Sep. 14th, 2011

aerdnasarrih: Located on the way to Disney World (Default)
Something has started to puzzle me about reactions to one of the motifs in the current run of Doctor Who. Specifically, the way Amy seems to feel entitled to have the Doctor at her beck and call, and to become angry and bitter when he "breaks his promise" to come to her when she expects him to.

That's a little harsh, but I don't know how to say it another way. From the very first episode we are shown a grown up Amy who has obvious psychological problems because the Doctor didn't come back that first night, when she was seven (I think) and whisk her away into time and space. Now I can get a child not understanding what was going on at that moment with the Doctor and the broken-down Tardis (which had just crashed), but over the years her increasing knowledge of how things work could at least have brought her to some realization that something must have gone wrong. I mean, smoke and flames were coming out of his magical box. If it was me, I would not have been angry so much as worried. Of course, anger is a natural reaction -- "Doesn't he know how worried I am? Where is he!?! If he's dead I'll never forgive him!" But still, we don't get a sense from the show that she was worried that he somehow blew up -- just that she was pissed off that he didn't show up until she was in her twenties. And he shows up in the same raggedy clothes she's seen him in when she was a kid and obviously remembers so a smart person would, after the initial shock wore off, figure out that something other than "Oh, I just made a promise to get you off my back 'cos you were a boring kid" had gone on.

The fact that this is played for semi-comic effect hides the weirdness of the situation. But if you take out the funny bits her reaction doesn't just seem weird, but psychotic. I mean look: the first thing she does when she sees him (even before he sees her grown-up self), is knock him unconscious with some sort of field hockey bat (I don't know what sports things are called -- the thing reminded me of those wooden things we used when we'd have to play field hockey -- well, not me, no one would trust me with one). Knocking someone out, far from being the funny slapstick act of a million comedy skits, is actually extremely dangerous and usually results, if not in death, then in permanent brain damage. At least the Doctor's a Time Lord who had recently regenerated and so probably healed right up. (Hey, now that I think about it every single puzzling aspect of the 11th Doctor season could be explained by the Doctor being in a coma and having weird dreams due to being clocked over the head. He could still be handcuffed to that radiator!)

Getting back to the subject, Amy's reaction could be explained away by the fact that he's an intruder in her house... if we weren't shown later that she had recognized him all along. So she sees the man who "let her down" as a child and who she had waited for her entire life... and she violently attacks him. Not normal. Though it's all played for edgy laughs. (And I'm going to break in here and say I enjoyed all these scenes immensely. I can turn off the overthinker when necessary.) The thing with the psychiatrists and how apparently she insisted he was "real" even when no one believed her (and apparently no one wondered what the hell happened to that shed in the back yard that the Tardis crashed into?) is also odd. Most kids have an "imaginary" friend and most adults just go along with the fantasy until the kid grows out of it. (Later on we have this weird repeat of the whole "kid believes in the Doctor so hard it makes her bonkers" with Mels, a.k.a. Melody a.k.a. River Song before she became River Song. Like mother like daughter? The whole relationship between Mels/Melody/River and her supposed parents doesn't make a whole lot of sense even in this context. For one thing, where would Mels get the idea that the Doctor should save the world from evil people? When she and Amy and Rory all grew up together was before Amy knew any more about the Doctor than he'd crashed a spaceship into her back yard, been weird and wacky, made her empty the contents of her kitchen before he settled on fish custard, and closed the scary crack in her wall before vanishing into the night. But that's for another post.)

Anyway, all of Amy's out-of-proportion anger at the Doctor for basically not kidnapping her from her home (I guess her parents had been eaten by the crack in the universe before giving her that don't-get-into-vans-with-strange-men talk) can be explained. But not the fan reaction to it. So far (I haven't read the entire internet) I seem to be the only one that is wondering what is okay about treating the Doctor like your personal time-travel-guide/extra boyfriend. It's not like Amy's the first to do it either -- it seems to be a theme in New Who. Rose was the worst offender -- she basically threw a tantrum ("Bad Wolf" is right) when he tried to save her freaking life by taking her home before going off to the future to be killed by the Daleks. But you know, it was ROSE, the Bestest Companion Evar, so even ingesting Tardis gas (or whatever turned her into a temporary goddess) and committing genocide (she destroyed what were for all the Doctor knew the last Daleks in existence, something he had been feeling guilty about and it turned out he didn't even do!) got her, not dumped back on her arse in 2005 London as punishment, but magically cured with a kiss and given a brand-new cute Doctor. One she complained about as "broken" by the way. Remember all that?

Amy's character is, imho, much better written, but she has the same problem too many female characters on NuWho, in that they seem to think they are entitled to the Doctor's company and time. Grant you, a lot of the time this was worked out as due to interference by Others (Dalek Caan playing around in the Time Vortex or whatever, I can't remember exactly and also Dalek Caan was crazy by that time but I believe there was something about him (it?) manipulating Donna's "time stream" so she would end up becoming DoctorDonna and destroying the Daleks and that's enough of that deus ex machina fail for now.) And Martha never acted like the Doctor was her own personal interstellar playtoy -- quite the opposite. Of course, she was rewarded by being labeled "pathetic" and "racefail" by too many fans. It's obviously much better being the entitled companion who pushes the Doctor around.

Anyway, I had left this post cooking for a day or so, and then recently came upon a fan discussion of the upcoming episode ("The God Complex") which mentions Amy's "abandonment issues." Okay, fans, help me out here: what has Amy got to feel abandoned about any more? True, when the Doctor first encountered her, the cracks in the universe had eaten almost everyone in her life. It would have taken a very cruel person to not offer to take her away from her horrid empty house, and the Doctor was not that person. Still, something went wrong and he didn't appear until Amy was grown up. Even so, you can't say he "abandoned" her. It wasn't like he was family -- he was a stranger. (He's not even the same species!) I mean what. I really don't get the "abandonment" thing. And in all the other episodes where Amy got into hot water because basically life with the Doctor isn't exactly a trip to Disney World, he did everything he could to get her out of it. In fact, he basically committed suicide (In "The Big Bang") so the world could be "rebooted" (he had no certainty that Amy would "remember" him back into existence). Really, what more does she (or rather, the fans who are pushing this particular wank, possibly based on their own "abandonment issues") want?

I need to reiterate that I like the Amy character but I have some issues with it. I can accept that they've written her to have the flaw of having problems with entitlement as concerns the men in her life (she tends to treat Rory like an accessory when she forgets herself too), but that doesn't mean that we should accept them as being wonderful just because they're a characteristic of a Who companion. And actually, problematic companions with deep flaws were a feature of the classic show. We weren't supposed to accept Turlough's cowardice and treachery as good things, just to name one example.

This will be continued after I watch "The Girl Who Waited."

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