There are feelings, perceptions and assumptions that you pick-up when interacting with other Doctor Who fans in person or online. Sometimes, you hear it directly, or there are some stereotypes that continue to get passed around, that you hear most people believe, even if you’ve never met someone who actually believes those things. It’s the “Received Fan Wisdom” for Doctor Who. It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, these are just things I perceived or heard or have been repeated. They’re sprinkled throughout the internet but I’ve never seen them compiled into one location. I do not necessarily believe all of them, but do feel some of them are applicable.
Here is a listing of the “Received Fan Wisdom” I have perceived in podcasts, social media, conventions, etc. as a “New Who” fan:
- Tom Baker is the greatest classic Doctor, EVER! (One day I’ll explain why he’s always at the bottom of my favorites lists.)
- EVERYTHING, books/comics/audios/humorous spoofs/cartoons, etc. is canon… except for that one hated thing. That writer is horrible and we pretend it doesn’t exist (I’ve been guilty of this, too. IE: Anything by Gareth Roberts or Mark Gatiss.)
- People who hate a woman Doctor are all sexist/People who call out sexism by those who can’t accept a woman doctor are mean horrible people (Take your pick: both sides seem to argue all or nothing.)
- Clara is the worst thing ever, Moffat destroyed New Who, it will never recover.
- RTD (Russell T. Davies) was the most perfect showrunner ever and everything he did was perfect.
- RTD hates mothers, look at Jackie
- The show is on its last dying breath and will cancelled any moment now. (Seriously, this has been a piece of received fan wisdom, found in fan magazines or articles/letters since the 1960s when second Doctor, PATRICK TROUGHTON, TOOK OVER! Speaking of Doctor Who being cancelled…)
- If you were not around during the Wilderness Years (a 20 year period between when Doctor Who was cancelled and rebooted in 2005) you’re not a real fan, true fan, credible fan, knowledgeable fan, [insert adjective] fan.
- You will never find other Doctor Who fans, around work or the “real world,” who will understand you or want to understand what you’re talking about. You’re going to have to go to special places to find them.
- You are not a real Doctor Who fan until you’ve attended a convention or joined an online forum.
- Most of Gallifrey Base, an online forum, is toxic and not worth your energy.
- If you were not watching and blogging on your LiveJournal during the 2005 reboot, or soon after, you’re not [see all previous descriptions above.]
- Any woman who picks Ten (David Tennant) or Eleven (Matt Smith) as their favorite Doctor is just a love-sick fangirl.
- Since women were not vocal in the Pre-Wilderness years there just were not a lot of women who were Doctor Who women fans during that time (yeah, this one makes me rage… especially since cursory research reveals otherwise; but dudes who “lived it” will continue to argue this as fact.)
- All American Doctor Who fans are Anglophiles, obsessed with British culture/colonialism.
- Doctor Who is one of the most racist or sexist shows on television/Doctor Who has always been one of the most progressive shows on television (hint: with a constant circulation of writers for each of the stories, meaning many writers, it can be both!)
- Anyone who skips the Ninth Doctor is Doctor Who-ing wrong (yeah, this is a hill I’d be willing to die on.)
- The TV movie/The Sound of Drums/Missy is the worst thing to happen to The Master, EVER!
- Donna Noble is the most hated companion of New Who, Rose is the most beloved and Martha Jones is the most underrated.
- Sarah Jane Smith is the best Classic Who companion of all time, and Jo Grant is nothing but a scream girl (biting my tongue so hard to not just go off on this one.)
- A real fan must watch and love Classic Who
- Shada would have been the greatest Doctor Who story, EVER, if only it had been given the time and budget to be completed.
- We must constantly remind everyone that women, like Verity Lambert and Delia Derbyshire, were at the forefront of Doctor Who’s creation; because someone everyone seems to forget that women have always been part of Doctor Who; maybe it was all those years of women doing nothing but screaming, but even though they scream many, like Barbara (or insert a number of any other companions,) stand up to the Doctor.
- The Doctor had a sentient penguin as a companion, in the comics, and he was (amazing/horrendous/whatever.)
I actually had to cut myself off because I feel like the list could go on and on and on. For better or worse these are impressions that seem to be exuded online, or within fan communities. Some of them build gatekeeper mentality and hatred for other types of fans. Some of these stereotypical opinions. Most are just fun ways to have spirited debate about a show we all love. No matter what, all of them have pushed me to think critically about why I love the episodes and Doctors that I do love. They’ve also helped me to think before speaking to another DW fan about how I feel about the show, eras, companions, etc.
Is there any perceived “received fan wisdom” that I missed? I know I have. Let me know what they are in the comments below.