October 22nd, 2008


Watching People's Heads Explode

David Tennant hasn't yet abandoned his starring role in the BBC SF series Doctor Who, but rumors have already begun circulating that Paterson Joseph--who guest-starred in the first season--may be the leading candidate to replace Tennant as the 11th Doctor. Joseph would be the first black actor to assay the iconic role.

Obviously, since Tennant hasn't even bowed out of the role yet, this is at best an unsubstantiated rumor, no different from earlier rumors that Robert Carlyle was going to take over for Tennant. (At some point, we'll also need to address the issue of Tennant's semi-regeneration, which technically makes him the 10th and 11th Doctor, and whoever succeeds him technically the 12th. I also pushed my glasses up my nose while typing that.)

But the fact that it's just a rumor doesn't mean it isn't fun to watch people's heads explode over the possibility that their beloved Doctor might be going Negro! Observe the racial panic hilarity over at the Digital Spy forum:

For example, someone calling himself EleventhDoctor weighs in with this gem:

Not being a racist here, but as I have said before, The Doctor is a white british male and always will be.

There will never be a female James bond etc...

Classic means STAYING classic

Word up, EleventhDoctor! Finally, someone has the guts to define "classic" as "white British male"! But of course he isn't being racist. He's merely saying that a shapeshifting alien who can assume any appearance upon regeneration couldn't possibly be anything other than white. (Sadly, the classic series doesn't disprove his theory: After numerous trips to Gallifrey, we never once saw a Time Lord of color. Hell, even Star Trek eventually realized there were probably black Vulcans!)

Later in the conversation, EleventhDoctor continues:

I really dont like the idea...

nowdays, the casting of black actors in a previously white role is done for impact...or at least seen that way.

I think he would be great as the Doctor but it would all be over shadowed.

I want to see headlines about the new doctor... not the "FIRST BLACK DOCTOR!"

He is a fantastic actor but unfortunately would lose his talent in the media rush... especially in the tabloids.

Although, otherwise, I agree - a great choice for number 11.

I wish I had EleventhDoctor's crystal ball so I could see into the future too and determine when actors -- even ones I like! -- lose their talent altogether because they're black and someone happens to notice. Except I'd probably use the crystal ball to determine the winning lottery numbers instead, but I'm crazy like that. Keeping Doctor Who white classic is clearly much more important!

Luckily, a lot of the other posters do their best to school EleventhDoctor, but even their best isn't enough because, hilariously, the argument devolves pretty quickly from what appears to be an enlightened discussion of the Doctor's skin color to a pretty cavemanish discussion of whether or not there could ever be a female Doctor. To whit, starsailor has this to say:

I'd be happy for a black Doctor. I can't see why not.

A female doctor? No way.

And this from butlerx12:

I second this. Totally happy with a black MALE doctor. But never a female. (and Im a female so Im not being sexist!)

Rock on, butlerx12! There's no such thing as a sexist woman, right? So if you say something sexist but are a woman, it must be true instead! Boy have we been schooled. Check and mate! By the way, have you submitted to the will of your husband yet, the way that female-authored self-help book says you should?

There are seventeen pages of hilarity to be had at the Digital Spy forum, culminating in this piece of paranoid delusion from StansCoffins:

I don't have any problem with a black Doctor, I just think that to say "Right, let's have a black Doctor, now who shall it be?" is a bit silly, and is just doing it to be different, for the sake of it. Positive discrimination is discrimination nonetheless.

I think when choosing the Doctor, they should choose someone based on their acting ability and suitability for the role, and it frankly doesn't matter whether he's black, white or fluerescent green.

And if they did cast Paterson Joseph for the role, I would be thrilled, but equally I would also be thrilled if they cast Philip Glenister or David Mitchell, both white. Colour just isn't something I notice when observing fantastic actors.

Looks like EleventhDoctor isn't the only one with magical powers! StansCoffins apparently has the ability to determine, from afar, exactly why Paterson Joseph might have been discussed for the role. And it sure wasn't his acting ability! Even though he'd be thrilled if Joseph landed the role! But only on StansCoffins' own terms, of course. Which means the producers' eyes have to be plucked out so they don't accidentally notice Joseph is black. Not that he sees color anyway. Huh? Someone please decode this post for me!

I'm just surprised that people in this day and age are still saying "I don't have a problem with black people, I just don't want to see them on TV in my favorite roles" with a straight face.