The Misconception of Amy Pond
5.01 “The Eleventh Hour”
Rory: How can he be real? He was never real! It was just a game. We were- we were kids. You made me dress up as him!
Right here, with this quote, I knew the characterization of Amy Pond was going to go seriously awry.
Kids love to play pretend, don’t they?
Moffat was a Who fan as a kid, right? I bet he played Doctor Who pretend. Yet somehow I don’t think he assigned the role of Doctor to others. I mean, the Doctor is the hero! You don’t assign that role to another kid! You fight for your right to be the Doctor! Maybe you take turns with who gets to be him. Maybe there’s three Doctors running around at the same time and it gets a big squiggly. But whatever you do, you don’t freely abdicate the hero role.
Unless you’re a girl.
Steven Moffat could not conceive of a little Amelia Pond who would look at the magical Doctor and his blue box and want to be him. He assumed she would want to be with him instead.
Actual little girls, however, are well-versed in this problem. I know I had a lot of contradictory feelings about Indiana Jones. (“He’s so dreamy!” “I want to be an archaeologist when I grow up!” “Mom, can I have a whip for my birthday?”) Most of the heroes- the characters it’s most fun to imagine being- are dudes. If you also happen to find some of those dudes attractive, you’re going to develop the “I want to be you/I want to be with you” duality. This is something that straight guys like Moffat have not needed to deal with, as characters for them were nicely divided into a binary of those they want to be (male heroes) and those they want to be with (the hot ladies male heroes get).
So when Moffat created Amelia he projected this binary on to her, but reversed it. She’s a girl! The Doctor is a dude! Obviously she wants to be with him! I’m not even sure he realizes it’s possible for Amelia to want to be the Doctor. Yes, if someone asked him directly if he thought little girls wanted to grow up to be the Doctor he’d probably agree, but the point is it didn’t occur to him when he was actually writing her character.
And so she becomes The Girl Who Waited, waited for the hero’s return, and not The Girl Who Dreamed, dreamed of being the hero.
Amelia Pond, drawing Doctor fanart in crayon- are you our on-screen fangirl cypher? Dreaming of what male creators think we want: romance! With an awkward, unnecessary love triangle! Uh, girls love that, right?
Enter the series 7 promo still.
I look at this and think- what fantasy does this appeal to? That’s no hero shot, not of Amy Pond.
The girl who waited, carried away.
It’s everything that’s been there from the beginning, that we’ve tried to put aside. The misconception of Amy Pond. As the love interest, the sidekick, and not the hero. In the hero’s arms and not the hero.
Where is the image of Amy Pond, hero? Why can’t that sell the show? Why a damsel in distress shot?
Ah, but we don’t want to confuse the little boys, the mini-Moffats, by making them want to be her, instead of just be with her. How weird that would be!
So Amy will stay as she is, in the Doctor’s arms, safe.