Don’t Let Go


So, last week I bought Timelash. I know what you’re thinking. Some of you think me mad, others are perhaps rolling their eyes. You knew it was coming. But I’m not here to defend my purchase or try to change anyone’s minds over the quality of the story – I did that back in TSV 56. And on the subject of back issues, I would like to address my very first comments for Zeus Plug; the editorial for issue 1, called ‘Let Go’.

Last year I called for elder fans to lay judging off the new series, to relax their grip and let ‘the kids’ enjoy the show without having it forced through the sieves of continuity, ‘canonicity’ and worse, the ‘established’ critical history of the old show. Happily, I can’t say I’ve noticed much of that these days. The kids are in their element, fandom is in very good health and the show continues to gather viewers and enthusiasts alike. But sixteen months on from that editorial I do wonder to myself instead what has become of fandom in the wake of new series and new technology. Schoolground play and water cooler chat aside, fandom is largely online, and it has changed. When the internet really kicked off a little over ten years ago some predicted that the writing was on the wall for print fanzines and clubs. By 2000 it seemed certain, with message boards and forums replacing the letters pages of the zine world. Then blogs arrived, and Wikipedia (sorry Jon), and Flickr, YouTube and social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. Some of this we probably saw coming in some form, others not so much. Whatever the case, it is evident that fandom has been enhanced by new technology, and as fandom gets younger, new technology is being embraced faster, and is increasingly defining fandom today.

So how is the online world defining fandom exactly? I suspect that today’s fan is more passive than before. The chief reason might be that we have a new series to watch, and if I’ve noticed anything over the years it’s that the series’ early ‘Wilderness years’ were actually boom-times for fandom, arriving at a time in our lives when free time and disposable income were at their peak. But in other pursuits we’ve almost reverted to being viewers and not do-ers. We don’t, as a rule, get together in groups to watch old episodes anymore. Fanzines are definitely less common than ten years ago – New Zealand still has two regular titles, but on a recent trip to Sydney I saw no local examples in the shop I visited having known it to stock TSV in the past. It could be said then that some traditional pursuits of the social DW fan have lapsed or disappeared, or are shrinking. Perhaps we simply don’t see a need the paper fanzine anymore with its slow publication schedule and inflexible format in this digital age.

But beyond the social life of the fan, what about creative endeavours? Fan fiction probably still exists and was given an initial boost with the relative ease of production and wider delivery of the Internet – but you’ll not see it given a great profile these days. Similarly artwork, where Photoshop has won the war – why draw a cartoon when you can ‘LolWho’ a screenshot? In fact, Photoshop and Lolcats exemplify the new web paradigm, the cult of the ‘mash up’, where entire web sites are dedicated to ripping and riffing images, songs, ads, film clips; dicing and splicing them like remixes of popular songs to create something new, or funny, or satirical, or pointed. For me, this is the exciting side of Web 2.0, and where real creativity is being groomed and pushed out via emails, Diggs and hyperlinks.

But I don’t see it much in the DW world. And I’m not sure why. It’s not as if we don’t have the personnel or the know-how.

Compared to other fanbases our mash-ups are small scale. There’s no Phantom Edit of a story out there yet – certainly not on YouTube. Fan films aren’t as prevalent as they once were; instead the most popular form of mash-up, the ‘music video’ reigns supreme (cue a mawkish series of Doctor and Rose/Martha ‘moments’ set to the latest emo chart song). They strike me as an easy thing to make, an entry-level creation that dates itself as quickly as the adolescent ephemera attached to it. Simply put, there’s nothing ‘big’ being done any more. You could blame the rise of closed shops like professional fan fiction and audios, but that’s only half the story. The Web is still, technically, free. The possibilities are great. We’re among friends.

So that’s in part why I bought Timelash. I say ‘in part’ because already I know you expect me to say “it’s really not that bad” or words to that effect. It’s true, I believe in Timelash and one day – yes, one day, I might have the time and video editing software with which to re-edit and transform this unloved story into something that might enthrall, divert or amuse. To make it, as the parlance of reality TV has it “my own”. Just like we did with the series in the old days. It might work, it might be rubbish, but it’s better than doing nothing.

Isn’t it?


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One Response to “Don’t Let Go”

  1. Peter A Says:

    Huh! Self-fulfilling prophecy or what? :o

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