Just kidding, I actually couldnt care less.
I’ve never had any interest in Dr Who, but its been impossible to avoid the controversy over the BBC casting their first female Dr.
So far there seems to be a big divide in the audience, those that are for it and are praising the BBC for a change they felt was long overdue, and those that feel its nothing more than a tick in the box gimmick for the BBC and insults the long storied tradition of the series.
I personally dont see the fuss. The Dr isnt even human, hes an alien that regenerates every so often and has been about 20 different men. Does he even have a gender? Who cares.
But it did remind me of something.
Marvel comics two years ago.
Just like the BBC, Marvel were always being criticized for not being progressive enough (Ha!) and not having enough mainstream female/racially diverse characters.
Many writers, journalists and fans complained that they we’rent being represented in comics and something needed to change.
Obviously sensing an opportunity to appeal to an audience they had been missing out on, Marvel gave them what they wanted. They hired self proclaimed ‘feminist’ and ‘social justice’ writers and artists. They then rebranded the whole of their mainstream line with the ‘All-new, All different’ Marvel.
Thor became a woman. Wolverine became a woman. Iron man became a black woman (with an awesomely sized afro).
Ms Marvel became an asian muslim. Squirrel girl, Spider Woman and Spider Gwen became main characters.
Miles Morales continued to be spiderman, whilst Sam Wilson became Captain America and Steve Rogers (seemingly the only white male left) became a nazi. Subtle.
Suddenly the prominently white male line up of Marvels main characters became a glorious rainbow of ethnicities and sexualities.
Marvel seemingly covered every demographic possible, except the white male one. But who cares about them right? They’ve had 60 years of characters to identify with. No, this was everyone elses turn. All the bi-racial, transgender asexuals who had never had a character to call their own were finally being represented.
Marvel gave their critics everything they had been asking for and then they sat back, ready to watch the money roll in.
(Actual footage of Stan Lee after he heard about the re-brand)
Except the money didnt roll in.
Instead, sales dropped. MASSIVELY. To the point that now, less than 2 years later, all of the re-branded lines have been cancelled and DC are absolutely owning them in comic sales. Only 2 comics in the top 10 of 2016 sales were Marvel. DC had 7.
Marvel are rebooting yet again, and are reverting back to the old, classic versions of the main characters, with the emphasis back on story telling and less on ‘ticking boxes’.
Marvel’s Senior VP of sales and marketing had this to say about it, “‘What we heard [from retailers] was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not. I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales. We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against it”.
So people dont want to see female characters in comics? Interesting. Theres just one, teeny, tiny little flaw with that diagnosis.
Harley Quinn was the biggest selling comic book character of 2016 by far. The 3rd highest selling comic of 2016 was Harley Quinn no#1 (Only beaten by Civil war 2 and Big trouble in little china, both of which are only the top 2 because of loot crate deals and free comic book day, based on pure comic book sales Harley was no.1). And thats not including the INSANE amount of merchandise sales and the fact that Suicide Squad, despite being utterly terrible, took $760 million at the box office, arguably because of her popularity. Despite being a fairly new, wholly original character, she is outselling EVERYONE. Even Batman and Superman, the once untouchable kings of comics.
When you look at her financial numbers, as well as the SWARMS of people that cosplay as her year after year at comic cons, its a little ridiculous to say that comic book fans arent interested in female characters.
Perhaps what Marvel fans we’rent interested in was seeing characters they had grown up with being changed into something they no longer recognised.
Perhaps the Marvel critics never really had any interest in seeing more progressive comics, they simply just wanted to complain about them. They certainly made more of an effort to complain about the past comics than they did to go out and buy the new ones.
Perhaps what Marvel missed when appealing to a wider demographic, was to also appeal to the core audience that had helped keep them in business for 60+ years and are now breaking box office records to go see these characters on the big screen.
Perhaps … Perhaps the Doctor Who traditionalists have a point.