New Doctor Who Freaks Out Universe | WGLT

New Doctor Who Freaks Out Universe

Jul 27, 2017

The world's most famous time traveler is about to undergo a change that, for some, is shocking and disturbing.

Coming soon to a Tardis near you, it’s a brand new Doctor Who. And freaking out fans worldwide is the fact that for the very first time, the Time Lord will be played by a woman. English actress Jodi Whittaker will be the 13th Doctor, adventuring through time and space in this sci-fi romp.

For over 50 years, the character of Doctor Who has always been played by a man. Casting a woman is a historic moment for the series and its fans, most of whom took to social media to express their delight or displeasure with the move.

"You can't help but think that it should have happened a long time ago."

Shari Zeck, interim dean of Milner Library at Illinois State University and GLT’s Culture Maven, described this as a moment that has been a long time coming , especially since the show is science fiction, a genre that, at its very heart, is speculative.

“We’re talking about a genre in which the craziest things happen, not the least of which is the fact that the main character regenerates and appears as a different actor every few years. Then suddenly there’s a freak out because they cast a woman. You can’t help but think that it should have happened a long time ago. Or, can’t they even image something beyond the binarism of male and female in this speculative universe? The biggest thing it shows us is how utterly entrenched our notions of what gender can be, and that in 2017 we are still easily shaken or put off by anything perceived of as a switcheroo.”

The majority of casting complaints seem to come from the male fans of "Doctor Who." Aside from basic sexism, observed Zeck, there’s just something about fan culture that lead to this strong reaction.

“Fans in general get very attached to how things are, and to the details of things as they know them. Any kind of major shift is one that’s likely to bring on lots of comment, good or bad. Every time there’s a new Doctor, there’s an outcry. Getting worked up about the new Doctor is actually a part of the culture of the fandom of 'Doctor Who.'"

While Zeck looks forward to see what Whitakker will do with the role, in her heart-of-hearts, the best Doctor Who will always be Matt Smith.

You can listen to our full interview with Zeck below:

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