Recently, Jodie Whittaker was announced as taking over the coveted role of The Thirteenth Doctor, following Peter Capaldi’s time as the titular character on the show. Jodie Whittaker seems like a perfectly nice woman and she was brilliant in the Black Mirror episode, “The Entire History of You” and the television show, Broadchurch so I’m not going to say that she’s not talented or anything like that when it comes to the art of acting but the last time I checked twelve actors have played the Doctor, and all of the actors have been white and cisgendered men.
Now, a white cisgendered woman is taking on this role…
I definitely understand how lots of people who are fans of the show (AKA Whovians) consider this to be, “groundbreaking” and “amazing”, especially since Steven Moffat (who is no longer the showrunner) at one point in time said, “It didn’t feel right to me, right now. I didn’t feel enough people wanted it. Oddly enough most people who said they were dead against it – and I know I’ll get into trouble for saying this – were women … saying, ‘No, no, don’t make him a woman!”. But it’s not! I’ve been a fan of this show since I was about nine or ten years old. I fondly remember, having massive crushes on both David Tennant and Matt Smith and sometimes spending hours on YouTube watching wholesome clips of them as one tends to do when they are new to a fandom. I can also fondly recall playing Doctor Who (AKA recreating the television show with my siblings) and pretending to be the Doctor. I love this show when it’s good and even when it’s bad!
A part of me has always wanted to see myself in one of my favorite television characters of all time. Personality wise I was a lot like the Doctor but that just wasn’t enough. Martha Jones, one of the Doctor’s companions was a black woman and she meant the world to me (even though she does get a lot of flak throughout the fandom)! She was smart and beautiful and knew what she wanted. It would have been even better for nine year old me to see a black woman saving the Universe from destruction and being adorably eccentric while doing so! And, I know for a fact that there are young black girls all over the world who love and watch this show, because if you weren’t paying attention I was one of them!
My younger sisters are Whovians in the making. They’ve been watching Doctor Who with me occasionally, but when season eleven premieres we’re going to make the effort to watch every episode together. Which we are very excited to be doing for the first time as sisters. One of the main reasons they even want to watch it is because the Doctor is going to be a woman this time! But, at the tender ages of eleven and eight they are very aware of the lack of representation for women and PoC.
The whiteness of the entertainment industry has been made abundantly clear to my siblings, with my sister asking me ‘Why are they all white’ while we were watching an episode of the television show Friends. This is something that they complain about a lot. For example, when the television show Mysticons premiered on Nickelodeon they were very excited to watch it at first, because the commercials for it presented it as a very girl power centric show. And that it was, but when they watched the pilot episode my sister Micah asked me the question, “Why is a white girl always the leader?”. They haven’t watched an episode after that.
When it comes to female empowerment, people often forget the racial aspects and only focus on white women. That’s why it would be truly groundbreaking, and amazing for a black woman (preferably, a black woman with ginger hair) to take on such an iconic role!
Photo via Nerdist