My Emotionally Abusive Relationship with Daphne Du Maurier

I can say with unshakeable certainty that Rebecca is one of the best horror novels I’ve ever read. It wasn’t an action-packed gore-fest like many books of the same genre, but in my mind that’s what makes it one of the greats.

It’s a British novel positively dripping with atmosphere and dramatic tension with an excellent pay-off.

It’s for this reason that I’ve found many other of Du Maurier’s works to be…less than stellar.

After reading Rebecca, I thought I had discovered an unsung hero of classic literature. Why had I gone so many years without knowing who Daphne Du Maurier is? Why had I been deprived of knowing her name?

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I looked farther into her works and rejoiced to find My Cousin Rachel, a novel that promised more atmospheric English countrysides, three-dimensional characters, an intriguing storyline and a gut-punch ending…..

Well, three out of four isn’t bad….

You see, the more you read Daphne Du Maurier, the more it seems that you run into this problem. The woman can write. She is a wonder at creating haunting environments, interesting characters and working up mysteries.

The problem is, more often than not, her endings tend to be woefully underwhelming. And when they aren’t, they’re just frigging weird.

One such example is Don’t Look Now wherein a couple that has just lost their child decide to go on holiday to Italy. While there they meet a pair of elderly twins, one of which purports to be psychic and prophesies doom for John, the main character. Well, the story keeps you on the tips of your toes in true Du Maurier fashion. Red-herring after red-herring is thrown at you, Then…the climax and……!

He’s murdered by a serial-killing midget…..

A serial….killing…midget….

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Kay, that was f*cking weird, but the next ones gotta be….!

Okay, guy is randomly murdered and random weird greek symbolism that doesn’t…really relate to the climax…

Okay, this next one will….! Okay, massive homophobia-

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In spite of the many times she’s disappointed me, I just can’t give up on her.

She’s just good enough at what she does that she is able to draw me in again and again. But those endings…man, those endings kill me. And not in a good way.

I just don’t understand how someone could have such a strong character and personality, only to demure when it matters the most. She makes all of these promises and she never keeps them. She beguiles me with gorgeous imagery and diction, only to leave me crumpled on the floor like a used tissue.

Why? Does she feel too much pressure to perform? Am I more invested than she is? Has she just moved on to bigger and better things?

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Why, Daphne? Why didn’t Rachel just kill Philip when she had the chance? It doesn’t make sense, Daphne.

I’m currently working on Jamaica Inn and I’m fretful that I’ll drudge through it and experience the same kind of disappointment again. But I’m just so curious….I have to know what happens.

Maybe this time will be different. Maybe she will have that jarring jump-out-of-your-pants ending I’ve been waiting for. I mean, it’s not like all her endings were that, bad right? Maybe I was being too hard on her. Perhaps I’m the one to blame for my high expectations.

I’ll give you another shot, Daphne.

I can’t quit you.

Man, The 13th Doctor’s A Woman: My Super Late Thoughts On The First Female Doctor

This reaction is so late that it borders on irrelevance, however, I wrote a majority of it the week it was announced so I wanted to publish it anyway. 

So…yeah…here you go:

^ What happens when you leave a professional media major alone on the weekend.

So, in spite of the super subtle *cough* hints from the show-runner that The Doctor could be a woman like-

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and-

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I think many fans were still surprised by the announcement that the 13th Doctor is going to be a woman.

Surprised and…perhaps a bit perturbed.

When I discovered Jodie Whittaker was going to be the Doctoro numero trece, I went through a whole roster of emotion. The first and most prominent one being–

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This was the most random casting choice I’d ever heard of. Sure, I knew Chris Chibnail had worked with her on Broadchurch but…..the bitchy mother from Broadchurch?! The bitchy mother from Broadchurch is going to be The Doctor?!

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However, the longer I thought about it, the more this idea seemed like a good one. I don’t know much about Jodie Whittaker, but I know from what I’ve seen of her that she can act.

Okay. I’ll give this a shot.

Then, as I thought about it even more, I realized that this could potentially be the best thing that has happened to Doctor Who in years.

I already addressed this in posts previously, but, no matter how many people insist this show will last forever, it probably won’t. And the surest way to make sure that it suffers a premature death is by continuing to do the same crap over and over as it has done unapologetically for the last six years.

Making The Doctor a woman is the surest way to wipe the slate clean, to show us a new angle and convince us to care. I couldn’t be arsed if The Doctor thinks he’s a good person anymore. I don’t care if the universe is in danger. It’s in danger every frigging episode. I need to be persuaded to give a crap again.

This is new. This gives us a completely new color pallet to work with. This is something we’ve never seen before. And considering this is a show that is nearing its 54th birthday, that’s saying something.

I’m invested now.

I care.

Aaaaaaaaand now it’s time to address the controversy-

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As with any Doctor, the casting choice has left the fanbase divided. However, unlike in Doctors past, this one spurs controversy for a completely different reason.

No points for guessing why.

Now, considering the tongue baths I just gave to making the choice to hire a woman as the starring role, my opinion on the opposition to The Doctor being a woman might surprise you.

When people say they don’t want a female Doctor… I kind of get where they’re coming from.

Some people might not want a woman to play The Doctor simply due to their sexist perspectives, nonetheless, I don’t believe that this is the majority.

I’m willing to give most the benefit of a doubt because many people who didn’t particularly like Capaldi’s Doctor (a.k.a people like me) were often pigeonholed as being ageist and shallow.

Oh, you don’t like the 12th Doctor? Well, he’s old so that must mean you don’t like him because you can’t imagine him as a boyfriend anymore. Go back to watching Twilight. 

It’s a lazy argument and–while it was justified in some cases–most of the time it was just used as a scapegoat so people didn’t have to defend the poor direction and bad writing choices used when it came to the 12th Doctor.

But the people that are opposed to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor haven’t even seen her in action yet. They’re basing their opinions of her entirely on her gender!

Yeah but the BBC kind of packaged her that way.

All we saw her do was peal off her hood and walk towards the TARDIS. We didn’t hear her say anything cool, interact with companions, or anything.

It’s obvious that the main focus was meant to be on the fact that The Doctor is a female.

I could see how someone could interpret this negatively as Doctor Who has become more brazen in recent years with its political opinions and, whether you agree with the messages they espouse or not, Doctor Who is generally pretty bad at telling political stories.

Most attempts come across as ham-fisted, choosing to paint people with opposing ideologies as inherently evil or stupid (usually both). What’s worse is the stories themselves often can’t stand alone without the context of current events and are usually boring or convoluted, lacking the gravitas that the subjects they are addressing deserve. Some may argue that the over simplification is due to Doctor Who being a kid’s show, but then I would have to point out that this show has also discussed mass genocide so…yeah. The argument that nuance is too mature for this show is a bit moot.

Sylvester McCoy recently bragged in an interview that during his tenure, the show mocked Margret Thatcher mercilessly, creating plots with a political edge designed to protest her and her policies.

What happened after that?

Oh yeah.

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Regardless, I honestly think this could potentially be a great decision, provided they go at it from just the right angle. Some claim that her gender is completely irrelevant, but I think it’s a topic that needs to be addressed.

In spite of what many claim, there are differences between men and women, both physiological and psychological, and I think it would be a great idea to explore some of those concepts. I’m not saying they should make stereotypical jokes about women at her expense or that we must constantly bring attention to the fact that she is no longer a male, but since The Doctor has never been a woman before this is a great opportunity to explore the concept of gender and how it affects a person’s worldview or how the world perceives that individual.

There are so many ways to do this right that they just have to make a good character out of this.

I have a lot of confidence in Chris Chibnall as a character writer so I have faith that he isn’t just using this as a way to pander to progressives. In his hands I’m hoping Doctor Who will regain the magic and wonder it once had and bring in the viewers it started losing midway Matt Smith’s tenure.