Fandoms are truly amazing things. There’s one for seemingly every franchise nowadays, and whatever the product they exist solely to bring fans of all ages and backgrounds together in a comfortable and familiar environment. They are capable of lifting, inspiring and even saving lives, and so their importance to millions around the world – including myself – must never be underestimated. As you will know by now, my chosen fandom is Doctor Who. It has definitely shaped my life to a significant extent, as I may never have chosen to write without it, and watching it has filled me and many others with seemingly endless wonder. It pleases me greatly to see fellow Whovians freely interacting online and indulging in what they love so much – and even those of you who are not fans can surely appreciate how expansive this international community of enthusiasts is.
That said, however, I do see an underlying problem that I feel compelled to address – not with the Who fandom itself, but with the perception that some non-fans have of it. I was inspired to write this post just a few days ago, when – being very excited to see the unveiling of Jodie Whittaker’s new costume – I suddenly thought about how these people have reacted to my declarations of love for the show. I can’t help but think that I occasionally feel looked down on in a way that people in other fandoms, such as Harry Potter or Supernatural, never seem to be. As soon as this occurred to me, I knew that I had to find out whether this perceived reaction really was an established thing, and what people’s reasoning – if any – was behind it. I posed these questions to some of my friends, Will included, who I thought might be able to relate to my Whovian predicament — and one in particular gave me a very intriguing response.
It was Lauren who said that, as a Doctor Who fan, there can be some very complicated scientific concepts and plots for one to figure out, meaning that those who can (and don’t be fooled, because I’m not always one of them) are stereotyped as being more nerdy and less cool than fans elsewhere. Believe it or not, I’d never considered this before. I suppose it makes sense, although the apparent implication that non-Whovians are less intelligent in some way does make me a little bit uncomfortable. Maybe the people who look down on or criticise us but have never seen the show are put off doing so by assuming you have to be clever. It’s not essential at all. In fact, I’d say that the reason I had never about Lauren’s opinion is because it’s not why I fell in love with Doctor Who in the slightest. I love it because of that wonder I mentioned, the ever-present notion that anything is possible, and the Doctor’s relentless message of acceptance and equality that is so clearly present everywhere he or she goes. These reasons might all sound clichéd, and maybe I’m repeating myself in giving them, but that’s only because they’re never ever untrue. If you’re reading this, you have a few pre-conceived ideas and you’ve never given Doctor Who the time of day thus far, all I ask is that you give it a try. One episode. You might surprise yourself, and gain a few million new friends in the process.