Doctor Who and the cheapening of sacrifice

26 June, 2010

Trying to nail this down quickly after watching last episode of the first Matt Smith season of Doctor Who. Much as I loved the episode and season in many ways, there’s a huge painful flaw running through the show since Russell T Davies brought it back, and sadly it seems Stephen Moffatt has inherited it.

In this universe, personal sacrifice doesn’t mean shit.

Multiple times now, we’ve had major characters either trapped on the other side of an unassailable void or full-blown dead after sacrificing themselves for the greater good… and after a few minutes, just long enough for the audience to get a bit weepy, they magically come back.

And they just fucking did it again.

Jack Harkness. Rose Tyler. River Song. Rory. The Doctor himself. Indestructable ‘cos the plot requires it, or ‘cos they’re Special. Only ever Mostly Dead (and this episode even had that phrase, so it’s not like they haven’t seen Princess Bride…).

For me, this makes any sacrifice they make utterly meaningless.

Other than that, it was pretty good…

EDIT:

1. Of course there will be those who say about my Who concerns “it’s only a kid’s show”. True – but as wife-the-shaman points out, what message then is the show teaching our childrens? Trust mad strangers? Tears bring back the dead?

2. The real contrast in attitude to death/sacrifice in this incarnation (heh) of Doctor Who is summed up for me by the Fifth Doctor’s attitude to the death of Adric – his angry refusal to even consider changing history to allow him to not die sits uneasily with the current tendency for waving the “make it all better” wand.

EDIT 2 – After rewatching with my teenage son.

I thought that the real sacrifice had been Auton Rory, the nobel warrior/troubador who sat by his beloved lady’s side for 2000 years – just sitting, thinking and fighting. After that amount of time, you’re either a warrior supreme or raving mad, possibly both. But even that loss is retconned – Meat Rory has Auton Rory’s memories, it seems.

But once I got over the previous hole, just let it get all Mythic on me, and loved it much more. Well enough to take a few cool ideas to muck around with, on how The Doctor sort of turned himself into a story and when he was retold by Amy (+DNA from tear) he reboots from backup.

It’ll be interesting to hear whet the synchromystic folk think. (Top thoughts – at this point both Amy & Rory are demigods and… as for The Lonely God –  what kind of god is Doctor Who?

He’s a trickster-god, of course! (Wife-the-artist, often cleverer than I, looked down at me and said “well durr...”)

And the Doctor has a married couple on his hands, to show him how that works… perhaps making his next meeting with River even more significant?

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Guttershaman and the Fictionals

14 June, 2010
This isn’t so much a full Guttershaman installment as a kind of “DVD extras” post for the talk I gave to the Omphalos pagan moot in Bath today.

The set-up was:

“Stories and myth are the ground that magic, and culture in general, are rooted in. Although many magicians and pagans endeavour to base their practice on authentic historical roots, there are other ways… using the fictional tales that fill our culture as a modern mythology. Movies, TV,  SF and fantasy fiction and comic books can all offer insights on magic and mysticism.
Cat Vincent coined the term Guttershaman to describe this perspective – an urban path based on the mix of ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’ with personal experience. He talks about some of the inspiration he has found along this path, with particular reference to the noted comic writers and practicing mages Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.”

A few links for those that braved my mad rantings… (and thanks for a great reception!)

All the Guttershaman posts are collected here – start at the bottom!

On Alan Moore and Idea Space:

http://technoccult.net/archives/2010/04/22/alan-moore/

http://www.angelfire.com/comics/eroomnala/Lautwein.html

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article822552.ece

On V for Vendetta, Anonymous and Scientology:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Chanology

On Grant Morrison and The Invisibles:

http://technoccult.net/archives/2010/04/22/grant-morrison/

The canonical Invisibles site was Barbelith – which developed from a fan page to one of the most interesting occult discussion groups around. Quiet these days but much food for thought there.

A  very detailed Morrison interview, covering which bits of The Invisibles are purely autobiographical:

http://comicnews.info/?p=3269

How close is The Matrix to The Invisibles? Here’s 15 points of similarity – Morrison claims over 80!

http://everything2.com/title/The+Invisibles+vs.+The+Matrix

On Hypersigils:

http://www.barbelith.com/topic/20184

http://technoccult.net/archives/2010/02/18/hypersigils-reconsidered/

On fiction and reality merging, comic books and Moore/Morrison both:

http://electricchildren.com/wordpress/?p=334