Mickey Smith is (NOT) Your Triflin’ Ex-Boyfriend

Posted: February 6, 2018 in Entertainment, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This year Black History Month is most epic as we not only have the premier of Black Panther but also well lead into March’s premier of A Wrinkle in Time chock full of DuVernay Black Girl Magic. Considering the amount of real estate that Black Panther is taking up in the minds of the Black Community, I though it would be fun to celebrate Black History Month by recognizing and examining some of the Black characters who have led s toward a more visible Blerd identity

Today in Blerd Moments in excellence, we elevate Mickey Smith as portrayed by Noel Clarke, Doctor Who

Nel Clarke as Mickey Smith

We don’t exactly start here, but eventually make it to Bedroom eyes Mickey

I am not sure why I wanted to start this list with Mickey. Perhaps it is because he has a fairly broad arc of development to trace. He is present on the first episode of the modern iteration of Doctor Who and like Christopher Eccelston’s Doctor and Billie Piper’s Rose, Noel Clarke as Mickey helps set to tone of some of the best of Doctor Who and possibly in the entirety of TV si fi. Perhaps the other reason I wanted to begin with Mickey, however was because of how rubbish he was at the beginning. I mean just some garbage – just some stereotypical classist borderline racist tomfoolery in a Blue Jumpsuit. In many ways at the beginning Mickey’s character is not only the worst case scenario for character of color, he is also the Worst Case Scenario for how we normally want black men to be portrayed and his initial characterization is far from Moments in Black Excellence.

When we first meet Mickey he is the personification of one who has little to offer. Like Rose he is working class, a mechanic who is content to go to work go out with his mates and occasionally bring lackluster presents to his shop working girlfriend who has not realized that she is too good for him. Unlike Rose, however he seems to lack self-awareness of his role in the universe as well as the possibilities around him. (I’ll come back to seems in a moment.) To make matters worse, even after initially earning some respect from the Doctor, for the viewers, Mickey is branded a coward as he is given a chance to go with Rose and the Doctor on the TARDIS but instead decides to stay behind. This act would not only end up relegating him to being forever Rose’s side chick but also further define Mickey’s impotence being tied to being a person who is unable to take advantage of situations around him for positive change. Even when faced with an opportunity as big as Universe encompassing time travel, Mickey still cannot be bothered to become a primary actor in the show about his own life.

Now this may seem a bit harsh, but before you light the pitchforks and torches, think back to those first three epodes of Doctor Who where we could still pretend that it was in contention if Rose was going to go with the Doctor or not. Were it not for Noel Clarke’s wonderful performances and the endearing qualities that he brings to Mickey – especially in his decision to not accompany Rose on the TARDIS, we might not even remember Mickey at all. Thanks to his performance (and hopefully what was planned by Russel T. Davies this is not the end of Mickey and by the end of his arc we see sharp contrast to his character.

So now that I have spent the last two paragraphs like Trisha Delaney and calming that Mickey ain’t shit, it is time to talk about why he is so important. When we begin our new adventures with the Doctor, we can only see Mickey in the context of Rose Tyler, and that context defines him as her shit boyfriend who has likely been holding her back from development. He is the only real hurdle she seems to have that keeps her from immediately running off with the Doctor and as Doctor Who is the name of the show, you are certainly screaming for her to drop his lame ass and for her to get in the goddam TARDIS already.

In our introduction to the 9th and 10th Doctors, however Mickey is the most self-aware character associated with the Doctor, and that self-awareness likely comes from losing Rose. We assume that Mickey is a terrible boyfriend who doesn’t appreciate the awesomeness that is Rose Tyler, however one could also consider that Mickey indeed knows what he has gotten and after being in Rose’s life he has fallen into complacency. Which ever way you look at tit though, the Doctor’s appearance begins the process of pulling Rose away and it is clear to Mickey pretty quickly that his and Rose’s relationship is pretty much over. This action however gives Mickey some self awareness that no one else in this series. Has. Literally everyone else is madly in love with the Doctor – especially by the time Tenant comes along. While he and Mickey do become friends, Mickey’s view of the Doctor is clearly of the alternate side of the Doctor’s nature. While Rose is enamored with the quirky intelligent explorer who saves species, Mickey rightly sees the maniacal hurricane who is also the destroyer of worlds. Both of their views are correct, but we like to fool ourselves about the reality of the Doctor. We like to believe that all of us would throw it all away to run off with the crazy man in the Blue Box, but in reality, most of us are cemented enough in our own realities that we’d probably think it safer at home. Though it is played out as cowardice, Mickey’s reluctance is likely common sense. Going with the Doctor is not only likely to get him killed, but also cause him to watch the only think that he seems to care about (Rose) constantly be put in danger with the added bonus of watching your (now ex) girl fall in love with another person whom you can’t help to compete with.

Though the process is indeed slow – taking him through alternate universes, and even his own stint in the TARDIS, Mickey seems to finally gain his own agency. For characters of color – especially on TV shows this is a huge deal. Mickey is not there to motivate Rose or to guilt the Doctor. He is also not the Miles O’Brien or Geordi LaForge of the series – everyone’s friend who never gets laid, but heaven help you if he gets hurt because then we all have something to say.

Over the course of his tenure, self-awareness continues to hit Mickey in the face as he is obviously unable to get over Rose in the year that he is missing but also has to deal with being accused of her murder. You almost see him having the conversation with himself in Aliens of London not to still be into Rose, but being caught up in her hurricane the same way she is caught up in the Doctor’s. By the time we get to School Reunion, Mickey has accepted the fact that he is a comedy sidekick (tin dog) in the ongoing drama what the Doctor and Rose.

While Rose and the Doctor will be forever attached, Mickey is able to not only remove himself from the TARDIS but also ultimately (finally) remove himself from Rose. His arc from meeting the Doctor is the same as many companions that follow him, but for the new Doctor Who Series he represents the companions who decide to leave for their best interest rather than be killed, maimed or injured by the Doctor’s shenanigans. Doing this –walking away even before Martha Jones (Doctor!) does it is important and further cements Mickey in the universe. Though the connection of Mickey to Martha seems a bit convenient, by the time we see him the last time he has become his own man. – though I bet Martha makes him call her “Doctor.”

The Angry Negro has been a Whovian since the 80s and owns a box that is bigger on the outside.


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