Doctor Who – a commentary on Brexit?

The Doctor has always had a special preference for the Brits. They flit in and out of the wondrous and often alien-infested towns of England, woo them with their British (briefly Scottish) accent and manage to introduce to the kids (it was originally intended to be an educational program for the kids) some moral propositions. The last few seasons have been famously against war and violence of any sort. The regenerated Doctor retains the abhorrence for violence as a means for conflict resolution. And it is conflict resolution that the Doctor sees as their purpose of life. To find out who, in the big, vast universe, needs help and to give help whenever asked for.

The latest season is iconic. The Doctor is a female for the first time. The Doctor has reached the end of their regeneration cycles. This is to be the last and final life of the alien problem solver who seems to love humanity more than they ever will. But in the two episodes that have been released, the Doctor has also thrown sufficient shade at Brexit and the events that have unfolded since. The first episode contains a superbly written but not so subtle speech about evolving while retaining past identities. With their signature kindness, they try to convince the villain that change is possible, and it does not require jettisoning who we were to become a better version of ourselves. The second episode reinforces the importance of sticking together. The moment where the Doctor triumphantly yells ‘Stronger Together!’ is especially noticeable. Many see the message of diversity in the inclusion of a female ethnic companion (although the Doctor has previously had POCs as companions), the dynamic between the two male companions (a white male step-grandfather and a black male step-grandson) mirrors the generation gap that was evident in the Brexit vote.

The symbolism is relevant for two reasons. Firstly, the Doctor has not displayed political undertones previously. The change reflects how the creators and possibly the entertainment industry views their jobs. Perhaps the seepage is unintentional. It must be difficult to disentangle oneself from the events unfolding all around you. Secondly, and most importantly, as a series that has come to be a part of the British culture, the Doctor wields considerable power. The Doctor represents England in science fiction. The Doctor promoting teamwork sends a powerful message about inclusion (albeit with not much debate, but we have a season left for that!).

The timelessness of the series is both a gift and a curse. Just like the chauvinist Doctors of the past have been judged harshly (by the new-age Doctor them self), the latest Doctor too runs the risk of judgment from future generation. Or maybe they will be revered and celebrated for being so sure of their position. Just like Brexit, we won’t know. For now, let us travel across time and relative dimension in space and hope for the best, just like the Doctor.

Nightcap

  1. Reclaiming Full-Throttle Luxury Space Communism Aaron Winslow, Los Angeles Review of Books
  2. Elves and Aliens Nick Richardson, London Review of Books
  3. Imperialism, American-style Michael Auslin, Claremont Review of Books
  4. The Congo reform project: Too dark altogether Angus Mitchell, Dublin Review of Books

Nightcap

  1. The Polity is libertarian space opera done right Neal Asher (interview), Wired
  2. Cultural appropriation and the children of Shōgun Kevin Mims, Quillette
  3. Valuing differences and reinforcing them: Multiculturalism increases race essentialism Wilton, Apfelbaum, and Good, Social Psychological and Personality Science
  4. The forgotten success of Skylab Rick Brownell, Historiat

Nightcap

  1. Science fiction from China is epic AF Nick Richardson, London Review of Books
  2. What is the proper role of galactic government? Michelangelo Landgrave, NOL
  3. Science fiction & alternate realities in the Arab World Perwana Nazif, the Quietus
  4. Algorithmic wilderness: can techno-ecology heal our world? Henry Mance, Aeon

BC’s weekend reads

  1. Holy shit! (great news)
  2. Hayek’s rapid rise to stardom | misunderstanding Hayek
  3. great write-up on Catalonia | a philosophical case for secession
  4. if colonialism was the apocalypse, what comes next? | should UNM replace its seal?
  5. do trees fall in cyberspace? | how to use Facebook better
  6. a pretty shallow deep throat | vulvæ in pornography and culture

Worth a gander

  1. the Reformation’s controversies are as relevant as ever
  2. who stole Burma’s royal rubies?
  3. the Madras Observatory: from Jesuit cooperation to British rule
  4. There are few better illustrations of how a whole host of people can manage to understand absolutely nothing, act in an impulsive and idiotic way, and still drastically change the course of history.
  5. MacLean’s new book is bad news for the political Left
  6. fascism explained via 90-year-old sci-fi film (are you using hyphens correctly?)
  7. bawdry in the bloodstream (Bohemian nonsense)