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Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Exponential Outrage Theorem


I'd like to propose a thought experiment. (Bear with me here, I've always been rubbish at maths.)

Something big, something monumental is announced. This thing that is announced is a change. Let's say, just for the example, the casting choices in a major science fiction franchise.

One hundred idiots get mad about this change and over-react. From the reaction of these one hundred idiots, a far Left or far Right blog whips up an article containing six tweets from people who are literal nobodies with an insignificant amount of followers (I don't use my Twitter, so let's say 24. 24 sounds like a nice insignificant number.)

Ladies, gentlemen, and multi-forms, your Twitter nobody.
One thousand people read this article, and become outraged by the "huge backlash" of the one hundred over-reacting idiots. They, in turn, overreact. Ten more extreme-end blogs write articles, including the six tweets and six more attacking the original. Ten thousand people read these articles and are now annoyed. They start a hashtag movement which catches the attention of a few mainstream news sites, which write about the massive outrage over the initial decision, more than likely using words like "manbabies", "piss babies", or "garbage humans." One hundred thousand people read this article and are now annoyed. The reaction is no longer the story -- the outrage is -- and it continues well into the millions.

So, then. On a completely unrelated note. What do I think?
Nice coat.
I think she's not Peter Capaldi. But then, as much as I adore Peter Capaldi's Doctor, I knew it wouldn't be forever. Like the man himself said, nothing is sad until it's over, then everything is. Everything ends, and it's always sad, but everything begins again and that's always happy. So I'll let the Doctor handle everything else. To me, he's been the best thing about the show since it came back, and I pity anyone who has to follow in his footsteps.

Capaldi's final episode hasn't even aired yet (spoilers!) so we're a little premature on pronouncing judgement on her ability. Do I like the choice? I have no idea yet. But she shows promise, and I maintain there has never been a bad actor in the role. Strange choices, maybe, but never bad ones. Here's what I think:
  • I remember her from Attack the Block and Broadchurch, and looked up a series she'd starred in on Netflix called The Assets
  • I think she's a talented actor. Does a surprisingly good American accent. 
  • I think she's very distinctive-looking, which is far more important than attractive for the role. Prominent nose, high cheekbones, slightly strange-looking (Erin's informed me that saying someone "looks a bit like a ferret" isn't a flattering thing that normal people do, even after I assured her that I think ferrets are adorable), I think she looks distinctive enough for the role. Smith and Tennant both looked a bit weird, with Tennant being very thin and goofy but exuding confidence, and Smith looking like a literal alien with vaguely unformed facial features and an enormous chin. 
  • I think she has enough intensity and range to play the role, and the outfit they chose for her looks decent, if a bit unremarkable, but no Doctor keeps the same outfit forever - even Eccleston changed his jumper periodically. 
  • I was hoping for Emma Thompson if we were going female Doctor, but then I doubt the BBC could afford her.
So as far as Jodie Whittaker goes, I'm definitely going to give her a shot. This isn't the first time I've lost a beloved Doctor and I'm not about to quit watching because I'm not 100% sure on the 'new guy.' If I were type to do that, I'd never have seen Paul McGann be tremendously let down by his TV movie or Eccleston shine for a year. But as I said, there's never been a "bad Doctor."

There has, however, been bad writing. One thing we need to keep in mind is that all the groundwork that's been laid for this change to happen is due to the allegedly EVOL MISOGYNERD that is Stephan Moffat. The Corsair, the General's regeneration, Missy, River changing from white to black and back to white, and even Eleven's throw-away line wondering if he was a girl because of his hair all happened under his watch. Now Moffat's leaving the show, and the incoming show-runner, Chris Chibnall, wrote one very good and several very bad episodes of Torchwood, and was the show-runner for the two series it was on BBC.  He wrote several episodes of Doctor Who that... varied in quality. And while it's true that Broadchurch was his show, it was equal parts good and very, very slow and grim.

Moreover, Chibnall is a fan. As a friend and I recently discussed, fans should be kept well away from the reigns of the show, and Chibnall once appeared on the BBC in his capacity as a fan bemoaning the state of the writing during Colin Baker's tenure. While he wasn't wrong, this would be like a modern fan (say myself or my friend) publicly decrying the state of the writing under Stephen Moffat, then decades later running the show ourselves, and that would be very, very bad. I'm more worried that, in a year or two, we'll be begging Moffat to come back than we will be wishing Jodie hadn't come on board.

I have a final thought here: If you're celebrating something based on the negative reaction that you feel a demographic will have, then you're celebrating it for the wrong reason. The legions of "screaming manbabies" have not manifested. The outrage against Jodie Whittaker is as overblown as "black stormtrooper" or the "Fury Road boycott.' In fact, the demographics of the outrage are so wrong that even The Mary Sue has had to address it (albeit in their condescending and short-sighted way), admitting that there are a substantial number of women that aren't satisfied with the decision (the words "internalized misogyny" were thrown around).

Don't mistake this for me saying you're not a "real fan" or a "fake nerd." I'm saying that if you're salivating at the thought of "evil white men", you might be valuing message over entertainment. You may be a fan for the wrong reasons. And it's supremely annoying to someone who considered the Doctor a role model not because he was a man, but because he was clever and cared and helped people while trying not to resort to violence. As Twelve would really like to hear, he was, all in all, a good man. And I hope he can be a good woman, too.

I just hope it doesn't get lost in causes and messages.

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