A British politician has made a bizarre claim that the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor in Doctor Who is part of a casting trend that has encouraged more young men to commit crime. Whittaker made history in July 2017 when she was cast as the first-ever female iteration of the Doctor in the long-running sci-fi show’s history. The series had previously confirmed Time Lords to be genderfluid, most notably through Michelle Gomez’s portrayal of Missy, a female incarnation of the Master.
As Whittaker’s time as the Doctor comes to a close - she and current showrunner Chris Chibnall are set to leave the show next year - many fans have been reflecting on her era of Doctor Who. The Chibnall era has not been without its controversies, with many criticizing the inconsistent writing and poor characterization. However, Whittaker’s performance as the Thirteenth Doctor has been largely praised, and if Doctor Who has suffered a slump in popularity for the last few years, it certainly has nothing to do with the gender of its lead character.
However, Adam Bienkov reports that a Conservative MP from the United Kingdom has made an ill-informed connection between the casting of Whittaker and a rise in male crime. Speaking in a Westminster debate that took place on International Men’s Day, Nick Fletcher stated that a tiny but vocal minority were calling for “every male character or good role model” to have a “female replacement.” The politician went on to say that “in recent years we have seen Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, Luke Skywalker, The Equaliser, all replaced by women.” He argues that this leaves young men looking up to antagonistic characters such as Peaky Blinders’ Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). Fletcher states, “Is there any wonder we are seeing so many young men committing crime?” Watch the video below:
Conservative MP Nick Fletcher says Doctor Who being played by a woman has pushed young men into crime. pic.twitter.com/08rFuCtmgS— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) November 25, 2021
Fletcher’s argument that casting women in traditionally male parts deprives young men of positive role models fails to consider the historical and continued marginalization of women and other genders on the screen. Despite hugely popular franchises such as Doctor Who and Star Wars giving leading roles to women in recent years, this doesn’t cancel out the fact that a large majority of TV and film remains dominated by men. In addition, women being cast in reboots or continuations of huge franchises does not erase the performances of male leads in previous entries.
So-called ‘gender-bending’ reboots continue to cause controversy, as some argue that the alternative, more nuanced option is to create new roles for women on screen. However, Fletcher’s claims that casting women in traditionally male roles is causing a rise in male crime are misguided at best, and harmful at worst. There will always be both positive male role models and male antagonists on screen, but women are only just beginning to see positive representations of themselves, too. Despite what the politician may argue, the casting of Whittaker in Doctor Who has no correlation with crime rates amongst young men.
Source: Adam Bienkov/Twitter