Friday, December 27, 2013

The Time of the Doctor

Has a TV show ever paid such close attention to its fans?

After much internet buzz that Matt Smith could not be the Doctor in the Xmas special because he had cut his famous mop while filming a movie, the scriptwriters shaved his head and put him in a wig. Hard to believe that during months of speculation, that simple little solution didn't seem obvious.

They also settled the question of regeneration. We knew they would; Dr. Who is far to valuable a franchise to kill off simply because long-established canon says you're on your last face of Doctor; but it's nice to see that they cared about it enough to dedicate an entire conversation where the Doctor counts up all of the past events.

It was, however, a bit much that the excess energy from this regeneration was apparently sufficient to destroy a Dalek battleship. For the man who almost never fires a weapon (during this episode devoted to a long war the only direct kill we see him make is convincing a Cyberman to shoot himself) it was a dangerous precedent. But of course, that Doctor is gone now, and the scriptwriters get another chance to create rules and limitations they can then dramatically break later down the line.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

An example of Privilege in action

This Duck Dynasty thing that's burning up the interwebs - turns out some Southern cracker is a homophobe, and apparently that's like news or something? - is the perfect example of privilege in action.

The cracker gives an interview, in which his homophobia is made plain; his employer decides that makes him not a cost-effective employee insomuch as his job is entertainment; and the right-wingers go ballistic because they think his freedom of speech is being abridged.

Three points. One, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence. You can say anything you want, and people can react to it anyway they want.

Two. If the Federal Government sends men with guns to silence you, that's an abridgement of freedom of speech. Anything less... not so much.

Three, and by and far the biggie. The first two are just basic failure to understand concepts, which is nothing new. But the most important thing to notice here is that the people calling for the Federal cavalry to defend this man against his employer are the very same people who think that employers should be allowed to fire and hire at will for any reason including race, creed and color.

Apparently it should be OK by Federal law to fire a man for being black... but not for being a homophobe. You can refuse to sell cakes to gay weddings... but you can't refuse to employ people who say things about gays you don't like.

Here we see the knife of privilege cutting exactly one way, and one way only. Basically, they support freedom of speech when its speech they like. And apparently, there are lots and lots of people who like to talk smack about gay people.

I wonder how long they can keep the wall up? Given that they've pretty nakedly admitted that bashing gay people is protected speech, but defending gay people is not; how much longer before they just come out and admit that bashing black people is protected speech, but bashing racists is not? We came perilously close with the Paula Deen affair, and this seems like another step in that direction.

I, for one, would welcome it. Just say what you actually mean. Honesty is always the best policy. I read some of the things the Duck Dynasty patriarch said, and as one pundit said, they were at least said without malice. No doubt Duck Dude is a little surprised at all the froufrou (just as Paula Deen was). That's just the way he thinks. I applaud him for his honesty, and I wish the rest of the right-wingers would hurry up and join him. Just come right out and say it. Put down the dog whistles and plainly say what you mean.

Of course, it would be the near-instantaneous destruction of the Republican party; but even if it weren't, I would still prefer a world in which racism, sexism, and homophobia were openly recognized as what they are.

"The best antiseptic is sunlight," Mencken said, and I'm sure some long dead Greek guy said a similar thing. To put it in military terms, identifying the enemy is the first step in destroying him.