Dr. Who

Oct. 8th, 2007 01:40 pm
porphyry: (Praetorius)
The IMDB assures us that it is a mere coincidence that the villain of King Kong Escapes, though referred to as Dr. Hu, is not Dr. Who of Gallifrey.


I would argue differently.

To describe the situation in the film briefly, it takes place in the near future. The main characters are officers in the UN navy. They always talk about how beneficent and peace loving the UN is (isn’t that always the rhetoric of tyranny?), but their actions tell a different story. At one point a UN Navy lieutenant encounters an armored brigade of the regular Japanese army. When he finds the colonel he starts giving him orders that are immediately obeyed without question. Similarly when another UN naval officer with the rank of Commander has a meeting with a corps commander (3 star General) in the Japanese army, he starts countermanding the General’s orders and is again immediately obeyed. The only explanation for this is that the UN ahs become a dictatorial authority that is actually running the whole planet. It’s the one-world dictatorship of the UN that so many on the right seem to fear. Its not hard to see how this could evolve, based on the expansion of the current US military hegemony, dressed up in internationalist rhetoric. The story is told from their view point. So naturally their enemies, including Dr. Who, are presented as villains.

Another major character is played by Mia Hama, she is a representative of an unnamed country that is preparing to fight against the UN. Naturally she is viewed by the UN officers as a villain (a sort of dragon lady). But seen from a different perspective, she might well be viewed as a freedom fighter against a global tyranny. Certainly she is so moved by common human decency that she has to betray her own national interests to help her enemies when they are put in a very difficult position, an altruism that is inconsistent with the sinister characterizations constantly made of her by the UN officers.

The pivotal character is Dr. Who. True to form he is leading the fight against the UN Tyranny. He is working to supply the resistance forces with advanced military technology. He acts throughout with the same imperturbable self-assurance that we associate with the Doctor. It may be objected that he is prepared to use violence. However, I would say that this episode must come early in his career, before any of the known stories. At this stage resistance to tyranny was his primary motive, but he had not yet perfected his philosophy of non-violence. Indeed he may well have moved in the direction of non-violence by his experiences here, owing to the remarkable failure of this project and misgivings over his exploitative treatment of Kong. There would be nothing exceptional in someone first fighting tyranny by more conventional means, and only later coming to adopt a philosophy of non-violence.

Although his use of torture seems very much out of tune with Dr. Who’s character, its particular features in this case seem to fit with his well-known sense of humor and appreciation of irony. At one point he has captured a group of UN officers and has to have their co-operation. Failing to persuade them with reason and bribery, he uses more co-ercive means. Now, if we assume that the UN tyranny grew out our current operations in Iraq ns Afghanistan, then we can assume that many feature of their rule are based on currently existing models. In particular, they seem to have preserved the current policy of forbidding torture, but specifically allowing certain co-ercive techniques. As is all over the news now, one of the techniques our own soldiers are using is exposure to cold. It is this very technique that Dr. Who uses against the UN officers. No doubt he considered it poetic justice.

Perhaps more damaging to the identification is the off-hand way in which Dr. Who kills a native shaman at one point. The murder is, in fact, prudent, to maintain the secrecy of his operation. While the Dr. Who we know would never do such a thing, it is precisely the sort of cold and calculating action we would expect from him at an earlier stage of development in which he countenanced the use of violence to serve a nobler end. In other words, if the Doctor was going to fight for his chosen cause with violence, this is precisely the way he would do it.

In any case, the Doctor is not entirely opposed to violence. While he generally does not engage in it himself, we know that he is already to help any military organization fighting against daleks, for instance. We also know that he fought with the Philippino army that ended the tyrannical rule of Iceland over the earth, at some time later than events portrayed in the film (in both his personal and absolute chronologies). I am sure someone really familiar with the Doctor’s biography could cite further examples.

Naturally Dr. Who’s physical body is different here than any we have ever seen before, owing to his ability of regenerating in new bodies, either when killed, or after reaching a certain age (his body is, in fact, killed at the end of the film). But he maintains the constant flamboyant style of dress (he actually wears a cape) and has his usually highly idiosyncratic hair style (including wild, menacing eyebrows). These, along with his high-handed manner and extremely eccentric bearing all identify him as the Doctor. Interestingly, the Doctor’s incarnation in this film had Asian racial characteristics, as opposed all of his other personae which were decidedly European in appearance. This gives us some insight into how time lord regeneration works.

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