Saturday 5 August 2017

Doctor Who is for kids and that's okay

A totally mature and serious sci-fi alien, yesterday.

Here we are, at the end, with what I sincerely hope to be the last and dumbest Moffat Controversy. We were so close to out of the woods: just a couple more months and one more episode and then we could all enjoy that precious honeymoon period a new showrunner gets where they haven't yet done something Problematic and become the worst thing to happen to the show, to television in general, to the narrative storytelling and possibly to Western civilisation itself.

So, Steven Moffat said that Doctor Who is a children's show and people are pissed.

I really, really don't want this to get topped in terms of dumbness. I know hoping this'll be the last dumb Moffat controversy is just pie in the sky liberalism at its worst but just give me this, universe, okay?

Why are people so mad about this? Well, because they're adults and they've been “accused” of liking something made for children. Responses range from the merely pedantic insistence on calling it “family entertainment” to righteous anger at the mere suggestion that adults could be interested in a mere children's show and that Moffat is completely wrong about the basic nature of the series.

For myself, I'm fine with it. Children have always been the audience the BBC has pitched the series at and it has acted as a safe space for them to experience some pretty dark themes. The iconic villains of the series are Nazi analogues committed to (literally) universal ethnic cleansing. The main characters are put in constant physical danger but with a very definite social contract between writer and audience that they'll be fine in the end, mostly. This is a series that routinely gives characters posthumous happy endings (Clara, River, Jack, to name but a few the statute of spoiler limitations has expired upon). Its moral lessons are simple but largely timeless.

And its okay. I say this as someone who is just too damn old to care about whether what I'm into is right for my age: I read comicbooks every damn week; some of my favourite shows ever are cartoons like the DCAU shows or ReBoot (which totally holds up today. Okay, season three totally holds up today...); my favourite comfort food reading are all ages comics like Archie's Sonic The Hedgehog series and IDW's Transformers; I am rapidly falling down the rabbit hole of the Young Justice cartoon; I paint model soldiers as a creative hobby.

Oh, and I have been absolutely obsessed with this hokey old BBC kids' show called Doctor Who since I was ten years old. That's nearly a quarter century of emotional investment, bad teenage fan fiction and all.

That doesn't make it mine, though. Ultimately I'm just trespassing on a space meant for the kids who are ten years old now and need a hero who is valued because they are smart, funny and a bit socially awkward. That's a pretty vital social function the show has right there and that's something to be celebrated, not dismissed because the idea is inconvenient to your self-image. 

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