Doctor Who has received considerable backlash this season for what people consider the show attempting to be too politically correct. This is a gripe that has been levelled at several sci-fi franchises. Notably the recent Star Wars movies. However is this a bad thing? Does modern media have a responsibility to promote equality?
The Doctor has always done this
Promoting an agenda is not new ground for the Doctor. Since the modern incarnation began with Christopher Ecclestone, the show has pushed equality and an anti-war stance. In fact, throughout, the show has subtlely made commentaries on immigration, racism, homophobia etc. Many people think they should be applauded for taking this stance. You could even argue they have a responsibility to be inclusive.
So what’s the problem?
It would appear that people are upset about the fact that the allusions to contemporary issues are far less subtle in the new series. There are “ethnic minorities”, openly gay characters and shock horror a female doctor. Plus the many of the episodes have carried a message. Take for instance the Rosa Parks episode. Not everyone is comfortable with it.
Political correctness gone mad
Is a commonly spouted cliché. It’s also a phrase usually churned out by someone who is having their views challenged. You could argue that the inclusion of these “messages” in Doctor Who if they are getting people talking are achieving what they are aiming to do. Is having the doctor regenerate as a woman really political correctness gone mad? Or is it just a character being portrayed by a woman?
Other media are playing that game too
Star Wars is getting in on the act too. In their recent trilogy, the lead protagonists are a black male and a female. Plus in the second instalment, they had a main character who was Asian. The Ghostbusters film is another example, replacing their all-male cast (with a female secretary) with an all-female cast.
Papering over cracks
When it comes to the Ghostbusters reboot it raised an interesting debate. Was recreating the classic with a female cast inclusive? Or does it just highlight the lack of original ideas for women? You could argue that rather than trying to re-address the short fallings of the past that we should be looking to create a more inclusive future. If people are going to get triggered by the recasting of iconic characters with different genders, then why not create new iconic characters and leave the stuffy sexists and homophobes in the past? Yes, we are talking about you 007.
Can you be too politically correct?
I guess this is a matter of taste, isn’t it? However, there are some pretty culturally accepting people in favour of subtlety over making bold statements. Of course, the counter-argument to this is if you are accepting of the various groups being represented, why would their being represented be an issue?
For some, it isn’t the fact that these iconic shows are trying to promote an agenda. It’s the fact that it is teaching us to “suck eggs” there are some people who understand that gay people are gay. They get that some people have a different skin colour and there are several different religions and they are completely at peace with it. But then if they are smart enough to get that, then they should be smart enough to realise that not everyone is as enlightened.
So how does that happen?
What better way to educate then through TV? The “wink, wink, nudge, nudge “ approach may work on the educated but the more obvious messages do have their place as well, don’t they? After all, nobody ever complained about Quantum Leap or Highway to Heaven, did they?