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Whovian Fandom

Whovian Fandom: A Big Dysfunctional Family

So this site has been up for exactly one week. It’s been almost three weeks since I set up a store on so people can purchase prints of my paintings (though I’ve only had three purchases so far, all from my sister). In the past week, I’ve been working hard to build my followers on Twitter and Facebook. My followers on Twitter have risen from 75 to over 500 in two weeks, in part because I have been spending hours and hours following every Whovian I can find. While I’ve been inundated with a lot of positive feedback from my new followers, I’ve had to follow almost 2,000 people to get to 500. I can’t help but think that there’s a better way to do this. I’ll admit, I’m not good at self-promotion. I automatically assume nobody wants anything to do with me. It’s a terrible way to think and I suppose there’s history to this that would require hours on a couch with a psychiatrist to sort out.

Still, it’s a bit addicting isn’t it? Oh how thirsty the ego becomes when fed so directly from the watering hole! I find myself checking my phone constantly. Every new follower is like a shot in the arm. Makes me walk a little taller. Makes me feel like part of a large, loving Whovian family. Makes me feel like maybe I can do this -  become a successful artist. They favorite tweets of my paintings and tell me how much they love my art. I tweet out links to buy prints, and while nobody bite the hook, the tweets still get favorited and re-tweeted.

But Facebook has been more difficult. I’ve only managed 70 “Likes” and 60-something of those are from friends and family. And while it’s nice to know I have the support of friends and family, I recognize that this support is tempered by acquaintance. They want me to succeed because they know me. The true test is the support of strangers. So I joined a few Doctor Who fan pages, hoping to promote my art and garner ‘likes.’ I posted a painting on one page and it got three likes and a few encouraging comments. Nothing negative. A few minutes later, someone posted a rather stupid Doctor Who meme. The meme got over a thousand ‘likes’ and hundreds of comments. I read the comments to see why people felt so compelled to comment on a rather mindless meme that someone lazily threw together while largely ignoring my painting, which was obviously a greater celebration of Doctor Who than a meme could ever be. As with most things on the Internet, you should never read the comments. I became very discouraged…but that’s what comments are for - destroying your faith in humanity.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of the comments on the meme were unabashed love for all-things-Whovian. But there was also a significant number of negative comments, most of which had little or nothing to do with the meme. As I looked at other Whovian fan pages and what not, I found common complaints in these comments - Classic Who is better than New Who, My Doctor is Better than Your Doctor, a Female Master is Blasphemy, Moffat Sucks.

I know that Whovians are a passionate breed. Just look at me. And I know that the passion is conducive to friction. I don’t expect the Whovian family to get on like crème in a crepe, but it’s still disappointing to see such bickering. Ever since my obsession began in 2012, I’ve viewed Doctor Who as an entire entity. My obsession has been a very personal and often private part of my life. I generally don’t care what other people think about Doctor Who. And I have no interest in joining debates. That said, I’m joining the debates…albeit, from a position of guarded cowardly indifference. I don’t have a comment section here. I’m not responding to any one person. I’m not interested in your response.

Classic Who is better than New Who

If it weren’t for Classic Who, we wouldn’t have New Who. Likewise, if it weren’t for New Who, I never would have watched Classic Who. Those years are difficult to penetrate in a modern context. The acting in the earliest years is comparable to a play with long extended shots where characters walk on and off stage. It’s difficult to stomach that old style when you’ve grown up with quick cuts and more measured acting. But really, the stories were still very good in Classic Who once you get past the poor special effects and wooden acting. Still, these years set the stage, the foundation. They are worthy of our academic consideration.

But are they better than New Who? Absolutely not. Are they worse? Well, yeah…in some aspects. But that’s not the point here. They are part of the same ongoing story of the Doctor and the Tardis. If you ignore one, you’re largely ignoring the other.

At work, I trained a British lady who was shocked to find my desk covered in various Doctor Who toys. Under my left monitor, I have all the Doctors (sans the War Doctor and the 12th Doctor because I bought it as a set before the 50th Anniversary) lined up. Under my right monitor, I have a weeping angel and a Dalek. As a little girl in England during the early 60’s, she grew up watching the first and second Doctor. She told me stories of her brother chasing her around her home, pretending to be a Dalek. She recalled hiding behind the couch as she watched the show. She was amazed that an American - and a relatively young American in his early 30’s - would even know what Doctor Who was. She was even more flabbergasted that more than half of our office is comprised of Whovians. It’s this bridge to the past that makes the show special. She started watching New Who and quickly fell in love again. We’d all be better off if we appreciated the Whole of Doctor Who as one of the greatest narrative platforms ever made.

My Doctor is better than Your Doctor

I really don’t like being asked to pick favorites, though I understand why people pick favorites. It’s human nature to gravitate towards individuals. I get why the 10th Doctor is the most popular, especially among the ladies. I get why some people really don’t like the 6th Doctor. But to me, they’re all the Doctor - one person, one character, many faces, many stories. Whichever Doctor is on the screen or the page (I’m an avid reader of Doctor Who novels and comics) is my favorite Doctor because the Doctor is the Doctor is the Doctor…

Sure, I have personal attachments to each Doctor. The 9th Doctor was my first. I want to be most like the 10th Doctor. I most identify with the 11th Doctor. I hold a very deep reverence for the first and second Doctor. The 4th Doctor is THE Doctor that I love to study the most. I love the audio plays of the 8th Doctor. The comics with the 5th, 6th, 7th Doctor are some of my favorite. Et Cetera. But I wish we all had a more holistic approach to our love for the Doctor.

A Female Master is Blasphemy

A lot of Whovians don’t like the idea that the Master is now female, mostly because they think this signals the path of the Doctor regenerating into a female, as though this is a blasphemy against the laws of God. This grievance is disheartening simply because there is no sensible argument for it. It’s just mild misogyny showing its ugly face. So what if the Master is now female! Michelle Gomez is amazing in the role. She’s proven that a male character can successfully become female.

Now with that said, I’m a strong opponent of making decisions based on social issues. I don’t think the Doctor should be female or a minority BECAUSE of pressure from people demanding diversity in the character. Basing casting decisions on social issues is a mistake. It actually undermines the social issues by suggesting that the actor was chosen based on their gender or skin color and not their talent. The role of the Doctor should go to the actor that makes the most sense for the character at that point in the ongoing narrative. If the actor is female or a minority, then great! But the actor needs to not only fit into the character seamlessly, but he or she needs to fit well with the cast and crew. Michelle Gomez is a great example of this. She’s a perfect Master to contrast with Capaldi. She wasn’t cast because she was female. She was cast because she was the right actor for the character. And that’s how it should be. As Whovians, we shouldn’t subscribe to either mindset that the Doctor must be played by a white male or that the next Doctor needs to be a minority or female. Both mindsets defeat the purpose of the role.

Moffat Sucks

This small, but vocal minority is the one the drives me crazy the most. I’ll preface my little rant by saying that Steven Moffat is my favorite TV writer…by a mile. As someone whose greatest ambition is to write fiction, Moffat is in the top three people alive that I would want to eat lunch with to discuss narrative strategies. So perhaps I’m not partial in my displeasure for this group of Whovians, but every time I see someone express displeasure with Moffat, I want to slap them across the face and say, ‘No! Bad Whovian. Bad!’

See, the biggest complaint is the convoluted plots that Moffat constructs and this is irritating to no end. I have yet to see a Moffat guided plot with any significant plot holes. Yes, they are complicated, but they are supposed to be complicated. It’s a show about traveling through space and time! The platform begs to be complicated. The stories should be challenging. I spent three years completing a master’s degree for creative writing at San Diego State with a focus on James Joyce and innovative fiction - and I’ve found that most of the time when someone complains about plot holes, they know nothing about plot structure. They simple weren’t able to keep up and weren’t willing to put in the effort that the plot requires. If you can’t handle a complicated narrative, then you should consign yourself to watching the Big Bang Theory and Two and Half Men.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a place for simple stories with simple plots in Doctor Who. Most of the episodes in the RTD era are simple and they’re great stories. And this is one of the great things of the Doctor Who narrative platform - it can support simple plots and complex plots. You can literally tell any story you want to tell. Without Moffat, the success during the RTD era wouldn’t have been as great. His stories are nearly universally considered the best - the Empty Child/the Doctor Dances, the Girl in the Fireplace, Blink, Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead.

Do I want Moffat to head Doctor Who forever? Certainly not. Another great aspect of this narrative platform is the fact that the entire roster refreshes from time to time. Everyone is eventually replaced by someone else. Everyone in front and behind the camera is part of this ongoing regeneration that allows the show to keep going. It’s really a beautiful concept. Eventually Moffat will hand the reins off to someone else and we’ll have a new style, a new take on the same show.

Or whatever. I don’t care.