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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Should ‘Doctor Who’ be shooting in Dubai?

The next-up Doctor Who special, “Planet of the Dead,” has recently been shooting in the Arab emirate of Dubai. Why? According to show producer Tracie Simpson:

The locations in Dubai are a perfect match for writer Russell T Davies’s vision of the episode and we expect to film some incredible scenes while we are here.

What’s the big deal? Well, Davies is, of course, also the executive producer of Doctor Who, and he’s been called — thanks to the progressive themes of equality and reason he’s promoted in all of his work, not just Who — the most influential gay man in Britain (though he is rankled by that). And Dubai treats homosexuality as a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Why on Earth would Davies give the okay to shoot in such a place?

And there are so many more reasons to dislike Dubai. Gareth McLean at the Guardian’s TV blog summed it all up beautifully:

Picture the scene: the Tardis materialises in a windswept desert under a blistering sun and the Doctor steps out on to an undulating dune. Beyond the sands, there is a glittering capital full of futuristic skyscrapers, extravagant edifices and peoples from all over the planet in pursuit of pleasure in the metropolis’s plentiful fun palaces. But there is a sinister side to this sparkling city. It is built on slave labour, at an enormous ecological cost, and some of its population is criminalised just for being who they are. Moreover, it is ruled by a rich-as-Croesus dynasty unwilling to give its people that most basic of rights – the vote – while its police and judiciary are no strangers to excessive force and Kafka-esque machinations. In short, it’s just the sort of place that the Doctor – the moral, courageous Doctor with his beliefs in equality and justice and difference – would find cause to fight for right and justice.

Am I wrong to be upset about this? Should Doctor Who be shooting in Dubai?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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