So after almost four years of Matt Smith the announcement was passed down yesterday that our new Doctor will be none other than Peter Capaldi. The Scottish born actor has actually been in an episode before (The Fires of Pompeii, the same episode that Karen Gillian acted in during season four). By now people have combed over his body of work and tracked down anything they they could on the man. The BBC had a photo ready for release within minutes of the announcement (which was broadcast simultaneously in many countries at once).
There were memes flying about and a generally fun attitude about the whole thing or at least I thought that until I saw Twitter and Facebook. A storm of fans were upset that the actor was older and not attractive. The lot that was brought up in the time between the old show and the new who got hooked on the show after Tennant’s tenure don’t seem to know what the show is actually about. It certainly isn’t anything to do with eye candy.
Some might argue differently, what with the companions, but even then the Companions are expected to have something interesting to keep us watching besides a look. I think David Tennant’s looks got over played and he wasn’t as good as everyone acted. I think Matt Smith got a rather unappreciated tenure because he wasn’t attractive in that typical way. And I think Peter Capaldi is the perfect actor to tae us further away from this being another show about sexy male hearth throbs and romantic subplot. I had hoped for a female Doctor, someone like Tilda Swinton.
But that brings me to my next point and the overall problem I have with all of this. The Doctor Who fandom, that is to say the fans themselves, tend to be rather terrible people. This isn’t true of all of them, but we’ve seen racism, ageism and sexism all rear their heads in this discussion about the next Doctor. We’ve seen people petitioning that they were going to quit watching the show if X type of person got chosen to be Doctor. (And by last pole numbers people who would leave with a Female Doctor ran up to about 15%)
The fandom isn’t adaptive, friendly or open minded to change in a show where literally the whole dynamic can change. Just look at some of the bullshit that was on Facebook after the announcement:
You’re going to have click to enlarge them. There was similar sentiment on Tumblr and Twitter. The thing is that it’s bad for a show to cater to these kinds of fans. Most of them aren’t going on about the merits of the actor or the show, they’re looking for someone cute to drool over. As long as that’s the case they’re holding the show hostage from anyone deemed too old, unattractive or female because those aren’t the thing’s they’re attracted to.
This is the kind of purge that this fandom needs. Not a small nudge, but an ethnic cleansing-style extermination of all the people who aren’t here for the plots or characterization or love of the adventure. But who are there for the same reasons that a million other shows have gotten viewers in the past. It’s not a pure type of like and this show deserves fans who will rejoice when the best actor is picked, not when the most attractive is chosen.
As for what Twelve might have to say about that? I think that we can take a page from his character on In The Loop and The Thick of It.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.