A short clip from the presentation “Doctor Who and Culture: with Dr. Rosanne Welch
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“So these 3 characters of color are treated very well and very completely and this impressed me. I like Russell. I’ve always liked Russell. I was glad to find out he was doing that well. I assumed Steven Moffat would do it even better and I was wrong. I was shocked to be wrong. So let’s get with Steven Moffat and who he invented. It starts to look really interesting and then it falls apart. I think that’s so sad.
This is Liz 10. She is the tenth Queen Elizabeth of England. So, Steven is telling us that in so many generations from now, English population is going to be brown. So that’s a pretty cool move. That is a pretty cools statement. However, she pretty much shows up in the episode, saves the Doctor’s life, and disappears. She has no sex life, no love life, no family, no relationships, no job — except being queen. She’s a one dimensional character. That shocked me. I was like, Whoa, Liz 10!” She’s really nothing. She’s a prop — as far as the story goes. That’s your job, making a character — a ful character.
So this shocked me. So, who else did Steven Moffat invent who is a character of color. Well, I know, super-cool Mels. Mels is very cool. If you haven’t seen the show I’ll try not to spoil it, but she is related to another character we really like a lot.
She only shows up in a short bit, in order to explain a plot situation and she moves on and she never has any real deep association with The Doctor after that. So, she’s used as a gimmick, because if you know who she is later in life, you recognize the gimmick. No one guessed that because she doesn’t look like the person she regenerates into. So, it was a trick. That character is just a trick. She’s not a 3-dimensional complete character and that really bothered me. Steven, dont’t do this to me! Do something good, please, cause I really think he is a smart writer. That’s River Song. We’ll get to her later.
Rita show up in only 1 episode. She’s not just a character of color, She is also a woman with a different religion because she is Islamic. So that was really interesting, exciting and wonderful. She’s only in one episode and guess what happens to her at the end of the episode? She dies. Oh, my god! So he invented this really cool, interesting 3-dimensional person and he killed her. So, as far as I was concerned, Russell did characters of color better and I think that is really interesting. And the scary part is — you probably already know this, as it pretty open and obvious — Russell is one of the first gay — openly gay men in England to get the OBE from the Queen. So, he is known to be an out-of-the-closet gay man. He understands how badly people who are not of what is considered the norm can be created on television. So, his focus was to make sure he took the characters who weren’t given that full coverage by other people and to give it to them.“
Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education discusses Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.
“Natalie Lopez at the CalPoly University Library invited me to do a presentation for National Libraries Week on Doctor Who and Culture so that’s why a group of Whovians from both CalPoly and CSUF gathered in the Special Events room on April 16th. It was wonderful to look out over a sea of t-shirts and other Doctor paraphernalia present among the crowd as I pontificated about what makes Who great – mostly giving me a chance to present a case for the fact that writers make Doctor Who and therefore writers make culture.”