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By Ference Blackstone | with thanks to Poptimal.com

Thursday, August 22, 2013.


Dear black nerds and liberal white Sci-Fi geeks,


I hate to burst your bubble, but a black actor will never play Doctor Who on BBC’s resuscitated series.  I know you should never say never, but sorry Justin & Jayden, I’m saying never!  A black Doctor Who will never happen.


How do I know this?  Because Doctor Who’s  decision-makers (“Who-Makers”) are the hot girl prick teasers of the Sci-Fi world.  They send you overt flirtatious signals that are open and ready to go all the way, but you really have no chance.  So just stop trying to date the Doctor. You are in the friend zone as the black best friend/companion, so move on.


Before you roll in lock-step unison like a bunch of Daleks to exterminate my post, I ask you to do two things: (1) know that I am one of you and (2) at least read what I have to say. You may actually agree . . . maybe.


Why A Black Doctor Who Is A Prick Tease

1.  Flirting & Seduction – Black Doctor, Next Time Suckas!

Step 1 of being a prick tease is the flirting.  See, the flirting makes you believe the other person is open to dating you and that you actually have a chance.  It’s the bait of the open mind that sucks you in and makes you a sucka.  Here, there has been no bigger flirt than the show’s past producer and chief writer Russell T. Davies.

In 2007, Davies, self-proclaimed champion to people of color in sci-fi shows, lashed out at ITV’s sci-fi show Primeval – ‘for being too white‘. (See Wales Online).


In 2008, when David Tennant announced that he would step down as the Doctor, Davies showed a bit of leg by supporting the idea of a black Doctor Who, whether male or female.  “The more it’s talked about, the more likely it is to happen,” he said.  To show how serious he was, Davies threw out the names of prominent black British actors: Colin Salmon (Arrow, James Bond) and Paterson Joseph (Peep Show, Aeon Flux) and bragged that these are “names in the frame.” (See The Telegraph).


Now that’s the kind of bold talk and leadership  you hear from a person serious about breaking ground and hiring a black Doctor Who, right?  That’s something to rally around and be hopeful.  It’s so seductive.  In fact, I’m unbuttoning my shirt right now to get down to business!


Wait, not so fast! I think the Who-Makers had a headache, or were bloated, or had a stressful day because when they announced Tennant’s replacement, it was . . . (*in my best Barney Stinson voice*) wait for it Ordi-NARY — another white male, Matt Smith.


To be clear, I love Matt Smith and think he’s brilliant. His version of Doctor Who has left an indelible mark on my sci-fi brain g-spot.  Plus, any good friend of Nathan Fillion has earned black guy cool points and is alright with me.  However, the focus centers on the decision to cast him with the facts known at that time, not now. The whole “look, it turned out well argument” will always win because you do not know how the alternative would have turned out.  It may have been greater, imagine (trademark SyFy). In this instance, when the decision was made, Smith wasn’t even mentioned in the top 6 actors speculated by the BBC.  Essentially, Smith came out of nowhere and took a seat at the front of the bus, passing up Davies’s black actor proclamations, who were left sitting at the back of the bus.






But hey, this is entertainment, there are a number of other factors that come into play.  And hey, there is always next time, right?  Let’s Tardis-forward in time to Smith’s departure.


Where Davies left off, the popular media and British acting royalty picked up.  The seduction was back, sexier, and more solidified.  A black Doctor Who seemed inevitable. For example,

BBC News: “As in previous years, some have suggested the role may go to a black actor, with Luther star Idris Elba, Homeland‘s David Harewood and former rapper Ashley Walters among those mentioned.”


BBC Radio (Newsbeat): :”In what would be a first in the show’s history, there are rumours the next doctor could be played by a black actor.  Homeland star David Harewood, as well as Paterson Joseph, who is best known for his role as Johnson in Peep Show, are two of the black actors given good odds.  Luther star Idris Elba is another name apparently being considered.”


EntertainmentWise.com: “Many names are being thrown around as to who could replace Matt Smith and so far, Chiwetel Ejiofor is 7/1 on to be given the role in the sci-fi fantasy. He’s one of the emerging favourites, let alone the possibility of being the first black Doctor in the history of the show.”


Helen Mirren (who was up for the part) – “it’s well over-time to have a female ‘Doctor Who’  . . . I think a gay, black female ‘Doctor Who’ would be best of all.” (Huffington Post).


Now I am all hot and bothered!  This is the moment.  Light the candles, play Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, and pass the P.Diddy Cîroc Vodka “Snap Frost”.  Let’s get it on . . . Wait, Peter who?


Peter Capaldi?  I don’t give a Malcolm Tuck! You had said . . . and the time before that you said . . .

Doctor Who Wtf!?!  Stop playing with my emotions!

Graeme McMillan from Time.com got it right:

“[A]fter all the speculation, excitement and rumor-mongering that, this time, we’d finally get a female Doctor or a black Doctor or some kind of Doctor that wasn’t just like all of the other Doctors that we’ve seen before, we ended up with one we’d expected all along.”


This tweet sent out by famed comic writer Evan Dorkin cuts to the heart of things: “Doctor Who’s okay. But he’s always white, he’s always a he. Kind of weird in an ‘anything goes’ universe, eh?


Let’s face it, we were seduced by the flirtation of Who-Makers, twice.  Prick teased indeed!


2.  They have no intention of choosing a black Doctor

Step 2 to being a prick tease is to have no intention acting seriously on the flirtation.  The Who-Makers here have no such attention of choosing a black actor to play the part of Doctor Who in the first place.  How can I possibly know their intentions? You’re right, I cannot.  However, as a self-ascribed black nerd, I can reasonably infer this lack of intention exists because of two main facts.


First, the inability (or unwillingness) to select one from a wealth of award winning, mainstream, and popular black actors is deafening.  The following is just a brief list of the possible actors that could have been selected this time around (or the time before that).  They are talented, hip, cool and sexy and have BAFTA nominations and wins between them.  Most importantly, from the Who-Makers point of view, they play well with white audiences.


With such a wealth of proven talent, the only reason I can think of why none were even offered the job this time around, was because there was no intention to choose a black actor in the first place.  For whatever reason, these fine actors were not on the Who-Makers “colour-blind” radar. Based on these facts, I agree with the BBC’s statement that “casting on Doctor Who is colour-blind,” they don’t see people of colour at all when casting the part of the Doctor.


Second, the use of a vague rumor to explain away the fact they did not consider a black actor this time is trifling.  After the announcement of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor riled up the Internet community because he was neither black nor a woman, Neil Gaiman, a longtime fan and occasional writer for the show, revealed on Tumblr that a black actor had been offered the role in a previous regeneration but turned it down.


When did this occur? We don’t know.  Who was the actor? We don’t know.  All we know is that one black actor, sometime since 2006 was offered the role and turned it down.  We do not even know why he turned it down. Was it money, prior engagement, flaccid attempts by the studio to close the deal, or restraints by the director? This vagueness provides cover for the Who-Makers and to casually bigoted fans to say “see, the Who-Makers are trying, it’s not their fault.”


If there was an authentic effort to cast a black actor for the role, the Who-Makers would not have to rely on such a flimsy and convenient tale.  There would be some substance on which they could stand.  But, I guess this vague and convenient tall tale is the best they’ve got and you go with what you got.  However, it bolsters my belief that they had no intention to cast a black person in the first place.


Even if I were to believe Gaiman, the thought that the Who-Makers felt they met their self-created duty to cast a black Doctor because they asked one black actor makes me cringe and then laugh out loud.  That is casual bigotry if I have ever seen it — “I don’t know why you are complaining, we offered it to one black guy 7 years ago, geez!”


The bottom line is that the Who-Makers simply had no intention to back up their words and cast a black Doctor. Unfortunately, there is no Rooney Rule  similar to what the Premier League is moving towards.  Look, I am not saying that such an affirmative action tool is necessary or even good for the Doctor Who universe or the BBC; I am saying that the embarrassing paucity of action by the Who-Makers in the recent past is narrowing the options of what should be done, if the goal is to promote diversity with the namesake character.


3.  Blame the Victim Because It’s Your Fault.

Step 3 is to find a prick tease enabler.  All the blame of being prick teased cannot lay at the feet of someone else.  Sure the Who-Makers flirted and had no intention on acting on that flirtation, but it’s ultimately your fault.   Yes, I am blaming the victim because you deserve it.  As long as you let the Who-Makers string you along, as long as you accept being the best black friend/companion, and  as long as you continue to support the show by watching, you are a prick tease enabler.


You gotta stop trying to date the hot chick, or in this case Doctor Who, by saying no, I’m not paying you any more attention.  Stop flirting with me.  If you are DTF, let me know the place and the time.  Until then, don’t call me.  Good luck with your future ratings.


Like I said in the beginning, I am one of you — a Doctor Who fan and black nerd — so that approach may not seem practical, but it is time to stop reTardis-ing progress.  So here is what I’m going to do and encourage you to do the same:  Stop watching and get my nerdy Sci-Fi fix elsewhere; from newer and better shows like Orphan Black or Being Human (US).  There are younger, sexier, cleverer, and better written Sci-Fi shows out there with decision-makers who are actually DTF when it comes to casting black actors (or women) as the protagonist.


Hmm, Jane Espenson, Ronald Moore and Joss Whedon . . . what you got going on?  I’m on the dating market again! *wink*


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