Critical Viewership and the Doctor Strange Film

Critical Viewership and the Doctor Strange Film

Hello Rebel, and welcome back to my life.

So, I didn’t talk about this when it happened, because there’s always so much going on, but I saw Doctor Strange, and I wanted to talk to you about it a little bit.

I won’t give any major spoilers, but if you still haven’t seen it and you don’t want to know ANYTHING about it, you might want to steer clear.

First off, let’s get this out of the way: the movie is really well put together.

The story is awesome. It opens up parts of the Marvel universe we’ve never seen before, the acting is fantastic.

The resolution of the story is a bit unlike anything we’ve ever seen before from Marvel, and I really really liked that.

Marvel villains, other than Loki, are pretty terrible, and this movie is no exception. And it set up a better villain for the NEXT film, but still not a super great one, so meh.

But all in all, great movie. I liked it a lot. But.

Doctor Strange is problematic, and I want to talk about why.

First off, if you don’t already know about this, I hate to be the one to tell you, but Benedict Cumberbatch has said some pretty terrible things about autism.

You should google it and see for yourself, but it includes comparing autistic people to Frankenstein’s monster. It’s … it’s not good.

Doctor Strange also has a whitewashing problem. The character of the Ancient One is traditionally Asian, but is played in the movie by Tilda Swindon, who is to white people what white people are to people of color.

They did balance it somewhat by casting another traditionally white character as a person of color, but considering that most of the movie takes place in Asia, there are very, very few Asian characters in major roles.

Now, on this subject, Scott Derrickson, the director, DID address the issue and sort of explained why this happened, and apologized, and promised to do better in the future.

That’s pretty great, because typically when something like this happens, Marvel and Disney totally ignore it. Just acknowledging it is a step up from the past.

But it still happened. And that’s something we have to consider. And with all that said, how can I say I liked the movie?

Well this is when we come to critically viewing the media we consume.

We can be critical and analytical of the things we watch and enjoy even while we continue to enjoy them.

I think that if we’re aware of social issues at all, we HAVE to be critical. But that doesn’t have to stop us from enjoying media we like.

It just means we have a slightly more complicated relationship with fiction—or, for that matter, with celebrities or politicians.

And I think that acknowledging that complexity is one of the best ways to eventually bring about a change for the better when it comes to entertainment and the people who create it.

Because it allows us to say, “Dear Mr. Cumberbatch, I like your work and think you’re a tremendous actor. But would you please address the fact that you’ve said things which are harmful to people with autism.”

The goal here isn’t to make Cumberbatch feel like a piece of crap. It’s to make him acknowledge and address the issue and do better in the future.

And we can give him the benefit of the doubt that he WILL address these issues considering he does a lot of other charitable work, like funding cancer research and the Children’s Defense fund.

We don’t have to immediately cut off and boycott everyone who does ANYTHING problematic, unless they show a long-standing habit of behavior that they refuse to change.

This doesn’t mean we excuse or explain away crappy behavior. It means we give the person a chance to correct themselves before we jump all over them.

And being a more responsible consumer of media is one way—albeit a very small one—that we can maybe eventually achieve the cultural change we want to see as socially aware people.

So in summary: Doctor Strange. Very fun. Good movie. But let’s do what we can to make sure they do better next time, with the film, and with the people involved in making it.

That’s it for today, Rebel. If you want more stuff like this, including weekend videos for people who support the channel, I hope you’ll consider checking out my Patreon page.

And right over there you should see a video that YouTube seems to think you might enjoy. Maybe give it a little look-see.

Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you on Friday. Byyye!

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at garrettbrobinson.com.

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