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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On Peter Capaldi and my blue hair

So Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor. This reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to blog about:

Part of my hair is now bright blue. This is not the non sequitur it seems to be.

No sooner was the announcement made that the actor taking over the lead role on Doctor Who is 55 (four years older than I -- gasp!), than we started to get comments like this one from the website Den of Geek: “Having an older actor in the role arguably switches the focus of the show once again. That's not to say it won't still be frenetic and action packed, but Capaldi brings something different. It presumably cuts out the romantic hints and tinges between the Doctor and his companion for one, going back to the first appearance of the character as more of a father/grandfather figure....”

Because, y’know, the shift to a more sexualized Doctor couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with an overall relaxing of decency standards on British TV and a seismic shift in the culture since 1963. It’s all down to the actor’s age.

It’s a case of straightforward ageism. Fifty-five is old, and old is asexual. Old is grandfatherly. Old is icky. (If you think this overstates the case, just spend a few minutes searching Peter Capaldi on Tumblr or Twitter, if you dare. I assure you, “icky” is mild. Though to be fair, by now, most of what you'll find online is backlash against the ageist backlash.)

By the way, this is Peter Capaldi.

Which brings me to my blue hair. A few people have wondered why I did that, given the fact that I made a big deal about not dying my hair anymore. So, to explain:

I don’t object to dyed hair. I object to the notion that grey hair must be eradicated. There’s nothing wrong with choosing to color your grey hair, as long as it’s a choice. But as long as we live in a society that treats it as a requirement, it’s not a choice, and it won’t be a choice until enough people choose not to. I jumped on that train.

Part of battling assumptions about grey hair is pushing back on the terror of aging and concomitant youth worship that characterize our culture. In fact, we go to such lengths to hide our age that the whole topic makes us intensely uncomfortable -- hence the fact that very, very few people ever even commented on my grey, despite the obviousness of the change. You have to ask yourself, what are the subconscious assumptions people make when they see grey? Could it be, for example, the absence of sexuality? (Hello, Den of Geek and large swaths of Who fandom.) A lack of vigor? The death of fun?

So that’s what the blue hair is about. It's meant to signal that my sense of fun is not dead. My enjoyment of life is not over. Granted, it’s a pretty simplistic -- one might even say, juvenile -- response. As rebellions go, it's pretty weak. But it makes me happy, at least for now. It gives me a fairly obvious way to defy at least some of those offensive expectations. I don’t think I’ll keep it forever, though. It’ll probably be gone by the time Peter Capaldi hits my TV screen in Doctor Who. Or not. Time will tell.


Anonymous said...

Love the hair and love this post. His predictable white maleness aside, I'm pretty excited about Capaldi and looking forward to what he'll bring to the role.

StaceyUK said...

Loving the hair!