Conservative MP Nick Fletcher has said in a recent statement that he believes that more men are engaging in violent criminal activity due to the apparent lack of positive role models within film and TV, such as in Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, James Bond, and Star Wars. The MP, who represents Don Valley, mentioned that the decisions made to change these traditionally male characters to female is detrimental to a man’s psyche, and eradicates the positive male icons, therefore causing male fans to resort to committing crimes.
The politician spoke at a Westminster Hall debate held on National Men’s Day, where he explained: “Everywhere, not least within the cultural sphere, there seems to be a call from a tiny yet a very vocal minority that every male character or good role model must have a female replacement.
“One only needs to look at the discussion surrounding who’ll play the next James Bond. And it’s not just James Bond – in recent years we have seen Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, Luke Skywalker, The Equaliser all replaced by women and men are left with The Krays and Tommy Shelby. Is there any wonder we are seeing so many young men committing crime? These programmes make crime look cool. Trust me, a lifetime in prison is not cool and neither is living with the memory of a stabbed son or daughter.”
It is worth noting that in Star Wars, Daisy Ridley’s character, Rey, was cast alongside Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, and was not introduced as a replacement for him in the recent sequel trilogy of the saga.
Fletcher continued his statement, saying that the phrase of ‘toxic masculinity’ is just as harmful as the female characters on screen, he mentioned that the term “vilifies 50% of the world’s population.” He then added, “As I hope all women love being women, I love being a man – most of my friends are men,” before stating, “I don’t think being a man makes me superior in any way, yet being male is an essential part of my identity and, just as with any other identity, whether they be religion or ethnic, I believe they are something which should be celebrated, not vilified.
“Some may argue that I didn’t choose to be born male and so it’s ridiculous for the male identity to be celebrated, yet this is not something I would expect anyone to say about any other identity” he said, then he summarised by saying: “In short, I believe we should encourage boys and young men to be proud of being men too because it’s important for boys to know that as males they can make a positive difference to society.”
After Fletcher’s comments, many were left baffled, including Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds, who said that she thought she had “misheard him”, and then explained that she thinks that males turning to criminal activity was “far more complex” than “who should be the next 007”.
The SNP’s Gavin Newlands said that he actually thought that Queen Latifah’s portrayal of The Equaliser was “positive”, and went on to criticise the idea of an International Men’s Day, branding the celebration as “a rather cruel joke concocted in response to feminism, women's rights and International Women's Day” and that “we need men in general to take responsibility for what men have done and continue to do" – gesturing towards misogyny and violence against women.
When his comments made the rounds throughout social media, Fletcher took it upon himself to somewhat retract his prior comments on twitter, saying: "I did not link a Dr Who being female to crime being committed by men - in fact, I was making a statement that boys and young men also need positive role models within the media, just as women do."