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Doctor Who mention in IoS

December 14th, 2008 (12:43 am)

The Independent on Sunday mentions 'Middle-aged Doctor Who fans' in its space-filling and inconsistent 'Fifty most ludicrous Britons 2008':

Middle-aged 'Doctor Who' fans

Prosecution: Harmless though such an enthusiasm may appear to be, a fondness for this festival of glitzy impossibilities is a warning sign that you could develop the kind of full-blown dementia so many psychiatrists have noted in science-fiction fans. Watch one too many episodes, and you are embarked on a slippery slope, at the bottom of which is collecting 'Star Wars' memorabilia and building your holidays around attending SciFiComCons at provincial Holiday Inns.

Defence: Sure, maybe anyone over 15 who's interested in sci-fi is a bit suspect, but perhaps these are just parents who have successfully found a bonding point with their 'Who'-obsessed kids. Lighten up.


Posted by: Susan (lil_shepherd)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 06:39 am (UTC)

It also give you a chance to vote for your own pick of the listed candidates. One is spoilt for choice, but my vote went to the sanctimonious Melanie Phillips, who is - by a tad - the worst pundit on The Moral Maze, a programme that always has me yelling at the radio. Not many people are voting for Dr Who fans (Jonathon Ross appears to be leading the field) so you may feel neglected...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 10:59 am (UTC)

I've barely listened to The Moral Maze since before Hugo Gryn died, which is a long time ago. Probably the move from Thursday mornings told against it.

The career of Melanie Phillips is a strange one; having allowed herself to be painted into the corner as a closet right-winger, she then took herself to the Daily Mail and became one openly.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC)

I knew Melanie Phillips' daughter at university. Her politics were very different to her mothers', but her mannerisms could be eeriely similar.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)

Newspapers today have less money, fewer staff and even in the recession, spaces to fill on large numbers of pages around the ads. Guessing your readers' prejudices - determining them, even - is a lazy but effective way of generating copy, and in this case bring in some interactivity, too.

Posted by: Dewi Evans (wonderwelsh)
Posted at: December 15th, 2008 09:43 am (UTC)

Some of my friends have been affected by this situation, and it's a shame. Even so, this is The Indepenent for Christ's sake. If this is the best they can come up with, then it really is tempting to respond to reports of job-cuts among staff writers with an arrogant snort and a cry of 'Well, GOOD!'

Posted by: wrong but wromantic (sally_maria)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 10:43 am (UTC)

I suppose it's a compliment really - if Doctor Who wasn't such a big deal they'd be picking on Trekkies or Tolkien fans.

You can only feel sorry for them really, they don't know what they're missing, poor things.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 11:17 am (UTC)

I think that the 'mainstream media' tends to think that different fan cultures are all interchangeable; or they imagine a hierarchy depending on what is currently fashionable in the outside world.

Posted by: wrong but wromantic (sally_maria)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 11:35 am (UTC)

I think you're probably right. Certainly they don't seem to distinguish very well between what different types of fans might be interested in - witness the whole "anyone over the age of 15 interested in science fiction".

What I tend to see is them picking on whichever fandom is most in the public eye at the time - so when the films were big we had articles assuming all Tolkien fans were engineering students called Nigel, and I'm sure the new Star Trek film will lead to many articles about Trekkies.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)
Davison Clock

Google Ads now tell me that I can "Buy Vent Axia Fans Online!" I'm sure that there must be some, somewhere, but I didn't know they came at that much of a premium... ;)

The sneering wing of the media find diversity in fandom difficult to cope with...

Posted by: wrong but wromantic (sally_maria)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 12:16 pm (UTC)

Or they think it's beneath them to think about it - we are obviously all sad individuals and the details of our individual sadnesses are not worth their consideration. That would mean accepting that it might matter and obviously only a sad person would think that.

I forget that I have a Firefox extension that turns the ads off in Google and then get startled when other people mention them. I do seem to remember them offering to sell me some very strange things from time to time.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
Doctor Who

I don't have much to add to this that hasn't already been said. These journalists don't seem to have any idea of what fandom involves or what fans actually do or, for that matter, what quality science fiction actually is. I'm sure they'd be shocked to see my book shelves where Philip K Dick sits next to Charles Dickens and H. G. Wells is between Evelyn Waugh and Oscar Wilde.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)

Ignorance is column inches, I fear.

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: December 14th, 2008 08:37 pm (UTC)

There's no smoke without fire. Stereotypes tend to start because some members of a particular community exhibit certain traits - and (crucially) a greater proportion than average.

Some chavs do wear Burberry baseball caps. Some footballers' wives are brainless bimbos. Some scousers do have bushy moustaches and perms. And I'm afraid to say, some Doctor Who fans have poor fashion sense and limited social skills.

Posted by: Dewi Evans (wonderwelsh)
Posted at: December 15th, 2008 09:37 am (UTC)

Most of the country's best journalists are Doctor Who fans. Someone should tell the guy who writes this list - he might learn from them.

Yeah, I know, I tried to be witty about this and faied completely. But honestly, I know some Who fans are a bit weird, but are people STILL playing the 'sadi Whovian' card? Really? I mean, this would entail half the country suffering from 'serious dementia', surely?

Given the choice between a pint with the most lamentable Whovian and the writer of this article I think I can safely say that, for a variety of reasons, the former would be the most entertaining.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 15th, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)

There's certainly still the occasional attempt, like this, to keep Doctor Who as something to be sneered at, though admittedly it doesn't really succeed.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: December 16th, 2008 07:58 am (UTC)

I think earlier commentators have got it right: it isn't Dr Who that's being sneered at, just the preparedness of some people to promote it disproportionately within their lives. This is not a culture that smiles on enthusiasms, even ones not considered eccentric.

In your support, there's a great deal more to dislike about this list than just its take on, well, you lot: it's cheap and cruel, and in addition to that, actually misses the majority of its targets. I suspect a young author whose empathy levels are stuck at teen.