De Potentie van de Witte Man: Over Rationaliteit, Opvoeding en de Dynamiek tussen man en vrouw in Doctor Who
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Despite being praised for its inclusivity and diversity, BBC’s eleventh series of Doctor Who has sparked controversy in regards to the representation of white men in some of its episodes. As white men have traditionally seldom been marked as either white or male, it might be speculated that this debate surrounding the representation of white men is indicative of a cultural shift in which support for white men’s uniquely central role in western culture is waning. However, as critical research into the representation of white men in contemporary British audio-visual media is scarce, moving beyond speculation has thus far been impossible. In this master’s thesis, the representation of white men within three episodes of the eleventh Doctor Who series is analysed. Based on this analysis, it is firstly concluded that white men are indeed marked as both white and male. Secondly, it is concluded that white men are represented as inherently irrational – in the sense that, by nature, they have the tendency to act thoughtlessly –, but also as having the potential to rise above their irrational nature. The more white men live up to their rational potential, the more they are represented as ‘good’. However, contrary to previous findings regarding the representation of white men, white men in series eleven of Doctor Who cannot rise to the occasion by themselves. Instead, in order to be able to live up to their rational potential, they need assistance from independent white women, such as the Doctor herself. While the eleventh series of Doctor Who features an ethnically diverse cast and makes room for both men and women who do not subscribe to stereotypical gender roles, it is found that the show predominantly focuses on white men’s battles against their irrational nature, indicating that white people in general and white men in particular are still very much in the centre of British audio-visual culture. This, combined with the fact that social class plays no role in Doctor Who’s representation of white men and thus remains invisible, all the while only white men from the working and upper classes are depicted in the show, leads to a speculative but worrying conclusion: the science-fiction programme now functions as a vehicle for the British white middle class, used to retain and solidify their central cultural role as ‘normal’, reflexive and progressive people at the expense of non-white people, as well as people belonging to other white British social classes.