lizbee: (DW: Amy (fairy tale))
[personal profile] lizbee
Because of Mum's wedding, I only made it to the last two days of Worldcon. At Mum's place, I carefully highlighted all the panels I wanted to go to, giving myself two really full days of panel-going.

Then I actually got there, attended three panels and a podcast recording, and spent a lot of time just hanging out with people. IT WAS AWESOME. [personal profile] mondyboy could hang out for Australia.

But yes, three panels. And I took notes! In my sketchbook! Which means they're disjointed and occasionally illegible, but also illustrated, so I'll share the notes, then expand and put them in context.



Panelists: Tansy Rayner Roberts, Carolina Gomez, Kerrie Dougherty, Catherynne M. Valente, Paul Cornell



I'm not good with names or faces, so in terms of matching comments to people, I'm only on certain ground with Paul Cornell (The Only Man) and Catherynne Valente (The Only American). (Carolina Gomez is Swedish, but I don't remember her saying anything that stuck in my mind, except that apparently Sweden is a terrible place to live if you want to watch Doctor Who.)

I'm really just going through my notes here; I'll transcribe them for those who can't or don't wish to decipher my scribbles, and add expanding notes for context and detail.

Vast amounts of women, a number of children, predominantly white. My observations of the attendees. At a guess, I'd say that women outnumbered men here, but yesterday I transcribed a court case where such guesswork was being criticised, so don't take my word for gospel.

I have put myself in a situation containing inflatable Daleks. Great. Two inflatable Daleks were brought in to accompany the panel. Midway through, a little boy asked if they had a thought on a female Doctor. The Daleks were very positive.

Paul Cornell is the only man on this panel. Statement of fact.

"What is essentially male about the Doctor?" The opening question. The panel touched only lightly on queer issues, and took a very essentialist, cis-centric view of gender for the most part, so there was a fair bit of toothgrinding.

"I know it's too much to hope for a female Doctor and companion," lamented one panellist.

"Knowing Moffat, that's exactly what we'd get," joked Cornell.

Randomnesses:

- a female Doctor would change the Doctor-companion relationship, making room for a solo male companion. Or, with another woman in the TARDIS, every episode would pass the Bechdel test. Much excitement, especially from Cornell, at the thought of a series about women solving problems and saving the universe together.
- bring on the Lumley!Doctor-Sawalha series!
- Female Doctor + River = WIN. Lots of knowing laughter.
- positive murmur at the suggestion of reviving Romana. It's pointed out that if the Doctor can change sex, so can Romana, but this loses us an iconic female character. (I, myself, would quite like to see Benedict Cucumbersandwich playing Romana. For about three episodes. Then he can regenerate into Claire Foy, and we can all bunker down for a new renaissance of slasher misogyny.)
- a female Master got a loud and positive response.

I wrote: Apparently Americans watch Doctor Who for the lack of racism. No, rly. This was in response to a remark by Catherynne Valente, who said that she liked watching DW because the black characters were simply there, without hip hop on the soundtrack every time they entered the room. This, I feel, is a statement in desperate need of unpacking.

Excitement re black Doctor indicates readiness for Rose I wrote that, but I think what I actually meant was that it demonstrated the audience was ready for a change. Don't look at me; the conversation had turned to companions. WRITING IS HARD.

- Regardless of race and sex, the Doctor has to look human. No pointy ears, etc.

Obvs female Doctor would sleep with Jack. This was suggested by an audience member. I rolled my eyes. Hard.

"A woman would get into less trouble than the male Doctor, because she would be nurturing." Questioner is schooled well. Yeah, that suggestion came from an older man who didn't seem to understand why every single panellist started laughing.

Cornell is a continuity nerd. Everyone try to look shocked here.

Arabella Weir - missed opportunity. Poor decision to use as comedy. This was a remark by Paul Cornell, about the Big Finish play featuring Arabella Weir as the Doctor. I haven't heard it, but apparently it's a bit rubbish, the only would-be comedy in a series of alternate universe plays.

What if the Doctor regenerated as a woman and didn't notice? Cornell again, commenting on possible comedic twists. Three episodes after the regeneration, someone says, "Doctor, you're a woman." "What, really? Well, what difference does it make anyway?"

"We don't know what's in the Doctor's trousers." Cornell. AGAIN.

Now comes to an exchange that made me a bit cross. Someone said that a female Doctor would have to be older, and Catherynne Valente said this was because the Hollywood system doesn't encourage young actresses to have presence, intelligence or gravitas. (You know who had gravitas? Peter Davison. No, really. And Colin Baker. Oozing the stuff.) "The Doctor is not an ingenue," she said.

An audience-member mentioned Carey Mulligan as a possibility for a young female Doctor, and a short time later, someone else pointed out that the UK's acting community is more diverse than Hollywood, and there are young actresses with theatrical backgrounds, etc, and what on Earth does Hollywood have to do with Doctor Who? Valente replied, "Yes, but I don't subscribe to the idea that just because it's British, it's better." At which I facepalmed mightily.

And here's the thing: I think that the Doctor would be an amazing role for an older actress, and I would be sad to see it go to a younger woman with her whole career ahead of her. But to say that a younger actress is incapable of playing the part well is just stupid, and reflects an odd hostility towards young women (aged 18-30) that I also observed in another panel. I mean, what's young? Lena Headey is in her mid-thirties; she's no ingenue. (And she has a gift for physical comedy which is not remotely apparent in Sarah Connor.) Saying that young women have no gravitas just means you don't respect them.

In short: Evanna Lynch for Thirteen.

(I tend to recoil at the "gravitas" argument anyway, since it became code for "I'm not racist, I just don't want a black Doctor".)

Did you know the Doctor was a father? DID YOU???? This was mentioned by an attendee as an amazing new fact, which gave Cornell a chance to diss Lungbarrow and make jokes about Time Lord sex. Someone else brought up "half-human on his mother's side" (groans all around), and someone else apparently assumed that Susan was a foster grandchild, because ... because ... well, just because, that's why.

Female Doctor = pregnant. An audience-member mentioned animals that change sex in order to mate, which raised the spectre of a pregnant Doctor. Valente said she was uncomfortable with the suggestion that pregnancy is an exclusively female thing, which was the closest we came to trans issues.

Cornell said that there was nothing in the way of a female Doctor, as long as she is young and hot. In fact, he believes that the BBC would totally go for it, and that we're more likely to see a female Doctor than an old man in the role. This led to discussion of the fact that casting a 40 year old actress would be considered a lot "braver" than casting 40 year old Eccleston.

Then there was a random discusion of Liz Shaw, which was followed by the Two Minute Amy Hate, and then a round of hating on River.

Why would we pander to conservatives? I wrote, in response to someone who said that some people would not want a female Doctor, and we don't want to make them unhappy. Cornell pointed out that people can and do change their minds; he once wrote an essay arguing against a black Doctor, of which he is now ashamed (and hopes will never turn up on the internet).

Sooner a black woman Doctor than a non-British actor in the role. In response to the suggestion of Amanda Tapping for the role. This led to a lot of argument, and someone googled that she was born in Essex, and ... yeah.

"If the Doctor is going to marry River, he caaaaaaaaaan't be a woman!" Well, not in Australia, anyway.

Then we came to a bit that REALLY made me facepalm. An audience-member mentioned her great love for Jacob of TWOP and his "insightful" Who reviews, especially his amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing feminism. (I loved the bit where he describes Amy as a slut in heat and likened her to a sex abuse victim on SVU, myself! That was totally feminist and in no way set a new personal record for misogynistic ranting.) And Jacob says that Moffat is too misogynist to write a female Doctor, and what does the panel think?

I can't really capture all their responses, because I was busy having a small aneurysm, but someone pointed out that Moff already has written a female Doctor, and Valente was agreeing with the Jacob praise, and Cornell was going, "And that's where I'll have to step out, because that's my best friend you're talking about."

And if anything else happened after that, I didn't write it down. Because of the aneurysm. I do remember escaping from the room and frantically tweeting some lulz.



NEXT: "We Are All Fairytales: season 5 of Doctor Who.

Date: 2010-09-08 02:47 am (UTC)
darthfangirl: the thirteenth doctor grins (Default)
From: [personal profile] darthfangirl
Even if you legitimately think that Moffat is a horrible misogynist why would you say that to Cornell? Or to anyone who knows him, for that matter?

Date: 2010-09-08 02:50 am (UTC)
ext_18106: (Whoops)
From: [identity profile] lyssie.livejournal.com
Oh, JACOB. So v. feminist. Yup. Just look at all his BSG reviews where he cheers on the deaths of female characters. *nods*

"If the Doctor is going to marry River, he caaaaaaaaaan't be a woman!" *laughs so hard* Man. What would that do to the dead lesbian trope, though? Because FotD already happened.... *giggles* (please, moff, please, with sugar on top)

Date: 2010-09-08 03:52 am (UTC)
ext_18106: (River Song rocks my socks)
From: [identity profile] lyssie.livejournal.com
EPIC. (I would watch that show)

Date: 2010-09-08 02:52 am (UTC)
purple_smurf: Winnie the Pooh dressed as the fourth Doctor; text reads "Silly Old Time Lord" (doctor who)
From: [personal profile] purple_smurf
I... I... I... the early part seemed to have such promise, but I'm joining you in the aneurysm and I wasn't even there. Imma going to curl up and cry a little now.

Date: 2010-09-08 03:39 am (UTC)
violetisblue: (Creme Brulee)
From: [personal profile] violetisblue
"Excitement re black Doctor indicates readiness for Rose..."

I don't get it, they're saying that people liking the idea of a black Doctor means they'd like Rose back, or they just like the idea of Rose as a companion, or...?

"...someone else pointed out that the UK's acting community is more diverse than Hollywood, and there are young actresses with theatrical backgrounds, etc, and what on Earth does Hollywood have to do with Doctor Who? Valente replied, 'Yes, but I don't subscribe to the idea that just because it's British, it's better.' "

And...what on earth does her statement have to do with what the other person actually said? Never mind, she's said many times how much she hates the Moffat era and wants RTD back so whatever they did along those lines, it wouldn't suit.

"Cornell said that there was nothing in the way of a female Doctor, as long as she is young and hot. In fact, he believes that the BBC would totally go for it, and that we're more likely to see a female Doctor than an old man in the role."

Innaresting, and quite believable given how much emphasis the show press keeps putting on the idea of an old alien in a young body. I don't expect to see a visibly gray and crow's-footed Doctor of any gender for rather some time.

Date: 2010-09-08 03:44 am (UTC)
violetisblue: (Default)
From: [personal profile] violetisblue
She had a long LJ entry about how awful the S5 finale was, and lots of tweeting about how Smiff is fugly and can't act his way out of a horse-paddock and how we all long for David Tennant's exquisite range and subtlety and et cetera. I liked "The Big Bang," but then I am not a Hugo nominee so it's entirely possible I'm missing something.

I still can't credit talking up a blogger who said horrible things about someone's friend/work colleague to said someone. I mean...why?
Edited Date: 2010-09-08 03:45 am (UTC)

Date: 2010-09-08 05:05 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] opheliastornoway
~Exquisite range~ o dear :D The man sure can gurn, I'll give him that!

(But then being the Doctor is traditionally mostly about the gurn, so, not precisely complaining there)

(And Smiff gurns in dance form)

Date: 2010-09-08 05:08 am (UTC)
violetisblue: (Default)
From: [personal profile] violetisblue
Ten was one giant pulsating ball of pure gurn from start to finish, I thought that was the whole attraction. Throw some hot sauce on that scenery and start chewin'!

Date: 2010-09-08 05:57 am (UTC)
onomatopoetry: (who | elebenty)
From: [personal profile] onomatopoetry
I am now going to have to give up my Valente fangirling. This makes me sad.

Date: 2010-09-08 01:06 pm (UTC)
violetisblue: (Default)
From: [personal profile] violetisblue
Well, it's no reflection on her writing or anything (I haven't read her books so not giving an opinion on those), I just thought talking up TWOP!Jacob to Cornell was a little strange.

Date: 2010-09-08 03:57 pm (UTC)
onomatopoetry: (Default)
From: [personal profile] onomatopoetry
Well yeah, I still like her stuff, but I'll have to give up the "zomg, Valente = awesome in every way", especially if she's also all anti-season-five/Eleven, because I am quickly beginning to develop a zero tolerance policy there.

Date: 2010-09-08 04:03 pm (UTC)
violetisblue: (Default)
From: [personal profile] violetisblue
Just didn't want to sound like I was saying "ZOMG SHE MUST BE A HACK" or something. I see manifold grumbling about S5 everywhere I go online but I loved it, so, what can I tell you.

Date: 2010-09-08 10:29 am (UTC)
myniamh: (Default)
From: [personal profile] myniamh
Tennant's exquisite range and subtlety

I stopped watching at ... some point so I must have completely missed the many and varied ways he stared past the camera and cried.

Date: 2010-09-08 03:49 pm (UTC)
violetisblue: (Default)
From: [personal profile] violetisblue
I drifted away during the specials but saw enough bits of "End of Time" to know nothing really changed.

Date: 2010-09-08 04:25 am (UTC)
kerravonsen: Luna Lovegood, a tilted picture hanging on a wall (Luna)
From: [personal profile] kerravonsen
I can't remember why I missed that panel, but THANK YOU for the detailed notes. They were very artistic notes too.
It looks like Paul Cornell was demonstrating a distinct lack of fail, at least compared with some members of the audience and the One American On The Panel.

Amanda Tapping? It could be worse. But I'd much rather have Lumley.

In short: Evanna Lynch for Thirteen.
That would be interesting. At least we know she can do otherworldly and quirky. And, alas, I suspect that by the time the BBC would ever allow themselves to have a female Doctor, she would be 40 years old anyway. (sigh)

I really wouldn't want to try to calculate which one is least likely: a black male Doctor or a white female Doctor. Well, we can at least be certain that a black female Doctor is less likely than either of those.

Date: 2010-09-09 08:07 pm (UTC)
philippos42: (doctor who)
From: [personal profile] philippos42
Heh. In my pipe-dream idea involving the Doctor eventually regenerating down to infancy & being replaced by (now much older) Susan, I did find myself thinking briefly about casting/visual design for Susan!Doctor's likely regeneration. And pretty quickly latched on part-West Indian (maybe mixed, with moderately light coloring), 60ish, nappy hair....

So that's older black woman right there.

Date: 2010-09-08 06:04 am (UTC)
onomatopoetry: (who | elebenty)
From: [personal profile] onomatopoetry
Nice notes. I'm going to have to digest this (and am sad to give up my Valente fangirling, but seriously), but will add that Gomez is right, Sweden's a Very Bad Place for Who, no channel as even aired the new series, and from what I know, none of the old was ever officially aired on SVT (and back then, it was the only option.)

Date: 2010-09-08 06:18 am (UTC)
lizzieladie: (george)
From: [personal profile] lizzieladie
Is it possible that the animosity towards younger actresses is a result of frustration with the way female actresses tend to disappear when they're over thirty-five or so making its way back round to misogyny by directing frustration with that situation toward the younger actresses who are getting jobs instead of the people making the casting decisions? All the while ignoring any possible differences in casting practices between, for example, the CW and the BBC?

Date: 2010-09-08 09:06 am (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
I tend to recoil at the "gravitas" argument anyway, since it became code for "I'm not racist, I just don't want a black Doctor"

Bwuh? Obv, not there, but how did that work. Black actors don't have gravitas or something? I must've been imagining Freeman, Kotto et al.

Americans watch Doctor Who for the lack of racism

Scary, innit. No matter how much we critique it, we do so because it ain't perfect, that there's so much out there that's so much worse is worrying.

Date: 2010-09-08 11:15 am (UTC)
gominokouhai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gominokouhai
I'm a little disappointed that no one mentioned Dark Season, in which the Doctor is a thirteen-year-old girl, and it works. Rusty wrote it and it's better than Season Two at least.

Date: 2010-09-08 04:21 pm (UTC)
prof_pangaea: the master (Default)
From: [personal profile] prof_pangaea
tell me more about this!

Date: 2010-09-08 05:29 pm (UTC)
gominokouhai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gominokouhai
RTD's first (proper) writing gig; childrens' television, 1991, during the Interregnum. (I'm strongly of the opinion that Doctor Who isn't childrens' TV, but this was: having said that it was back when children included teenagers and you could have some fairly clever storylines.) Six episodes. Schoolchildren have science-fiction adventures. The lead character is a thirteen-year-old who bosses around two fifteen-year-olds (one of whom is a very young Kate Winslet), and she's very clearly based on the Doctor.

I saw it when I was eleven, so I'm biased. But it's witty, the dialogue is sharp, the bad guys leave no scenery unchewed and one of them in Jacqueline Pearce. And it aired when we all thought we'd never see Doctor Who again. I like it.

One could consider it early-nineties AU fanfic, but since RTD later went on to wealth and fame, I'm just going to include it in my personal canon that the Doctor regenerated into a schoolgirl and suffered from a period of post-regenerative amnesia. It's worth a watch, anyway.

Date: 2010-09-08 01:34 pm (UTC)
usuallyhats: Leela smiling (leela joy)
From: [personal profile] usuallyhats
Much excitement, especially from Cornell, at the thought of a series about women solving problems and saving the universe together.
YES PLEASE. Tamsin Greig for Twelve!

And here's the thing: I think that the Doctor would be an amazing role for an older actress, and I would be sad to see it go to a younger woman with her whole career ahead of her. But to say that a younger actress is incapable of playing the part well is just stupid, and reflects an odd hostility towards young women (aged 18-30) that I also observed in another panel.
Exactly.

Date: 2010-09-08 03:50 pm (UTC)
onomatopoetry: (Default)
From: [personal profile] onomatopoetry
Tamsin Greig for Twelve!

YES! This idea is full of awesome!

Date: 2010-09-08 03:31 pm (UTC)
lizvogel: Real Doctor Who ended in 1989. (Real DW)
From: [personal profile] lizvogel
Three episodes after the regeneration, someone says, "Doctor, you're a woman." "What, really? Well, what difference does it make anyway?"

Speaking from a purely Watsonian perspective, if the Doctor did regenerate into a female, this is totally the way it would go.

Date: 2010-09-08 08:37 pm (UTC)
arch: (doctor who - River is badass)
From: [personal profile] arch
It would make no difference to him until everyone in any patriarchal society treated him totally differently. I'd like to see how the Doctor would deal with institutional sexism.

Date: 2010-09-08 10:38 pm (UTC)
lizvogel: Real Doctor Who ended in 1989. (Real DW)
From: [personal profile] lizvogel
You could write in any number of ways, depending on whether you wanted to tackle the social issues or just go for the laughs. Personally, I see the Doctor just charging over everyone and telling them off for being thick (which, frankly, he's quite capable of regardless of what the issue is), because it honestly wouldn't occur to him what their problem was about.

This is the character who routinely walks into secure military situations and has everyone deferring to him within five minutes, after all.

Date: 2010-09-08 05:14 pm (UTC)
fallingtowers: River Song in femme fatale/super spy outfit from teaser of 5x04  (Fandom: Doctor Who (20) -- Doctor Song)
From: [personal profile] fallingtowers
I'd probably sacrific my hypothetical first-born to the BBC to see a middle-aged female Twelfth Doctor marrying River Song in between saving the universe.

And Paul Cornell sounds more than a bit of all right.

Date: 2010-09-09 03:30 pm (UTC)
kangeiko: (doctor who 11)
From: [personal profile] kangeiko
I think I'd prefer a middle-aged female Doctor to a young female Doctor, if only because there are so few parts for female actrors past the age of 40 that isn't 'mother'. And to put one in a 'hero' role would make me all sorts of happy. Of course, having a deep, deep Polly Walker crush, I would sacrifice several animals to a god of someone's choosing to make that happen. And then she can marry River Song, and I will spontaneously combust from happiness.

If I can't have a female 12, I will accept Idris Elba instead. But then 13 will simply have to be a pissed-off Helen Mirren. With a gun.

Date: 2010-09-09 08:14 pm (UTC)
akashasheiress: (four/romana ii)
From: [personal profile] akashasheiress
Is it bad that I'd not want Romana to change genders because, well, I like her as an awesome female character?

Date: 2010-09-10 02:29 pm (UTC)
akashasheiress: (Default)
From: [personal profile] akashasheiress
Understandable. Anyone on the panel ship Doctor/Romana?

Date: 2010-09-10 01:08 am (UTC)
sqbr: (up and down)
From: [personal profile] sqbr
The world is determined to stop me from replying to this but:
Your notes are much better than mine, there's bunch of things I didn't write down and forgot by the time I wrote my post. I think I missed a lot of the frustrating subtext and patterns by not really being in who fandom.

Date: 2010-09-10 04:00 am (UTC)
alienist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alienist
My response was going to be all very thorough, but then I thought Lena Heady as the Doctor and I have been drifting in my happy place ever since.

Date: 2010-09-10 04:08 am (UTC)
aria: ([doctor who] van gogh tardis)
From: [personal profile] aria
I am beginning to think Cornell is my new favourite person. At least he seems to be made of much less fail than anyone else you quoted on that panel.

Date: 2010-09-12 02:25 am (UTC)
infiniteviking: A noncommital bluejay on a perch. (4)
From: [personal profile] infiniteviking
Great notes.

..Benedict Cumberbatch would be excellent as anyone on the show. *wants*

Cornell again, commenting on possible comedic twists. Three episodes after the regeneration, someone says, "Doctor, you're a woman." "What, really? Well, what difference does it make anyway?"
..Which reminds me that Eleven checked for possible girl-ness by feeling his Adam's apple.

This led to discussion of the fact that casting a 40 year old actress would be considered a lot "braver" than casting 40 year old Eccleston.
*facepalm* Can't we have both. Ninth Doctor meets Older Female Twelfth Doctor y/y?

Date: 2010-09-16 10:18 pm (UTC)
icebluenothing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icebluenothing
My first Doctor was Barbara Benedetti. (Yes, I saw a fan film before I saw an actual episode .... ) So for me, this is a complete non-issue. Yes, of course the Doctor can be a woman; so what?

If I could cast anyone as the Doctor in my ultimate dream production, I'd have to go with Tilda Swinton. Because I think she'd nail it.

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