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Gillan on Moffat Female Character Criticisms

amy-series-6-promo-scarfSome have criticised Steven Moffat and his ability to write for female characters. So how does one of his former female stars feel about this?

Karen Gillan was posed the question at the Sci Fi Expo panel recently and her response was that she doesn’t feel it is justified at all.

She said: “I just don’t understand that because I feel like [with Amy] I had a very rounded, interesting, flawed and layered character to play.

She adds: “And I wore skirts but Steven Moffat had nothing to do with that! He doesn’t care about costumes. So I don’t really understand that if I’ve got to be honest.”

Step back in time...

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508 comments
ShaneMcEntee
ShaneMcEntee

Moffat is sexist and can't write females is just a bandwagon. People had no opinion on it and then somebody said it and made what seemed to be a fair argument so everyone joined in. He writes stronger female characters than some shows where The female is even the LEAD.

WhoPotterVian
WhoPotterVian

You could say any celebrity or show is sexist if you really want to. Dancing On Ice, for example, had a female celebrity go out first. Does that mean it's sexist? Also, take Saturday Night Takeaway. That features only one woman in a recurring part. Does that mean Ant and Dec are sexist? The answer to both of those is 'no'. 

shayndickens
shayndickens

I've never understood the mentality people seem  to have about Moffat being this sexist pig who is terrible at writing women. It's an absolutely ridiculous claim to make because, if people watched the show, they'd know the claims are completely unfounded. Sure he has this thing where he tends to write strong woman similarly (see: River and Clara) but that isn't inherently a negative thing, as those characters are fantastic to watch.

Polyphase
Polyphase

It's not like Karen would say that Moff wrote her character poorly, Obviously she is going to be positive. I've always thought that the female characters he writes are not the type of girl you would take home to see your Mum

RoryTheRoman
RoryTheRoman

Amy was fine, but I really don't like what he did to River. After creating her in Library of the Dead, he seemed to have created an interesting character. But then... I don't know what happened, but Series 6 turned me off her. I now hate the River Song character. I don't think it's the actresses fault though. I think it's the writing of that particular character.






Jamesss
Jamesss

I do find it quite annoying that when anyone says anything anti-Moffat on here, people *have* to reply telling you why exactly your opinion is wrong. When people praise Moffat usually they just get a bazillion likes and nobody replies other than "YEP SO RIGHT"

Pockydon
Pockydon

Amy Pond is one of my favourite female characters ever, and Moffat has written a lot of absolutely brilliant females. River, Vastra, Jenny, Sally Sparrow, Madame de Pompadour. I'm not female, so I suppose I'm not on the receiving end of any sexism that might be going on, but even if there is sexism, I really can't see Moffat doing it deliberately. 

Judge Claude Frollo
Judge Claude Frollo

I never understood people's criticisms of Moffat's female characters. In my opinion, RTD made worse female characters.

Rose was great in S1, but she started getting whiny and jealous during S2. Compare Amy, who was loyal to Rory (at least after they married).

Martha was good, but she had too bland a character during some episodes and in other episodes they focused too much on her 'unrequited love'. Compare River, who was also bad*** and clearly loved the Doctor, but focused on other, more important things.

Donna was by far RTD's best character. She was funny, brave, and even caring. However, during her earlier episodes she was far too arrogant and selfish. Compare Clara, who despite having some lacklustre portrayals, generally never went overboard any always thought of other people.

I don't hate RTD's female characters, nor his tenure-I like them. But Moffat is better in character development.

Kylephantom4
Kylephantom4

Anyone else seen karen as nebula yet in the guardians of the galaxy teaser? She looks hot!

Deus_Ex_Machina
Deus_Ex_Machina

The only woman I could possibly make an argument against is Amy, but I don't really see an issue with her. Other than that, I don't see any problems with any of his other female characters.

Nightmarish
Nightmarish

I quite liked Amy! As Karen said, she was a well-rounded and interesting character. I never understood people's complaints about River either, she was smart and also tough, though not nearly as well-rounded and deep as Amy.

ShaneMcEntee
ShaneMcEntee

@Polyphase  But why should they be? Does that make it's sexist. All women aren't "girl next door" innocents.  If all his women where "take home to mum" characters, then that would be sexist. And I for one would take Clara home. Who wouldn't love Clara?



He writes women who don't fit to the "be a good girl and do what your told" archetype which is why they aren't "take home to mum" women, but also why they'e not generic "what a woman should be" sexist stereotypes.

Amy the Consulting Key Ring
Amy the Consulting Key Ring

@Polyphase  "Obviously she is going to be positive."

-Or, here's a thought: Maybe she is being honest.

Wild, I know.


"I've always thought that the female characters he writes are not the type of girl you would take home to see your Mum"


- I certainly wouldn't take Rose home. She would probably insult my mom and trivialize our "boring" lives.




Pockydon
Pockydon

I think the only truly bad female character out of both eras has been the series 2 version of Rose. A lot of her problems were seeded in series 1, but they really came to the forefront in series 2. I wont go over them because those complaints have been done to death (just watch Welshy's video if you really wanna know), but other than her, I've loved every companion since. Martha was an amazing example of unrequited love, Donna was just perfect, Amy is one of my favourite characters of all time and Clara was just a very interesting mystery.

stargazer0118
stargazer0118

@Clara Prefect  Amy wanted a one-time stand with the Doctor THE DAY BEFORE HER WEDDING....  I think that's awful character development and a bad role model for young girls.  


Clara has had so little character development and was basically just a puzzle for the Doctor to resolve. She became a plot point rather than a real character. She is so forgettable I don't care if she lives or she dies.  Well maybe she becomes more realistic in S8. I still don't care enough about her.  


River is a Mary Sue who constantly flirts with the Doctor and often says words like spoilers or hello sweetie.  I'm not impressed.





BeyondThePolice
BeyondThePolice

@Deus_Ex_Machina  Amy is Moffat's most well-rounded character. Sherlock, the Doctor, Rory, River; he writes them all well, but with Amy we see her entire life, how it fits together, and how her character changed from a little girl to an adult to a fiancee to a married woman to a member of an aging couple up until her separation from the Doctor. She's by far the most well-rounded companion we've ever had.

Jamesss
Jamesss

Yes, one that is clearly bias.

Amy the Consulting Key Ring
Amy the Consulting Key Ring

@stargazer0118 @Clara Prefect  "Amy wanted a one-time stand with the Doctor THE DAY BEFORE HER WEDDING....  I think that's awful character development and a bad role model for young girls."

- Because she was broken, and frightened, and confused, and nervous. That was an intentional demonstration of her character's flaws, and she was admonished for it and grew out of it.

"Well maybe she becomes more realistic in S8"

- She is plenty realistic as it is... she is a person with her own opinions and a life and responsibilities and family and a childhood.  It isn't spelled out in big, bold letters on-screen, but why should it be? Not every companion's life has to go the soap opera route by giving us a ten-minute stroll of their everyday life and having their moms nag at them to say "Look at how modern and accessible we are!!!"

"River is a Mary Sue"

- As JackArtaganMackenna pointed out, "Mary Sue" is a terribly lazy all-purpose faux-criticism that people use to automatically dismiss any female character that they don't like. It has no credibility.



" who constantly flirts with the Doctor and often says words like spoilers or hello sweetie"

- Oh my, a character with a flirty personality and a particular way of speaking? Absolutely ghoulish. I could say the same thing about the Tenth Doctor constantly whining and being rude while saying "allons-y" and "I'm so sorry" a lot. "Not impressed."








JackArtaganMackenna
JackArtaganMackenna

If you use the term ''Mary Sue'' you automatically lose credibility here, sorry.


The Doctor is quite possibly the most Mary Sue-est character ever, but nobody whines about that.

RoryTheRoman
RoryTheRoman

@stargazer0118 @Clara Prefect  I pretty much agree, though I found myself liking Clara in the 50th and Christmas special. Here's hoping there is character development in series 8!




Judge Claude Frollo
Judge Claude Frollo

Amy never flirted with anyone else seriously after that little incident. Except maybe that time she flirted with herself, but we don't even know if that's canon.

Clara improved a lot during the events of Day. Once she learned about the Doctor's true past, she showed a lot of her compassion and wit. Let's not forget the Time Lords wouldn't have given the Doctor another chance if not for her.

River? A Mary Sue? I remember that a Mary Sue is someone that everyone adores and easily forgives. The Doctors does love River, but he isn't head over heels with her. And he is pissed of with her sometimes. Definetly not a Mary Sue.

Pockydon
Pockydon

That's a little thing called character growth. The Doctor messed up Amy's entire childhood, remember? Her entire arc was about forgetting the man who made her wait and choosing the man who waited for her. 

Clara has the unique position of her being the mystery rather than the Doctor, which I think is a very interesting and unique twist on the role of the companion. 

And River Song is the very model of an independent and free woman who makes her own choices and doesn't conform to what she's expected to be - she's supposed to kill the Doctor, so she decides to marry him. She's an absolute badass, and again, a brilliant mystery.

McTardis
McTardis

@stargazer0118 @Clara Prefect  Ah Amy trying to have a one-time stand with the Doctor was not character development, it was apart of her flawed personality at the start of the series, beginning with her running away with the Doctor the night before her wedding. And yes although it may be somewhat inappropriate for kids, I think most would react to it with comedy, and Amy does develop in character and becomes much more mature later in the series. As for Clara, yeah she does need a bit of character development, however Moffat is still to show any of her character flaws, so far Clara's been pretty perfect, which is somewhat annoying, but at the same time I still think Clara's great, and of the the better companions of New Who.



Deus_Ex_Machina
Deus_Ex_Machina

Well exactly. What I'm saying is that I see why people complain about Amy, but I completely disagree with them. Other than that, I can't see how anyone could have an issue with any of the other female characters.

Nightmarish
Nightmarish

True. Still, one of the complaints I've seen is that Moffat's female characters are too similar, but I don't find River and Amy similar. Or either of them and Clara. And for me there were clear differences in Tasha and River, though they did have several similar characteristics.

Jamesss
Jamesss

I can think of quite a few, actually.

JackArtaganMackenna
JackArtaganMackenna

Yep.

And TBH I don't think I'd be quite the same person if it wasn't for Moffat's lady characters. I grew up watching Press Gang and Lynda Day is / was important to me.

JackArtaganMackenna
JackArtaganMackenna

No, honey. Argueing that the term is sexist, and redefining the term itself, are two different things.


Please learn what that difference is.


Your argument is ludicrous anyway, because ''Mary Sue'' is a /made up definition/.


Unsubscribing from this conversation, as I'm getting nothing of value from it. Bye! :)

HohenheimOL
HohenheimOL

@JackArtaganMackenna Then it's a good thing I'm not just repeating it. I'm telling you the textbook definition. Just because you think it's used for sexist purposes doesn't what the term actually means.You are imposing your own made up definition, plain and simple. I hate to break it to you, but you don't get to redefine words on a whim. That's just not how it works.

JackArtaganMackenna
JackArtaganMackenna

Simply repeating ''it has nothing to do with gender politics'' doesn't make the term ''Mary Sue'' any less sexist, sorry.


As the article points out, it is a double standard. Male characters are never questioned if they have amazing powers, but women are expected to /earn them/ lest they be labelled a "Mary Sue".

HohenheimOL
HohenheimOL

@JackArtaganMackenna Well, for starters, you should read my post, in which I clearly state that the main issue is your incorrect definition. So that challenging your definition thing already happened, I only mentioned Tumblr because you cited it as if it were a credible source.

Mary Sue has nothing to do with gender politics, it denotes a badly written character(usually an author avatar), who has an improbable degree of power, and lack of any flaw, for no good reason. It has absolutely nothing to do with gender politics, and is a perfectly legitimate label to use when applicable.

This isn't to say I condone calling every character ever to do something cool a Mary Sue, because that would be improper usage of the term. Basically every major character in Doctor Who has a decently developed human element to them, and even River/The Doctor have very real limits, so the term doesn't really even belong a discussion of Doctor Who.

So to answer your question, your definition of "Mary Sue" was outright false. What you posted about River and Clara is subjective, but I'm inclined to agree that they are very far removed from being Mary Sues, and to claim they are is absurd.

Notsosmartguy
Notsosmartguy

The warrior sue Actually sounds more like Rose Tyler

JackArtaganMackenna
JackArtaganMackenna

Are you going to actually acknowledge and challenge what I posted, or is your only argument ''Durr, it's from Tumblr''?

HohenheimOL
HohenheimOL

@JackArtaganMackenna You do realize that Tumblr is not a good site to quote definitions from, right? They practically specialize in making up definitions and arbitrarily assigning them to words and phrases. Mary Sue is not about sexism, it's about a badly written character.

JackArtaganMackenna
JackArtaganMackenna

(Imagines Clara doing Matrix-like stunts before blowing a kiss to the camera)

JackArtaganMackenna
JackArtaganMackenna

River isn't loud or obnoxious either. In fact, in ToA/FaS she quietly gets on with fixing the portal while the /Doctor/ is the one throwing a big tantrum.

TheOncomingHurricane
TheOncomingHurricane

@stargazer0118 @JackArtaganMackenna  'The Warrior!Sue is usually loud, obnoxious and (of course) an amazing warrior. She'll usually have some tragic past that led her to become a warrior, and she'll upstage all of the characters with her mad Sueish powerz.'


Clara, most of whose victories have been through appeals to compassion, a WARRIOR SUE?!


That's the funniest thing I have ever heard!  

JackArtaganMackenna
JackArtaganMackenna

"The idea that woman has to “earn” any power, praise, love, or plot prominence is central to Mary Sue.  Men do not have to do this, they are naturally assumed to be powerful, central and loveable. That’s why it’s the first thing thrown at a female character- what has she done to be given the same consideration as a male character? Why is she suddenly usurping a male role? “Mary Sue” is the easiest way to dismiss a character. It sounds bad to say “I don’t like this female character. I don’t like that this woman is powerful. I don’t like it when the plot focuses on her. I don’t like that a character I like has affections for her.”  But “Mary Sue” is a way to say these things without really saying them. It gives you legitimacy." From ''Mary Sue, What Are You?'' by adventuresofcomicbookgirl on Tumblr.

JackArtaganMackenna
JackArtaganMackenna

The term Mary Sue is sexist, but this forum won't let me post a link explaining as to why.

Neither River nor Clara are perfect.

stargazer0118
stargazer0118

@JackArtaganMackenna  Definition of Mary Sue: A female fanfiction character who is so perfect as to be annoying. Often, the Mary Sue is a self-insert with a few "improvements" (ex. better body, more popular, etc). The Mary Sue character is almost always beautiful, smart, etc... In short, she is the "perfect" girl. The Mary Sue usually falls in love with the author's favorite character(s) and winds up upstaging all of the other characters in the book/series/universe.  

There are several main types of Mary Sue: Warrior!Sues: The Warrior!Sue is usually loud, obnoxious and (of course) an amazing warrior. She'll usually have some tragic past that led her to become a warrior, and she'll upstage all of theCanonical characters with her mad Sueish powerz.  

Sounds a lot like River and Clara to me.



Amy the Consulting Key Ring
Amy the Consulting Key Ring

Yes, that, so much. Just the other day, I was thinking to myself about how hard it was for me to imagine Amy acting the way that Clara did in "Hide".

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

@Amy the Consulting Commentator  Agreed, Clara, in her reactions to danger, is to me much more like Rory, as she accepts it but doesn't enjoy it, whereas Amy is much more gung ho! I think of Hide, whereas she really didn't want to look for the ghost, or NOTD where she mentioned how she hated catacombs...

Amy the Consulting Key Ring
Amy the Consulting Key Ring

I find River and Amy to be vaguely similar in outline, but that makes sense considering their relation. Clara, on the other hand, is like neither of them. Even the Oswin variant is distinguishable from River despite how flirty she was (actually, I would say that she was far more flirty than River, and mind, she was literally a mere fragment of the original Clara, so she was just an aspect of one whole person who isn't actually that flirty, ironically enough - maybe the splintering process stripped away parts of the fragments' personalities, thereby allowing others to come to the surface), because River, despite her flirting, is actually quite level-headed, and she is more assertive than Oswin was. And speaking of assertive, Tasha was more so than River, and yes, there were differences between the two. Subtle differences, but still noticeable upon examination. All in all, I actually find Moffat's female characters to be quite vaired.