Our own Kristy Puchko got a chance to join Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and writer Mark Gatiss for a roundtable discussion at San Diego Comic-Con, and — well, head over to CBR to read her full piece, which is chock full of delightfully bombastic Moffat-isms. But in a nutshell, she heard first-hand their thoughts on the supposed “backlash” to Jodie Whittaker’s casting as the new Doctor, as well as their response on Fifth Doctor Peter Davison’s remarks on the matter (which you may remember I dug into yesterday).
Expanding on his claim that Whittaker’s casting got an 80% approval rating on social media, Moffat said, “There were more people talking about the backlash than there were people backlashing.” (And try to imagine Moffat’s natural Scottish accent delivering this next bit, because as Kristy notes, the emphasis is all his) “There’s a few people, but there always are. It’s the comments section for God’s sake! It’s where the lonely go to die. They don’t matter. The approval has been huge.”
(I may or may not be getting a “It’s where the lonely go to die” tattoo in the near future, FYI)
Their concern isn’t just that the media is drumming up this backlash drama, but that by focusing on a few vocal outliers online it vilifies the whole Doctor Who fandom, who by and large are embracing the casting. And the real story, they believe, is in fact the positivity of the response.
As for Davison, they reject that anything he said was a “slam” against Whittaker in any way. As I noted yesterday, that bit had been blown out of proportion — he does in fact compliment her and says he hopes viewers will watch “with an open mind.” As for the rest of his comments (where he worries about “the loss of a role model for boys”), Moffat defends Davison as a “committed feminist and absolute liberal” who was “making some perfectly sensible points, which you can agree with or disagree with.” That was largely how I read them as well — the key is the idea of the Doctor as an important role model, which he/she absolutely is. But does the gender of the Doctor impact who will be influenced?
As far as Moffat is concerned, gender has never played into the role of the Doctor in the slightest. In fact, he went into this season knowing the next Doctor would be female (though not knowing who would get the job), so he thought about playing up the Doctor’s manly qualities for this last go round… only to hit a road block. “He hasn’t gotten a single manly quality. He’s not remotely masculine in any way whatsoever that I could find. And then it occurred to me that he’s not a man, is he? He’s an alien who has taken the form of a human male. He’s about to take the form of a human female. He herself will probably not notice. It’s not like he/she checks a lot. It’s not like he’s about to get pregnant for God’s sake!”
While we could sit around and quibble about the idea of a Gallifreyan taking on the form of a human male or female (wouldn’t they in fact be taking on the form of a Gallifreyan, who happens to resemble a human male or female?), it’s hard to argue with his logic. I certainly can’t, since it echoes what I said yesterday (wherein I pointed out that the Doctor is a “FUCKING ALIEN,” which I’m pretty sure is how Moffat would have liked to have said it, had he not been doing press interviews for a BBC kids show).
So, in summary: let’s focus on the fact that we’re getting a woman in the TARDIS and that the vast majority of folks are actually supremely chill with the idea, and cut Davison some slack for saying some shit that got taken out of context, because he’s really a pretty swell guy. And also, I totally NAILED IT yesterday. Really, those are the big takeaways. *cue happy dance*