The BBC declared the person to play the Doctor’s 13th reincarnation, and I was duly reminded that I am quite the sorry excuse of a Whovian with an awful lot to catch up on.
And while I make a mental note to pick up the Doctor Who series from the second season -- [gulps] fellow Whovians, I can explain -- I was taken aback at some of the reactions online.
They, those behind the said surprising reactions, threw a bit of a tantrum over the fact that the iconic fictional character -- a time travelling alien with regeneration ability that confers it near immortality as it can reincarnate itself with new bodies -- is, for the first time, to be played by an actress.
BBC is a pinko propaganda machine, they hollered. And the casting decision was yet another PC sell-out move, they raged on. Say, the casting decision was indeed politically and socially motivated. So what, I retort?
It is but the utmost naivety to assume fiction is conceived of in a vacuum. Their creation draws from the social, economic, and political trends. Their themes and setting reflect the beliefs (or a lack thereof) of their creators. And reality itself is refracted in the lens of fiction.
Orwell’s acclaimed novels 1984 and Animal Farm come to mind in this regard. The former a dystopian narrative and the other a cautionary tale, both literary reactions to the totalitarian regime of Soviet Union and rise of communism.
And are we to forget the very British James Bond series? Written in post-war United Kingdom where Britain still had an empire to its name, the series had unsurprisingly pro-imperial undertones.
Of course, to say nothing of CS Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, which promoted Christianity and is suffused with religious allegory. And even with my superficial degree of familiarity with the authors’ lives, I can discern their personal background smudged in between the lines of their work.
Orwell had his brush with death and communism at the Spanish Civil war.
Ian Fleming served for British intelligence. And CS Lewis rediscovered religion in his 30s after renouncing his Christian faith in adolescence.
See the connections, right?
BBC is a pinko propaganda machine, they hollered. And the casting decision was yet another PC sell-out move, they raged on
Now, I will leave it to you to dig a bit deeper onto who is running the show at Doctor Who and put two and two together. Instead, I will tell you this. In our increasingly polarising political and social atmosphere, we need to grow up.
In our escapades within fiction, we should not angrily switch channels when we see the very humdrum concerns of our lives that we are trying to leave behind stare right back at us. That’s not how it works. Fiction is drawn from facts and real life.
Let us remember that the script writers, producers, and directors are creatures of flesh and blood and hormones and entitled to their viewpoints and can incorporate them in their work all they like.
Provided they do so gracefully and intelligently and still give us worthy plot with memorable characters, making our moments of entertainment worthwhile.
Yet if the whiff of social and political activism proves too much, if any is there in the first place, instead of incoherent rambling just articulate an intelligent opinion.
And sure, who am I to stop you from balling up your fists and ranting under your breath against the politically correct invasion of pop culture. But it does make me wonder: Who exactly is the snowflake here again?
Syed Raiyan Nuri Reza is a freelance contributor writing from Iran.