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     Home »  Torchwood - Series 1 »  Strange morality
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    Strange morality Views: 1789
     Wednesday, November 29 2006 @ 02:46 PM EST
    Hi,

    Some spoilers below for some episodes 1-7.

    I like all the episodes that I've seen so far, except for country club. I would watch that episode too though.

    It seems like a recurring theme that killing occurs with no emotional reaction or at least a very strange reaction, from the people in torchwood, except perhaps in the worst example of violence: country club.

    In country club, we are supposed to be disturbed that the killers don't feel any sympathy for the people they kill. Yet, the same can be said of the torchwood people when they kill without batting an eye.

    I think this mirrors a theme in American movies, that has changed it's tone since other people in my country have been openly advocating torture. I take it as something that speaks to people who are making justifications for violence.

    Doctor Who has had a healthy morality as far as I have seen. I don't like the moral tone that seems to linger around torchwood, regarding violence. I don't mind the sex stuff. Actually, some of the awkwardness of how the sex scenes are directed is amusing and a little endearing.

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     Wednesday, November 29 2006 @ 04:38 PM EST
    Hi there,

    this is my first post here so: Hello! Now that this is out of the way...

    I think of reading or hearing somewhere that Russel T. Davies stated, one of the main themes of Doctor Who is death (at least I think it was him who said that). In a certain way this is even more true about Torchwood.

    I do not think that this is a theme especially connected to America. Being from Germany this is a very important and nearly unbelievable truth I discovered from learning this countryīs history when I was young. But looking upon history itself, one cannot say that this isnīt a human theme in general, although it is the most in-human.

    I personally think that it is naive not to realize that history is full of justifications for violence. We use to always look upon our own country in our time, but it simply is not true. Which does not justify any action that is undertaken with the purpose to harm any human being, anytime.

    And I think this is something to bear in mind while watching a show like Torchwood. I think (but this is only my personal opinion) that this episode was not about being disturbed by the missing sympathy of the killers, but about the act itself. Cannibalism (again a theme that Germans were confronted with not so long ago) is such a disturbing and disgusting thing, that the question of emotion does not work here. I think this is reflected in Gwenīs question at the end, when she wants to know why they did it.

    I think what Torchwood tries to reflect is a certain change in popular culture itself. Since the nineties the tone in many areas has grown darker and darker. And not only when it comes to the theme of violence, but look upon many television series and movies, as well as books (and even music): the dystopian age. It was said about Stanley Kubrick that he regarded humanity as bitter-sweet, and this is - in my opinion - a mild expression. The difference between Doctor Who and Torchwood is that in DW a lot of the inhuman actions are undertaken not by humans and - it being a family-show - I sometimes think is not so light itself regarding especially the actions of Daleks and Cybermen. So I donīt know if I would call it healthy morality, it is more of a disguised morality. And that has become rare today when the most popular Science-Fiction-Shows are the ones where aliens are missing and is all about what humans can do to each other.

    Most of the entertainment wo consume comes from the US, and it more and more is about "darker" themes. But as I view it is has change some time before 9/11 or the current Gulf war. And they were always there, not to that extent and, I think, we were not so sensitive to them in the past.



    Frown - o wow... that has become pretty serious itself. Iīm sorry about that, we are talking about entertainment, but after doing cultural sciences for sometime now, I became more and more aware of how serious the areas are getting that were and still are seen as escapistic. Perhaps it is the need felt by people like Russel T. Davies, to adress important and serious matters even in a family show (not speaking about "Queer as folk" or "The Second Coming") In Torchood he can do that pretty much without restraints.

    It was a long way since "I love Lucy", that is for sure... But I prefer that any time to what is produced by and for German television and film, at least most of it.

    Something really deeply strange is going on here, and if something strange is happening, I want it to be happening to me...
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     Wednesday, November 29 2006 @ 07:04 PM EST

    One of the problems occurring in American society is the permissiveness regarding improper behavior, especially when it comes to violent behavior. People are not being taken to task for their actions and blame for any harm is rather being placed on various third parties and/or the victims of the acts and anywhere else but not with the perpetrator. Worse off, we see the glorification of improper behavior in popular culture, which is desensitizing the society to the destructive nature of such behavior. I see this happenning on both ends of the political spectrum as well as the middle.

    Daleks don't accept apologies! YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!
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     Thursday, November 30 2006 @ 01:01 AM EST
    More substantial spoilers below.




    For Future Doctor, I don't think I really disagree with anything you said. But, I think I didn't do very good job of characterizing what I saw as strange morality.

    Some examples of what I meant about strange morality are in episode 1, where they don't express any sort of horror or grief about the person being killed by the wevil, back at torchwood. Gwen acts horrified but they are very cool about the event.

    Also, in cyberwoman where again there is little horror or grief expressed about the guy getting mutilated during the failed conversion, and Ianto is accepted back without much hesitation. The crime seems to be waking up a cyberman, and not anything to do with killing the cybernetics guy.

    And in episode 7 where captain jack send mary to the center of the sun without expressing any regret about it.

    This is my second post here. Hi. My knowledge of Doctor Who is pretty vague from the late 70s and early 80s when I saw it sometimes on television.

    I suddenly remembered Doctor Who a while back and have watched series 1 - 71 so far. So, right now it's Jon Pertwee who yells "Haaai!" a lot before Karate chopping people who stand still enough and in position.

    Shortly after I started watching again, I found podshock and was amazed to see that the series was coming back, so I've seen the... err newer series 1 and 2 also. I'll probably remember some more things once I start watching Tom Baker.

    For tarashnat. I really thing reality is a lot more like Doctor Who than it is like a Roy Rogers movie.

    Doctor Who being angry at Harriet Jones for blowing up the Sycorax's ship, was classicly Doctor Who, in my opinion, unlike the actions of the people in Torchwood.

    The enemy doesn't wear black and the hero doesn't wear white. The world is not made of good guys and bad guys. There are only good and bad actions. Every one of us can be confused into resulting bad actions.

    So, that means on the one hand that we don't get "good person" moral credit that goes to pay off some amount of "sin", and on the other hand people don't get "bad person" moral debt. A bad action is equally bad regardless of who commits it. A good action is only as good as it is.

    So, then what is the point of "paying for your crimes". Should you be able to purchase some amount of crime? I don't think so. The point of correcting the behavior of people through violence should be to prevent bad actions, or to return something that was taken, if that's possible. It shouldn't be to simply deduct a credit.

    I don't think the problem of legal systems allowing people to rotate in and out, is a problem of society being permissive of improper behavior. Instead it's a problem of the system being seen as an exchange of credits and the system that allows the person with the most money to be held innocent.

    The best example of a system in which blame is all important is in the gangs in America, where the response to violence is to determine who is to blame and to escalate the violence even more. A legal system that has no answers other than locking people up results in nice Universities for the career criminals.

    The notion of responsibility is all important. But that is exactly what is lost by the the reactionary mind set. Responsibility does not mean taking an eye for an eye.

    A harsh system that only deals out punishment to those who are found at blame, doesn't teach responsibility, it teaches you to avoid getting caught, and to acquire enough credit to pay for your future crimes.

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     Thursday, November 30 2006 @ 08:38 AM EST
    It seems to me that Russel T has taken the opportunity provided with the adult label for Torchwood to develop and explore the darker side of humanity.

    Wasn't the idea with Torchwood that we would see normal people (albiet science specialists) react to aliens with real emotions - fear, hate, revulsion, lust etc.

    Sci - fi has lived in the safe family arena for a long time and shows like Farscape, The X-Files and now Torchwood are developing the genre in a 'real' direction. Yes it can be dark but consider what they are actually dealing with and consider how you would react in that situation.

    Practice acts of random kindness.
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     Thursday, November 30 2006 @ 04:31 PM EST
    Personally, I like what the Doctor says in "Doomsday" about his Sonic Screwdriver: "Harmless - that's just why I like it!! Doesn't kill, doesn't wound, doesn't maim..." I think that shows that yes, people do die and get killed in Doctor Who, but it's the "bad guys" who kill, not the "good guys;" the "good guys" take no pleasure in it, which is what seperates them from the bad guys (among other things). Apparently "good" behavior in Torchwood seems to be defined differently then in Doctor Who. I find shows like Torchwood that try to blur the lines between the "good guys" and the "bad guys" (normally by giving "bad" traits to the "good guys") quite repugnant. I think doing that sets a bad example and confuses people as to what is right and what is wrong. Fictional characters, in my humble opinion, are supposed to be an ideal; they're supposed to set an example not only for how people should act, but to clearly illustrate what's right and what's wrong. Torchwood is a major disappointment for me, I was looking forward to a show about an "intergalactic peacekeeping force," so to speak. But this...this amoral, sexually-perverted rubbish is complete nonsense, and I refuse to patronise it by watching the ridiculous show. I merely hope that this Russell T. Davies chav doesn't pervert Doctor Who by bringing it down to the disgusting level of Torchwood.

    May Torchwood bomb, crash, and burn; may its rejection by the British people be an indication that Britain's morality has not completely gone to ruin. Rule Britannia!!

    Long Live Romanadvoratrelundar the First
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     Friday, December 01 2006 @ 03:41 AM EST
    [Quote  by:  The Professor]May Torchwood bomb, crash, and burn


    I must be a bigger slut that you. I still like the show even though there are parts that I dislike. On American TV, Torchwood would outshine any of the other crud that I'm aware of that is scifi, except for Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica. Torchwood has a heart and soul, I think. There are just some problems. I think some current themes in TV/movies are a bad influence on it.

    [Quote  by:  Archie]Yes it can be dark but consider what they are actually dealing with and consider how you would react in that situation.


    My complaint isn't that it's dark. Tomb of the Cybermen is dark. Farscape was dark. But they ask a question about morality.

    What I object to is that there is killing by torchwood without any sort of emotional reaction. It's not asking a question. It's not a real reaction to the situation by real people. It's a cold unfeeling killing that is expressing a morality. I think it is expressing a message such as "we have a job to do and killing is just part of our job". It is desensitizing.

    The theme is similar to what I see on American TV where scifi is almost exclusively military themed, desensitizing and with a message that group loyalty defines morality.

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     Friday, December 01 2006 @ 09:33 AM EST
    [Quote  by:  tarashnat]
    One of the problems occurring in American society is the permissiveness regarding improper behavior, especially when it comes to violent behavior. People are not being taken to task for their actions and blame for any harm is rather being placed on various third parties and/or the victims of the acts and anywhere else but not with the perpetrator. Worse off, we see the glorification of improper behavior in popular culture, which is desensitizing the society to the destructive nature of such behavior. I see this happenning on both ends of the political spectrum as well as the middle.


    Well, I think I canīt agree more, except the part of the question of popular culture. And that is because think that the root of the problem lies elsewhere and pointing to pc (no pun intended) means pointing into the wrong direction. By that I do not mean that there is no glorification of unproper behaviour, on the contrary, but that was part of the narrative arts since Homer in ancient greece. The problem is that in our (i.e. western and so called "civilised") cultures, people cannot deal with that. And why is that? It is because people do not have the proper tools to look at such artifacts of pc (i like that abbreviation) and understand it as what it really is. And dismiss it as what it really is, if it is crap, but to understand it if there is a hidden point in it, like in BSG which is on the surface a science fiction series about starships and robots, but under the surface is a discourse about human behaviour especially in a wartime situation. Without, and that makes it sometimes painful to watch, giving an answer what can be right or wrong...


    [Quote  by:  The Professor] I find shows like Torchwood that try to blur the lines between the "good guys" and the "bad guys" (normally by giving "bad" traits to the "good guys") quite repugnant. I think doing that sets a bad example and confuses people as to what is right and what is wrong. Fictional characters, in my humble opinion, are supposed to be an ideal; they're supposed to set an example not only for how people should act, but to clearly illustrate what's right and what's wrong.


    You are on thin ice here, professor, and that is because of two things, one maybe unimportant, the other one vitally important.

    First, with that remark you dismiss a lot of the major works of art in history and - since the middle of the 18th century, nearly everything. Except for idealistic movements and parts of ancient asthetic values, this would not apply to most of them. But that is not so important than the other point, because

    Secondly we have to be careful with labels such as right or wrong. Because they are giving the illusion of universal concepts, which they arenīt. As it was said, nobody wearing black or white anymore and that is because it nearly always would be a disguise. The world is to complex to just work with those two labels. And that is because right or wrong is, sadly, a matter of perspective (like Nietzsche made clear in "On Truth and Falsity in an Extra-Moral Sense"). Donīt get me wrong, I want nothing more that a set of universal rules, that allow us to live together in free society, without anybody harming anyone and where we can live in peace. But that isnīt how this place works. It is to complicated for that.

    And, what is even more disturbing, looking at history: every society that had clear stated right or wrongs, those were always totalitarian societies. Donīt get me wrong here either: as i said before I do not like the glorification of improper behaviour, but I do not see the ones who are able to give us the right or wrongs without paying the price of loss of freedom.

    I myself saw the narrating arts (including TV and movies, etc.) always as a virtual room where every behaviour can be acted out to see what happens. Not only in the aristotelic sense of catharsis (still the foundation of pc) but as a testchamber.


    But, now coming to your opinion about Torchwood and Haaai!īs question of strange morality:

    After rewatching some of the episodes and some of Doctor Who i have a theorie that can explain the strange way this spin-off works. I see it as a kind of Anti-Doctor Who, with a reason. In School Reunion, there is this great dialog between the Doctor and the Headmaster and the Doctor sais: "I am so old now, I used to have so much mercy!" With that in mind, looking to Captain Jack, we see a man who is immortal and has a lot of abilities that no normal 21st century human has. Now the Doctor is a Time-Lord (and we now that they have their wrong sides as well) but he stands above all, or he sees himself standing above all (there is a strange morality in Doctor Who that still can be debated, but that is a different topic). Jack Harkness is a human. And we know that the Doctor has its problems with humans that are too much ahead of their own time or kind. I see in Jack a man that means well, but due to the implications immortality can mean, he is rampaging in the name of good, without much thinking of the moral and emotional consequences. He just does it, because he can. Or to say it different: How long can a man fight darkness, until he becomes darkness himself? And the same is for the team, which are "normal" humans, but due to their technology and mission, they "evolve" in a strang way. Gwen is the indicator for that, she came from outside, but clearly is adapting to that, like the last episode has shown.

    The Doctor said to the original Torchwood: "Humans are not supposed to have that!" And I think he was speaking generally. If Russel T. Davies is consequent and still has his abilities (and still is the genius that he was behind The Second Coming) we will see Jack and his team face that fact, preferrably portrayed in a confrontation with our beloved Doctor, who puts things to right. If that happens, than this strange morality turns out to be a plot device and this series gains a lot of weight. If not... well then there were a lot of not-so-good-scripts and they should have taken more time to develop that show.



    ps. I do not think that British moral has gone to ruin, it is one moral besides a lot of other ones. And you can believe me I wouldnīt plan to live there for at least a year, if I thought I had to renew my military training in order to go the fish'n'chips shop

    Something really deeply strange is going on here, and if something strange is happening, I want it to be happening to me...
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     Friday, December 01 2006 @ 05:19 PM EST
    I think you people misunderstand where I'm coming from. My simple point (which apparently was not expressed simply enough for you) was that a show such as Torchwood is offensive to one such as myself, who adheres to an older (and now apparently outdated) code of morality. I apologise if following such a moral code somehow means that I'm "walking on thin ice" with you people, however I did assume that I would be put down for my beliefs, as what usually happens. I will no longer post on a board who's topic does not interest me (in this case, the disgusting, amoral, sexually-perverted, desensitised to violence Torchwood).

    Good day.

    Long Live Romanadvoratrelundar the First
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     Friday, December 01 2006 @ 06:23 PM EST

    Well, the point I was trying to make was lost in the discussion of assumptions drawn from beyond what I wrote or applying general terms that I used too narrowly. Since my post really has nothing to do with Torchwood nor Doctor Who (I was referring to US not UK culture), I will refrain from getting into a discussion which can only end up nowhere, as there is now a whole "preception" of where my comment was coming from. And I don't have the energy to go point by point what was gotten wrong in the assumptions.

    But I do want to say I was not talking about criminal acts, per se, or the legal system. I was referring to responsibility for ones actions not guilt of a crime or punishment. For example, if I run into someone on the street and knock them down, I shouldn't just keep going, but help them up. No crime involved (yet). But if I did keep going, noone would have batted an eye, much less scold me.

    Daleks don't accept apologies! YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!
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     Friday, December 01 2006 @ 07:17 PM EST
    [Quote  by:  The Professor] I find shows like Torchwood that try to blur the lines between the "good guys" and the "bad guys" (normally by giving "bad" traits to the "good guys") quite repugnant. I think doing that sets a bad example and confuses people as to what is right and what is wrong. Fictional characters, in my humble opinion, are supposed to be an ideal; they're supposed to set an example not only for how people should act, but to clearly illustrate what's right and what's wrong.


    Your opinion is as valid as anyone else's - but I would have thought that if ALL fictional characters are expected to have these 'high ideals' then that would surely mean that ALL fiction becomes a tool of 'social indoctrination.'

    This programme is not aimed at children who many people, myself included, do benefit from a 'moral' theme underlying the 'plot' - but it is an adult show which people can judge as to whether they feel it deals with it's 'invented reality' in either an entertaining or thought-provoking way.

    I would soon tire of any work of fiction be it TV, film or novel that I felt - for want of a better word 'castrated' by some imperative to 'improve me as citizen.'

    Torchwood does have faults and I don't think it bears comparisons with the quality of the last two series of Dr Who - and frankly to be an 'adult SF' it needs as someone one this forum has already posted more adult themes' rather than 'adult scenes.'

    But it is just entertainment for adults who can make the judgement to keep watching or decide it's not for them.

    All just my opinion of course, daveac

    daveac on blip.tv, TalkShoe, iTunes, LiveVideo, uStream, GE, Sci-Fi, DWO, DS & WTA, Dave C on WLP, cooperda on AVF, dac100 on YouTube & PB, dac on Tiscali
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     Friday, December 01 2006 @ 07:56 PM EST
    [Quote  by:  The Professor] I think you people misunderstand where I'm coming from. My simple point (which apparently was not expressed simply enough for you) was that a show such as Torchwood is offensive to one such as myself, who adheres to an older (and now apparently outdated) code of morality. I apologise if following such a moral code somehow means that I'm "walking on thin ice" with you people, however I did assume that I would be put down for my beliefs, as what usually happens. I will no longer post on a board who's topic does not interest me (in this case, the disgusting, amoral, sexually-perverted, desensitised to violence Torchwood).

    Good day.



    I am sorry if I have offended you and by rereading my statements: I may have been to strict in expressing my points and I am sorry for that. I will not justify that by stating that I am a non-native english speaker and until recently was only writing research papers (where the tone is irrelevant), but my manners of wrting may derive from there.

    I was referring to your general statement in a general discussion about a work of fiction and art. The point I tried to make was that there are a lot of codes of morality and they are, at first sight, equal to each other and one does not have the right to criticize it. And that has nothing to do with outdated. I was trying to state the point that I could not follow such a strict code because Iīd have to throw away my entire collection of books and movies, incl. Ulysses, Moby Dick and Casablanca for example.

    I apologize if I have offended you with my remarks. As adults I think we are able to discuss such things without resulting into calling names. But, and this is sadly true, codes of morality are colliding everytime. Not only in great scales, i.e. the so called clash of civilisations, but in everyday life as well. See this discussion. What we can do better is to stand back for a moment and then look around and see what is happening. But thatīs hard. That is one of the reasons I am leaving the acedemic world at the beginning of next year, because it does not work like that.

    I never wanted to direct this discussion into the personal area. But, and this is where I may be totally wrong, when it comes to questions of morality, there may no widened subjectivity. And because it is me who would be wrong, I offer my resignation from this discussion and board. Not because of any people, but of me.

    After all, there are only opinions.

    Greetings from Germany and again, apologies!

    Something really deeply strange is going on here, and if something strange is happening, I want it to be happening to me...
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     Friday, December 01 2006 @ 08:15 PM EST
    [Quote  by:  Future Doctor] And because it is me who would be wrong, I offer my resignation from this discussion and board. Not because of any people, but of me.

    After all, there are only opinions.

    Greetings from Germany and again, apologies!


    I wish I could put my thoughts so well on paper in another language!

    Please do not remove yourself from this forum - as Louis will no doubt point out this is an inclusive forum where FANS of Dr Who and other SF come together to share their thoughts and musings.

    As you can see from my post above I also agree that in fiction, SF or other many stories challenge the views and principals or the reader or viewer.

    All posters here should be able to express their views without it being taken personally - and maybe others will agree or not - but will hopefully frame their answer to the discussion rather than to the person.

    So please stay - your imput - and imput from all walks of life are what give this forum it's richness and keeps me coming back.

    Cheers, daveac

    daveac on blip.tv, TalkShoe, iTunes, LiveVideo, uStream, GE, Sci-Fi, DWO, DS & WTA, Dave C on WLP, cooperda on AVF, dac100 on YouTube & PB, dac on Tiscali
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     Sunday, December 03 2006 @ 05:35 PM EST
    This whole topic brings something to mind. I don't know if anybody remembers that sometime in the mid 90's there was a Star Wars Drinking Game being passed around IRC or in emails or such - and one of the occassions you're meant to drink on was something like:

    "Take a drink when the camera lingers on one dead Ewok for a whole 32 seconds but spends almost none when millions of people are killed as Alderon is destroyed."

    Anyhow I digress... it seems to me that there's a little bit of Harriet Jones justice going on - but at the very least, consider that they let the police deal with the rural murderers rather than shoot them on the spot or something - and as for that Mary character, what court would you refer her to? You can't "press charges" - so shoot her into the sun. Somebody has to make those decisions, because if they don't, if they hesitate, if they show a little too much mercy - not only could the whole team be killed, but they could be putting the rest of humanity at risk, too - not to mention, they have to keep the tech goodies in Torchwood out of the wrong hands. I'm sure The Doctor will have something to say about that, though.

    That said, give me sex scenes any day over violence and gore (unlike a lot of other posters, I found the countrycide episode scary & disturbing) Yeah, it's violent, sometimes creepy, unpredictable and Gwen's being unfaithful - but it's also smart, funny, and worth watching, in my opinion.

    I was thinking - does Jack get into more dangerous senarios or is the Doctor just better at keeping situations under control?

    ok... end of rambly postSmile

    If Worzel Gummidge and the Third Doctor had a fist fight - who would win?
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     Sunday, December 03 2006 @ 06:59 PM EST
    [Quote  by:  Magpie] I was thinking - does Jack get into more dangerous senarios or is the Doctor just better at keeping situations under control?

    The Doctor is always Wink in control...

    Daleks don't accept apologies! YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!
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