Updates, Disability Literature and Theory Interview, and Random Thoughts About Doctor Who and OFMD
New today on Book Riot: I wrote about Doctor Who!
I’ve written about Doctor Who before. In 2022, I wrote “The Veil Between the Worlds,” a fanfic about the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler that’s inspired by The Wicker Man (1973) and The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. I cross-posted my fic on AO3 and Wattpad. I later analyzed Doctor Who on Medium.
In July on my WordPress blog, I described a casually ableist cliche in the otherwise great 2008 Doctor Who episode “The Unicorn and the Wasp.”
I like the novelizations of The Fires of Pompeii and The Waters of Mars. They have vexing moral dilemmas, like the episodes, and let us get deeper into the characters’ heads. But I thought my BR article already had enough of the Tenth Doctor in it.
There will also be a new Doctor Who Christmas special after the three anniversary specials! It’s called “The Church on Ruby Road.” This was revealed too late to make my article.
BR also recently listed the most popular Doctor Who episodes.
There are spoilers for old Doctor Who episodes below, series 2–6 of the new series especially.
early Bad Wolf reference!
Early in the second episode of the revived series of Doctor Who, “The End of the World,” I heard one of the aliens in the background talking about a “total bad wolf scenario.” This was so soft it’s not even in the captions. This was the earliest reference to Bad Wolf that I noticed on the show. A kid also graffities the TARDIS with “Bad Wolf.”
In the next episode, “The Unquiet Dead,” Gwyneth, who’s psychic, tells Rose that she “must have seen the Big Bad Wolf,” foreshadowing Rose becoming Bad Wolf. There are many other, more obvious references as the series ramps up.
Some more thoughts that didn’t fit in my BR article: The title Empire of the Wolf is a quote from the episode “Tooth and Claw.” The werewolf says it to Rose when he describes the werewolves’ plan for world domination and tells her she has “something of the wolf about” her.
The Stone Rose is so popular in the fandom, it has its own fan art! I love the untempered prism’s fan art of it. (This fan artist has asked people not to embed/share their art without permission. So, I recommend Googling “the untempered prism” to find their work.) Freesias_artworks on IG is also a great fan artist. Just be warned that some content on Tumblr, DeviantArt, and AO3 is tagged as appropriate for age 18+ only.
The acclaimed Doctor Who episode “The Girl in the Fireplace” has beautiful actors, music, settings, and costumes, plus lots of intriguing ideas. Like many other fans, though, I find this episode dismissive and classist to Rose and way out of character for the Tenth Doctor. And I have other problems with it . . .
CN: abuse in fiction described below
The infatuation between the Tenth Doctor and Reinette in “The Girl in the Fireplace” is passionate, but Reinette telepathically violates his boundaries, which is “not a sign of intimacy,” to quote this Tumblr post. Perhaps Reinette doesn’t know how to control her telepathic powers. However, her pompous line “A door once opened can be entered in either direction” implies Reinette deliberately invades the Doctor’s mind without his consent.
I deeply dislike how several characters abuse their partners and friends in Stephen Moffat’s era of Doctor Who. Amy slaps Rory, and Clara hits the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors. In “Flesh and Stone,” Amy makes unwanted sexual or romantic advances towards the Doctor, even after he clearly says no. Steven Moffat has said he regrets trying to make this scene comedic, not serious.
I like some things about River Song, especially how she defies her assassin training by refusing to murder the Doctor. Once she overcomes that training, though, she regularly slaps him in the face. He can’t consent to this because the way their timelines run in opposite directions, he doesn’t know what she’s slapping him for — or hasn’t even DONE it yet! His reactions are understandably shocked and angry.
River Song says in the Eleventh Doctor episode “The Pandorica Opens,” “I hate good wizards in stories. They’re always HIM!” This is probably an allusion to the theory that the Doctor is Merlin, but it begs the question of whether the Doctor is Merlin or whether Merlin or the Doctor is “good.” I wrote about Merlin enabling rape in some versions of the myth, especially Le Morte D’Arthur. Thanks to my professor, Helga Duncan at Stonehill, for emphasizing this when we studied romances with her in 2011.
And sure, maybe Merlin is the alternate-universe, evil version of the Doctor, but I still dislike it. When discussing Jack Harkness and the Face of Boe, YouTuber Harbo Wholmes says Doctor Who makes things less interesting when each character is secretly another character we already know. I agree! I love how Legends of Camelot (2021) refutes the earlier Merlin theory.
Our Flag Means Death S2 spoilers below
This is just one more of my random TV opinions. You may not guess it from reading my OFMD fanfic, but I don’t hate the character Izzy Hands. I like him a lot. However, I did find it amusing how STEDE hated Izzy in S1 and this encouraged the worst in Stede, Izzy, and Ed. Izzy was kind of a flat character in S1, but in S2, his character developed. He apologized, which he never would have done earlier. Con O’Neill’s performance was always excellent, but I’m glad he got to show off his tenor voice in S2, singing “La Vie En Rose” in English at “Calypso’s birthday party.” The show might be less interesting without him, but it always brings in amazing, new characters.
more articles with links!
On Book Riot in October, I published an article on the violent, original endings of several fairy tales. When I posted it on my WP blog and IG, I also condemned the Israeli government’s genocide against Palestinian civilians and all hate crimes. There are also links from people who are much more knowledgeable than I am on this, plus a link to donate to ANERA. I donated. It’s urgent!
I’m very grateful that people still read and cite my 2018 essay on “The Little Mermaid” for Monstering Magazine. Here’s an updated link to my essay, ‘Ambulatory: How “The Little Mermaid” Shaped My Self-Image With Cerebral Palsy.’ I also updated the link on my WordPress site.
Activist and author Leslie Tate interviewed me about ableism, Book Riot, my early writing influences, and more! Leslie was great to work with and asked thoughtful questions. We conducted this interview via email weeks ago, before I deactivated my Twitter and before the war in Gaza started on October 7.
A note on language:
I know I talk and write about ableism a lot. I use the basic definition of ableism as discrimination or prejudice on the basis of disability or presumed disability. And here is TL’s more intersectional definition from 2022.
A lot of disabled people use disableism to mean discriminating against disabled people and ableism to mean privileging non-disabled people. To me, these are both forms of ableism, so I personally don’t use the term disableism. This is one of countless examples of disabled people as a diverse group with varied opinions and experiences. Both perspectives here are right.
These words may become confusing if you assume that ableism and disableism must be antonyms. I’ve read book reviews of disability literature and theory in which the reviewers assumed this. I understand why this misconception exists, but they’re not opposites. They’re virtually synonyms. Like flammable and inflammable, ableism and disableism are two words that seem like they might be antonyms (due to a prefix) but instead have basically the same meanings and uses.
When I was still on Twitter, Yeralizard (Liz Bernstein) had a great Twitter thread in 2022 on the terms ableism and disableism.
Thanks for reading!