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RTD for all his faults has never shown the slightest hint that he has a misogynistic bone in his body, and is the least likely person to have deliberately come up with a metaphor like that. Gallifrey Base after this ep was full of such comments, each poster seeming to out-do the other with theories of how appalling this ending was in it's perceived treatment of a woman. Sometimes a line is just a line, and there isn't an agenda behind it. So any severely disabled person who needs a carer to enable them to undertake even simplest of tasks such as going to toilet is being exploited?
That anyone who loves someone who is severely disable must be treating that person as a literal object? And why does the gender matter? If roles were reversed and Elton had been "slabbed" and Ursula had said "but we still have a love life" would the same criticism be made? Or is it only men who have sexual needs and gratification? Maybe I'm mistaken for putting it down to an inability to process metaphors, but there's definitely something up. People objecting to the disable having a sex life and being over-reliant on others should maybe read up on the life of Alison Lapper.
It's the most obvious one that came to mind once I started rolling the whole scene around in my head. I'm perfectly willing to entertain the idea that this cigar is just a cigar, but since Davies wrote the scene where the Abzorbaloff splattered, the "it's just coincidence" argument can't possibly work. OK, I should make clear that I'm not accusing Davies of being deliberately misogynist. I'm just noting Elton ended up with a girlfriend that according to the an exceedingly cynical reading of heterosexual men is perfect because she's totally unable to function independently, and that links in with what struck me as an obvious visual cue.
Sure, maybe it's all coincidental, and even if not one could argue it's a swipe at a certain kind of heterosexual men, but which then backfires. Gallifrey Base, this is not. The first time I watched Love and Monsters, I absolutely loved it. I suspect a large part of my reaction was sheer defiance. The second time I watched Love and Monsters, I was really disappointed. The Absorbaloff is gross and I don't want to have to look at it. The episode keeps acting like it's silly when all the characters I like are dying.
Rose and the Doctor act like this is their job. The Jackie sequence lands more in 'excruciatingly awkward' than funny.
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It's not awful. It's just kinda dull, and poorly done. Sorry, I though that followed directly from the assumption Elton is an unreliable narrator that I was accusing him of coming up with a creepy tale. Whatever we can conclude from Davies writing the scene, it seems inarguable that if Elton himself has invented Ursula's condition, that comes attached to a whole raft of problems.
Carey So any severely disabled person who needs a carer to enable them to undertake even simplest of tasks such as going to toilet is being exploited? Not at all. I wouldn't disagree with anything you've said above if not for two things. First, Elton has set the video up so that Ursula can only get involved if he allows her to - hence the idea of being treated as an object. Secondly, he only does so whilst describing what it is that she can do for him.
Well, as I've said, I'm not trying to pass myself off as an expert on gender relations.
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And I'm fully aware of the possibility that I'm reading too much into the scene. That said, it strikes me as entirely unhelpful to argue whether a scene that can be interpreted as having gender issues would still have issues were the genders reversed.
That's just chopping away millennia of issues to make the narrowest point possible. I don't believe anyone is saying this.
The problem is not Ursula's situation - or at least, there are specific problems with Ursula which don't translate into the disabled metaphor, so I'll happily put those aside - it's Elton's response to it. The only time Ursula talks is specifically to ask him to not act the way he's acting. Well that was a relief! I needn't have been concerned. Once again you've effortlesly articulated that which I've been unable to pin down.
The Pleasure of Pain
The issues touched on in this episode run so deep and so close to home it's no wonder much of fandom recoils. The central premise of course takes the 'Yeti on the loo in Tooting Beck' to its absurdist conclusion. It sets up another warning sign for the tenth Doctor that his hubristic, matinee idol cum serial adventurer persona is going to cause him problems along the line. That his love of humanity's worship will become his death drive. That ' Isn't the conflict there between the Doctor as old grandfather hurtling through time and space toward his inevitable death, while playing the irascible monster to Ian and Barbara, while Susan represents the pubescent potentiality of life, with her love of 'John Smith and the Common Men' and 'England in the twentieth century'?
As to Ursula the paving slab, both RTD and Moffat are prone to throwing the odd risque joke in to stir up reaction. In the context of the complicated issues regarding fandom being explored here it works perfectly. If one wanted to treat it diagetically, well, I don't know or care to imagine the precise biological details of how Ursula could pracically survive as a face on a slab any more than Cassandra the human trampolene but isn't it possible to imagine she might have some way of recieving sexual gratification?
Elton does say 'WE' have a bit of a love life not 'I' and she doesn't contradict him.
Love & Gunplay: An Animal Novelette
I could kind of just get behind the idea of Ursula being the perfect girlfriend for a certain type of heterosexual man But from what I can see he isn't. He's a bit dopey and just wants a quiet life, but his scenes with Jackie show that he's not scared of being intimate with a woman who is totally capable of functioning independently. Plus he has no difficulty or hesitation in starting up a relationship with Ursula, and in fact is shown to be particularly devastated when Victor takes her away from him in the most horrible way possible. I don't think there's any "maybe" about it.
It is totally coincidental, and besides Elton says "love life", not "sex life" although I don't think that's a phrase Elton would use anyway , which gives plenty of wiggle room. I choose to assume that he means "kissing with tongues" as people in love do because the idea of Elton choosing to be fellated by a face in a paving stone is something I cannot see the character as written doing, let alone enjoying.
The phrase is meant as a double entendre, but one that exists in the mind of the viewer, not the mouth of the character. We laugh because it sounds like she's referring to her vagina, but it's obvious that she isn't. Similarly we laugh or cringe because it sounds like Elton's telling us he has blowjobs, but perhaps like Mrs Slocombe he isn't. Which would make the joke one out of context, even if it were intended in the way I'm describing. I certainly agree it can't be being aimed at Elton. I'm not sure if I'd go with "meant as" as oppose to "functions as", but fair point.
I was wrong to say Ursula as paving slab only gets one line: she does say, she can't age. With regards to whether this is better than The Power of Three. I do not get on with body horror either, but I don't think that makes body horror bad - it just means I don't like it. As regards the misogyny, I think that as Spacesquid says it's more a matter of Davies writing himself into a corner and not thinking through the implications a la Gatiss, rather than something deliberate.
I can see someone writing fan fic about the relationship that writes it in a non-misogynistic way. So while I think it's problematic, I think it's a fault rather than a fatal flaw. Whereas, short of being unredeemably and unthinkingly morally wrong, being crushingly dull is the worst thing you can say about any work of fiction. I think ultimately it's the only way RTD could end the story on an upbeat note.
Imagine it without that line and it's so depressing. A character has been rescued from one of the most horrible deaths imaginable a sci-fi take on being eaten alive but left in a state that is almost as bad. RTD attempts to soften the blow by showing that Ursula is in a kind of nirvana state and feels quite comfortable with her situation which is damn lucky for her, or as Alan says, she'd end up screaming.
But this isn't quite enough. Russell then tries to show that not only is Ursula ok with things, but Elton is as well, and they're both basically as happy as they can be under such circumstances.
https://vitasersu.tk So he does this in the most economical way possible, with a joke. And it's a joke hardly anyone could resist making. Unfortunately like a lot of the best jokes it does raise some unpleasant issues, but I can't see how else he could have ended that scene on a positive note. That doesn't make you wrong if it rubs you up the wrong way, it's just unfortunate. Perhaps if he'd spent a couple more days rewriting he might have come up with something better, but Russell's problem has always been that he runs so close to the deadline that he ends up grabbing at any resolution that'll work, just so he can finish the script on time.
Which is where the accusation of lazy writing comes from. He's not lazy, he's just continually fuelled by nicotine, self-doubt, and panic. I absolutely agree with this reading. Elton's been very strongly coded with the "utterly sexless" nerd archetype for the whole episode. You're meant to read his line as "He means they can still kiss. Hey wait, that could also mean Fellatio! You don't suppose he means No, of course not, he's a sexless nerd archetype; it would never even occur to him.
That said, there's a weakness in how it's delivered and how it's framed that shuffles the wrong entendre to the forefront. I've been reminded up thread that Ursula doesn't only speak to tell Elton not to discuss their sex life; she mentions she can't age either. Which does make one wonder what will happen to her when Elton dies or, if they split up.