I am a fan of a lot of things. I have thoughts about that.
I have been watching Supernatural since it first aired, eight (or nine?) years ago. I have not missed an episode; I recently rewatched seasons 1 - 7 on Netflix, which only confirmed that fact. But, I was not really aware of, and thus not apart of, any online fandoms until maybe last year. I didn’t personally know anyone who watched it and it never dawned on me to purposefully seek out others who did. Sure, I had no one to discuss the “OMG” and “WTF” moments with, but I’m an only child with few friends and few family, I am very used to being self-entertained. I kind of stumbled into the online fandoms, or rather the fandoms kind of sprung up around me on Tumblr (a service, I’ve been using since nearly it’s inception).
Now I see these people who binge-watched the show two or three years ago, who have since been to like three conventions, watched all the cast commentary and interviews, and learned everything about the show, the cast and the creators; none of which I’ve done myself. But, I am a fan, through and through. I don’t consider myself less of a fan because, I don’t do all of this and I recognize that the amount of time I have been a fan in no way makes me a “better” or “truer” fan.
And this is the attitude I see in a lot of online fandoms.
I binge-watched all of Doctor Who last year; six seasons of New Who in five days. Four seasons of Torchwood in three. Several classic serials, several rewatches, and I’m keeping up with the current season. So, I am a very new fan; a Newbie Whovie, if you will. (Just coined that!) I immediately fell in love with the show, and I have since tried to learn as much and to experience as much of it as I can. I am trying to “catch up” with 50 years of television, it will take some time, but I am not completely ignorant about it, and I get really irritated when people who’ve been a fan longer think they have some kind of superiority over myself and others who have only recently come into the fold.
I get irritated when people have only seen the Matt Smith episodes and don’t take the time to watch seasons 1 - 4; not because, they’re newbs and they don’t know better, but because, I don’t think the eleventh Doctor is the best of the new Doctors and I don’t think any of his companions have been well-written. But even if I feel like you are doing yourself, and the show, a disservice by skipping Eccleston and Tennant, I in no way think that my having seen those seasons makes me a better fan. I also don’t think that people who like Eleven and/or his companions are worse fans; I am just upset that they don’t care about Moffat’s mistreatment of minority characters and his lack of respect for the fans and their criticism of a show some of them have loved all of their lives.
My newness to the show does not make me less of a fan. My dislike of the show, as it is currently, does not make me less of a fan. The fact that I watched six seasons back to back means I saw just how how drastically the show changed between seasons four and five. I saw the descent in quality, characterization, and strong, intelligent writing. (Complex ≠ Good / Flashy ≠ Good / “Feisty” ≠ Strong) I am not a “Moffat hater” because I am new to the series and “don’t understand that Moffat has taken cues from the Classic series.” I’ve seen classic serials. But the difference is, there was a lot of shit that was more acceptable in the 60s and 70s — sexism, racism, queerphobia — that is absolutely unacceptable now. Yet it is happening every single week, and I am upset about it, and somehow this means I am not a “true” fan. That I care about the show enough to want better for it proves that I am a fan, and I’d rather be “negative” or “post hate” than praise a man who is ignorant in his views and has no desire to improve himself or his writing.
This was a post about fandoms, but really, it is a post about being a fan. I am a fan of Doctor Who, but that does not require me to like everything about it; it does not require me to keep my peace; it does not require me to shut up or stop watching. If you feel that way, fuck you! I will keep watching, and if it’s shit, I’ll keep complaining. Maybe if BBC gets off Moffat’s privates (censored myself!) and paid attention to the fans, they’d see there is A LOT of support for a new showrunner and a new direction for the show. (Also hire more female writers, and writers of color, and people who have experience living as a non-privileged — white, hetero, male — person, so you have fresh perspectives and accurate, respectful portrayals of these people in your show.)