"I wish I had a Dr. Who filter"
That's a phrase I've seen a fair amount recently on my Facebook newsfeed, and as the countdown to Super Bowl XLVII: The Ballening begins right now I am very sympathetic to how aggravating ho fans have probably been over the course of the last year. We couldn't help it, you see. 50 years of time and space was a big deal and most of us went a little teensy bit crazy.
That's over now. The show is just barely starting production of the next season where our Twelfth Doctor will start his proper run. Aside from monthly Big Finish audio releases and maybe a few tie-in novels here and there Doctor Who is over until autumn. To me this represents a perfect time to look at ourselves as a fandom and consider how we could go about not annoying people quite so much.
Let's postulate something right off the tip of the sonic screwdriver; Doctor Who is a religion. If not in the whole faith big churches thing then at least in the way hardcore fans act about it. Look at what happens to someone who gets into the show in a big way. And think about how it compares to, say, a friend that has joined a new church.
* We act like we've found something hidden and amazing and oh my god you guys it's so great.
* We treat it as if it is superior to all other forms, except maybe closely tied spin-offs.
* We go nuts advertising our passion through shirts, bumper-stickers, and iconography.
* We bother people constantly about trying it out.
* We talk in a series of buzzwords and coded phrases, meant to convey esoteric knowledge and strange, deep connections to something greater than ourselves.
* We take completely unrelated things and make them about our obsession whether others want us to or not.
I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with appreciating Doctor Who or any other geek vehicle on a deeply spiritual level. God knows I've gotten more out of The Doctor than I've gotten out of Him, but you don't want to be the nerd equivalent of the Westboro Baptist Church or those people that go door to door annoying folks at home.
So keep some things in mind.
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First, Doctor Who is not some hidden Great Good News. It is an international entertainment empire that broke box office records when "Day of the Doctor" played in theaters. It is quite literally everywhere, and while I know lots of people that have never watched the show I have rarely met someone that wasn't at least aware of it.
In commandment form, Thou Shalt Not Forget That Doctor Who is Still Just a Television Show to Most People.
Second, while the show is more than just a science fiction show, touching on mystery, horror, drama, and action-adventure, it really is not all that much better than most other television shows and movies, if it is at all. I love Doctor Who with all my heart, but there were episodes of Buffy, Pushing Daisies, and Twin Peaks that I will rate above even the best outing with The Doctor. Part of not being an insane fundamentalist is recognizing that legitimacy of other ideas.
In commandment form, Thou Shalt Not Diss Other Fandoms Out of a Misplaced Sense of Loyalty to The Doctor.
Third, the sheer number of Doctor Who T-shirts and merchandise from places like Tee Fury is mind-boggling. We outnumber almost everyone else combined. I know at least three people who have a Doctor Who shirt for every day of the week, and one of them is myself. If you saw someone wearing a different Christian-themed shirt seven days in a row you'd treat them like they were a little overzealous. I keep that in mind when deciding on a BioShock Infinite shirt in the morning instead.
In commandment form, Thou Does Not Need to Be a Walking Advertisement for the BBC.
The most egregious sin of a manic Whovian is pestering others to watch the show. An initial, "Oh you should check it out!" is perfectly fine, but anything beyond that has echoes of condemnation to it where you start to assume ownership over another person's leisure time. Like a proper religious person, someone should see how much a show like Doctor Who makes you happy and desire to join in because of that. Not because you forced them to sit through a 45-minute episode.
In commandment form, Thou Shalt Remember That It's On Netflix Streaming and That Anyone Who Wants to Check it Out Can do So With Ease.
On the subject of language, know this; saying "Spoilers" in real life always makes you look like an idiot. Also, not every stone statue needs to be surrounded by cries of "Don't blink!"
In commandment form, Thou Shalt Not Annoy Others With Constant Inside Jokes Because That Makes Them Feel Left Out and Unhappy.
Finally, there's the fact that Doctor Who has taken over damned near anything. I know because I didn't have a costume to wear to the Renaissance Festival so I went as the Eleventh Doctor because, you know time travel.
I met two other Doctors there.
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That's the problem. We've become like those folks who insist on a Nativity Scene at Christmas and lose their minds when Dr. Pepper doesn't include the words "under God" on their commemorative 9/11 soda cans. Every comic convention I have been to in the last three years is ridiculously Whovian-centric. While that makes me happy it does worry me that we're causing a split in the geek world and the entertainment world in general with our single-mindedness.
In short, now that the 50th is over it's time to lighten up a bit. Watch another show, buy another T-shirt, and talk about something else every once in a while. Your Facebook friends will thank you for it.
... the author said at the end of a 1,500 word article in a column he writes about Doctor Who once a week.