Hipster Who Blues

I’m usually the first one to groan about people doing the whole ‘ruined forever by popularity’ song and dance. As far as I’m concerned, I usually welcome new people into my various fandoms. But this past year, one of my most beloved shows exploded in popularity–and it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

You can see them everywhere: people sporting t-shirts adorned with the TARDIS, in-jokes, Matt Smith’s visage. And part of me wonders if they’re the kind of fan who can appreciate the “Doctor Who” of the 1960’s, if they realize what a huge story has been woven over the decades and whether or not they can see the value of the low-budget black and white Who of ages past. Because let me tell you, there is nothing worse than a fan who doesn’t know their history.

These are the fans who call David Remnant the second Doctor (he’s the tenth actor to play the role) and skip the first four seasons because they want to get to the Eleventh actor to play the Doctor, completely missing the great storylines of even a few years ago (with cries of “Steven Moffat rules! Russel T. Davies sucks!”).

And then they simply don’t have the attention span to sit through a serial from the 1970’s, claiming the cheesy effects hurt their eyes. The 1960-1990’s era of “Doctor Who” is rich with great stories, acting, and not to mention the fact that you are witnessing a British cultural phenomenon in the making. It chafes me to realize some people neither know nor care about it.

I guess, in the end, what I don’t like is pretty simple: When you decide you want to watch a show like “Doctor Who”, with a rich, decade-long history and a cult following, you don’t just watch it casually, then buy merchandise and wear it. That cult following might see that t-shirt or backpack or bag and think it’s a signal to talk to you about a subject that the casual fan will quickly find themselves lost in.

Shows like “Doctor Who” have a dedicated fanbase. That fanbase will want to talk to you if you’re wearing a Doctor Who shirt. (Protip: Nerds in obscure fanbases wear merchandise to attract the attention of fellow nerds, kind of like a nerd mating ritual.) So if you’re going to wear the gear, know what you’re wearing.