So, Doctor Who is going to regenerate into a woman. And boy, does the internet have a lot to say about it.
Firstly, I must say I have no issue with the casting of Jodie Whittaker. I’m not very familiar with her work, having only seen her in Attack the Block. Her performance in that was quite comical and I thought she was one of the standouts in the film. I know she has been in Broadchurch, a show not known for it’s laughs and so I am unsure what to expect from her Doctor. The costume revealed in the short teaser, while being refreshingly different, is not her final costume for the next series. We therefore really know very little other than physical appearance about the thirteenth. I’m therefore excited by something fresh, as the show was starting to get stale.
Gender swapping is being talked about a lot at the moment. It’s nothing new though, as you can see with the Battlestar Galactica reboot, Salt, James Bond (Judi Dench as M) and even Alien (Ripley was originally a man).
The film industry is very aware that it has a problem with female actors being underpaid. I also think lead roles for women are in short supply, particularly in blockbusters.
The simple solution being considered by some is to insert women into existing male franchises. For example, there are calls for James Bond to be recast as a woman. I struggle to see that working. The character is quite misogynistic and arrogant. I think this role would be hard for any woman to play.
The more complex and more thorough solution is that the production needs to consider gender actively, particularly in blockbusters. That Marvel has not released a film with a female protagonist and are 16 films in is shocking. Wonder Woman has silenced any financial and artistic arguments that may have existed that necessitate a male lead.
It’s not just about the leads however, its about the quality of parts. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the female roles are all a little one note. You may have heard of the Bechdel Test or the Mako Mori test, both methods for preventing female characters existing purely to support the men. I think the situation is so bad that 50% of the world’s population are under represented, so something actively needs to be done.
I think as long as a role is written either for a woman or as genderless, which the Doctor is, then a woman can play it. The inequality is real and we need to change it.
And if you think actors have it bad, pity the directors. I bet you can’t name 3 female directors?