It’s an odd time in fandom — there’s a lot of division, and while that’s always been true, it feels a bit more extreme at the moment. We’re never going to agree all the time about what we like best, which era is a golden period of Doctor Who, which bits are awful. And that’s good: it means debate. And I like to think that the Doctor Who Companion stands for debate, discussion, free speech. Today, I was reminded of the quote from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, outside the old BBC Television Centre: “If Liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Right now, some media outlets won’t publish anything negative about the current era of Doctor Who, and I personally think that’s a little pathetic. What’s the point of a review if they’re all going to say each episode is great? There’s no healthy discussion if the party line of “everything is fantastic, always” is adhered to. And it’s just not reflective of the Doctor Who universe. We all love and hate different things. For instance, vast swathes of fandom say Journey’s End is wonderful; I think it’s pants (albeit with a generally good cast and some decent scenes, including Donna’s departure, which is heartbreaking and superb). Similarly, fandom will tell you The Rings of Akhaten is rubbish; I think it’s beautiful.
Everything’s like that: look at how Marvel’s Eternals has divided the comic book community.
But sometimes, when I watch Journey’s End, the good bits stand out. Sometimes, the bad bits do. That’s life. That’s fiction.
In trying to cultivate a community that isn’t afraid to say what it thinks, however, we can forget that the people we’re arguing with online are actual people. Messages get misconstrued online. Sarcasm can be lost. Jokes can be cutting.
That’s why we have a comments policy. Please do take a look when you can.
The main thing about it is that thing fans now say Doctor Who is all about: “be kind”. Personally, I think Doctor Who is about a silly ol’ Time Lord dotting around space and time, getting into trouble, righting some wrongs, and generally getting embroiled in events while offering strangers jelly babies. The comments section, though, really is about kindness, as well as debate. Because proper debate comes with respect.
So I just want to take a moment to remind readers and writers that everyone here is a real person, not a bot; words can hurt; and the people contributing to this site — both making articles and leaving comments — do so not for financial gain (I’m as tight as The Sun Makers‘ Collector), but for the love of Doctor Who and for its community.
I don’t like the idea that anyone is put off leaving comments because they’re worried they’ll be shot down in flames. Nor that the divisions in fandom mean readers and writers of this site can’t come together and appreciate both sides.
Honestly? My heart isn’t in Doctor Who right now. But the DWC does make me smile. I’m proud of it. The people who visit and the people who contribute mean I haven’t completely lost faith in Who, that there’s something still worth holding onto.
Yes, fandom is split, but that doesn’t mean the DWC isn’t there to try to bridge the gaps. You want to comment? Comment! Please bear in mind our comments policy, i.e. be thoughtful and considerate, don’t use offensive language, and don’t personally attack anyone. Remember, too, that no one owes anyone else a reply; this isn’t Judge Judy, so no one here has to defend themselves — but if they do want to expand on their feelings, that’s very much encouraged too. Discussion is the life-blood of the site.
Basically: just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Thanks, team. Be amazing.