replaying the same level in a video game for the hundredth time
- drink plenty of water
- always wear sunblock
- if your band camp requires you to pack yourself a lunch, take something healthy
- pizza is not healthy
- if you don’t understand something, just ask someone to explain it to you
- drink plenty of water
- also drink Gatorade
- do not drink soda/pop
- if you start feeling like you’re going to pass out or get sick, sit out
- seriously, just sit down
- drink plenty of water
- also don’t forget that your instructors are real people that are taking the time to help you, so don’t be rude to them
- drink plenty of water
- JUST DRINK WATER
- W A T E R
I won’t say that Doctor Who is perfectly written at all times or that Steven Moffat has never written a bad line. It isn’t and he has.
But my problem is that parts of the fandom seek out negativity in his work in a way that’s gone far beyond what is reasonable. What started as a type of literary analysis has turned into something that willfully ignores traits about Moffat’s characters so that it can make them nothing more than support in negative arguments.
In order to really understand the characters, it involves thinking about the things they say and do. It means listening to all the character’s lines and the looks on their faces as they speak.
Rather than saying, “I like/dislike what we’ve been shown so far of Clara’s character, but I wish we saw more into her thoughts and feelings so I could really understand her better. I hope we get more of that in the next series,” some negative blogs say, “Clara is just another one of Moffat’s sexist characters with no motivation and no purpose other than to look good in a skirt.”
If you look beyond the blogs that show nothing but pure hatred for Steven Moffat and actually look at Clara as a character, you will see that she has a lot of motivation for why she does what she does. And you cannot ignore all of that because one time the Doctor made a comment about her skirt, she made a comment suggesting the Tardis was a snog box, and once the camera showed her cleavage.
By calling her nothing but flirty and sassy, you’re reducing a character to nothing more than her sexuality and I find that more unacceptable than writing or directing that can highlight sexuality while still showing a complete character even if sometimes it’s not handled perfectly. Clara has flirted, but she’s not flirty. You cannot define her by single lines in isolation while ignoring everything else about her.
Looking at her character outside of a few flirty lines, you get a pretty good picture of her background and what makes her tick.
Clara and her mother read a book of places to see throughout her childhood that they dreamed about visiting but had never visited before her death. Once her mother died, Clara was going to travel to all these places on her own after she graduated university, but she went to stay with a family for a week and while she was there, their mother died. Because Clara related to their loss and because she has a very strong sense of responsibility, she stayed with them and even says that she will stay with them as long as they needed despite her desire to travel and despite their father recognizing that she should move on. Even when he gives her a night off, she chooses to stay in.
She never regrets her decision to stay with them, but you can see in the Bells of St. John that she also wishes she could travel. She defensively says she’s still going when the doctor questions it and the bookshelf above her bed is filled with nothing but books about travel and different countries, but she can’t walk out on her responsibilities.
The Doctor comes along allowing her to spend her week with the children and still travel. Worth noting about this is that she tells him to come back the next day after he asks her to come with him. She doesn’t make the decision lightly, but when she does you see her clutching the book of places to see with excitement in her eyes. She’s following her dream.
When he says she reminds him of someone else, she makes it very clear that she’s not a stand in for anyone else and she doesn’t want to travel with him if that’s why he wants her there. She’s not going to let him walk all over her.
In the end, she only goes with him on Wednesdays — of course because of time travel, Wednesday could last more than 24 hours for her, but she always comes back to take care of those children on Thursday.
Just from this part of her life we see that Clara puts others above herself, she has a strong work ethic, she likes to be in control of her own life, she’s not impulsive, she has clear goals and dreams, and she thinks through her decisions.
If you continue through the series, you can see how these character traits are shown, and you can look at how she becomes a school teacher, how she was a nanny, and how she stops to help the little girl in the Rings of Akhatten — she’s always helping children. She’s a very empathetic person to the point where she is self sacrificing — first for the children she takes care of and later to save the Doctor.
And what does it say about her that she’s constantly trying to cook, but she’s horrible at it? She’s really, really horrible at it, but she never gives up. Most people would have laughed it off and said, “I can’t cook” at this point. We’ve never seen her successfully make a souffle. Even her echo burnt the souffle. And that incident with the turkey, she had no idea what she was doing, but she was trying so hard to convince her family that she had a perfect life — a new job as a teacher, a boyfriend, and the capability of cooking Christmas dinner for them all. The problem is, she had the make up some of those details and she’s panicking at getting Christmas dinner wrong and having no boyfriend to show off.
She even has been using the Tardis to fix her mistakes rather than accepting them. She is starting to show traits of a perfectionist never giving up, but being faced with the fact that she isn’t perfect and trying to cover it. Later in the episode she says she has a perky personality masking a bossy control freak which has a bit of a negative connotation showing she’s perfectly aware that she is trying too hard to fake a perfect life and mask her insecurities.
It’s not Clara as a character who is lacking in motivation or character traits. What people are likely feeling is the structure of the season — the goal was for fun adventure stories and that, unfortunately, made for a block of episodes in the middle that really weren’t that deep. I quite enjoy a lot of the episodes, but few of the episodes really forced Clara to examine herself — everyone identifies best with a character when the show knocks them down and forces them to climb back up. Clara hasn’t had an episode that forced her to rethink who she is despite having episodes that build up who she is and where she came from.
Also remember that Clara has at least an entire series left and Moffat knew this while planning the last series. While it’s easy to want to compare her to all the other companions, we have to remember that her story isn’t even half finished (she hasn’t even been in a full series yet) and all the other stories have been completed. We can’t pass final judgement yet. With the Doctor’s regeneration, everything she knew is going to be completely thrown off and we already know that she’s not the type of character who will take that easily, we’re going to see her with a new potential love interest, and we’re going to see her in her new job as a school teacher.
There is so much to come that we already know about that it’s hard not to recognize that there is so much yet to see of Clara Oswald and who she will become as she grows because if there’s one thing Moffat loves to do it’s show his characters as they change over time rather than just focusing on a year of their life. You see River Song go from a mentally abused woman with so very many problems to a woman in control of her own life working as a professor of Archaeology. You get to see Amy go from an insecure girl waiting for a hero and unable to settle down to a woman who no longer struggles with hero worship, is no longer running from reality, and who goes after what she wants.
In Clara, we have a more interesting case where we were presented with a character who knew who she was and who values being in complete control of her life. Unlike most companions of the past, Clara didn’t start out with an obvious insecurity over her identity, but instead, the show has been revealing bits about her desire to be in control and get everything right that isn’t quite so obvious at first but is actually in almost all of her episodes. And for the first time, the problems with that part of her personality were more obviously being shown in The Time of the Doctor — she struggles to present herself as in complete control even when she’s not and her life isn’t perfect.
In the end, I think the number of blogs that attack moffat’s characters by simplifying them is getting in the way of recognizing the positive things that should be appreciated about Doctor Who and it’s characters. There can be negative aspects to Moffat’s writing without it being all bad. To really come to a good analysis of these characters, you can’t reduce them to a few traits in order to support a single argument. There needs to be room for both Moffat critisism and Moffat appreciation on Tumblr.