I really, really hope these quotes are taken out of context (it is The Telegraph)
Oh For FUCK’S SAKE!!
I judge every single person who reblogged this without doing a minimum of googling. I know I’m supposed to be a Moffat-praise blog, but I feel this needs to be addressed asap because of course, this has already turned into a shit storm.
Mark Gatiss was actually making extra effort to be sensitive about whitewashing! The original article can be found here, and it goes on about what Gatiss’s reasons for his hesitation were:
“This is [a] very difficult email to send, but I don’t think we can do this…these are soldiers from the South African war, they’ve just been fighting the Zulus. There weren’t any black soldiers in Victoria’s army”.
(Mark Gatiss, quote by Telegraph, typo corrected by me)
Gatiss’s concern about diversifying the Victorian army was not due to historical inaccuracy, but because he felt uncomfortable diversifying one of white men’s most giant fuck ups. He felt uncomfortable casting a black actor as part of an army that has done incredible damage to the African continent.
People who actually watched the episode will have noticed that it was one giant satire of the greed and self-righteousness of imperialism.
And I can understand very much that Gatiss was hesitant to diversify that particular bit of history.
My frustration does not lie with OP’s implicit accusation of whitewashing – whitewashing absolutely has to go! My frustration lies with everybody else who clearly just jumped on the let’s-hate-[writer]-for-[buzzword] band wagon, when OP explicitly stated that this might be out of context and has since engaged in further discussion.
Crimes connected to European imperialism were indeed very, very, very white, and we need to be wary of blurring this part of history under the cloak of eliminating whitewashing. In my opinion, Gatiss is absolutely right to put this forward for debate. And you all need to thoroughly check which side of history you are on.
I’ll also begin with apologies to followers who aren’t here for this, but I think it’s important to add this correction to what I reblogged earlier. Further, this turns out to illustrate an exception to what I’ve previously taken as a rule, so I want to explore it.
On first reading (and probably influenced by the article’s framing), I didn’t think there was enough context to take this interpretation, though I acknowledged it as a possibility. Further explanation by two of the biggest Dr. Who fans I know of on tumblr has convinced me.
Speaking live on a complex issue, Gatiss may not have expressed himself perfectly (and the Telegraph’s clickbait journalism exploited that disgracefully), but even these comments further illustrate the point, as they really don’t fit with “historical inaccuracy” as his only motivation*:
But I thought: is this a specific example of where it’s slightly…I didn’t know what the answer was.
[about POC representation in television] To me it’s more about proper sensitivity rather than any kind of –
there’s no one standing over you, you just have to try your best at it.
So I have to retract the majority of what I wrote earlier: in this case non-traditional casting is a bit complex. To give an example that’s a little clearer to me because of my personal heritage, would a US production color-blindly cast a POC actor as a slave owner, in a story about pre-Civil War atrocities? Black slave owners existed, but unless that’s specifically the story they were trying to tell, it could be confusing, to say the least.
Caveat: ‘Whitewashing’ and ‘non-traditional casting’ are actually
different things. Swap terms and adjust positive/negative framing in the post above, and I agree.
Below the cut, a little more of my thoughts on the nuance of the issue Gatiss raised.