Saturday, 7 April 2007

The Shakespeare Code

Ahhhh, sexuality. This is always going to be a delicate area, so I'll risk the gauntlet and say: is it absolutely normal for gay writers to hate young women? I refer, as an obvious example, to "The Shakespeare Code". Written by Gareth Roberts, a great big gay man whom I've met several times and whom I rather like, although I'm aware that he's called me a dickhead behind my back on more than one occasion. (This is a fair judgement. I have no social skills, and freely accept that I'm offensive when encountered in person. If you read this log regularly, or if you've ever met me, then you'll already understand.) But even if you ignore the fact that you know the reasonably-attractive young woman is going to turn out to be an evil, two-dimensional, personality-free witch-cannibal as soon as she shows her face, and that you know the flirtatious / shallow barmaid is guaranteed to die in the first act… all of a sudden, Doctor Who's new assistant ceases to be the intelligent, inquisitive individual we saw in last week's opener, and becomes a bland, squeaky, irritating she-parrot who makes ****-obvious statements and then says "yeah?" at the end of the sentence in a desperate attempt to sound like a modern Chav-girl. (She's supposed to be training as a doctor. She doesn't know what "Bedlam" means. She doesn't understand anything Shakespeare says, even though it'd be easily comprehensible to any A-Level student. She's become a generic thick-woman sidekick, basically. Not a single line of her dialogue is either credible or likeable.)

Now, I can understand that a gay male might not particularly care about teenaged girls, obviously. But speaking as a technical heterosexual – albeit one who's sucked big **** on occasion, not in a "bi-curious" way but in a "well, why the hell shouldn't I?" way, which is perhaps what Doctor Who has really taught me over the years – I find this puzzling. I don't particularly care about seventy-year-old women, for example, yet this doesn't mean I'd turn them all into one-dimensional stereotypes if I were writing a script about an old people's home. Indeed, I'd argue that writers get better when they deliberately write against type and focus on things which aren't already within their personal experience or field of interest. But every gay writer in Doctor Who, other than Cuddly God-Bear Russell T. Davies himself, seems determined to turn each new female character into a mother-figure, a hate-object, or a human sacrifice: see also the "work" of Mark Gatiss and Matthew Jones, who routinely bump off the girls and let the mothers live. What's the root cause of this, I wonder? The affection for older women puts it beyond any accusation of misogyny, although the dislike of the sexually-active female suggests the same kind of horror which 100%-straight men are supposed to feel around 100%-gay men. I hope you can see why I'd feel uncomfortable about this. Me, I'm generally anti-horror. I'm also anti-100% of anything.

As for the rest… I think I'd rather like "The Shakespeare Code", if it weren't twice as long as it needs to be. Even my own mother thought it was a bit slow, and she's 76 years old, for Heaven's sake.