Dear Whovians…

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Dear Whovians,

There’s no denying that 2013 was a sensational year for our fan base. During the excitement of the fiftieth anniversary we banded together like never before in support, anticipation and celebration of this wonderful television show we are privileged enough to call our own. It was lying in bed on the night of the 24th of November, reeling from the extraordinary 50th Anniversary weekend that I had never been prouder to call myself a Whovian. Never been prouder to be part of such a massive group of people who are spread across different generations, different nationalities, and different social standards – All united by one constant love for A Mad Man in a Box.

Looking among the fandom at the moment however, this feeling is slowly fading away. Echoing the words of Peter Capaldi: “Doctor Who is an extraordinary show, and the thing that strikes me about it is that it is still here after all this time and the reason that I think it is still here is because of the work of everyone that’s worked on the show. But the real reason… the big reason Doctor Who is still with us is because of every single viewer that took the show into their hearts. Doctor Who belongs to all of us. Everybody makes Doctor Who.

The question must be asked however, if the fandom continues down the path it’s currently on – “What will Doctor Who soon become?

Reading through comments on this very site, as well as comments left on countless other social networking platforms in just the last few days alone would be enough to send everyone into shock. We live in a society today where our online presence is just as important and just as exercised as our physical form. Drawing it back to the article, the basic issue with the fandom at the moment is that there has been a developed lack of tolerance for other people’s or other group’s opinions. It’s become more and more evident most recently that when someone’s opinion contrasts to our own, some of us forget the basic code of conduct and the basic idea of “Respecting each other.”

Why can we be so nasty to each other online? Whether on Facebook, Twitter, message boards or websites, we say things to each other that we would never say face to face. Shouldn’t we know better by now? Anonymity is a powerful force. Hiding behind a fake screen name makes us feel invincible, as well as invisible. Even when we reveal our real identities, (For example on Facebook or Twitter) we still misbehave. It all revolves around the idea that too much freedom leads to chaos. It’s here I would like to turn your attention to the comments policy of this site specifically:

  • Please be civil towards other members and respect other people’s opinions, even if you don’t agree with them
  • Please do not swear or use crude language likely to offend. Comments will be automatically flagged
  • No bullying, homophobia, racism or any kind of personal attacks on individuals. These will result in automatic bans!

It’s important to realise that these simple rules, as well as many other rules on the internet, are put in place for a reason. Yes, you might think this is an obvious fact but as more people begin to ignore them constantly it seems that it needs a second stressing. By following these guidelines diligently we maintain a safe, friendly and intelligent environment that the team behind Doctor Who TV have worked so tirelessly to create, however if this lack of recognition of the rules becomes more frequent there is a real possibility that we may lose this privileged life easily. The internet, and specifically this site, gives us a sensational amount of opportunity to be part of a sensational community, connecting with fans around the globe as well as engaging in vibrant and intelligence discussions and debates constantly. It’s about time we appreciate these privileges and do our best to not put them in jeopardy before we run out of chances to do so.

Opinions and Disagreements

When it comes to differences of opinions between two fans, there is a right and a wrong way to approach the situation. Just because someone has an opinion that either is A) Not your own and or B) Not the view of the majority of fans does not make the opinion itself wrong. Disagreements are great fuel for entertaining civil and respectful debates, but there is never any excuse to resort to personal attacks or excessive levels of aggression in tones that are likely to offend and upset other commenters I’m a strong believer in the idea that we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it’s nothing. It’s just bibble-babble. To quote Harlen Ellison “It’s like a fart in a wind tunnel, folks!” So yes, admittedly there are instances where people’s opinions are built on poorly constructed foundations and uninformed, immature arguments – but this can be pointed out civilly, respectfully and in a non-patronising way when people make the extra effort.

At the moment it seems that people who regard Doctor Who positively, with a lot of love and (in my opinion) rightfully generous scoring for Doctor Who serials are the latest victims of criticisms and attacks by members of the fandom. Quite frankly I have never heard of anything more ridiculous in my life. Positivity in the fandom, especially in these times where bitterness and disappointment seem to be a popular feeling, should be welcomed and embraced as a refreshing blow of fresh air. Just because you may not share the same enthusiasm does not give you the right to label positive fans as people who don’t have the ability to examine the episodes from a valid perspective. Furthermore the point must be raised that DWTV is a Doctor Who FANsite and while more negative and critical articles are acceptable, surely articles that exercise praising of the show should be just as valued and appreciated?

Show runners are people too!

It’s here that we might as well mention the disrespectful antics of the some members of the fandom when the frequent “RTD vs MOFFAT” debates arise. Often, although not always, RTD hate or Moffat hate will find its way onto every commenting thread, even when the articles may not exactly be appropriate setting. Some of the hateful and cruel words that are thrown around during these debates have gotten to the point of insanity as personal attacks have started to become seen as an acceptable way to debate. These men are not gods, they are not invincible and untouchable, and while the uneducated whining of one viewer will not have any impact on how Moffat runs the show and will probably never reach him in the first place, we need to remember that these celebrities of the Whoniverse are still people too, and regardless of whether you like or dislike their choices when it comes to Doctor Who, there should always be an undying respect for them as human beings. There are countless examples of arguments against certain show runners that are both intelligent and substantial – so please do not confuse me for not being pro-debates or not pro-different opinions, but the point needs to be stressed that these arguments are lost when surrounded in biased, aggressive hate and turn into nothing more than random, rude, disrespecting ramblings. An argument is always more appreciated when presented civilly and respectably.

“Change my dear… and it seems not a moment too soon!”

Now of course we cannot forget to mention the Whovians that do exhibit the best the fandom has to offer. The majority of our fandom is filled with civil, mature and just plainly brilliant personalities that respect each other’s opinions, who debate their arguments with class and respect, and who continue to inspire me by being the perfect example of a Whovian. Unfortunately the number of fans that do not exhibit the basic principles of respect and kindness, while still in the minority, is growing more every day and become much more vocal. The gradual destruction of the Whovian’s reputation cannot be ignored any longer. We ALL need a wakeup call and something has to be done.

It’s my firm belief that in order to achieve the reputation that we all at our best times so clearly deserve, is for the fandom to regenerate drastically. Regenerate into a fandom that can once more hold its head up high, where its members can once again be overflowing with pride, and where we can watch, love and appreciate each other, our opinions and this sensational television show that unites us all. It’s Doctor Who that we should constantly thank it for not only bringing us together, but teaching us so much as human beings, and as people, even though these lessons come from the most alien of sources. It’s with the deepest sincerity that I say wholeheartedly that I believe, as a fandom, we can do this. We can rise to greater heights. We can live our lives like the Doctor would expect us to. We can exterminate this cruel and bitter reputation that surrounds the fandom at the moment and prove to the world and ourselves that we are much bigger and better on the inside.

Thanks for reading.

Connor Johnston, Doctor Who TV contributor.