hollymath: (bill and doctor)
[personal profile] hollymath
Well, we'd had four weeks in a row of Doctor Who I liked or loved, so I suppose we were due a rubbish one but...that made me cry. And not in a good way.

So after making me uncomfortable by putting white (my phone keeps correcting this to "shite" but then that's getting ahead of myself) people's racism into the mouth of the wonderful Pearl Mackie's wonderful character Bill...after the Doctor being kinda scary and needlessly cruel about "a good death" (to the other characters but honestly to the audience too? I wasn't having a great mental health time anyway but even so this part was enough to make me cry)...then there's the part where the other characters tell Bill what's happened to the Doctor as a result of him saving her. They make it sound like he's died. She even asks, in a way that implies she expected the answer to be yes.

But no. He just can't see.

Of course, there's not really any "just" about it: like the basis of my disability activism if not my personality is that it's a big deal to not be able to see.

But it shouldn't be talked about in the same way as death.

In surveys and Internet forums that talk about such random questions, a lot of people are quite happy to say they think it's worse to be blind than deaf or lose a limb, or even than to die.

Sighted people rely more on their eyes than any other sense for their information on the world around them, so it makes sense they fear that loss the most.

And we live in a world that so disables blind people: makes it hard for us to get around, live independently, have jobs, enjoy books or movies or TV, or anything else that people feel contributes to a satisfying life. Of course no one's going to want to cut themselves off from that. No one wants to be vulnerable, reliant on other people, unable to do the things they think are fun. I understand that.

What isn't understood, and what needs understanding, is that being blind doesn't have to mean losing independence and personality and everything good about life.

And if any nerds want to mansplain (because, somehow, I do fear it'd be men) that this episode is only saying it'd be bad for the Doctor to be blind because he's an interdimensional man of mystery and has more reason than most to need all his faculties about him to go on his adventures... No. These are the overriding prejudices of our culture, and it matters to see them go unchallenged on our popular media. In exactly the same way as it's bad for Bill to say "I've never met anyone who was the color you are," even though she's saying it to a fictional kind of person because that attitude does harm here to non-fictional people, treating blindness as a tragedy like death (and then as a cliffhanger ending for fuck's sake) matters not because of fictional Time Lords but because of real people here on Earth.

My heart sank at the cliffhanger, not just because it's a terrible cliffhanger, but because it means he's going to be blind all next episode as well. Well, maybe not all episode, I expect it'll be fixed at some point during it because I don't expect this to carry on, but still it's clearly a plot point next week. Not just because it's the cliffhanger, but because the "next time" trailer features something about him trying to hide this from Bill.

I couldn't cope with the idea that The Doctor would try to hide being blind. For all I've come to this show late in life and with nothing like the devotion that many people close to me have, I actually care a lot about this character and recent years have given me some strong feelings about what is Doctory and un-Doctory behavior. This is probably especially horrible for me because I've loved Capaldi from day one and see in him a lot of the things I want in the character, so to have him hiding his blindness from his companion maybe hits me especially hard. If it was Matt Smith I might just have been annoyed. David Tennant, well, he wasn't very Doctory at all (I am not here for a fight about this, I'm just explaining my personal reaction) so I probably just would have rolled my eyes. But this really...hurts, actually, especially on top of the needless cruelty that just happened before it and which of course is also the furthest thing from Doctory behavior.

At first he consoles Bill's upset at his blindness by saying it'll be fixed when he gets back to the Tardis, implying it has either some equipment or some more ethereal powers (I can't remember if he explained, my listening comprehension wasn't very good by this point) which can remedy impairments or injuries like this. Which shamefully may be the first time I wondered what would happen if a disabled person joined him on the Tardis. What if he had a disabled companion? If it were me, would it fix my optic nerves?

I don't expect ever to find out because I don't think this is a story that will ever occur to the kind of people who get to write Doctor Who episodes. And I'll have to consider that something of a blessing because nothing's given me any reason to believe such a story would be handled well if they did try it.
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