Alright guys, it’s time to talk about butts. It’s no secret that many whovians appreciate this butt:
And many whovians appreciate this butt:
And it’s no secret to the cast and crew of Doctor Who that we appreciate their butts (or bums to my UK followers). In David Tennant’s final episodes, June Whitfield got to pinch David Tennant’s butt, a gag aimed at the many fans who have wished to do the same. During the height of Tumblr’s “Do he got the booty?" meme, the official Doctor Who Tumblr reblogged a post in which “Do he got the booty? He doooo!” was translated into circular gallifreyan, accompanied by a picture of Matt Smith’s spectacular butt.
So inevitably there’s been a great deal of hand-wringing in the Doctor Who community about whether the heterosexual teenage girls, presumably drawn into the Doctor Who fandom because of Matt Smith’s or David Tennant’s butts, will leave the show because they won’t be attracted to this man’s butt:
Now, I’ve been skeptical of this type of concern trolling for two reasons. First, I’ve seen more people complaining about how heterosexual teenage girls are complaining about Peter Capaldi’s casting because he isn’t a young man onto which they can project their sexual fantasies then I’ve actually seen heterosexual teenage girls making that complaint. It seems to me that this ‘problem’ has been widely blown out of proportion.
Second, it presumes that these heterosexual teenage girls are only drawn to Doctor Who because they can project their sexual fantasies onto Matt Smith and David Tennant.
Women’s sexuality has always been a no-win situation in the geek community. It is assumed that women will never be interested in something nerdy unless there is some element of romance in it. During the DC panel at Fan Expo, Tony Daniel discussed the upcoming Superman/Wonder Woman title, which will feature a romance between the two characters, as trying to capture the “Twilight audience”:
[B]ut I mentioned maybe, can we create a book that targets a little bit more of the female readership that’s been growing. And maybe a book that has a little bit of romance in it, a little big of sex appeal, you know, something that would, for lack of a better example, that hits on theTwilight audience. You know, millions of people went to see those in the theaters because it has those kind of, you know, subject matter. The drama, the characterization with love triangles and forbidden love and things like that. Literally a month later they asked me, “Hey, what do you think of Superman/Wonder Woman?” And I think it took all of maybe three seconds for me to say, “Yeah, that’s great. Let’s do that.” Because that’s exactly what I was describing that we need.
Translation: Women won’t read comic books unless there is a romance plot onto which we can project our sexual fantasies. Therefore, we have to fight to prove that we are also interested in epic battles, time travel adventures, and biting social commentary that such genre fiction excels at providing.
As a result, we are often demeaned and dismissed when we do express a sexual interest in the characters and the actors who portray them. Even in the most academic of settings, the second a woman mentions that women find the men who have portrayed the Doctor attractive, she is instantly dismissed and belittled. Laura Mead wrote an essay titled “David Tennant’s Bum” for Chicks Unravel Time in which she analyzed the female gaze in Doctor Who, and according to the New Statesman:
An academic who shall remain nameless used it in a conference as an example of “squee”, that hyperactive brand of fangirling that cannot possibly be taken seriously, ever, because women can’t enjoy media on a serious level.
It is assumed men can be intellectually interested in the plot of a TV show and sexually attracted to the characters and the actors that portray them. You’ll never see a man’s status as a Doctor Who fan challenged because he thinks Billie Piper is attractive. But women, according to the predominant narrative, can’t. We must either be the “Twilight demographic,” solely interested in romance and sex, or else be entirely sexless and proclaim that we are only interested in a TV show because of its plot. I love Doctor Who’s unique plots and story, and I also appreciate Matt Smith’s butt. Shockingly, I can do both at the same time.
There are numerous other problems with this narrative. For example, it entirely erases queer appreciation of Doctor Who. Where is all the concern trolling that gay teenage boys will leave the show because they won’t be attracted to Peter Capaldi? It also seems aimed at entirely dismissing the participation of teenage girls. Whenever someone mentions how concerned they are that young women will leave because they won’t find Capaldi attractive, it is usually contrasted with the statement that Classic Who fans will appreciate the show’s return to an older Doctor. Intentionally or not, this type of contrast portrays the teenage girls, many of whom were drawn into the show during Smith or Tennant’s tenure, as “lesser” fans, compared to the “serious” or “real” Doctor Who fans.
Ultimately, I think the greatest irony is that this type of conversation is concerned that the Doctor has been reduced to a sexual object to draw in female fans. Which is hilarious, because that’s almost the exact same type of concern women have been expressing about female characters on TV, who have actually been reduced to sexual objects in order to draw in male fans.
So yes, some young fans will be disappointed that they will no longer be attracted to the actor playing the Doctor. A very small, practically insignificant number might even stop watching the show because of it. Although personally, I think that number will easily be replaced by a number of other women who suddenly are finding themselves attracted to the actor playing the Doctor again.
But until I see a lot of media commentators wringing their hands over whether or not the new companion is “attractive enough” to draw in male fans, I’m officially declaring this conversation about whether young girls will find Peter Capaldi attractive enough to be absolute bunk.