Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Lot of Important Stuff Just Happened in the World. Here's a Post About Doctor Who.

So a common line I've been hearing about "Day of the Moon" from hardcore Who-Heads (yes, I know that's not their nickname) is that the Doctor committed genocide by implanting the subliminal suggestion in humanity's head to kill the Silence.

I honestly and truly do not get these complaints.

Absolutely no one has to die because of what the Doctor did here--I think his goal was as simple as making sure the Silence get out of the human race's way. Or, at worst, a leveling of the playing field.

We have a race that's been manipulating human civilization since it came into existence, for as-yet unknown ends--but whatever they are, the Silence seems to agree that they're not at all beneficial to the human race. Not only can you not fight or resist them, you can't even look at them without possibly getting subliminal messages implanted in your head. It's one of the most horrific oppressions imaginable.

And the human race is incapable of fighting against them or even knowing they're being enslaved. That takes the whole situation to yet another level. Given the incredibly narrow options here, the Doctor's solution strikes me as downright elegant.

My understanding is that a lot of Who fans are very big on the idea that the Doctor never uses brute force, and that the old show had some memorable episodes about how Ugly Creepy Things Are People Too. So I can't speak to the continuity of the show or the ideals that it maintains. But you can't possibly tell me that the Doctor has never used the threat of force to dissuade his enemies? Because that seems like the crucial business here: the Doctor gave someone (the human race) who had been bullied, oppressed, and had the deck stacked against them for thousands of years and gave them the tools to fight back, something that was remarkably difficult to do given the parameters of the situation.

What the Doctor's done is use their own methods, and their own *words,* to transmit information to everyone who needed to hear it. OK, there's an element of compulsion, but there's an element of compulsion about everything the Silence do, and since they're literally being hoist by their own petard here, I can't see how this is unfair or cruel. All the Silence need to do to avoid getting shot is to back off--it's not like the human race is going to form hunting parties to track them down. And that's, of course, notwithstanding the many other means the Silence presumably have at their disposal to fight back, beginning with another subliminal broadcast to counteract the first. (There may be plenty of ways this wouldn't work, but my point is the Silence did not suddenly become helpless victims after the broadcast.) Indeed, since the Silence are almost certainly returning, you could make the argument that the Doctor's solution is far too temporary a fix.

Now, the argument here seems to hinge on exactly how much the Doctor is allowed to let bloodshed occur, and yes, it surely seemed likely that some Silents were going to be killed right after the initial broadcast. I guess, based on what I know of the Doctor, it could be considered out of character for him...not to be upset that he couldn't have found a better way? That seems reasonable. I do think it might have spoken to everyone's concerns a little better if he'd simply taped the Silent saying "We are your enemy" or "we are your secret oppressors" or something--I'm sure violence would have resulted from that as well, but the Doctor wouldn't have had as much moral culpability. I say this, though, as a guy who doesn't really have a problem with the idea of the Doctor subverting a bunch of interstellar Svengalis by urging their subjects to kill, when the tools available are so flimsy and the situation is so tricky, and again, given the many, many ways that the Silence could undo this within a relatively short time.

At any rate, we can argue at the level of violence, or approval of violence, or compulsion to violence, committed by the Doctor, but calling it "genocide" seems to me, again, to be rather absurd.

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