by Gareth Roberts
Friday, 26
November 2021
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11:45

Dr Who doesn’t make young men commit crime

Politicians should stop taking pop culture so seriously
by Gareth Roberts
This woman is making dozens of young men commit larceny. Credit: IMDb

“In recent years we have seen Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, Luke Skywalker, the Equalizer all replaced by women, and men are left with the Krays and Tommy Shelby,” said Nick Fletcher, Conservative MP for Don Valley yesterday. “Is there any wonder we are seeing so many young men commit crime?”

Fletcher’s claim was bizarre. A small number of male heroes had become women, therefore young men were going on sprees? One is tempted to reply, “Is there any wonder we are seeing so many people think that MPs are idiots?”

A causal link is unlikely, to say the least. I can assure Mr Fletcher that boys were slashing seats on public transport when Jon Pertwee was Doctor Who, and that the violent crime rate — despite a slight increase in the few years before Covid — is still significantly lower than its post-war peak in the mid-90s.

It’s easy to laugh at the calibre of our MPs. But I think we should be laughing at the very idea of role models, for either sex, and their assumed influence. There is a ludicrous ‘monkey see, monkey do’ attitude ingrained in the minds of both the people who make TV and films, and the people like Fletcher who complain about TV and films.

All societies are based around approved behavioural norms. Infants learn these norms from everything and everyone around them, but I would suggest that anybody over four doesn’t really need special reinforcement in these from fiction.

Is the effect tangible, even on tiny children? Rainbow would often show Zippy punished for a variety of moral misdemeanours but I’m going to go out on a limb here to say that Zippy didn’t produce a model citizenry. People still grew up to lie, cheat, steal and kill. I refused to smash up a Space Invaders machine when I was eleven because of my temperament and a whole host of real-world social conventions, not because Zippy had been castigated for his thoughtless destruction of Bungle’s tambourine.

Aren’t those of us over four just interested in people — fictional and real — whose character reminds us of our personalities, or an idealised version of our personalities? I fear that as a child I was drawn in particular to Doctor Who not because of his sex, his appearance, or his casual moral goodness (which after all he shared with every other children’s TV character) but because he was glib and made inappropriately facetious remarks. Our personalities are our own — we are not formed by our idols but attracted to the qualities we share. The idea that society can be re-engineered — men becalmed, racists re-socialised, girls empowered — through pop culture is therefore silly. 

I would suggest that the real problem with many of the female characters in today’s culture is that they’re so incredibly bland. In some respects they have gone backwards — the girls of my generation had women as variously quirky as Dr Who’s knife-slashing cave girl Leela, Super Gran, potty Peggy from Hi-de-Hi, and Blake’s 7’s psycho politician Servalan, not to mention mainstream pop stars as un-‘girly’ as Patti Smith or Poly Styrene.

Steering society is beyond the power of television and probably beyond the power of government. But sadly, the most joyfully frivolous things are now weighted with political and social significance, which is how we get to the ludicrousness of Fletcher’s speech. Our culture is out of kilter. Let us return to taking only serious things seriously.

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tom j
tom j
9 months ago

Yes he’s been widely mocked for this claim. But I think his point is that the man to woman changes are symptomatic of the wider culture, and surely he’s right about that. We’re still in the phase of saying that men & women are exactly the same, and, also, women are better. That probably does have some effect on the life choices that boys make.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago
Reply to  tom j

Also – these changes make the stupid shows unwatchable.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
9 months ago

It’s clearly ba11s to say that any of this nonsense bedevilling kids’ TV yet affects behaviour. A particular problem afflicting pretty much all children’s / YA TV, but certainly Doctor Who, is that it’s produced by woke to55ers who see every instalment as an opportunity for a left-wing sermon.
It’s always a sign of total imaginative depletion when a programme like Star Trek or Who, which have the entirety of space and time in which to set and resolve their stories, starts to find its canvas too limiting. Instead, parochial little stories are increasingly set on Earth (via the ludicrous holodeck plot device in ST) and are all, laughably, about ephemeral little issues that are a big deal only in the minds of today’s leftists.
As a result of lecturing, hectoring stories about racism and climate change, the viewing figures collapse. Like the EU insisting that the answer to the EU’s failures is always more of the EU, the woke twerps always think the solution to the audience switching the sermon off is better sermons. The Doctor Who universe is thus a very, very small place in which all right-thinking aliens see things the same way, everyone else is clearly a Tory, and paradise looks like north London.
To see how sci-fi can be done properly, look at Alien. You’d guess from its title it’s going to be about an alien, but as it unfolds, you realise it’s an adjective as well as a noun. The reveal of the alien derelict is one of greatest moments in film. There is a genuinely disturbing alien feel to the scale, the aesthetics and the unknowable technology, so that in one long shot, the immense and frightening strangeness of the galaxy is revealed. And then, with astonishing directorial insouciance, the derelict and its pilot are left behind and never mentioned again, because worse shocks are in store.
Or there’s Blade Runner, which rips the plot of Frankenstein to create a rumination on what defines humanity. The androids aren’t robots, they’re genetically engineered humanoids who betray themselves by their inability to empathise. Except that they can apparently learn to do so, while those who hunt them are actually worse.
Alien is perhaps a really superior B-movie, whereas Blade Runner could never be remade in any other idiom except sci-fi. Doctor Who will never attempt anything of the kind. It has the same opportunities open to it, but with its patronising and crass political lectures, it’s clear that it has no idea of how to use this to say anything interesting, or awe-inspiring. The most exciting ideas in the heads of its producers are around which fat black woman to insert as a future iteration of the Doctor (and yes, they did this a couple of episodes ago; I only saw this because I was five minutes early for Strictly).
It is probably true that the constant expression of contempt by a brahmin class with nothing special about it is going to have some consequences, though. Whether it’s the abolition of the TV licence or PM Nigel Farage I don’t yet know, but these woke TV pi11ocks really are playing with fire.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
9 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Is not Strictly afflicted by the same wonkiness?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
9 months ago

Wifey likes it. I can’t think why. I sit through it to keep her company.

Al M
Al M
9 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

You have my deepest sympathy.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
9 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Strictly Come Shrieking.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
9 months ago

Achilles inspired Alexander who inspired Julius Caesar. Arthur and Robin Hood have inspired boys for centuries. Edward the III was inspired by Arthur. Drake and Elzabethan sailors inspired Nelson who inspired every sailor of his time and afterwards.Shackleton and Worsley inspired Lt Colonel Worsley.
Young boys often get into crime because of their energy and sense of adventure. Most people involved in culture lack a sense of adventure and the willingness to risk their lives, accept for the authors who write about their expedition, for example, Burton, Doughty, Lawrence, Shackleton, Leigh Fermour, Spencer Chapman, Bell, Stark, Newby and Thessiger.
There are those who make history and those who write history: Lawrence and Churchill are the very small numbers who did both. Orwell in his essays after he joined the BBC was well aware of how left wing middle class people lacking heroic qualities themselves wished to denigrate those who had them, probably out of spite. Maj Gen Sir John Glubb in his essay on empires, notes how once the heroic and adventurous spirits are mocked, a civilisation is in decline.
Up to the 1950s Bull Dog Drummond and Biggle were popular with boys plus plenty of other characters in the many comic booksincluding “Just William ” .
It is very difficult to think of any current opinion former who would want with one as survivors of a ship wreck at the poles or a plane crash in a desert, mountain or jungle.Thatcher having worked as an industrial chemist would have useful skills who else?
Even since the Frankfurt School came on the scene they want to undermine the heroic ethos in Western Civilisation. How many of the problems we have are because we have an opinion forming/ ruling class who lack a spirit adventure; who have not willingly tested their mettle because they are terrified they would fail and lose their status and salary?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
9 months ago

The idea that society can be re-engineered — men becalmed, racists re-socialised, girls empowered — through pop culture is therefore silly.

I hardly watch any TV any more. Most programs have become woke morality plays.

John Murray
John Murray
9 months ago

“Blake’s 7’s psycho politician Servalan”
Also responsible for introducing many boys of a certain age to the concept of sexy bad girl.