandom’s fave white ship, but also very
different because she is a black woman, so she has to endure virulent fandom
misogyny AND racism. Good times.
Martha had the misfortune of coming after the fandom favourite Rose Tyler. She
was also the first black female companion in the show’s history, which put her in a vulnerable position from the start. And unfortunately Davies made some poor choices that exacerbated this. Rose is referenced throughout season 3, which makes it difficult for Martha to shine in her own right. Martha is in love with the Doctor, which means that some of those fans invested in the Doctor/Rose ship see her as a threat and tear her down. Proving her worth in comparison to Rose was also made a big part of her character development when it absolutely did not need to be.
Lines like ‘Rose would know’ in The Shakespeare Code are particularly jarring. When you have a new companion coming in, the last thing you want to do is encourage the audience to compare them unfavourably to the companion that came before. But for the whole season that’s what Davies does, and Martha is made to feel insecure and inferior to a woman who is not even present in the show. It finally culminates in the Master saying, just before her hour of triumph, “Such a disappointment. In days of old, Doctor, you had companions who could absorb the time vortex. This one’s useless.“ Leaving aside the fact that this line makes no sense since the Master had never met Rose, Davies’ decision to pivot Martha’s big heroic moment of glory around ‘coming out of Rose’s shadow’ is absolutely disgusting. People explain this away by saying “well the Master’s a villain, of course he’s going to taunt her” - but this ignores the fact that Davies had to carefully engineer the entire season to make this particular taunt and this particular comparison the thing that would upset Martha the most.
And it is so unnecessary. So, so unnecessary. Martha overcoming her fears and insecurities is one thing, but Martha being forced to live up to Rose is another. Martha fights tooth and nail all season, saves the world, fights the Master, saves the Doctor, proves that she’s amazing - and in the midst of that we have to be reminded that hey, Rose was pretty great too. And then it becomes Martha’s fault when she says things like ‘Oh, she was blonde!’. People perceive her as being jealous of Rose and judge her for it, when really she’s just hurt and insecure and fed up (never mind the fact that her father left her mother for a blonde woman).
And I know, the Doctor was in a grieving period. He was hurting badly when he met Martha. But that does not excuse his behaviour or justify the callbacks to Rose. The Runaway Bride had dealt with Rose’s loss and the Doctor had asked Donna to come with him at the end, which proved he was ready for a new companion. But Davies chose to make it an issue in S3, even though he could easily have shown the Doctor being sad and emotionally distant without it coming at Martha’s expense. And yes, I know, the Doctor liked Martha. He told her about his childhood and home planet. He
trusted her deeply. He thought she was brilliant
and called her a star.
But that doesn’t mean he didn’t also treat her disrespectfully.
The other reason people hate her is because she makes the decision to leave. The expression that makes me eye roll so hard it hurts is ‘I can’t
believe she left the Doctor when he needed her! Rose would never leave him!’
Someone needs to take a shovel and quietly bury any sentence about Martha Jones that begins with the word ‘Rose.’ Because no, Rose wouldn’t leave him. But then again, Rose’s time with the Doctor hadn’t been characterised by feeling insecure and unappreciated, being used as an emotional whipping post, working for months as a maid in very racist time period or being unfavourably compared to his past companions. I mean, Rose only found out the Doctor had past companions by accident. The Doctor made sure Martha knew about Rose the instant she set foot in the TARDIS.
And let’s not forget about The Year That Never Was.
She had just gotten through seeing her family enslaved to a genocidal maniac. She was on the run from said maniac for an entire YEAR with nothing to rely on but her own skills and her own wits. For a year she was hunted across the planet and almost killed several times. She saw an entire country blown up because of her. She spent a whole year on the run - starving, fighting, living in ditches, constantly afraid, constantly thinking of what was happening to her family. She probably had PTSD coming out her ears after that. But she made it. She saved the Doctor. She saved her family. She saved the world. And after that, she saved herself.
Martha got out. She needed to heal and look after herself. She gave him a phone and told him to call if he ever needed her. She didn’t abandon him, she ended a toxic relationship and left the TARDIS to look after herself AND her family - you know, the family that had been tortured and imprisoned by the Master. She says, “I spent all this time trying to be a doctor, and now I’ve got people to look after.” Leaving him is the least selfish thing in the world. But God forbid a black woman put her own welfare before the white male protagonist’s right?
Basically both Mary and Martha had the misfortune to be introduced late into an established show as (possible?) rival love interests to established ships that had huge fandom followings. And that’s a pretty rough deal, especially in Martha’s case.