I just got an Integrity Toys Janay head to make a 1:6 scale version of Bill Potts as played by Pearl Mackie the amazing.Continue reading 1:6 scale version of Bill Potts forthcoming
The Internet Archive has a beautiful trove of pulp magazines ranging from the late 1800s through the 1990s, all free, all scanned in high-quality color, available for you to read or to admire the pretty pictures.
Being a sci-fi and fantasy fan, as well as a connoisseur of the Technicolor cover art of 20th century pulps of that genre, I picked out some of most iconic and amusing covers for my own use. I modified the covers to add silly titles and author names. Then I reduced covers and backs to a size at which people could still admire the covers, but at which my 1:6 scale populations could also read them.
Here are my Shalka Dorks getting meta-fictional: sci-fi characters reading Atomic Age pulps!
Now that I have had time to concentrate my rage into the long-smoldering core of righteous fury that burns within my core, fueling both activism and fixit fics, I would like to mention two more ways in which Season 10 of Doctor Who was horribly wretched.
It’s especially shitty, particularly in in World Enough and Time and The Doctor Falls.
Think of the Cyber people as people with disabilities: difficulties in communicating, in gross motor control, in feeling/connecting with their emotions, and/or people with chronic pain. You will soon understand how disgustingly they are portrayed.
A. They look dead. They are shown at first as motionless figures in wheelchairs. Their white costumes and head masks recall either body bags or bags over people’s heads when they’re going to a firing squad; either way, they carry connotations of death.
B. Their voices are silenced and treated as irrelevant. The first Cyber person who does have a voice, saying, “Pain, pain,” with their communications device, is treated as an annoyance; the nurse deals with them brusquely. Even further, Bill turns down the device’s volume so she doesn’t have to hear the disabled person speak. Her action suggests that the disabled person’s voice as scary and objectionable.
C. They do not want to live; they all want to die. After the pain Cyber person, we hear two other Cyber voices in the hospital. One person says, “Die me.” The other says, “Kill me.” Viewers are expected to take this death wish as applicable for all Cyber people; even Bill, in The Doctor Falls, says something like “If I can’t be me, I don’t want to go on living.” In this case, “me” means the entirely organic, able-bodied person that she was before. These statements from Cyber people imply that life with a disability is so hopeless and miserable that even those with disabilities don’t want to continue living.
D. They’re treated as cannon fodder. The Cyber people look dead, have no voices [according to able-bodied people], and say that they want to die. It’s very easy to jump from these observations to the conclusion that they are not people, but mere objects. Their deaths don’t count as deaths of people because they’re subhuman and…well…they were essentially dead already, right? As a result of this dehumanization, we get torture porn of the people at the orphanage blowing up Cyber people because killing nonpersons isn’t really killing, so it’s not a real problem or anything. It’s so kind, brave, noble, compassionate, admirable, and heroic for the Doctor to indiscriminately slaughter crowds of disabled people. This show really sends the message that we should respect all people’s worth, dignity, and integrity. I love it in shows and movies and books when all the disabled people die. I find it inspirational and uplifting.
For another ableist treatment, refer to the depiction of Eyeliner Master, as played by John Simm. Last time we saw the dude in the End of Time, he was insane on account of the Drums. Yup, that counts as being disabled. When he reappears in the Season 10 finale, he acts more like Roger Delgado’s Master: mentally disturbed and disordered, but much more restrained in speech and action. He presents as being sane[r]. Notably, he makes no reference to the Drums that so deranged his earlier life and plot arcs. What’s going on here? The character gives no explanation for the change, and all supporting media portray Eyeliner Master as a return of EoT Master, which leads us to conclude that they’re the same person. So EoT Master = Eyeliner Master – disability.
What the hell, fuckos? You can’t just wave a Magical Wand of Disability Deletion! After years and years of making the Master’s Drums and consequent Insanity a key part of his character, you can’t just remove them because you feel like it. The cheating is especially transparent because there’s no in-story explanation for his reappearance, his changed behavior, or indeed what the hell he was doing circling the drain in a Mondasian colony ship in the first place. An in-story explanation could have made his personality change more plausible and acceptable. For example, maybe he’s still insane, but he has learned how, at great mental and physical cost, present as “sane.” Or maybe he adapted some Cyber technology to partially inhibit his explosive rages and so restore some measure of his beloved self-control. However, without an in-story explanation, we are left with a deus ex machina Magical Disability Deletion. The form of the character remains, but not the content. In a way, disabled EoT Master was dehumanized and discarded just like the disabled Cyber people. The character is lost, and so is his [highly problematic] representation.
BILL POTTS DIED FOR YOUR SINS
Those squealing with unalloyed joy over Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor should note that a white woman came on as the Doctor just as Pearl Mackie, a woman of color, departed.
@stardust-rain points out that the timing is no coincidence:
also everyone ignores the fact that we are getting a female doctor in the expanse of getting rid of an amazing black lesbian character. that’s right, this is the reason why Bill Potts isn’t coming back, bc having a female doctor AND a black lesbian would have given a heart attack to the bigoted fans all at once. they had to make a sacrifice and Bill was it.
When I say BILL POTTS DIED FOR YOUR SINS, this is what I mean. The show has had an overall craptacular history of representing women and/or queer people and/or Black people and/or disabled people. Attempts to make the show more accurately reflect the demographics and identities of the viewers have been piecemeal and insultingly small. Bill, as a queer Black woman, had the potential to significantly improve the show and make it more relevant, interesting, nuanced, and overall better. But she was done in by a poorly organized conception [seriously, what’s her backstory beyond chips, Moira, and a mum about which we know nothing, not even her fucking name?] and horrible, stereotypical writing.
Bill became a liability to the show, not because of her underdevelopment and shitty lines, but because she was a queer Black woman. Here’s the thought process at the BBC: “Whoa there! That’s just way too much representation; the straight cis white dudes won’t stand for it! If we stick a white female Doctor in the mix along with a queer Black female character, the straight white cis dudes will pitch shit fits. We need to think strategically and make it look like we’re actually representing our audience when we’re not. So Bill’s gotta go. There aren’t that many queer and/or Black people who watch this show, so it won’t be a big deal. We can just turn her into LITERAL SLIME and send her off with her space stalker and call it a happy ending. THEN we’ll have a female Doctor. We can’t have a queer Black female Doctor because that would be too much representation. But we can have a straight white female Doctor. Yeah, that’s just enough representation. We’ll look edgy without really making substantive change. [Plz fanboys don’t hurt us. D: ].”
Bill Potts was too real for the BBC to handle. Thus they killed her off, making her the scapegoat for their cowardice.
Oh look spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The latest season of DW has treated Bill shittily, both as a WOC and as a lesbian, and The Doctor Falls was just the diarrhea sauce on a crap sundae of disappointment.
If you think it’s a “happy ending” that Bill, the first lesbian COC [companion of color] on Doctor Who, suffered medical violation for ten years by the Cyber conversion team and ten years of mental violation by Eyeliner Master, then ended up condemned to the equivalent of TOTAL NARRATIVE DEATH, flying off into the universe with a personalityless dead wet white chick with whom she had no substantive relationship just because the DWWC had been stalking her for a decade, go read something else.
If you feel like partaking of my rage, stay with me. Other people, I’m sure, will direct their rage, frustration, and sense of betrayal into far more eloquent and exhaustive essays than mine about how this entire season failed Bill. I’m only going to focus on two moments from the beginning of The Doctor Falls that epitomized for me just how racist, sexist, and anti-Black women the narrative has been.
Note: I’m quoting from memory here because I have better things to do than to go back and watch the show torture Bill.
Both moments of quintessential misogynoir occur early on in the episode when the Doctor is telling Bill about her Cyber conversion and its consequences.
1) The Doctor says to her something like, “You’re so strong,” then lists examples of Bill’s mental strength, including her survival of physical and mental rape for ten years. He then adds something to the effect of her having to resist her programming.
So the Doctor blows off Bill’s stated fears of both dying and of Missy [see World Enough and Time], then proceeds to get her thoroughly perforated and DEAD, tells her to wait for him, doesn’t come for her, leaves her to a decade of medical torture and mind-fucks from Eyeliner Master, then has the audacity to say that she’s so strong for having survived despite the fact that he failed her on multiple levels.
This is the equivalent of straight and/or cis and/or white and/or dude-type persons treating queer and/or Black women like subhuman objects for years and then saying that they’re so impressed by how the queer and/or Black women handle adversity. It’s the Strong Black Woman stereotype: the idea that Black women’s fortitude is an individual choice of personal responsibility, rather than a trait often developed out of the necessity of surviving in an oppressive society.
2) The Doctor also says to her in this conversation, “You’re a Cyberman now. You cannot get angry.” Of course, Bill, having been raped and tortured for a decade, then pulled out of hell too late by the Doctor, does become angry, so her blaster fires and something burns. “Because of that,” the Doctor says.
Right…so…here we have a straight cis white dude lecturing a queer woman of color. The QWOC has just spent a decade of her life being abused, raped, and tortured in ways that queer and/or Black women have been particularly vulnerable to now and throughout history. The QWOC is full of rage, pain, and sadness. The straight cis white dude tells her not to feel her entirely understandable emotions.
This is playing directly into the stereotype of the Angry Black Woman whose wrath scares white people [especially dudes] so shitless that they must prohibit it. This also plays directly into the tendency of straight people to do tone policing on queer people, claiming that, if queer people weren’t so loud/flamboyant/outraged/“openly gay,” they would attain their goals of equal rights more effectively.
Bill deserved so much better than all the objectification, humiliation, and cancellation she suffered, but she was doomed from the start. The story tied up her arc and identity in losing and then ultimately finding that dead wet white chick with no personality. However, there’s a stronger case to be made that Bill’s arc and identity may more accurately be linked to an anxiety about her identity, her parentage, and being seen for who she truly is. [I am indebted to irascible bogtrotter’s thoughts on the subject.]
But the narrative didn’t give a shit about that, so it deprived the character of a significant chance for true development and flourishing. Add to that all the flaming racism, sexism, and homophobia that the showrunners et al. heaped on Bill, and you can see why the way in which she was constructed as a character gave her no hope of any satisfaction or satisfactory development in-universe.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m never watching the new DW again. I’m going back to play in my Shalkaverse sandbox, where it is quite possible that Alison Cheney, the Master, and the Doctor will vworp over to an alternative timeline and extract Bill from that shitshow to help her achieve the dignity, respect, and happiness that she was never able to in her season.
Sardonix and others went to the VTDL meetup, but only the photo with Sardonix came out. Pics on official blog.
Net Neutrality is under siege again. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is making it easy for you to send your public comments to the FCC about why we need Net Neutrality. There’s a form letter, and a place for you to personalize it. All letters require name, address, and E-mail. They all become public record as part of FCC comments. Here’s what I wrote:
Existing Net Neutrality rules based on Title II must stay in place. Freedom of information, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of action are inextricably linked. Current Net Neutrality laws support the first, and, in turn, all of the other freedoms I listed. Killing Net Neutrality would contribute to the demise of all of these freedoms.
DW creators think that it’s an inspiring show about a fixit hero who can be watched by all ages. The script has the Doctor claiming that he is motivated primarily by kindness, justice, and mercy. In the wake of the TRULY CRAPPY S10 finale, there are fans who take the viewpoint that DW is indeed an inspiring show, suitable for children, about a hero who fixes problems with kindness and mercy. Some of these fans say that others shouldn’t take the show seriously because the show doesn’t take itself seriously. I believe that we should take it seriously, and here’s why…
If you think that DW is an inspiring kids’ show and hope and kindness because that’s what the creators say and that’s what the Doctor says on occasion, that’s not really looking at the whole picture. There’s a lot more going on in that show than the authorial intent and the script. There are characters’ actions, cinematography, lighting, costuming, etc. There are also of course outside pressures, such as characters leaving, actors getting older, ROGER DELGADO DYING… D: All of these have effects on the stories. A comprehensive interpretation of the show must take authorial intent, script text, AND all those other factors into account.
A huge thing that we also have to consider that DW is part of a larger culture. Even if the creators don’t think it does, DW reproduces the racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism of the society in which it was created. It also sends that racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism to a wide audience. It affects the thoughts and feelings of a huge amount of people. In other words, DW has a serious effect on people, as does any piece of media. We absolutely should take it seriously by contextualizing it, analyzing it, and criticizing it.
In fact, that’s how I get my hope and belief. I get my hope, inspiration, and belief not from the Doctor’s speeches, but by criticizing pop culture phenomena such as DW. It’s through this contextualization, analysis, and criticism [translation: fixit fics] that I sustain my hope and belief and sense of helping people.
I deconstruct DW because I’m enraged and unhappy over its racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism. In taking the show seriously, I figure out how I wish it would have gone. I envision a world in which racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism exist, but don’t fuck people up so much. I envision a setting in which people can work against their oppressions and achieve some measure of happiness for themselves, even as they make the world a better place.
I see in my mind’s eye my version of a better world, and I share it with people. I hope that people who feel similarly might feel gratified by what I read. Maybe they’ll go away feeling less disappointed with the original. Maybe they’ll get an idea for their own fanworks. Maybe, if they’re exhausted from their own activism, my stories will cheer them up.
In other words, I take DW seriously because it’s an influential piece of culture. I also take it seriously because it fails me. When it fails me, I have the chance to imagine a better world. When I imagine a better world, I believe in it more strongly. My belief leads to passion, which leads to action. I write fixits as part of that action. I also act creatively and politically for social justice in other ways.
I derive hope and inspiration from DW, but not because I believe the show’s superficial claims that it’s about that. I derive the hope and inspiration from what I make of the show: a chance to seize something better from a disappointment, a chance to use my passion to change the world.