This morning, the BBC released this new promo picture for Season 7 of Doctor Who. They also released a new, full length trailer:
I wrote last week about how my feelings are mixed (to say the least) about the upcoming new season, thanks to the show’s treatment of Amy and River in the past, not to mention Steven Moffat’s frequent, recent interview and Twitter mishaps.
After watching the trailer? I’m more excited! But I’m also more apprehensive.
The promo picture seems eye-roll inspiring, like sticking up the middle finger at everyone who’s complained about issues of sexism in the series. The Doctor and Amy stand in a classic hero and damsel pose, as daleks burn around them. She is limp, helpless (with epic hair), while our injured hero carries her through the flames to safety. She has no agency whatsoever. Just another tragic figure for the Doctor to save, or fail to save, as the case may be.
I almost wrote off Season 7 there and then. But the trailer is making me think again.
Trailer!Amy is determined and fearless. She’s willing to speak up to the Doctor and tell him that he’s wrong. She’s not afraid of adventure or danger, because to her, it’s thrilling.
And then, of course, it ends with a callback to the promo picture, as the Doctor carries her through a wasteland that used to be full of daleks. “Who killed all the daleks?” Rory asks. “Who do you think?” the Doctor replies. And perhaps I’m being overly optimistic, but considering the Doctor’s apparent ruthlessness and despair with himself during the rest of the trailer, I think this is a misdirection. I think Amy is responsible for their destruction. The Doctor isn’t full of self-loathing, like he usually is after he causes the mass death of any creatures (even daleks, as his proved all the way back in The Parting of the Ways). He seems proud. My bet is that Amy is the heroine of this story.
Does that mean that the new season is going to be delightfully sexism-free, or that the uncomfortable promo picture is intended to subvert the tropes it calls upon? No. I wish it did. I’ve embedded the BBC promo above, and the BBC America promo is slightly different… it ends with “coming soon,” of course, but beside these words, it repeats the promo image of the Doctor carrying an unconscious Amy. This is, it seems, their attempt at an iconic image for the new season, and it uses old-fashioned stereotypes of the damsel and her rescuer in an attempt to be evocative and memorable. What has happened to Amy? What did the Doctor save her from? What heroics did the Doctor pull off to do it? Amy might be the hero in the story, but she’s not the hero of the promotional material… and even if my interpretation/wild hope is true, I find that deeply problematic.
But dinosaurs on a spaceship? Yes, I will be tuning in for that.