Why the Doctor Shouldn’t be a Woman

By Nathan On December 16th, 2014 | 162 views
A female Fifth Doctor from Gen-Con 2014. (FYI: I'm not against women cosplaying the Doctor. It's cute).  (Photo by Nathan Marchand)

A female Fifth Doctor from Gen-Con 2014. (FYI: I’m not against women cosplaying the Doctor. It’s cute).
(Photo by Nathan Marchand)

My apologies, fair readers, for neglecting to blog last week and for posting this one late. I was busy last week, what with the holidays and giving a science fiction presentation last week at the Roanoke Library. Perhaps I’ll post two blogs this week to make up for it.

I’d originally intended to write about something else, but with the brewing, well, brouhaha over this topic, I felt I should say something. If you’re not a Whovian (fan of Doctor Who), feel free to skip this post. It’s one of my favorite franchises, so I felt I should give my thoughts on the matter.

Recently, some fans have been clamoring for a female Doctor. At the risk of sounding sexist and/or misogynistic (FYI: I am neither), this is a bad idea. Here my reasons why.

1) It’s motivated by political correctness

No matter what showrunner Steven Moffat or anyone else says, the big reason this is getting pushed is because of political correctness. The Doctor has been male all his life. Making him a woman is nothing more than an attempt to placate an outspoken minority of women (and possibly feminists?) who, apparently, think they need to be represented by the character. It’s stupid, perhaps even insulting. It assumes women can’t enjoy a good story unless it features a female character(s). The Hobbit films made the same mistake adding a lady elf to the cast who wasn’t in the book because they thought it’d attract a female audience. The truth is that a good story can and should be enjoyed by everyone regardless of the characters’ ethnicity, age, and/or gender. Making the Doctor a woman because it might appeal to a female audience is shortsighted.

2) Gender is not interchangeable

I could be wrong on this, but I wonder if making the Doctor female is at least partially inspired by this modern notion that men and women aren’t that different (other than their “plumbing”). This idea is, in general, false. The differences between men and women go beyond reproductive organs and hormones. There are huge differences emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. Men and women think differently. Gender and sexuality isn’t some tabula rasa (“blank slate”). Much, if not most, of it is innate. There seem to be exceptions because of the corruption of sin. God created mankind male and female (Genesis 1:27). (I realize I’m talking about fictional aliens here, but its born out of ideas related to humans). To suddenly switch that is an insult to both genders.

3) Ruins the “romantic” appeal

I was chewed out a bit in a Facebook group for saying this, but I know this is true. One of the appeals of Doctor Who (particularly the new series) is that it’s a romantic fantasy. A handsome and mysterious man who comes to young women and offers to take them on fantastical adventures. While not every Companion falls in love with the Doctor (precious few don’t on the new series), this appeals to men because they want to be the man who leads the adventure, and women want to be taken on adventures. By making the Doctor a woman, this dynamic is ruined. Either she asks (or drags) men on adventures, which won’t appeal to a male audience, or she’ll ask other women to join her, effectively making the show a “chick flick,” thereby alienating the male audience. This sounds harsh, but it’s reality.

4) It’d alienate old-school fans

Doctor Who has been around for over 50 years. Like it or not, that means the franchise has built traditions, and those aren’t easily broken. One of those is the Doctor being male. By changing that, many, if not most, longtime fans who’ve been watching since the days of Tom Baker (or longer) will abandon the series. It wouldn’t be the show they loved. It’s hard enough keeping people on board after the Doctor regenerates—adding a gender swap would be killer.

5) More backlash if and when “she” regenerates back into a man

The flipside of the issue would be the backlash that would probably come if and when the hypothetical female Doctor regenerated back into a man. You can bet accusations of sexism would get thrown around. Feminists would probably say something about the show going back to its “chauvinist roots.” If this was being done because the female Doctor wasn’t well-received and, much like what happened with Colin Baker in the 1980s, she was being quickly replaced, this controversy would kill the show.

6) Female versions are usually either new characters or reboots

Gender swaps have been done before with traditionally male characters, but in most of those cases those were either brand new separate characters or part of a reboot. For example, in the mid-2000s, Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, seemed to die at the end of “Avengers Disassembled,” a tragic storyline published by Marvel Comics. A young woman who had admired Barton then took up his name/mantle and became a superheroine in his honor. Or when SyFy rebooted  Battlestar Galactica, Starbuck was a woman. The former worked well and the latter, while weird, also worked for most people. But since the 12 (or 13, depending on how you look at it) incarnations of the Doctor are technically the same person, it wouldn’t get a pass. Now, if the Doctor passed on his name to a worthy Time Lady as his dying act, I think fans could support that. (Sidenote: Ever seen a traditionally female character becomes a man?)

7) Difficult to write (and cast?) well

I’m not saying a female Doctor wouldn’t have the Doctor’s trademark quirks and witticisms, but I’d argue the usual challenges faced with recasting the Doctor—age, appearance, costume, etc.—would be worse and judged more harshly. If a young actress is cast, will that alienate older fans? Should she dress and/or act sexy? Some fans already object to how some the female Companions have been eye candy, so you can bet there’d be an uproar if the same happened with a female Doctor. Her every word and action would be scrutinized. (This isn’t to say there aren’t any actresses out there who play the part, though).

8) Need more nonviolent male heroes

As someone pointed out on the Fans For Christ Facebook page, one of the things that makes the Doctor great is he is an nonviolent hero. Most other famous fictional heroes—James Bond, Superman, Aragorn, etc.—distinguish themselves in battle. They aren’t bad characters, but the Doctor differentiates himself from them by using his intelligence and wits to save the day. This is a great thing for boys to see and admire so as to remember that not everything can be solved through violence.

9) Oversteps the limits of regeneration

While the concept of regeneration has been around since the First Doctor, the rules surrounding it have been murky. Except for a few throwaway lines implying a gender swap was possible through it, it never happened until this season when it was learned the villainous Master had become a woman (I argue this is open to interpretation). Regardless, I say a gender swap is beyond what regeneration can do. It makes sense that things like hair color, eye color, and body build can change because that’s still using the basic building blocks available. Swapping genders means adding whole new organs, glands, and hormones. In other words, it’s going from a renovation to a complete teardown and rebuilding. That’s ridiculous, even for Doctor Who.

10) Lesbianism (or Bisexuality)

As said, a staple of the new series has been Companions falling in love with the Doctor (to date only one hasn’t). If the Doctor becomes a woman, would she still have her old attractions, or would they switch too? Doctor Who is a family show, and despite Britain having a liberal definition of what constitutes such a program, I doubt a lesbian or bisexual Doctor would be deemed acceptable. Yes, there have been oblique pro-gay lines in the series sometimes, but most of those go over kids’ heads. And yes, there was Captain Jack, but even he wasn’t allowed to go full-throttle homosexual on Doctor Who (that was saved for Torchwood, which was an adult show). Again, it’s asking for trouble.

These are purely my opinions. You are welcome to disagree. If you’re a Whovian, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject, whether you agree with me or not. Please leave comments so we can discuss it.

‘But I Digress…,’ Episode 28: ‘Destroyer’ Roundtable

By Nathan On November 29th, 2014 | 27 views

“But I Digress…”
Hosted by Nathan Marchand

Remember that kaju novella I self-published a few years ago? I just released a brand new special edition! So, I decided to interview my collaborators on that exciting project in the first ever round table f or my show. The panel includes Nick Hayden, Natasha Hayden, and Timothy Deal. We discuss how we went about writing each of our sections of the epic giant monster thriller. Lots of laughs and insights.

The Derailed Trains of Thought YouTube channel.

Purchase “Destroyer” on Amazon.

Please comment, subscribe, and share!

What I’m Thankful For (2014)

By Nathan On November 27th, 2014 | 56 views

Thanksgiving-funny

Thanksgiving is often the forgotten holiday. It’s mainly seen as a day of gluttony and football. It’s meant to be a time to reflect on what one is grateful for having (and hopefully not being a hypocrite the next day for Black Weekend, er, Friday).

So as is my tradition, here are what I’m thankful for this year.

What are you thankful for?

  1. Jesus Christ, who died for me and saved me.
  2. The Bible.
  3. My wonderful family (Mom, Dad, Josiah, Jarod, Sarah).
  4. My amazing grandmother, Ruth, who is in her 90s and still going.
  5. My fellow Children of the Wells creators (Nick, Natasha, Tim, John, Greg, etc.)
  6. My many writer friends (you know who you are).
  7. Pastor Steve, for mentoring me for three years.
  8. Silver Sable (my car).
  9. My day job.
  10. My awesome co-workers
  11. My multiple circles of friends. I love you all!
  12. My cosplays.
  13. Being 25,000 words deep into Hope’s War.
  14. Self-publishing Destroyer (Deluxe Edition).
  15. For being on three podcasts this year: “Strangers and Aliens,” “Theology Gaming University,” and “Derailed Trains of Thought.”
  16. My YouTube show, “But I Digress…”
  17. My laptop (despite its many issues).
  18. My iPhone 4S.
  19. That I can read.
  20. That I’m an American.
  21. That I’m a Hoosier.
  22. That the Megas finally released a new album.
  23. Grand Rapids Original Swing Society.
  24. Dance Tonight Fort Wayne.
  25. That I got my foot in the door to take grad school classes at IPFW.
  26. Freelance Writers’ Den.
  27. That I will soon be an uncle.
  28. Comic books
  29. Comic shops (B.E. Comics; Chimp’s Comics; Books, Comics and Things, etc.)
  30. Fans For Christ, GameChurch, and Christian Gamers Guild (among other nerd/geek outreach ministries).
  31. The amazing year of movies I’ve seen.
  32. My PS3.
  33. My movie collection.
  34. My book collection.
  35. That I’m a TUFW grad.
  36. My church.
  37. Gen-Con.
  38. That I got to meet amazing celebrities at conventions this year.
  39. That I’m creative.
  40. That I’m a nerd.
  41. Summer.
  42. Lower gas prices.
  43. That I was a groomsman in a friend’s Halloween wedding (as the Doctor). ;)
  44. My music collection.
  45. My video game collection.
  46. Volunteering with RemedyLive and afO.
  47. The Internet.
  48. Libraries.
  49. That I survived Fight Club (a church men’s group).
  50. This (so epic!):

Music and Writing

By Nathan On November 20th, 2014 | 48 views
Image courtesy of www.fuelyourwriting.com.

Image courtesy of www.fuelyourwriting.com.

Most writers have “strange” habits when they write. One of the less strange ones is listening to music. I know many writers who do this, including myself. Some, however, find it distracting and prefer to work in silence.

For me it serves as “white noise” that helps me shut the rest of the world out and focus on crafting my story. I prefer to listen to music that has no lyrics because lyrics tend to pull me into the music and away from storytelling. Again, this isn’t true of every writer. I read in his book On Writing that Stephen King listens to ‘80s metal bands like AC/DC when he writes (which explains a lot). Regardless, that’s why I love listening to soundtracks, whether they be for films or video games. That’s music being used to supplement a story or in many cases tell a story. It helps keep my creative juices flowing. If it’s the right song, I can “hear” it playing in the background while my characters are performing their actions.

Heck, I’m listening to a few OC Remixes as I write this blog. :P

I try to stick with soundtracks that befit the story I’m writing. My go-to albums for my writing of Hope’s War (the sequel to my first novel, Pandora’s Box) include the Tron: Legacy Soundtrack by Daft Punk, the Man of Steel Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, and Mega Man X: Maverick Rising (a 5-disc album of Mega Man X video game remixes produced by OC Remix). All of these have strong science fiction themes and elicit emotions ranging from triumph to despair. They help get in touch with the characters so I know how to tell their stories (which makes me and other writers sound like schizophrenics, but that’s a topic for another day).

But sometimes songs have lyrics that fit beautifully with the story I’m writing. For Pandora’s Box I actually assembled an unofficial soundtrack for it (and even burned it to a CD to give to a writer friend). So far I’ve only found one song like that for Hope’s War: “Iridescent” by Linkin Park.

(Ignore the obvious Transformers tie-ins).

In fact, the first scene I ever conceived for the book—and one I’ve yet to write—came to me while I was listening to this song. Its melancholy hope inspired imagery both beautiful and terrifying. Another one of their songs, “Wretches and Kings,” inspired a chapter title in the book. Those are a few of the many reasons why “A Thousand Suns” is my favorite Linkin Park album (yes, I know that makes me weird). :P

Do you like to listen to music while writing? If so, what genres and/or artists? Why those?

‘Hot and Twisted’ – Coming to a Theatre Near You!

By Nathan On November 19th, 2014 | 79 views

Pizza Hut recently unveiled 17—yes, 17—new pizzas and several other new products in an effort to appeal to a younger demographic (and become the Subway of pizzerias?). I’ve tried several of these new products, and they are tasty. The problem is they have ridiculous names. Some sound like titles for cheesy workout videos, like the Skinny Beach, Skinny Club, and Skinny with a Kick. One of my favorites is the Buffalo State of Mind, which on their computer screens is shortened to “Buff State of Mind.” That sounds like an exercise video hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger that will prepare you to go to the Skinny Beach and join the Skinny Club.

That, however, isn’t what I’m writing about today.

What follows is a transcript for a fictional ‘70s exploitation action film using the names of other new Pizza Hut products (they’ll be in bold). No joke. That’s how goofy these names sound.

Enjoy!

In a ‘hood where a restaurant doubles as a whorehouse, Pretzel Piggy, the fattest and tannest pimp in Harlem, gets rich forcing his girls cook meals and sell their bodies as dessert. Even the cops turn their backs because his women were sweeter than donuts.

Now three of his hottest hookers are fighting back!

Ginger Boom-Boom, the black babe with a shotgun!

Ginger: I’m gonna smack that fake bake offa Piggy’s face!

Sweet Sriracha Dynamite, the roller derby girl who loves pipebombs almost as much she does skates!

Dynamite: I’m a recipe for disaster!

Cherry Pepper Bombshell, the femme fatale who’ll seduce you and then stab you in the back—literally!

Cherry: For the last time, I use a knife, not cherry bombs!

Nothing can satisfy their hunger for justice. These sisters-in-arms won’t stop until they find Pretzel Piggy and blow his house down!

Revenge is a dish best served…HOT!

Schlock Films presents…Hot and Twisted!

Written and directed by Quintin Tarantino.

Coming soon to a theatre near you!

(And don’t miss the sequel—Meatbrawl!)

Juggling Hats

By Nathan On November 6th, 2014 | 92 views

Juggling-HatsMy writing productivity has been hampered lately. The big reasons for that have been that my laptop is getting fixed (again!) and my day job, despite being part-time, has delayed me from reviewing the TV shows, among other things, that I normally review for Examiner.

But there’s another reason why, albeit a good and necessary one:

Promotion.

When a writer is self-published or with a small publishing house like I am, he does most of the promotion for his books on his own (heck, even writers with big publishers have to promote themselves). He has to update his websites and social media with links to new books (like I did yesterday with Destroyer: Deluxe Edition). Then he have to share that everywhere. For me, I barely have time for Facebook, let alone Tumblr or Twitter (I’d hire someone to tweet for me and give him the title, “Nate Marchand’s official twit”). Heck, even keeping up with a weekly blog post is a pain. Sometimes I miss a week or post it later (I try to post every Thursday), and that’s just when I don’t have other announcements to mention—like my book signing this weekend. (See how I keep promoting myself!) :P

Also, as a self-published author, I have to do all the cool but mundane things I normally take for granted, like design my book’s exterior and interior. I have to design the cover myself or hire someone to do it. Depending on the website I use, getting artwork to fit may be a chore. For the interior, I can format it—often two times if I make a print book and an e-book, the latter of which can be a chore—find and download fonts, & convert to different file types. And before I even get to this I have to edit the book myself, which will mean commissioning beta readers to edit it.

Like I said, all the stuff you don’t think about you must do. The writer becomes editor, artist, salesman, and graphic designer. That’s a lot of hats to juggle!

Don’t think I’m complaining, because I’m not. I enjoy these things. It expands my skillset. I’m a shameless self-promoter, so that comes naturally. But when I’m doing all those things, I’m not able to write, and that sometimes makes me feel guilty. All these stories bouncing around in my brain like balls on Pong—it’s nerve-wracking! You know what it’s like having fictional characters yell at you for not telling their stories? It’s almost like being schizophrenic! They’d rather I do that than get people to read their stories. Well, sometimes they do.

So, if you want to be a writer because it’s glamorous, go become a doctor. Writing is work. Fun work, yes, but a lot of work. It’s not for the faint of heart.

But, oh man, is it worth it!

Presenting…’Destroyer (Deluxe Edition)’!

By Nathan On November 5th, 2014 | 65 views
Artwork by Tyler Sowles. Designed by Nathan Marchand.

Artwork by Tyler Sowles. Designed by Nathan Marchand.

After several years in print, Destroyer, a giant monster novella I co-authored with Natasha Hayden and Timothy Deal, is now available in a new special edition!

I’ve migrated the book from Lulu to Createspace. Lulu was a good home for it a few years ago, but I’ve realized Createspace is where the money is at. This new edition is a bit bigger than the previous one and looks more professional and, for lack of a better term, legit.

But the big draw for this new edition is the inclusion of a bonus story. “House of the Living,” as you may recall, was written by my friend and fellow author Nick Hayden a few years back. It makes its first appearance in print in Destroyer (Deluxe Edition).

In the distant future, a group of scientists and soldiers create a giant cyborg dragon to end a destructive war, but the creature goes berserk and strands them behind enemy lines in Moscow. Now the survivors must destroy the creature before distrust and madness tears them apart.

I’ll be unveiling the book officially at the ACPL Authors’ Fair this weekend with Nick Hayden!

Buy Destroyer (Deluxe Edition) here on Amazon!

But I Digress…, Episode 27: 2nd Anniversary Special

By Nathan On November 3rd, 2014 | 52 views

“But I Digress…”
Hosted by Nathan Marchand

Two years! Two years I’ve been doing this show. (I’m as surprised as you, trust me). :P

To celebrate, as has become an unintentional tradition with me, I discuss selling books at conventions. However, this time you’ll be hearing from some of my dear writer friends from Gen-Con 2014. Yes, you don’t have to listen to be ramble for once. Enjoy!

Please comment, subscribe, and share!

My Top 5 Favorite Horror Films

By Nathan On November 2nd, 2014 | 91 views

(My apologies, readers. I’d meant to post this before October 31, first as a video and then as a blog. Neither happened, but I hope you’ll enjoy reading it anyway, because I thought I owed it to you). :) It’s that time of the year again. The air gets nippy. The leaves burst into fiery colors and tumble to the ground. The days are shorter. It’s a bit…spooky. Sing it with me now! “This is Halloween! This is Halloween!” The holiday isn’t complete with scary movies. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest consumer of fright flicks, but that’s most because most of the new ones are stupid (as I discuss in this GigaGeek Magazine article and this episode of “But I Digress…”). However, there are some that I truly love. If you’re looking for a few films to marathon through after the kids are done trick-or-treating, I highly recommend these.

#5: John Carpenter’s The Thing

The-Thing-Poster

This terrifying remake of a ‘50s B-movie is one of the smartest horror films I’ve ever seen. It has none of the stereotypical idiot characters. While it does have gross gore and freakish creatures, the real terror comes from the isolated Antarctic location and the paranoia that rips a tightly-knit science team apart as a shapeshifting alien organization takes over each of them.

#4: Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

anoes

Wes Craven’s classic is a variation of the then popular (and overused) slasher movie: a killer who attacks victims in their dreams. Freddy Krueger became an icon with his trademark sweater, hat, claws, and dark wit. The film has an otherworldly quality to it thanks to the dream sequences. Plus, in a rare treat, it features a strong heroine who refuses to become Freddy’s next victim. Interesting bit of trivia: this is Johnny Depp’s first movie. He plays the heroine’s boyfriend.

#3: Fright Night (1985)

frightnight

A horror/comedy that is both genuinely funny and scary, it is a film with a perfectly simple concept: a teenage boy thinks his new next-door neighbor is a vampire, but no one believes him, so he desperately seeks help from a washed-up horror movie actor. The best characters aren’t the teenage hero, but the old actor–played by Roddy McDowall of Planet of the Apes fame—and the vampire (played by Chris Sarandon). The former is a cynical yet likable fellow with sharp, sarcastic wit (who’s not afraid to take jabs at the current horror movie trends), while the latter is a man whose often mesmerizing charm masks a powerful evil. Add in a cat-and-mouse game being played by the desperate teenage boy and his undead nemesis, and you have a fun (and frightening) night out.

#2: Jaws

movie-poster-jaws

The movie that launched director Steven Spielberg’s career, created the summer blockbuster, and arguably inspired Sharknado. While based on the novel by Peter Benchley, it’s one of the rare times, I’d say, that the movie is better than the book (the novel was padded with an unnecessary subplot where Brody’s wife has an affair with Hooper). My favorite character is Quint, played by the scene-stealing Robert Shaw, a grizzled sailor with a Captain Ahab complex. He might be mad, but you can’t help but like his gruff attitude. Spielberg famously kept the anomatronic shark’s screen time to a minimum because he thought it looked fake. By doing so, he increased the film’s tension and gave the monster a stronger presence. Throw in classic lines like, “We need a bigger boat!” and you have an instant classic.

#1: Alien

Alien_movie_poster

“In space, no one can hear you scream.” (One of the best taglines ever!)

If I had to choose a film that would be the blueprint for crafting the perfect horror movie, it would be Ridley Scott’s classic tale of gothic science fiction. It has powerful atmosphere, a terrifying and unique monster, and strong characters (including a countercultural heroine). The set design is incredible. The Nostromo feels both safe and claustrophobic. It plays upon multiple types and levels of fear, including, shadows, the unknown, and even rape. And it includes only one truly gory scene, but it both shocks the audience and adds to the story. It’s too bad that only one of its sequels, James Cameron’s Aliens, even comes close to equaling it.

Honorable Mentions (or, Films I’d Include on my Top 10) -28 Days Later -Dracula (1931) -Dawn of the Dead (original)

Writers are Sadists

By Nathan On October 16th, 2014 | 199 views
While I don't hate Steven Moffat, he certainly has a reputation for torturing characters (and audiences).  (Image courtesy of Pinterest).

While I don’t hate Steven Moffat, he certainly has a reputation for torturing characters (and audiences). (Image courtesy of Pinterest).

I’ve missed a Thursday or three in my weekly posts the last few months. I should be flogged for that. I’ll probably have to find anorther writer to perform said flogging. Why?

Writers are sadists.

Well, most writers are sadists. Well, closet sadists. (Hear me saying that as the 10th Doctor?)

I’d define a sadist as someone who takes pleasure in the suffering of others. Now, generally speaking, I’d consider sadists to be terrible people (trust me, I’ve dealt with a few). But when you’re a writer—or even just a reader—you have to be one. Sorta.

The backbone of a plot is conflict (and there are nine of them). Without conflict, there is no story. What are essential ingredients for conflict? Trouble, misery, strife, and pain, to name a few. Characters must fight each other, overcome impossible odds, or battle forces (seemingly) beyond their control. As my friend Nick Hayden pointed out: “If a protagonist wakes up fully rested, eats breakfast, enjoys his day at work, comes home to his lovely wife and kids, fiddles on some project, and goes to bed, we might think one of two things: 1.) This is a terrible story. 2.) Uh-oh, everything’s going to hit the fan soon.”

When I attend writers’ meetings—particularly Children of the Wells creative meetings—I’m astonished at how much time writers spend figuring out how to make their characters miserable. Take my novel, Pandora’s Box, for example. I gave Pvt. Brewer the happiest life—career, family, fiancé—much of which she worked hard to get (there’s conflict), but then I took it all away in one fell swoop. If I hadn’t, the book would’ve ended in a few chapters or been terribly boring (like Pamela by Samuel Richardson, a 500-page book I had to slog through in a week during college). I rarely, if ever, wish such misery on people I know, yet I go out of my way to make my brainchildren borderline manic depressants. Yet that’s what makes their triumphs that much more satisfying. J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, called this a eucatastrophe: “…the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears….”

This was one of my problems with modern Christian authors for a long time: they were afraid to make characters miserable or include true suffering in their works (at least when it wasn’t an attempt at proselytizing). That’s why their stories didn’t resound with people. I determined when I started writing that I wouldn’t do that. I’m the kind of writer who puts his characters through Hell so their victory at the end is sweeter. I love those “eucatastrophe” moments. It makes the journey all worthwhile.

Perhaps that means writers like me aren’t necessarily sadists. We want our characters to be happy—they just have to survive long enough to reach the ending. (Get it? “Happy ending”? Never mind).