Today is going to be unbearable for geeks of a socially progressive turn of mind.
Today, our geekdom fulfils two of its principle functions – it offers us distraction and an escape into better worlds, and it makes evil safe by showing it can be defeated with courage, without a gun, and possibly, just possibly with a bow tie, a stick of celery, a bold umbrella or a Jelly Baby.
As geeks we’re often told we live in our parents’ basements and don’t want to engage with the world. Today is a day to embrace our stereotype, to stay indoors, stay warm, and slide a steady stream of Doctor Who into our players and our brains.
‘There are some corners of the universe that have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything that we believe in. They must be fought.’We will not by any means stay in our basements, stay in hiding, stay silent. We will embrace the idealism of the Doctor, and we will be allies to those this day endangers, to those this election has already endangered. We will raise revolutions of compassion, and insurrections of kindness. We will stand between power and the will to do egregious harm. We will stop some evils from coming to be, and those that come despite us we will disavow, so those who suffer know they do not do so in our name, and that they have friends in a nation and a world gone mad.
But for today…
For today, while callous disregard of all but self is celebrated, feted, while it takes control of a power falsely won, today our strength will be shown in denying it the interest that feeds it, like a Mara.
Today is a day, if ever there was a day, for a Doctor Who marathon. Watch along if you like, and use our playlist, or make your own as feels appropriate to you today. Share your playlists in the Comments.
Four To Doomsday
A little-regarded early Fifth Doctor classic, that tells of a leader in love with his own cleverness, and who believes in his own supreme destiny at the expense of everyone else. A quick four episodes of politesse and power play will whet the appetite for the heavier and harder stuff ahead.
Power of the Daleks
A story about the sleeping power of fascism, and those who seek to master it, make it their ‘sssservant’ on the road to political power, seemingly unaware that the idea of racial superiority serves no-one and nothing but itself, and will eventually turn on those who strove to use it. Now available in black and white or colour. The hollow jokes there write themselves.
The Mind of Evil
In this Jon Pertwee epic, we see the active uses to which fear can be put to break the minds of human beings and deliver obedience. By stimulating images of fear, ‘Emil Keller’ breaks the minds of his victims, turning them into compliant slaves, untroubled by any further difficulties in the world.
The God Complex
A more modern Matt Smith marvel on similar themes, The God Complex takes the things of which people are most afraid (immigrants, terrorists, ‘nasty women’…) and uses them to traumatise the fearful, replacing fear with faith in the single, unique and wonderful deliverer who will come to free them of all their worries and woes. Praise him! Praise him! Praise him! Make the Labyrinth great again…
Vengeance On Varos
The democratic process gone mad, allied to a growing predilection for cruelty in the masses, while those who are really in charge live large, telling the poor, the exploited, the workers that they must always work harder, demand less, and take out their frustrations by punching buttons to vote for pain, for violence, and for death. By no means the cheeriest of tales, this Colin Baker story has become a classic because the writing from Philip Martin predicted many things that at the time were fiction, and which now seem more and more identifiable in the world around us.
Enemy of the World
A story of a leader of two factions, playing them off against each other, and against all opposition, using diplomacy, taking credit for heroic actions, while all the while bamboozling the world, using displays of fake anger, and violent opportunist thugs to quell dissent and have his way. Patrick Troughton might seem like an unlikely dictator, but of course, all the most successful dictators look unlikely – even comical – if divorced from the horror of their actions. Hitler was a dark-haired Austrian weed with floppy hair, a scowl and a Charlie Chaplin moustache, promoting the myth of the Aryan superman, blonde, broad and blue-eyed. The power of the dictator is not in what they look like, but in their knowledge of where the levers of society are. Watch six episodes of Salamander in action and understand how he works.
A system of education designed to teach only what the overlords want taught. Kroton confirmation hearings are currently ongoing…
‘They’re too different.’
‘They hate each other’s chromosomes.
Remembrance of the Daleks
Remembrance indeed that both Britain and America have a history of persecution of the ‘other’ in their societies – a history looked back on with shame, a history in which those who fought for equality have been irrevocably proved to be right. Both nations are currently toying with a return to such institutionalised racism. The beginning of McCoy’s Dark Doctor, this story of racial tension will hit home. Be Ace in a world where the Ratcliffes and Mike Smiths have grown bold again.
The Sound of Drums
A man who’s clearly barking mad reaches the peak of political power, first in the UK, then over the whole world, laughing and dancing and pulling ridiculous faces while preparing to stamp his face all over the history books. Has a trophy wife and takes everything personally – just saying. Martha Jones and David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor save the world from the madman not with a weapon, but with knowledge. With a story. With a hope of better days that were supposed to be. That’s the weapon of a compassionate revolution.
‘I think we'd better pit our wits against them and defeat them.’
The Dalek Invasion of Earth
A clear allegory of a fascistic take-over of the planet, The Dalek Invasion of Earth shows how a rebellion can be taken from ineffective guerrilla tactics to a strike that powers down the whole apparatus of tyranny. Superior information and understanding are the weapons that ultimately defeat the Daleks. They – along with continued compassion and love – will defeat the forces of brutality and bigotry in power on our Earth too, aided as they are by fear, by poverty, and by cynical lies.
‘I just want you to think. D’you know what thinking is? It’s just a fancy name for changing your mind.’
‘I will not change my mind.’
‘Then you’ll die stupid.’
The Zygon Inversion
The Zygon Inversion – and that speech from Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor in particular – is about the entrenching of attitudes on both sides of an argument, and how that only leads to bloodshed, to violence, to the death of innocents. But it’s also about hope. Hope that common sense can be found. That common ground can be forged. That forgiveness and compassion can be extended between the diametrically opposed, and that from that forgiveness and compassion and common sense, a way forward can be found together, where nobody has to die today. Or the next day. Or the next.
The End of the World
There will always be differences between human beings. That’s as natural as breathing. But The End of the World gives us hope that whoever we are, whatever we look like, whatever we believe, we can work together, share common experiences, understand new things and new points of view. It’s ironically only the view of the fascist in The End of the World, the one with pre-set ideas of what ‘true humanity’ is (for which, also read ‘correct sexuality, correct gender, correct skin colour…’) that’s out of step with every hopeful being on Platform One. As there, so here, uniting together shows fascistic, pre-set ideas of what’s ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ to be in error, and therefore unsupportable.
‘We have the power to do anything we like…are you listening to me, Romana? Because if you're not listening I can make you listen, because I can do anything. As from this moment there's no such thing as free will in the entire universe. There's only my will.’
The Armageddon Factor
The Tom Baker Doctor fought fascists from the word Go, and hardly ever stopped, but The Armageddon Factor brings war, entrenchment, and the crazed will to power into focus very well. It is to be hoped that those in power can resist the Black Guardian inside themselves, the urge to enforce their will simply because they can.
If they can’t do that, it is left to us to be their conscience for them – to resist, to say no, to assure them they do not speak with our voice, only their own, and that their own is hollow against the mass of humanity.
Today is going to be unbearable for geeks of a socially progressive turn of mind. Today we escape and revel in the Doctor’s example in all his lives.
Tomorrow, the fight for a compassionate society begins again.
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk