Russell T Davies’ Who vs. Steven Moffat’s Who: A Comparison on Homophobia

Unfortunately, over the past two years I have noted an increase in homophobic undertones in Doctor Who since Steven Moffat took over as Head Writer and Executive Producer. It was not always like this, however, prior to that the show had come a long way in displaying homosexuality in a very positive manner.

Let’s start with kissing! One recurring thing throughout both writers tenure is same-sex kissing, but the take is completely different.

This first clip is from the Davies’ Era of Who, in the episode, The Parting of the Ways. It is actually not the first kiss between two men on the series, as that took place in the story, The Ribos Operation, during the 16th season. It is, however, the first same-sex ever happening to the character of The Doctor.

As one can plainly see, it is not portrayed as something to be ashamed of.  It’s sensual, caring and expressive of the characters during this particular scene on how they really feel – not fear is visible.

This next clip, however, from Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, is far different both in context and in it’s display of acceptability. I have several issues with this particular clip.

The Eleventh Doctor is noted for being portrayed as alien-like and strange in behavior and characteristics, a difference from the Ninth and especially the Tenth Doctors who were portrayed as much more like a person.  The act of kissing is also initiated by The Doctor. What does that mean in my opinion? Because The Doctor is portrayed as strange and alien-like, the act of two men kissing is associated with the person (The Doctor) who initiated this act. Furthermore, after The Doctor kisses Rory, it can be noted that Rory’s face contorts into one of disgust.

The next three clips are in regards to the characters of Madame Vastra & her assistant, house maid, and wife, Jenny Flint. The first is from A Good Man Goes To War:

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This particular interaction seems to have underlying themes of homophobia:

JENNY: Clever, isn’t he?

VASTRA: And rather attractive.

JENNY: You do realize he’s a man, don’t you, ma’am?

VASTRA: Mammals. They all look alike.

JENNY: Oh, thank you.

It suggests there that an “attractive” and “clever” man can convert Vastra into a heterosexual again, which I find very problematic. It’s simply not possible, and it’s of extreme ignorance.

This next clip from The Snowmen is equally alarming in presentation:

When the foe, Dr Simeon, confronts Madame Vastra and Jenny regarding their relationship, it puts these characters on the defensive.  In the 1880s, it was not acceptable for women to vote (i.e. Susan B. Anthony) and so this forces these characters to live in a constant state of defensiveness about their relationship. It’s not just a matter of including LGBT characters into a TV show that matters, but also having their display being taken as acceptable by the characters around them. In this case, it is clearly not acceptable, and so these characters are being displayed as strange and weird, making a direct statement on homosexual relationships. It’s degrading and uncalled for in a show being shown to children all across the UK.

Again, here is the Prequel, Vastra Investigates:

The reaction by the inspector towards their relationship is again made clear. He’s afraid of them. He doesn’t understand. He finds it strange. That’s the commentary being made towards same-sex relationships in this clip.

The next three clips is from the TV series, Torchwood, which features the character of Captain Jack Harkness:

This scene is actually my favorite one of all time within the Doctor Who universe. It’s absolutely beautiful and charming. It displays the utmost acceptability of homosexual relationships, as it doesn’t acknowledge that it was unlikely that their behavior would be considered even acceptable, yet still is displayed as such to modern audiences.

This next clip is from Torchwood‘s Series 2 episode, Adrift:

I love it. The last one is from the episode, To the Last Man:

The next two scripts display the two different styles being attributed to characters in Doctor Who. The first is from Midnight, during the Russell T Davies Era:

SKY
No, it’s just me.

DOCTOR
Oh, I’ve done plenty of that. Travelling on my own. I love it. Do what you want! Go anywhere!

SKY
No, I’m still getting used to it. I’ve… found myself single rather recently, not by choice.

DOCTOR
What happened?

SKY
Oh, the usual. She needed her own space, as they say. A different galaxy, in fact. I reckon that’s enough space, don’t you?

DOCTOR
Yeah… I had a friend who went to a different universe.

The next one is from A Good Man Goes to War during the Steven Moffat Era:

THIN MAN:
But why are they called the Headless Monks? They can’t really be headless?

YOUNG FEMALE SOLDIER:
They believe the domain of faith is the heart, and the domain of doubt is the head. They follow their hearts…that’s all.

THIN MAN:
You’re Lorna Bucket, aren’t you?

LORNA:
Yeah. Hello!

THIN MAN:
I’m the thin one, this is my husband he’s the fat one.

LORNA:
Don’t you have names?

FAT MAN:
We’re the thin, fat, gay, married, Anglican marines. Why would we need names as well? (sees monks standing behind LORNA) Oh! Looks like I’m off! Time for my conversion tutorial. See you in a bit. (leaves with monks) Do you lot have Lent?! Cos I’m not good at giving things up…

The one clear point seen is that in Midnight, Sky’s sexuality is treated as entirely inconsequential. The Doctor is clearly shown to relate to Sky’s experience in some manner. However, in A Good Man Goes To War, the Angelican Marines are treated as difficult to understand their surroundings, removed of their individual identities by being lumped into “the thin, fat, gay Angelican marines” who aren’t worthy of individual names or identities. It’s very shameful and accepting to treat homosexuals in such a jovial manner, esp. in this case regarding gay marriage.

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6 thoughts on “Russell T Davies’ Who vs. Steven Moffat’s Who: A Comparison on Homophobia

  1. Matt Smith kiss to Arthur Darvill wasn’t in the script, the reaction is Arthur genuine reaction to Matt kissing him.
    Vastra and Jenny are not well accepted in the Snowmen? Well, they live in Victorian London…

    • You do realise Moffat was first to write for Jack in The Empty Child- the first LGBT character in the history of DW. He then took over as head write and wrote Canton Everett Delaware III, Jenny Flint and Madame Vastra all of the LGBT characters he writes defy stereotypes they are heroes. The doctor is peculiar but that’s like saying talking to a gay man about UFOs is implying that gays are aliens. Darvill gives the face of confusion because he was not expecting that is my male or female friend walked up to me and planted one on I would do the same. Simply noticing someone is attractive of handsome doesn’t mean that you have to fancy them. I can notice that both Amy and Rory are good looking but that tells you nothing except that I have a concept of beauty. She is also a lizard person no explanation needed. Dr Simeon is the bad guy in the 1800 were I believe one could get the death penalty for homosexuality he is acting as if he lived during the 1800 annoyed that the ladies are lesbian and that they are acting out of place (2 women confronting a highly regarded man in this time.) and again the bad guy is homophobic what’s the problem? Again it’s the 1800 the inspector as you said doesn’t understand at this time something of this nature was never seen, they have still written him as an acceptable man for the time he tries to get over it and doesn’t inform any authorities he tries to treat it as the norm even though he doesn’t understand. The men in the last example are if anything showing how ok they are with the current situation they joke with almost a complete stranger. They are making a joke about how being in that job cuts out the majority of people say there are under 200 on that ship, the are gay even at maximum a high number would bring the figure to under 50, of those how many are men let’s say about half so we are now looking at about 25. How many are in relationships lets just about half it again and say 13, how many are in a relationship with someone who is also on board, again let’s guess half and say 6 how many are married. If we say all 6 then chances are they don’t have the same defined body shapes. At 4 there is even less chance, and at 2 well you can work it out. (:

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  3. I think that you are reading too much into this by far. I think the issue with Vastra and Jenny is not so much the lesbian part of it….it’s the woman in love with a lizard-woman. I think THAT’s what the fuss is about. It takes people off guard.

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