Doctor Who Writers change culture from “Doctor Who and Culture” with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the presentation “Doctor Who and Culture: with Dr. Rosanne Welch

View the entire presentation

Doctorwho writers change culture

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

Transcript:

I got to interview Russell for a magazine we do for the Writers Guild of America. This is an interview with Russell T Davies when he came to America to do a 4th season of Torchwood. And so, I was talking with him about some of his choices and what not. It was interesting. He said he knew from his childhood that the hardest thing to do was to watch television and not see yourself as one of the people there. That is unfair to a child because that means you don’t belong in the universe. You don’t fit in the world.

There is a character named Captain Jack and Russell, specifically once everyone was comfortable with what he was doing with the Doctor — because, when he first brought the show back, the fear was he would make the Doctor gay — and that would just ruin it. It wouldn’t really ruin it, but the network was scared it would, right? So, he couldn’t do that. He said, “I’m not going to do that. The Doctor’s iconic. I’m not going to change him too much.” That’s probably why he’ll never be a girl and he likely will never be a Doctor of color — which is too bad. But, he can surround him with people that offer visuals to children and Captain Jack was exactly that — both in Doctor Who and in Torchwood, which is the show, then the spinoff, that was created to give Captain Jack his own troop that he would work with, save the world from bad aliens.

We’ve seen Captain Jack kiss men, dance with men at weddings, right, have his heart broken by people, and so full and complete, 3 dimensional same-sex relationships have been opened to children through watching Doctor Who and Torchwood, if you let your kid watch Torchwood. Which I did do, because he liked it. That was really important for Russell, so he truly had a, if you will, a social justice mission, with being a writer. And so, as much as the title of this does say, “The Doctor the Changed the Universe”, I would have to say it is actually the writers, who write the Doctor, who change the universe, because it is writers, whether they are writing books or they are writing television, or they’re writing films, that give us this influence that we live by and that’s why we’re wearing stuff from Doctor Who and we like all the stuff we like.”

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.”

Steven Moffat and his Characters from “Doctor Who and Culture” with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the presentation “Doctor Who and Culture: with Dr. Rosanne Welch

View the entire presentation

Drwho moffat characters

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

Transcript:

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.

(LAUGHTER)

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.”

Creating Companions of Color from “Doctor Who and Culture” with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the presentation “Doctor Who and Culture: with Dr. Rosanne Welch

View the entire presentation

Drwho creating companions color

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

Transcript:

Other cool characters that Russell T. Davies invented was the very first companion of color. The Doctor always travels with someone, generaly a human, these days, generally a girl, although eventually we got round to a boy. Martha Jones comes on to the show and she is the opposite of Rose, not just that she happens to be an Englishwomen of African descent, she’s and intern — she’s about to be a doctor. Whereas Rose is a shop girl. so she is low class/high class, right?

So, he made a character of color who was from the higher class. Not someone from the ghetto. She was someone with a good education, moving forward to a good job. She gets to be a full. 3-dimensional person, complete with falling in love with the Doctor, because who wouldn’t fall in love with David Tennant? The problem is, so had Rose, briefly and he actually fell in love with Rose so you can’t fall in love with every girl or then he is just, you know, a traveling womanizer.

So, Russell T. Davies actually took some flack for not allowing David Tennant to fall in love with the character of color, but it was just the way the story happened to fall. It would make him look cheesy if he fell in love with every girl he met. But Martha gets to be grown up enough to say, “I get it. You’re never going to feel about me the way I feel about you and I’m not going to waste my life waiting. I’m going to move on.” Which is hugely mature. So there is her character arc and she goes off to do very interesting things.

There are 2 really interesting characters of color, so far. Coming up to the 3rd one who only shows up in one episode. It’s a Christmas episode, as well, where there is an alternate Doctor and an alternate companion. There in sort of a Steampunk world. Rosita here, it looks like she should just be a maid and basically just a prostitute from back in the day. But again, 3-dimensional personality, she saves their lives in the course of the episode. She is hugely important to this episode. She doesn’t just stand around and say, “Ooo, I’m cute!”

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.”

Talks on Doctor Who covered in Poly Post from Cal Poly Pomona

The Poly Post, student newspaper of Cal Poly Pomona had write-ups on both of my Doctor Who talks. Click through to see the complete articles.

“Dr. Who” presentation attracts many CPP fans

Doctor Who Presentation attract many CPP fans

Doctors aren’t known for fighting aliens or time traveling. However, Doctor Who is.

Perhaps that is why so many students crowded the library to hear a presentation on the TV series and novels called “Dr. Who.”

The event that took place Wednesday afternoon was put together in celebration of National Library Week. The fandom behind the books and TV show was the deciding factor in focusing solely on the Dr. Who series.

TV scriptwriter and Cal Poly Pomona faculty for the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education, Rosanne Welch conducted the presentation and spoke not only about the characters of the show, but the shows impact on British and American culture.

She used the popularity of the series to highlight various points on character development, sexism, American culture and racism.

Read the entire article

 

The Doctor will see you now

The Doctor will see you now

“Doctor Who” fans, otherwise known as Whovians, gathered in the third floor of the University Library for “Doctor Who Regenerated” on May 13.

Rosanne Welch, interdisciplinary general education professor at Cal Poly Pomona and avid “Doctor Who” fan, spoke to guests about two of the show’s writers: Russel T. Davies and Steven Moffat, and compared the themes each writer has brought to the popular British television series.

Both writers were involved with the screenwriting for the show since its revival in 2005, with Davies taking charge from 2006-2008, and Moffat following in 2010.

According to Welch, both writers brought different themes that steered the show in different directions. Davies, who worked on the popular British series “Queer as Folk,” continued to portray “Doctor Who” as the “cheesy” children’s program it was during the 1960s while discreetly creating “deep” and “mature” themes for children to grasp.

Read the entire article

Davies creates fully realized characters from “Doctor Who and Culture” with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the presentation “Doctor Who and Culture: with Dr. Rosanne Welch

View the entire presentation

Davies creates fully-realized characters from

 

 

Transcript:

“When Mickey shows up on the show, he is the boyfriend of Rose who is the blonde, white, girl, who is going to become the companion to the Doctor and there is no discussion about it. The show wasn’t about, “Oh no, they have an interracial relationship and it’s difficult.” It’s not. It’s just Rose an Mickey and they’re together and that’s how life goes. Right? So Russell T. Davies, in my argument, has a better representation of characters of color. He gives them 3 dimensionality. His characters of color have real lives. They have jobs. They have relationships and they have sex. Real people have sex. They really do.

(Laughter)

Wooo!

All married people…well they weren’t married.

(Laughter)

So, that makes a full character. So I was interested, when I looked at characters that Russell created. Right? So here is Mickey Smith. What’s also interesting about Mickey is that he starts out afraid to join the Doctor. It’s too much for him. It’s too scary, but Rose goes along and after a couple of seasons, Mickey starts to realize, “I missed out on something. I made the wrong choice. Can I change my mind?” So he grows as a human being. He doesn’t just stay the same funny guy the whole four seasons or 5 seasons we know him. So, a character being given a true character arc means you are taking that character completely seriously as a full human being. That’s what Russell Davies was able to do.”

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.”

Video: “Doctor Who Regenerated” with Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona

Dr. Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education is back by popular demand with a new lecture on Doctor Who and Television!

This time, the Doctor will focus on a deeper look of the themes of the writers behind “Doctor Who.” Above and beyond race and gender, they include social justice and the power of childhood. 

** See Dr. Welch’s original talk, Doctor Who and Culture, in this video

Doctor Who RegeneratedPresenation

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

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 Whoand therefore writers make culture.”

Writers Save Doctor Who from “Doctor Who and Culture” with Dr. Rosanne Welch

A short clip from the presentation “Doctor Who and Culture: with Dr. Rosanne Welch

View the entire presentation

Drwho writers save

 

Transcript:

“What was great about the show from my standpoint — from a writing standpoint — is that they had a problem in the first few years. William Hartnell was an older man and he started to get sick and he didn’t want to work anymore. And this is is where writers save the day, because one of the writers back then realized if Wiliam Hartnell resigned, everybody lost their job. 200 people who work on set, who do the writing, who do all the work is gone. So this writer said to himself, “Hey, wait a minute. Our lead character is not human. He’s not a human. He doesn’t have to die. What if our aliens regenerate in a completely different body any time they get sick. Brilliant! He can retire. We can wave goodbye and we can invite new actors to play the character and every time a new actor is hired he can be unique and different and bring a whole different personality to the story.”

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.”

 

Subscribe to Dr. Welch’s YouTube Channel

 

“Doctor Who and Culture” presentation at Cal Pol Pomona with Dr. Rosanne Welch

Beau Yarbrough posts this Storify article about Rosanne’s presentation at Cal Poly Pomona today. You can click through a slide show of pictures, quotes and other links below.

Surprised by the Good Read GIDGET turned out to be!

While I have much grading to do as always, I was drawn to spend the weekend reading Gidget (by Frederick Kohner) thanks to my friend Ken Lazebnik’s book Hollywood Digs which includes an interview with the real life Franzie Kohner who IS Gidget.  In fact, she kindly appeared with Ken at a book reading he did in Malibu recently.

Before actually reading the book I didn’t know gidget stood for “girl midget” since she was so small on her surfboard (and now wonder how many women were named Gidget without now that); I didn’t know her father was a refugee from Nazi Germany who came to LA to be a screenwriter; and I didn’t know the book was going to be so good (both Gidget AND Hollywood Digs! – which I  knew would be good because Ken is such a wonderfully evocative writer). I suggest them both.

Turns out when it was released  Gidget was compared favorably to Catcher in the Rye by book critics… and probably  lost its edge in readers’ minds thanks to the bubblegum reputation the films gave the story – compounded by the fact that it was a girl’s coming of age story and not a boy’s.  I learned long ago in teaching American Literature, to an all girl high school of all things, that educators believe girls will read about boy protagonists (in an effort to understand them enough to hook them) but boys will not be as enthusiastic about reading the story of a girl protagonist).  So schools adjusted and chose mostly books with male protagonists for high school students of both sexes to study, which means boys lost the chance to learn the lessons first generation immigrants surviving economic hardship from A Tree Grows in Brooklynamong other losses.

Of course, the advent of such things as The Hunger Games trilogy seems to belie that idea — but you’ll notice publishers felt that in order to engage boy readers Katniss needed to wield a weapon, not merely master a craft like surfing.  Another reason to return to reading Gidget.

And all of this mulling reminds me of a TED Talk on How Movies Teach Manhood that  I showed students the other day by Colin Stokes, director of communications for the non-profit Citizen Schools.  He compares the heroine of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy Gale from Kansas, to Luke Skywalker of everyone’s much beloved Star Wars and finds that Dorothy triumphs by mastering the leadership skills of working with others and bringing them together toward a common goal that benefits all while Luke triumphs as an individual by mastering a violent skill that requires killing the enemy to win.

My comparison between Gidget and Catcher seems similar in that Gidget experiments in the world of romance and sex without needing to make the acquaintance of a hooker – yet high schools read Holden’s story as literature and are never exposed to Gidget’s story at all.

Photos: Rosanne teaches Gilgamesh at Cal Poly Pomona (IGE 120) – Facebook Album

In designing a new website the department is taking photos of our classes and they caught me doing our annual outdoor full class reading of Gilgamesh. Cal Poly Pomona is quite a pretty campus!

Click the photo below to see the entire album and full resolution photos.

Rosanne gilgamesh