Daily Archives: September 17, 2013
American Fandom Part 1
As an American I have a totally different viewpoint of Doctor Who because I didn’t grow up with it.
I grew up with Star Trek. But that’s someone else’s blog. 🙂
As I have said I watched it in the 1980’s on PBS. I also traded tapes with a “source” who got me the episodes some months after they aired and I had have them converted from PAL and ultimately I had to buy a PAL converter deck (which I still have).
So the hunt was the thing.
I hunted for Doctor Who.
When I discovered it I was 20 years old. Yikes! How time has flown.
I hunted down books.
I hunted down magazines.
I hunted down videos.
I hunted down conventions.
I hunted down fellow fans.
I didn’t grow up with it.
My PBS station showed them at 7:30 Mon-Fri so the cliffhangers were only 24 hours, not 7 days.
But in the early days of WHO I had to be in my dorm room with the TV on at 7:30 to see it.
None of this PVR stuff. Hell, I didn’t even have cable. I got Channel 5 (CBS), Channel 12 (NBC), Channel 7 (ABC), Channel 66 and Channel 20 (Indies) , PBS, and WGN. That was it folks!
And if you missed , too bad. I had to wait until it came around again.
It was nearly a year before I got see Ark In Space Part 1 (or Robot for that matter).
A very different experience to being 6 and watching it every week for years on end as you grow up.
So I think American fans do tend to skew a bit older than British fans in the starting age.
Which brings a different level of engagement to it. And the explosion in Cosplay amongst the younger crowd (younger than older-than-dirt me that is) I think a symptom of this.
This is how the younger generations express it.
I have been in a Doctor Who Club for 23 years now. It has gone from 60+ members to about 8. Even with the re-launch the club has gotten no bigger in the last 7 years.
The Face book page for the Club has 79 members. Over 70 of them have never been to a meeting. (T.A.R.D.I.S- The Arizona Regional Doctor Who Interest Society).
So fandom itself is also changing.
So the experience is changing again.
After all, what took months or years to see can now be see the very same night.
Take the Peter Capaldi Announcement. That was on at 12:30 in the Afternoon here in Phoenix at the same time that it was on in Britain.
That is light years ahead of getting a tape months or years after broadcast.
That make fandom, especially online, very different.
So are we Americans more into it because of the near instant gratification. The lack of hunting.
Much like our ancestors who hunted for food nearly all day, and we go down to the refrigerator and nuke something in 4 minutes and wonder what took so long.
Would these same fans who have access to DVDs of older episodes be there if they had to hunt for them for months on end and wait for months on end??
Technology has changed fandom. The Internet doubly so.
Especially, in America,
popmatters.com: <simon> Guerrier sees a basic cultural difference between fans in the US and UK. “The thing that American fandom kind of misses is that in the UK Doctor Who is not a small thing or a niche thing. Fans here want to cluster together at conventions because it’s a place where they can talk about Doctor Who and share their passion for it, whereas in the UK you just do that at work. It’s in the papers. It’s a huge, popular show. My siblings watch Doctor Who. They’re not fans of things I’m a fan of, but my brother and his kids watch it. It’s just part of what you do. The Christmas special is part of the culture.” At least since the series’ reboot in 2005, Doctor Who has gone mainstream in the UK, but, as in the US yet today, the Doctor wasn’t always so popular outside hardcore SF fandom. “Before the new show came back, it was much more like a social affliction to be a Doctor Who fan. It was something you apologized for,” he adds, tongue only slightly in cheek. “It’s not like that at all now. I still find it quite strange how ‘out’ Doctor Who is.”
Despite the increased visibility of Doctor Who in the US—through Matt Smith’s appearance on The Late Late Show, episodes filming in the US, well-publicized Comic-Con panels, actor appearances at prominent fan conventions, and the sheer globalization of internet fandom—the US still has quite a ways to go culturally before Doctor Who Who is mainstream popular culture.
I can tell you that it was indeed and to an extent still is an “affliction” in America.
You don’t see it on the nightly news like you do in Britain.
And Craig Ferguson is hardly an “A” list Late night host.
It still feels in many ways like the old days of just trying to get people interested in it and struggling with them on it.
Even when the #1 Comedy in America mentions it, The Big Bang Theory…
There are many more. We are small, but we will get you in the end… <Maniacal Anthony Ainley Master Laugh>>
Doctor Who In America Special (BBC America):