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I "liked" Doctor Who on Facebook, which means that I get constant updates and video clips of old doctors and things. Mostly I ignore them, but the other night they had one saying "Do you love Amy Pond? In the next half-season there's an episode devoted to to her backstory that will break your heart!"

In a fit of "Someone is Wrong on the Internet" I clicked on the comments to say "NO. I don't love Amy, get her the hell off the TARDIS." And as I read through the comments I saw that there were two camps. The people who hated Amy...mostly women. And the people that love Amy, mostly men. The men were baffled at the Amy Hate, and decided that we must be either die hard Doctor/Rose shippers or just jealous because Amy's pretty.

Um. NO.
HELL no.



In the first episode I thought Amy had a lot of promise. She was like a tiny Donna. I cheered when she locked the doctor's tie in a car and told the car owner to go get a cup of coffee. But she rapidly degraded. And it's not that she usually wears the mini-est of mini skirts. It's all bad writing, and terrible characterization.

I'd say that it was down to a bunch of men not knowing how to write a good female character. Thinking that being strident and confrontational makes her strong. Or that her sexy ways mean she's "empowered." But...Moffat has done some amazingly awesome women in the past. He wrote 'The Doctor Dances' and 'The Girl in The Fireplace' and 'Silence in the Library.' All of those episodes are chock full of smart, proactive women. And I give special props to 'Silence in the Library' for featuring more than FOUR interesting and unique female characters in one episode.

So what went wrong with Amy?

A. Sexy Baby

Amy is very...immature. She gives the impression that she gets what she wants out of a combination of yelling and being pouty. And you get the impression that she's never faced any serious loss or hardship in her life (this isn't exactly true, but I'll address that later). This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Donna started out extremely vapid and immature. But her whole character arc was about being exposed to the great big universe and learning about struggle and tragedy and growing as a person as a result. But Amy doesn't grow.

Amy also plays at sexuality a lot. But, to me at least, it feels very much like a little girl dressing up in her mother's high heels. Her attempts to be sexy come from a feeling that she's supposed to act that way instead genuine desire on her part. The only time it felt genuine for me is when she utterly fangirls over Vincent Van Gogh.

She wants the Doctor because she imprinted on him like a baby duck when she met him as a little girl. After he leaves her behind, she finds the neighborhood boy who looks the most like him and forces him to pretend to be the Doctor for her. And then when they grow up she agrees to marry him. This doesn't sound like healthy love on her part, it sounds like she wants the Doctor even though she doesn't know anything about him, and since she can't have him, she's settling.

Her job is also a kiss-o-gram, which sounds like a euphemism for stripper. (She starts the show as sexy police officer, and admits to having a sexy nurse and sexy maid outfit) And not that there's anything wrong with that, but again, it doesn't feel genuine for the character. It feels like Amy sees kisses and short skirts and pouty looks as just another tool in her toolbox. Not something that has an emotional element for her, and not that she considers the emotional element for whoever she's directing her charm at.

This is 'Sucker Punch' sexuality. You know, where some guy says "She's empowered because she uses sex as a weapon!" Which is horrible and demeaning. And even then this is a fairly flaccid version of sexuality because this is a family program. There's no maliciousness to Amy's sexiness. Which goes back to the little girl thing. It's not malicious because she doesn't even know what she's doing.

B. Poor Moral Compass

Amy runs away with the Doctor on the night before her wedding. And she also tries to kiss him. She justifies this to him that she's, "not married yet."

I'm sorry, but that sets of all my squick signals.

The Doctor's Companions are usually his moral compass. Amy starts off as this early in her run, but her cheerful infidelity really really rubs me the wrong way. And once Rory comes with her in the TARDIS it gets worse because Amy is perfectly happy having both her boys, and keeping Rory in a tangled knot of worry that she doesn't really want him. (It's supposed to be a love triangle, except that the Doctor really doesn't show any romantic interest in Amy. Yet we're supposed to believe that Amy can get the Doctor, just because she wants him. It's certainly what SHE thinks.)

And yet she's never called out on the carpet for her bad behavior. They just give her an episode where she's supposed to make up her mind about who she wants. But even when she makes a choice, they resurrect the 'does she or doesn't she' constantly.

C. Amy Forgets

Amy doesn't grow as a character, because every time something bad happens to her, she forgets about it. Her parents are gone, then her aunt is gone, then Rory is killed... and she doesn't remember ANY of it (consciously at least, and more on that later). They were all eaten by a hole in space time and reality was altered so they never existed in the first place.

This is hardly Amy's fault. But it IS totally the writer's fault. They set up the universe rules that dictated that Amy never ACTUALLY suffered a loss, because she never remembered it!

Which leads back to the 'Amy's Choice' episode where she decides that she loves Rory best after all. I think in the writer's minds the episode went like this:

Rory: *dies*
Amy: OMG! NO! I love him, but I never got a chance to say so! His death has shown me it was him I loved all along! I demand that this not be real because I love him!
Doctor: It was all a dream!

How the episode really went...

Rory: *dies*
Amy: OMG! NO! This is the first time person I have any emotional attachment to who has died/left! I demand that this not be real because I don't like it!
Doctor: It was all a dream!

I think it might not have pinged me so much as Amy being childish if her reaction hadn't been to yell at the doctor to "Make it not real," and to tell him. "You save everyone. You always do. That's what you do." And when he says that he doesn't always she replies, "Then what's the point of you?"

So basically Rory is the comfortable old shoe, and she can lead him around and make him do whatever she wants. And the Doctor is the fairy tale white knight that makes things better. Neither of these things are love.


D. Cruelty

Saying "Then what's the point of you?" is CRUEL. Yes it comes from a place of great personal pain, and she's lashing out. But it's not exactly an isolated event. Amy is always insulting Rory and making it into an endearment.

We're never shown Amy do ANYTHING for Rory that deserves the kind of devotion he showers on her.

Her reaction in the second episode to a crying little girl is, "So?" And she acts horribly to a clone of the Doctor. Oh yeah! I almost forgot that she also shoots a little girl in the series 6 opener. (in her defense she thought it was an evil alien)

It's ok though, she's a hot tempered redhead! *facepalm* The thing that makes this worst is that there are never any consequences, or bad reactions from other characters. No one ever acts like Amy has done anything wrong. Which means that the writers don't realize anything she does is wrong.

E. Magical Pregnancies

Yes, two of them. One of them was just a dream, but still.
I'm just going to provide a link to Feminist Frequency's excellent article here instead of going into it myself.

What I don't like about the dream pregnancy is that it's main purpose is to slow the characters down so that its feasible that old people can catch them. It's making pregnancy a scary thing that makes you more vulnerable. A friend of mine argued that it also made the dream world more desirable. Made you want to believe that Amy and Rory settled down to be a family. Except...IIRC Amy's never that happy about the baby. She's frustrated at being huge and pregnant and stuck in a tiny idyllic village. Amy being pregnant is Rory's happy dream.

And when it comes to the real pregnancy...The WAY this was done to Amy, in that she doesn't even KNOW that she's pregnant until she's literally giving birth...while kidnapped by bad guys, isn't just scary, it's bad. Seriously, read/watch the Feminist Frequency post. It's a shame because I quite like the idea of a baby on the TARDIS. I'd have loved an episode that involved decorating a Nursery (you know the TARDIS would be baby crazy) or runs through time and space for special food cravings.

But no, everything's off camera, because it's both scarier and more convenient. Amy's reduced to being important because of her reproductive organs. And when the baby is kidnapped, she doesn't even get to go on the rescue party.

Why?

F. We've got a Screamer

The pregnancy thing is hardly Amy's fault. Just like the Forgetting thing. They are the writer's fault. They're not things that make me dislike Amy as a person. They're things that make me find episodes with Amy distasteful to watch.

Another thing is watching a cool character melt into a puddle of uselessness. Amy starts out pretty cool and proactive, and turns into the worst damsel I've ever seen on Who. My guess is that it has to do with Karen Gilliam having the best scream I've ever heard from an actress.

She's helpless for at least a period of almost all episodes in the fifth season. And not technically present for most of the first half of the sixth. (Interesting philosophical question...If your consciousness is controlling a puppet, does it count as your actions and experiences? Hello Plato!)


I could keep going, but I'm sure you're sick of me by now.

I'll close out by saying that Amy's not irredeemable. In fact, they could do one thing that would bring me around fairly quickly. And that's to address her issues as issues and not cute character quirks.

I kind of thought that between a throwaway reference to going through 4 psychiatrists as a child, and a really great episode that dealt with depression that they might be going this angle with Amy. Let's acknowledge that maybe Amy has abandonment issues and other things. It would be pretty cool to have someone who's struggling with mental issues shown as someone who's not broken, and is still capable of going out into the universe and kicking ass.

But I don't think this is going to happen, because the writers don't seem to think of anything Amy does as being especially bad. The closest Amy gets to a 'what the hell, hero' is the Doctor saying 'But you're getting married!' when she tries to kiss him. Even Rose got a royal chewing out when she used the Doctor to meet her dad.

So I don't have much hope that they'll ever handle her very well. So please, please, get her the hell off the TARDIS. Can't I have more of the dinosaur lady and her maid from the last season finale instead?
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kaitou

March 2012

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