I find that the more I watch The X-Files, the more I stick with it just for Scully. She’s the most nuanced character on the show, being the one who actually has stuff to learn. Mulder is almost always right about the mystery having a paranormal explanation, and Scully is almost always wrong about it being more mundane. I don’t care about Fox Mulder. I am much more interested in people who turn out to be wrong just because the deck is always stacked against them than people who turn out to be right because the TV show they’re starring on depends on it. Scully is the audience surrogate, but unlike some audience surrogates, who are blank slates existing primarily for self-insertion, she has a personality. If she were a real person, she and I would be very close friends. (I have said similar things about Kira from Deep Space Nine.) And on the rare occasion that the mystery has a mundane explanation, it’s nice to be reminded that sometimes, things are exactly what they seem. Kind of like the episodes of House where the patient dies.
I’ve been watching some old MLK speeches on YouTube lately. I’m posting this one, which is not a speech, just a joke. Let it never be said that you can’t be a fearless human rights crusader and still be funny.
I’m currently reading a book called Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It. It was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Related Work, and is a follow-up to the Hugo-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It. To my knowledge, nobody has written similar books about Star Trek, and that makes sense. Star Trek has never had the feminist/gay following that Doctor Who does, probably because its ideas about gender and sexuality are sadly quite dated. Yes, Gene Roddenberry deserves credit for putting the first black woman in a regular role on prime time TV and casting an Asian man in a major role (something that is fairly uncommon even today). But he also made that woman little more than a glorified secretary.
The best essay in Queers Dig Time Lords so far is one called “Longtime Companions”, a deeply moving piece by a lesbian who met her partner through Doctor Who and continued to watch it with her until her partner’s death from a brain tumor 27 years later. Her partner never got to see Jack Harkness, the first out LGBT character in Who history. But that doesn’t matter, because all Harkness did was make explicit something that had always been implicit. Doctor Who isn’t gay—at least, not necessarily. It just isn’t straight. Star Trek is almost aggressively straight. The original series, for all the ground it broke, was basically about your typical straight white male hero tooling around the galaxy and seducing alien babes. The Doctor’s sexuality is somewhat ambiguous. His relationship with his companions was, in the original series, always strictly platonic. Now, we have him kissing Harkness on the mouth and sorta kinda not really falling in love with Rose, but even then, it’s hard to tell just how deep his attraction runs. Is he asexual, but with the occasional stirring of desire? Is he straight, gay, or bisexual (but chaste)? I’m still leaning towards asexual, but I’m old school that way. I know people who think his relationship with Rose is one of the all-time great love stories. (They’re wrong, by the way.)
John Waters said that his movies are for minorities who don’t fit into their own minority. That’s how I feel as a Whovian. It used to be that Doctor Who was a cult sensation. According to some of the people in Queers Dig Time Lords, it wasn’t always cool to like Doctor Who even in England. Until relatively recently, most Americans hadn’t even heard of it. But now, it’s mainstream. The bookstores I frequent have stands set up devoted specifically to Doctor Who memorabilia. It’s cool to be a nerd, so long as, you know, you don’t actually challenge the status quo. Because nerdiness is the status quo now, and I feel the need to rediscover my athletic side.
It’s important to understand the difference between self-identifying and appropriating someone else’s identity. Somebody I follow on YouTube pissed me off recently by identifying himself as a recovering alcoholic. Rock bottom, for him, was getting drunk and being a little nasty to his friends, then realizing that he automatically reached for a bottle whenever things got stressful. That’s not alcoholism, and calling it such is offensive to actual alcoholics. You aren’t an alcoholic until you’ve lost a job, a house, or a car and have alienated at least some of the people close to you. No, almost alienating them doesn’t count. You have to go all the way. I think it’s wonderful that people are watching comic book movies and Game of Thrones in such great numbers, I just think that if you really want to consider yourself a nerd, you have to do a little bit better than that. Someone is going to accuse me of being a gatekeeper, but that’s just not fair. I don’t think something is bad because it’s mainstream; I just think that if you have to add a love story to make it mainstream, don’t be surprised if some of us pull away. There is more to life than romance. Believe me, I know.