Canonicity – A Footnote

A footnote, or an example, to add to my column on Canonicity found here:

The BBC showrunners thought it wise to add an origin story to the character of the Time Lord of Gallifrey known to mortals only as The Doctor first, by making him a woman, and second, by making him a little black girl and not a native of Gallifrey at all, hence not a Time Lord properly so called.

The new plot twist is that the girl-type Doctor is the mind-wiped remnant of the original founder of Time Lord society, and the source of their twelve-regeneration form of partial immortality.

Ah! But the BBC issues a statement in the face of the fan base rejection of this insulting violation of canon:

 “Doctor Who is a beloved long-running series and we understand that some people will feel attached to a particular idea they have of the Doctor, or that they enjoy certain aspects of the programme more than others. Opinions are strong and this is indicative of the imaginative hold that Doctor Who has – that so many people engage with it on so many different levels.

“We wholeheartedly support the creative freedom of the writers and we feel that creating an origin story is a staple of science fiction writing. What was written does not alter the flow of stories from William Hartnell’s brilliant Doctor onwards – it just adds new layers and possibilities to this ongoing saga.

“We have also received many positive reactions to the episode’s cliff-hanger. There are still a lot of questions to be answered, and we hope that you will come back to join us and see what happens, but we appreciate that it’s impossible to please all of our viewers all of the time and your feedback has been raised with the programme’s Executive Producer.”

Unfortunately, that makes hash of the long established canon, as least since I was a schoolboy, of Rassilon being the founder (see the episode “The Deadly Assassin”) and the Sisterhood of Karn as being the source of their immortality (“The Brain of Morbeus”).

This is sort of like finding out that the real Thor is not Thor, who is unworthy, but his girlfriend, Jane Porter; or like finding out the Federation Starfleet is not motivated by the enlightened policies envisioned by Roddenberry, but is instead infested with corrupt Chicago-machine style politicians and “black ops” assassins and meanwhile Spock’s long lost human sibling was a black female; or finding out that the parents of Rey from Last Jedi were nobodies, as was, apparently Lord Snoke himself; or finding out that a second evil AI with time traveling robots named Legion would and should crop up in any timeline where Skynet never came into being, and would be exactly like the former, except trying to kill a girl, not the one destined to mother the leader of the revolt, but destined to be the leader of the revolt; and so on and so forth et cetera and ad nauseam.

The idea involved in the rebuttal here given by the BBC bear a very strong resemblance to the public statements issued in the face of falling sales that greeted these other various travesties perpetrated upon the unsuspecting fans by woke scolds and ne’er-do-wells.

In each case, the woke scolds used a minority member as a shield, to allow the scolds to pretend (rather unconvincingly) that any criticism of their bad writing and imaginative bankruptcy was illegitimate, offered in bad faith, because criticizing a white male writer who writes a dumper fire script in a story starring a black female actress is sexist racism, and it is fault of the fanboys, clinging bitterly to their guns and bibles, whose tears are delicious.

The evil white patriarchic patriarchy, so runs this line of thinking, despises SF films starring blacks or strong female characters. After all, all we fans of Star Trek and Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day and sci fi in general hate Benjamin Sisko and Ripley and kickass-mom Sarah Conners and we hated Battle Angel Alita, did we not?

The logical errors of the BBC answer to criticism are myriad. I will point out only one: saying that opinions are strong or that people are attached to a particular idea they hold of the doctor is a sleight of hand, meant to deflect the question of whether the strong opinion is right or wrong, justified by canon or not, and likewise to deflect the question of whether the particular idea being held is core to the integrity of the tale, hence ought not be changed, or peripheral, hence open to a surprising plot twist.

We see a similar word-drug used when the termites undermining the palace call it “subverting expectations” to gnaw away the main load bearing members of a beloved franchise. Discovering the true identity of Luke’s allegedly dead father is subverts expectations, in that it is a plot twist, one that enhances the story and elevates it to the level of a Greek tragedy. Having the remake of Ghostbusters star four unfunny women with an unfunny plot is also subverts expectations, because viewers expected a movie worth their time and ticket price and not a dumpster fire, and they expected to be treated with respect as patrons of the movie, not treated with contempt as mere cows to be milked.

Hence the phrase “subverting expectations” is deliberately ambiguous, because it cloaks woke garbage meant to belittle the audience as plot twists of established continuity or new reboots of established works. Such claims are camouflage.

Please note what these several examples all have in common. They target an established and well loved white male hero and put someone not white and male in his shoes, taking his role, or even his name and identity.

How this is not pure-quill undisguised racism and sexism I leave for subtler scholars than myself to debate.

Next installment here.