The Misconception of Amy Pond
5.01 “The Eleventh Hour”
Rory: How can he be real? He was never real! It was just a game. We were- we were kids. You made me dress up as him!
Right here, with this quote, I knew the characterization of Amy Pond was going to go seriously awry.
Kids love to play pretend, don’t they?
Moffat was a Who fan as a kid, right? I bet he played Doctor Who pretend. Yet somehow I don’t think he assigned the role of Doctor to others. I mean, the Doctor is the hero! You don’t assign that role to another kid! You fight for your right to be the Doctor! Maybe you take turns with who gets to be him. Maybe there’s three Doctors running around at the same time and it gets a big squiggly. But whatever you do, you don’t freely abdicate the hero role.
Unless you’re a girl.
Steven Moffat could not conceive of a little Amelia Pond who would look at the magical Doctor and his blue box and want to be him. He assumed she would want to be with him instead.
Actual little girls, however, are well-versed in this problem. I know I had a lot of contradictory feelings about Indiana Jones. (“He’s so dreamy!” “I want to be an archaeologist when I grow up!” “Mom, can I have a whip for my birthday?”) Most of the heroes- the characters it’s most fun to imagine being- are dudes. If you also happen to find some of those dudes attractive, you’re going to develop the “I want to be you/I want to be with you” duality. This is something that straight guys like Moffat have not needed to deal with, as characters for them were nicely divided into a binary of those they want to be (male heroes) and those they want to be with (the hot ladies male heroes get).
So when Moffat created Amelia he projected this binary on to her, but reversed it. She’s a girl! The Doctor is a dude! Obviously she wants to be with him! I’m not even sure he realizes it’s possible for Amelia to want to be the Doctor. Yes, if someone asked him directly if he thought little girls wanted to grow up to be the Doctor he’d probably agree, but the point is it didn’t occur to him when he was actually writing her character.
And so she becomes The Girl Who Waited, waited for the hero’s return, and not The Girl Who Dreamed, dreamed of being the hero.
Amelia Pond, drawing Doctor fanart in crayon- are you our on-screen fangirl cypher? Dreaming of what male creators think we want: romance! With an awkward, unnecessary love triangle! Uh, girls love that, right?
Enter the series 7 promo still.
I look at this and think- what fantasy does this appeal to? That’s no hero shot, not of Amy Pond.
The girl who waited, carried away.
It’s everything that’s been there from the beginning, that we’ve tried to put aside. The misconception of Amy Pond. As the love interest, the sidekick, and not the hero. In the hero’s arms and not the hero.
Where is the image of Amy Pond, hero? Why can’t that sell the show? Why a damsel in distress shot?
Ah, but we don’t want to confuse the little boys, the mini-Moffats, by making them want to be her, instead of just be with her. How weird that would be!
So Amy will stay as she is, in the Doctor’s arms, safe.
Amy Pond is such a ****ed up character. Say what you want about RTD, but at least he could write women without riddling them with sexist tropes. RTD had a woman who lost the Doctor, went freelance, and built her own TARDIS (not to get back to him, but to save the world), a woman who walked the ****ing planet and laughed in the face of the Master only to walk away because she knew what was best for her, and the most important woman in creation.
Not to say that Rose, Martha and Donna were never problematic, but in contrast, Moffat has given us the woman who waited and the Doctor’s wife who gave up all her lives for him.
I’m all for third-wave feminism’s insistence that women can love men and not be considered weak for it, but come on.
Can you imagine how different this series would be from a feminist perspective if River didn’t have to be the daughter of the TARDIS and was, instead, just River, capable of existing independently of the Doctor’s interference? How different it would be if Amy didn’t wait to always be a companion, but instead became the hero?
I like Amy as a character, but if we were real I think she’d agree with you two. She’d have wanted to be the Doctor, because I guarantee she was a bossy kid and Rory would have “done it all wrong.” Maybe she let him try twice. Maybe.
This image as a selling point is frankly irritating, though I’m sure the plot itself will show her in a much stronger position. If she’s not the one the Doctor was referring to in the trailer, I’ll eat my hat.
I wouldn’t object to a weak woman character if she was well written, but that isn’t what Amy is, and it’s a shame that she keeps getting left behind and locked up in ways she can’t solve herself.
This is a really interesting point. It’s one I had not thought of, but extremely valid! In fact, this brings a LOT of light to my own opinion on Amy, and the s7 trailer.
In the trailer, one of the most notable moments, in my eyes, is Amy’s line: “Geronimo”. In concept, I would have loved this - I think it is really interesting when we can see the characters becoming more and more like the Doctor - all of them did it, really. Because THIS is what we - we as girls, we as human beings - are like. We all want to be more like our heros. YES Rose wanted to be with the Doctor, but she also wanted to be more like him! She wants to be as clever as him, as witty as him. She has a real “what would the doctor do?” mentality. And Martha - she is interesting because she did become more like the Doctor, and it made him question if that was a good thing. And look how Doctor-like Donna is. She even wears a pinstriped brown suit! and that’s before the Doctor-Donna. I don’t think it would be odd at ALL to hear any of Ten’s companions to say “Allons-y!” to make him smile. So “Geronimo” from Amy would be great, yeah?
Nevertheless, when I heard Amy say this line it just sounded WRONG. I didn’t know why, but it did. And now that I’ve read this, I think I know why - It’s because this isn’t Amy. Amy never tried to be the Doctor. Occasionally, she’d do the whole “well SOMEONE has to save the world…” but she never tried to be more like him, not really. So “Geronimo” just sounds like she is honestly being someone else.
I’d also like to say THANK YOU to the person who pointed out that while, yes, girls do want to be with the hero, more often than not, we want to BE the hero. One of my favorite characters ever is Aragorn from LotR, but I’ve never once been romantically interested in him. I want to BE him. But people don’t get that!
I was introduced to Doctor Who at a point where series 5 had started. I watched the episodes roughly in order starting with Eccelston, but before i got to series 5, I had read a bit on the wiki already. When I first heard that the Doctor was Amy’s imaginary friend, I LOVED the idea, because in my mind, this person is her hero, even her surrogate parent, who she wants to grow up and be JUST like him. She grows up eating fishfingers and custard, and runs off in her dreams not to be with the Doctor in a romantic way, but in the way that ever child needs a friend. She wants to indrouce her friends to him, and so she pretends to be him when they play make believe. Rory gets to know who the Doctor is through her before she ever lets him pretend to be the Doctor. And the reason I thought this, was because that was ME as a kid! I am the one who grew up always insisting that they get to play my hero.
But then I saw amy grown up. And I was really, really sad. I would ALSO like to point to one other DW girl who had a certain Doctor as an imaginary friend, grew up, met him again, and ended up kissing him. Reinette (Madame de Pompadour) from The Girls in the Fireplace (s2e4). And who wrote that episode? Stephan Moffat.
I LOVE the idea of the Doctor as imaginary friend. And it makes me really sad that Moffat has messed it up. Twice.
I feel as if one of the greatest injustices in my own life is this idea - that a girl cannot wish to BE her hero if he is male. Because to tell the truth, the desire to BE or even be LIKE my heroes - Aragorn, The Doctor, and so many others - has been a HUGE effect on my childhood and my life. I’m a girl, and they are men. But really? Why is this such a problem? They inspire me to be better. Why should only boys be allowed these amazing characters as heroes? The flip side is also true. I don’t have many favorite female characters, but I wouldn’t think bad of a boy for wishing they were as awesome as Riza Hawkeye, or Hermione Granger, in their own way.
I don’t want to be one who gets carried. I want to be the one who carries my friends. Is that so wrong?
can we not just be girls
I don’t get it. Why can’t I be a girl if i flipping want to? Sorry, sorry, it just makes me a little upset. Okay, sometimes, a lot upset. What if I want to raise a family, and what if I want to stay at home, and what if I wouldn’t mind being carried in the Doctor’s arms? For reals. I get what you’re all saying, okay. *well*, some of you. *Well* just Kel. *CRIES WITH FRUSTRATION* the Moff has a lot of respect for women. Look at his twitter, he says that we’re better than men.
Sometimes, girls want to be heros. That is not a bad thing at all. Okay. But I CANNOT SEE your point of view if you’re upset that the man, the male protagonist, the boy, the leader of the show, is not allowed to be a man. Is not allowed to take the role he was born to be. Is not allowed to save a girl. Oui? One of the reasons I respect Doctor Who so much as a show is that it lets - for once in our entire 21st century media - it lets a man be a man and save some stuff. I really have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about if you say that Amy Pond is not a strong character. She knocks the Doctor around and doesn’t worship him. She stands up to him in the very same trailer you’re all complaining about - it takes a LOT OF GUTS to stand up to a 1000-year-old man who is yelling at you, and pick out his problem - which is, paraphrased, “You need me.”
And please, what is all this about RTD being some kind of flawless king of writing? Moffat has flaws, Russell has flaws. They both have flaws. Can we not do the “RTD reigns in glorious triumph over ever area that Moffat is weak in” thing, please?
*puts fingers to temples* does anyone understand what I’m trying to say? There are SO - SO- SO - SOOO many women out there who are those kick-butt action heros. TAKE RIVER SONG. Take any TV show you like, or practically any modern movie, and you have a woman dominating a man. And frankly I hate that. Our culture won’t let men be men and it won’t let women be women. No one understands that to be equal, we don’t have to take over one another’s roles.
Maybe Amy would have looked up to the Doctor and wanted to be like him.
Well and good.
But maybe it’s O K A Y to not freak out over “sexism!” all the time. Maybe it’s okay to let girls be girls once in a while. Men were created to be protectors. I say this as a really, really self-respecting girl. It’s because I respect my sex that I protest against the modern outcry for women to always be men.
As a woman, I don’t feel very respected by you right now, because you’re claiming that to “be a girl” means to accept the role of the protected, the homemaker. And yes, that’s what some women want, and part of being empowered is being empowered to be those things if we choose.
But another part of being empowered is recognizing that this idea of set “roles” for men and women is outdated and harmful. What about a man who prefers to stay home, cook, and take care of children? Are you seriously going to tell me that such a man is not not fulfilling the “role he was born to be” because he doesn’t fit your limited concept of masculinity? Are you seriously going to sit their and tell me that my default “role” as a woman is to sit back and let the big strong men take care of me? Because that’s not what I, as a self-respecting woman, want from life, and you saying that me being in control and being the tough one means I’m just pretending to be a man is the exact opposite of respecting your own gender. I can be a woman and not be a homemaker or a caregiver or reliant on the male “protector.” Not being those things does not mean I am pretending to be a man. You choose the role that fits you as a woman, but don’t you dare tell me I’m less of a woman because I’m not like you.
As for the promo pic that kicked this all off…this image didn’t bring the issue of sexism to my mind, but I can see how it did for others now that it’s been pointed out. Moffat tends to pay lip service to women while completely ignoring any and all criticism of how he writes his female characters (some of that criticism has already been discussed above). I’m not arguing that RTD was flawless; I thought his treatment of women and of romance was also problematic. They can both be problematic; it’s not like there’s a finite amount of unconscious sexism (or semi-conscious sexism, given the fact that Moffat’s had his failures pointed out to him and has chosen to stick his fingers in his ears and go LALALA) to split between them. Honestly, if it was *just* this image, I don’t think people would be so upset. It’s this image on top of several seasons of bad gender representation and general disrespect toward fans in interviews.
BTW, is it just me or does Amy look out of scale compared to the Doctor in that image?
On the last thing: yes, she does. o.O I knew something was off about it. But then again, Karen is tall *shrugs*
…don’t misunderstand me, please. I’m not saying that the only thing girls can do is be homemakers. I find it odd when girls don’t want secondary educations, and I think just waiting around for a husband without taking control of your life is the wrong thing to do, for sure. The point I’m trying to make is that there are certain cliches buried deep in the culture. For the longest time - and you’re right, it’s wrong and outdated - the general thought was that girls couldn’t do anything - exactly, that they had to stand behind men. I get that that’s wrong, because it is. I want to change the world as much as anyone. Then women stood up for themselves, and the culture drastically changed. And now, all the vibes I get from the media is that, to be relevant, a girl has to be an action hero, and have no respect for men. I think that things have gone a little far in terms of that. It’s not that girls HAVE to stay at home, or that all of them should, not at all! My problem is that I feel like I’m being torn down if my relevance as a woman is tied to my job, or my money. Those things are fine for a girl to have, but if they’re all that they’re judged by, it rubs me the wrong way, because we’re worth more than that.
Here’s where I think you’ll disagree with me - I do believe men and women have specific roles to fulfil, actually, yes. I believe that men should generally take the lead, and that women should be supporters and helpmates. I realise that’s an edgy thing, and that most people will fire up about it, but think about it - now you’re not letting me be the woman I want to be, because your values are different than mine. I quote. “don’t tell me I’m less of a woman because I’m not like you.” But that’s what I feel the culture is yelling at me, 24/7! I can’t raise children, I can’t be respectful to guys, because hey, I’m not fitting the norm! I know this firsthand, because our family is odd in that it is large and whole, and my mum chooses to stay at home with us and give her time to us. We get all kinds of scorn because of that. Because no one is letting us be the women we want to be.
If a man needs to, he can take care of children, and there is nothing at all wrong with a girl being as wise as she can be, and having a career. But there comes a point where i think things are getting too blurred.
You are totally entitled to your opinion, and i genuinely see where you’re coming from. I was, and am, always the girl who would yell at the guys when they said we couldn’t do anything as well as them. That made me SO ANGRY, and it still does. Look at JK Rowling, who changed the world and thousands of lives! Us girls are completely equal to boys.
But I believe that equality doesn’t mean ‘sameness’. That when we insist upon ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS filling roles that men traditionally took, we’re just becoming men, and not letting ourselves be unique. It’s fine, once in a while, but I don’t think striving for sameness is what I want to do.
Can we agree, though, that this a really extremely politically, socially, and emotionally charged debate, and that whatever opposing views we hold, we shouldn’t take it too personally on one another? I’m willing to agree to disagree and be friends, I think we most likely have more similarities than differences. We both want to be the best women we can be. We both want to live lives in our own right. We just have slightly differing ways of thinking about it all.
I appreciate that you’re willing to talk about it, but I very much did not impose my values on you by saying you had to tie your value as a woman to things outside the home—I started my post by saying I believed part of being empowered was your right to be a homemaker and/or fill another traditional female role if that was what you chose. Society may be telling you it’s not okay to take the traditional role, but I personally am not, so please do not put words in my mouth. I honestly don’t understand how you can say that women in general “should” be helpmates and supporters and that me saying that role doesn’t work for *all* women means I’m imposing my values on you personally. You’re still the one imposing your values on me by telling me what I “should” be, and me rejecting that is not the same as me telling you that you can’t or shouldn’t do what’s right for you.
I would point out that while I resist being pigeonholed into a traditional female role, I’m not “ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS filling roles that men traditionally took.” I’m in a female-dominated profession (traditionally female-dominated, even - spotting a male student at my grad school was like spotting a unicorn). I wear dresses. I knit. On occasion, I bake cookies.
On the other hand, I support myself financially and have no plans to stop doing so, I’m not particularly interested in having children, and I’m much more interested in knowing how to defend myself than in worrying about whether there’s a man at hand to do it for me. In all honesty, I don’t even see these as gendered issues in my personal life. I don’t set out to emulate men or even to buck the system. I just set out to do what’s right in my life and what enables me to be the best person I can be—and that person just happens to be a woman.
I do see where you’re coming from with your objections to the Strong Female Character always having to be an action hero (…actually, google “Strong Female Character Beaton”; she does a pretty good job of pointing up other problems with the female action hero). So yeah, the media gets it wrong. That doesn’t mean accepting and returning to traditional roles will fix the problem. Both extremes are limiting, so why argue for either of them? I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I’m not arguing that you can’t be what you want to be. That would be wrong. Don’t assume that people who don’t want to fill the same roles you choose to fill want the exact opposite thing.