Our Raisins D’etre

 

raisins

We’re through the looking glass now, people, and into the first issue of Zeus Plug number one! First up, here’s Jono’s welcome to new readers with a bit of a restatement of our agenda, and the editorial, which I was pretty pleased with at the time. Updated thoughts follow…

 

WELCOME TO ZEUS PLUG

This is not a fanzine! A fanzine needs to be A5, have at least 20 pages, and have at least one review. ZEUS PLUG isn’t any of those. It is in fact 16 A6 pages long, officially making it the smallest NZ fanzine ever!

 

In explaining what you’ll get from ZEUS PLUG, it’s perhaps easier to outline what you won’t see in its pages. There won’t be any reviews (bar the occasional new series story), any interviews, list articles, and no fiction. Also ZEUS PLUG is series-centric only, so you won’t see many mentions of books and audios and anyway, TSV already covers these nicely. What you will get is opinion – lots of it. fandom survives on opinion and very little of the above. The reason this zine is so small is because life’s too short to be stuck inside reading a hundred pages of miniscule type. For God’s sake, get some fresh air! Go to the pub – you can take this with you and use it as a beer mat.

 

Well done on getting your hands on Issue 1 – whilst ZEUS PLUG is meant to be a quick disposable read, we still recommend you put it in a safe place. That way, in 10 years time, you can milk the completists for all they’re worth.

 

We hope you enjoy this issue – it’s rather wonderful with some friends and a bottle of wine.

 

 

LET GO

 

 

Two things I recently observed. The first was heart-warming and, I’ve been told, not unique. On the way out of Whitcoulls I passed a young father and his son –probably no more than four or five years old. “Okay”, the father said “what do you want to look for?” “Docter Oo” “Well there’s plenty of other stuff here first, mate”. Clearly a fanboy in training if another male had to talk him around. The second thing I observed last month wasn’t so good. A debate on a message board as to whether the Children in Need ‘Pudsey Cutaway’ is canon. ‘Canon?’ I had to check the calendar to see that it wasn’t still 1995.

Doctor Who fandom has been around a long time – in organised form probably since the early 1970s; in militant form, probably the mid 1980s. Fans ‘of an age’ have grown into and up with organised fandom and its various endeavours and squabbles over ‘proper’ chronologies and issues of ‘canon’. For the most part it’s been harmless fun – nobody’s lost an eye, and even off-air the series continued to live through fandom, ever growing and changing. Well, maybe changing – I suspect that as a whole we fans don’t like too much change, as several letters to DWM et cetera will attest. Now the series is back, and many of those old fans really are old fans.

We can be proud that Doctor Who nowadays is the product of fans grown up, and has been spearheaded by those who championed it even in its last days and when the original fires sputtered out. Fans kept it alive, but it’s time for fans to move on and viewers to reclaim the series and from them new fans to appear. This doesn’t mean we should stop watching or loving the series, but it does mean we have the freedom to enjoy it again as it was intended, without the self-inflicted burden of responsibility that we are somehow its appointed guardians and curators. We owe it to the next generation of fans to allow them the freedom to interpret this series in their own way and on their own terms; to revise, reinterpret, and hopefully turn fandom on its head. If we don’t, then fandom will have nothing to nothing to talk about, no new ground to cover, and may as well not exist. And then where would we be?

 

This is the first editorial from Zeus Plug and it’s mine. It was deliberately provocative, intended to get a conversation going, or at least a reaction from the reader. At the time Jono and I were looking toward the new series, listening and reading the advance chatter and anticipating some backlash from fans of the traditional show who were expecting – perhaps dreading, changes to the ‘essence’ of the series with its return.

Five years on and it’s especially interesting to look back on.

I’ve pitched in with my none-too-private opinions on this blog over the years of the RTD era and among the comments I’ve made you could say that a common thread is that there’s some stuff – stuff from the Tennant/Piper stories in particular, that I’ve taken issue with. This isn’t the place to resurrect those complaints or arguments, but it does rather suggest that I have become one of those fans I was warning about in the editorial below. In short, things have changed and at times I have demonstrated that I have not moved on myself. Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe. Does it make me wrong? Absolutely not. Should I change my mind or indeed ‘move on’? Probaby for my sanity I could have done, but I didn’t and lookee – if I had I wouldn’t be given this gift of an opportunity to re-read past statements and reflect on my failing to live up to them! But I do believe in the statement still, as much as I believe there’ll be stuff we’ll see next year and maybe the year after that at least that won’t sit well with some old fans or some recent fans. New fans are as capable of being riled and of not accepting change as well, as reaction to Torchwood Children of Earth has shown. What does that tell us? Well, we’re fans, we each have our own vision of what the series is and how it should be, and we can at times be if not an unmoveable force then one slow to move. And yet, if collectively we hadn’t moved on and let some of the young fans in the show wouldn’t be in half as healthy a state as it was then, or indeed is now.

Over the weekend I visited friends who have a seven year old utterly and completely into Doctor Who. So much so in fact that despite having seen the Ninth Doctor turn into the Tenth Doctor, she’s so attached to Tennant’s Time Lord that the dreaded ‘R’ word is being avoided at home until the moment comes when it cannot be avoided. And after that, hopefully, things will progress as normal – besides, she still has a great set of DVDs to rewatch if she wants, and being a kid with greater tolerance for repeat viewing, she probably will. The lesson here is that change (you, me, everything) is inevitable in everything but parking machines. And if we don’t like it then we’ll always have the past to keep us company.

PA

One Response to “Our Raisins D’etre”

  1. Paul Scoones Says:

    A good thought- and comment-provoking post… but five years? Surely not that long. Zeus Plug is three and a half years old, by my reckoning. Time flies, but not quite that much.

    I suspect that the naysayers of the new series, those who as you put it, have failed to ‘move on’, are possibly over-represented on blogs and forums and therefore appear to be a larger proportion of the fandom demographic than is in fact the case. Long-term fans generally comfortable with the style and direction of the post 2005 series are probably much less likely to post as frequently or as vociferously about their views as those who object to changes in the series.

    It is tempting to view the long gap prior to the series return as the catalyst for this lack of acceptance of change: over that time the old series has become bundled as a fixed, knowable entity. Of course this has its own inherent contradictions and stylistic diversity, but it was crucially presented as a relatively gradual evolution of direction year on year. For some fans the new series is perhaps a bit too much like culture shock because the through-line between old and new is regarded as broken.

    The latest DWM’s results from the ‘Mighty 200′ survey is perhaps a truer indication of the divide between ‘old’ and ‘new’ fandom. Broken down into three voter age brackets, the under 18s (14% of voters) predictably award high scores to Russell T. Davies’ big-hitting series finales of each of the last four years, but the remaining six places go to classic series stories including, most surprisingly, ‘The War Games’ and ‘The Power of the Daleks’, demonstrating that younger fans are by no means all regarding ‘Rose’ as the point at which it all began. At ther other end of the age spectrum, the oldies in the 36+ group (49% of voters) have an almost completely different line-up of stories in their top ten but which still includes four new series stories (though, perhaps significantly, none of Russell T Davies’ episodes).

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.