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Doctor Who: A Journey Through Time and Sexism, Apparently

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THE 13th DOCTOR IS A WOMAN!

Ooh sorry, didn’t mean to shout that at you. Excitement is hard to reign in sometimes. But yes, the beloved British television show Doctor Who will soon have a woman playing the Doctor, and if you don’t find that exciting then you’re probably a dalek.

Doctor Who is a long-running science fiction television series which started over 50 years ago. It is centred around the Doctor, an alien from the planet Gallifrey, who travels through time and space in a ship called the TARDIS, which is camouflaged as an old-timey blue police box that is “bigger on the inside”. Very simple, really.

Over the years, the Doctor has died and then regenerated, allowing for another actor to take the role. So far there have been thirteen different incarnations of the Doctor, who have all been played by men. But a change is coming. Jodie Whittaker has been confirmed as the new Doctor. Her predecessor, Peter Capaldi, has played the Doctor for the past three years, but evidently his time is coming to an end. We have been promised a regeneration in this year’s Christmas Special and it’s going to be fantastic!

So why the gender change? And is it even possible?

The short answer is yes, it’s possible. We’ve seen it before. Not only that, but there were plenty of hints that it was coming. Over the past few series we have seen other Time Lords regenerate into Time Ladies, the most notable of these Time Lords being the Master, one of the Doctor’s long running nemeses. A few series back, the Master disappeared after another epic throwdown with the Doctor, followed by a time of quiet wherein the Master appeared to be gone. That is, until Missy, short for Mistress, started popping up, wreaking havoc here and there and revealing herself to be the incarnation of the Master. She was crazy, terrifying, and a little bit saucy.

As the Doctor said of the Time Lords in the most recent series, “We’re the most civilised civilisation in the universe. We’re billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes.” This was one of the biggest hints that a change was coming, and soon.

Doctor Who has increasingly advocated for change around many issues, especially for that of gender equality. The Doctor’s companions, often played by women, have become more independent, confident and free-thinking. Where they once stood idle, asking questions and waiting to be saved, they now answer those questions, face the bad guys, and even on occasion, save the Doctor themselves. Over the years, travellers with the Doctor have progressed from assistant, to best friends of the Doctor. They now have as much impact on the Doctor as the Doctor has on them. It’s heartbreaking at times, especially when one or the other leaves, but it is also brilliant. Like the companions, the Doctor has grown, the show has grown. Hey, our most recent companion was a strong queer woman of colour who ultimately got the girl and flew away to see the universe. It was epic, and like every goodbye, a little sad.

So, we know it’s possible, and considering how accepted Missy has become, it has also proven successful. Yet there are still the critics, labelling the move “political correctness gone mad”, or sharing their outrageous and sexist drivel in every comment section . Whenever the Doctor has regenerated in the past, there was usually a fair bit of unrest, a time ripe with anxiety, fear and often outright rejection –  Matt Smith was “too young”, Capaldi “too old” – with supposedly avid Whovians declaring they will no longer watch Doctor Who. However, once the new Doctor is established, acceptance comes quickly, usually to the point where you don’t want them to go and we start the cycle again.

The backlash this time round has been severely vicious, underpinned by a great deal of misogyny. Many have taken to Twitter and Facebook to voice their displeasure, calling it the end of Doctor Who. Call me naïve, but I was honestly surprised at how bad some of the comments were. Most are crude, ill thought out, and on occasion, written by people who haven’t yet seen an episode of the show. But it’s not just the internet trolls contributing to the hate and rejection. Within 48 hours of the announcement, The Sun published nude screenshots from Whittaker’s previous roles, and other news outlets were accused of over reporting backlash, effectively giving the #NotMyDoctor crowd ammunition and a voice. Negativity has clouded an otherwise exciting announcement. Saying you don’t like the new Doctor because she’s a woman is sexist. The backlash that we have been seeing, if anything, indicates how much we need this change to happen, and how much we need this new Doctor.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I say, there will still be people upset at the fact that the next Doctor is a woman. I can’t say I understand, because personally this news excites me. But I know what it feels like when something unexpected happens and the fear of the unknown is all consuming. Everyone struggles with change at times, even the Doctor. The best thing to do is wait, and give it a chance. If you find yourself watching the new series of Doctor Who and liking it, that’s great. If not, that’s also okay. But please don’t close yourself off to this wonderful show. As a wise woman once said, “The soufflé isn’t the soufflé. The soufflé is the recipe.” The Doctor is the recipe and all the different incarnations are the soufflés, adding another gender to the pot shouldn’t change the core of who the Doctor is. The Doctor will still be the Doctor, still out there saving the world. It would be sad if you aren’t there to see it.

 

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Review: The Dark Tower

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Stephen King’s The Dark Tower has long been considered among those sci-fi/fantasy series that is both uniquely engrossing and completely

Review: Killing Ground

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Damien Power’s debut feature Killing Ground is a harrowing experience. It does not hide its horror under a mask or a faceless killer, nor does it utilise any jump scares. Instead, Power’s offers up an unsettling landscape and gripping antagonists to drive his thriller.

The film follows a couple on their camping trip in the isolated Australian bush, as they slowly begin to piece together the mystery of the abandoned campsite they are adjacent to. The two leads, portrayed by Harriet Dyer and Ian Meadows, offer little to the clichéd horror genre, making it difficult to sympathise with their survival throughout the third act. Even though the film goes for a slow burn thriller, these characters still feel underdeveloped, especially when compared to the two killers; brought to the screen by the stellar Aaron Pederson and Aaron Glenane.

These two bring realism to their performance, an inner conflict that is not always evident in their dialogue. Power’s focus on developing these two individuals in their own crosscutting storyline is one of the most rewarding creative decisions in the movie. In many ways, this makes the story predictable, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Where other great thriller movies succeed by subverting your expectations, Killing Ground succeeds by teasing out your expectations and making you wish they weren’t going to be fulfilled.

There are no fanciful or fantastical horror elements at play here; in fact, most of the film is set during the day. Instead, the film relishes in its calm brutality, each rifle shot echoing around the landscape and lingering in the atmosphere. It is at these shocking and confronting parts that the film truly shines, framed effectively amongst Simon Chapman’s stunning cinematography.

However, Killing Ground is not perfect. As aforementioned, the two protagonists struggle to hold the dramatic weight that the film requires and the third act suffers under a poor conclusion, which aims at ambiguity and strikes annoyance. The deliberate, but slow pacing might also turn genre fans off due to the relative pay-off it builds to. For Power, his debut feature highlights strong technical control and undeniable potential, but fails to break enough new ground in a killer genre.

3 stars

‘Killing Ground is currently in select theatres.

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Covfefe: a nihilist manifesto

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In the immortal words of our overlord Donald Trump: covfefe. But what does this expressive and nonsensical word/ declaration seek to convey? Is it an echo of the purposelessness associated with the fidget spinner? Or perhaps an allusion to the millennial obsession with over-priced take away coffee? Or ultimately, is covfefe a horrific title of the modern nihilist? An exposé directed toward the oblivion that is life’s meaningless taunts.

Covfefe, pronounced cov-fe-fe, has sparked international debate surrounding its meaning as applicable to a people in crisis. Experts have claimed it is a method of deterring the public from other more monumental world issues, such as the US federal government’s decision to drop out of the Paris agreement at the beginning of June. Conservatives, however, have argued that it was simply a typo for the word ‘coverage’, due to the pitiful size of Trump’s infamously small hands. And to obscure the message or lack thereof behind this controversy, press secretary Sean Spicer told journalists in a conference that day that “the president and a small group of people know exactly what it meant.” Trump even cloyingly encouraged the public to ruminate over the origin of this word, later tweeting: “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’??? Enjoy!” Insinuating that the public find pleasure in the search for truth. But simply by analysing the two words together in standard proximity, it is blindingly obvious that the typo theory is missing some crucial element in its thesis, and that rather, the Supreme Leader is sending us a message, a warning. Here, he foreshadows and epitomises the people’s struggle in reaching and attaining meaning in a world that seems out of touch, and a news cycle progressively more impossible to follow for the average audience member.

Although historians will undoubtedly endeavour to define covfefe in its pure form, it cannot be constrained into a simplistic definition. Just as the Dadaists of 1915-1922 believed it to be un-dadaist to define dada, covfefe is a culmination of paradox, contradictions and concepts far beyond the threshold of human thought and comprehension. The Dadaist’s intention was to taunt the bourgeoisie; Trump aims to taunt the nation, the ivory tower elite, the press — he is depicting his control of language, of the written word in all its numerous forms. Trump here is struggling to undermine the press whilst ultimately undermining himself in the process; he is the spider creating an intricate web of contradictions. Trump exposes himself as a Dadaist. His symbol is nothingness, and is spitting on everything, including himself—he epitomises this vacuum, the void that ultimately consumes the human soul. Covfefe defies intentions of clarity, painting information and knowledge as a pharmaceutical product of systemic consumerism, an attack on the poison of the known, or as Trump calls it: fake news. Ultimately, covfefe is a state of mind. It seeks to express something which there is no established language to convey. Trump embodies Shakespearian modes of creative inventiveness, harnessing the written word that he seemed to decry in alternate ways to establish his defiance of stagnation and methods of precedence. Although inevitably the public will laugh, and memes will be spawned as a result, Trump is destabilising our perceptions of truth and meaning, breaking down established understandings of language, politics, culture, facts. What’s left is a void, a saturation of information we cannot comprehend or decipher until all that we can do is follow the leader into the darkness of the unknown and the unknowable.

The word Covfefe contains 3 syllables, hauntingly similar to the build of the fidget spinner, which has three sides. But what does this mean? The answer lies not within the material makeup of the term, nor in the visual effects of the fidget spinner, rather, the answer is within the subconscious message. These two words— one tangible, one a term evolving within the cloud—embody the cyclical nature of not only life, but time’s tauntingly endless projection- a purgatory. The aim of the fidget spinner is to stop people from being distracted, while conversely, covfefe is designed with the sole purpose to distract. Only hours after the word that would soon define the political division and misunderstanding of an era was transmitted to the mobile phones of the masses from the twitter heavens, Trump pulled out of the Paris agreement. However, the world was distracted, still struggling to unravel his biblical counsel; attempting—just as Spicer tried before them—to impose meaning onto the meaningless. Essentially, covfefe is a virus, a pathogen of nihilism: stagnating and polluting political opposition, or rather, ideology and thought of any kind. Leaving society ‘trumped’ of any position in the midst of an increasingly fluctuating political climate.

As scientists endeavour to understand the meaning behind the word, the ultimate irony is that there is no meaning. Trump is the ultimate nihilist.

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