So, recently, a Tory MP stood up in a debate and said that more young men had turned to crime because Doctor Who was female. What a ludicrous statement. Utter bollocks. (He also said rather a lot of other ignorant and mysoginistic things, but I won’t go into those, because I like my blood pressure where it is, thank you.)
Whatever other implications that statement had, it toally ignores the fact that, during their time in government, the Tories have cut over 20,000 police jobs, closed something like 150 police stations, frozen police (and other public sector jobs’) wages, and overseen the worst sustained assault on living standards and general economic prosperity for multiple decades. Here’s a hint: When you drive people into poverty, they turn to crime to survive. When you cut the number of police officers and police stations, crime becomes easier to commit. When you force crappy pay and working conditions on people, they lose motivation to do their jobs well. Hence, crime rates rise – particularly among those who feel most betrayed by the system, who feel that they have the least to lose, and who feel that life is notworth living without a little risk – categories into which a large proportion of young men will find themselves falling, especially after the economic slowdown of the covid pandemic. So, therefore, the Tory MP in question appears to be attributing the rise in crime wholly on the effect of role models in the media, rather than admitting the culpability of their party’s policies.
I have commented before on why I think Doctor Who should be a man (turns out I was wrong about the quality of the show not going downhill, but that’s because Chibnall can’t do sci-fi to save his life), and to save you the bother of reading the full article, I shall summarise: Doctor Who is pretty much the only intellect-based male role model with a regular and highly-consumed media presence. The vast majority of male role models with similar high-volume media presences are sports stars and action heroes. Female role models, while having less exposure and being presented in fewer numbers than male role models, have a far more varied representation of profession and ethos than male role models.
So, who will hold a male Doctor Who up as a role model? Not the school bullies, not the athletic sports nuts, but the quiet, intelligent, nerdy types who are their victims – so, not the sort of people who readily turn to crime, even in extremis. And they won’t want to admit to looking up to a female role model in case that increases the perception of them being not as much of a man as they could be, so, okay, there might be a few more directionless teenagers out there than there were when Peter Capaldi left the show, but it’s one hell of a leap to go from “newly without a role model young/mid-teenaged boy” to “young man who’s now a criminal”. Other role models can be found – probably not with as much or as regular exposure, but they can be found. And simply lacking a role model does not transform one from someone who would hesitate about returning a library book late, to someone who is prepared to steal TVs or mug people.
Jodie Whittaker debuted as Doctor Who in early 2017. Who have the most prevalent male role models since then been? Based on film grosses, James Bond (which came out far too recently to be included in whatever statistics the Tory MP may have been using), the Avengers, Woody & Buzz, some random soldiers being shot up on a beach, the Joker, Black Panther, Gru, Freddie Mercury, PT Barnum, and some more random soldiers being shot up in some trenches. (I have ignored filmes with female protagonists [Star Wars VIII and IX, The Incredibles 2] or protagonists who are not clearly mappable as human [Lion King, Sonic the Hedgehog, Peter Rabbit].) An assassin/secret agent, a group of diverse superheroes, two highly-moral adventurers, an insane villain protagonist, another superhero, a reformed incompetent villain, a rock star, a circus/sideshow owner and promoter, and a shitload of people prepared to die for their country. Overall, a rather positive collection, from the moral and ethical standpoint – but they are, still, mostly action/violence-based characters rather than intellect-based characters.
So, unless the Tory MP is prepared to ignore the positive messages given by Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Falcon, Spiderman, Bucky Barnes, Black Panther, Woody the cowboy, Buzz Lightyear, the members of Queen, PT Barnum, and considerably more than a handful of military servicemen depicted doing their duty (and dying for it), not to mention all the footballers (particularly Marcus Rashford) and other sports stars and general TV personalities who are in the public eye, he obviously has little faith in the importance of role models, so why should he care who or what Doctor Who is played by?
Maybe to determine why there are so many young men turning to crime (without examining his government’s policies or their effects too closely), the Tory MP should look at some of the other role models available to young men – people in the public eye, whose activities might be seen as successful, and who match their demographic group. The Tory MP in question was a white male, which is a huge demographic group in the UK, and it just so happens that the vast majority of Tory MPs are also white males. So let’s see what Tory MPs have been up to over the last four years, shall we? Taking bribes, ignoring conflicts of interest, ignoring scientific advice and evidence, fraudulently claiming money, using spurious grounds to hand money to their friends, spouting grossly hypocritical waffle to sound good to their friends, breaking the law, ignoring laws that they don’t like or feel disadvantage them, re-writing the law to make themselves unanswerable to it, extra-marital affairs – and then lying about it all and suffering zero consequences. So, yeah, these people who are now perpetrators-of-crime statistics are following role models – and the role models in question are not fictional characters or sports stars or comedians or celebrities, they’re politicians. Oh, but wait, for the Tory MP to admit that would be for them to admit that the Tory party is basically a seething mass of corruption and illegality, and that would be as bad as admitting that Tory policies and their effects have contributed to the rising crime rates.
Whoever Doctor Who is played by has zero practical effect on crime rates, just like playing a lot of Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto hase zero practical effect on crime rates. What does have a noticeable practical effect on crime rates are the effects of the policies the Tory party (and for the first five years, their Lib-Dem stooges too) have been pursuing and implementing for over a decade, with particular reference to the hard Brexit they forced the country into, followed by completely fucking up the national response to the covid pandemic, resulting in a double blow to the UK’s economy that no other country in the world has suffered – and the economic effects of Brexit have barely begun, so expect the crime rate to keep rising, as more and more people realise that if they want to both sleep in a warm bed and eat this month, they will need to start operating outside the system – just like the people who implemented the system, the Tories.