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02 December 2014 @ 02:28 pm
My Doctor Who Reviews  
The sharp of eye will have noticed I've not been writing much about Doctor Who lately. I think most people who regularly read this journal are aware of the situation so I'll just say I have a bad case of Real Life. I'm still watching Doctor Who, NLSS Child is somewhat voracious, or as much as she can be given I've been absent for a good deal of the past six weeks. I will write about it all in due course so expect a sudden splurge of stuff after Christmas.

However there has been considerable criticism of my style of reviewing on Facebook - specifically a style that involves assuming knowledge of and interest in the production team, including referring to them by initials only on occasion, and which seeks to draw comparisons to classic Who, discuss how modern stories may relate to or effect our understanding of classic Who, or which assumes any interest in or appreciation of classic Who outside the Pertwee and Baker years. To be honest I think this criticism is mostly aimed at [personal profile] sir_guinglain (AKA parrot_knight) who's reviews are considerably more academic in nature than my own. However the fact remains that I assume a certain degree of fannishness from my readers, assume they are aware of the main behind-the-scenes players in the new series and assume they are at least interested enough in classic Who that if some comparison occurs to me then they'll be interested to know about it.

So this has all made me think about about why I write these reviews and, hence, why I write them the way I do. I'm not particularly interested in the kind of Big Name Fan status (prev. referred to as BNFdom) that might follow from running a popular Doctor Who review blog. I know this largely because making sure I'm linked by who_daily is about the extent of the effort I'm prepared to go to to publicise this blog. What I like is having a little excuse to chat about Doctor Who (current or otherwise) on a regular basis and these reviews serve that purpose admirably. There is frequently modest, but not overwhelming discussion about the latest Who episode both on LJ and Facebook (and even occasionally on DreamWidth) kickstarted by my posts. Given I rarely get to watch Who live and so miss all the reaction posts and early reviews they fill what would otherwise be a gap. I'm also not nearly as good at commenting on the reaction posts and reviews that I do read as those writers tend to be at commenting on mine, which is something I should fix - perhaps a New Years' resolution?

Of course, that doesn't mean I couldn't attempt to write them more accessibly and with less attention paid to the classic series but, well, my primary audience is fans on LiveJournal. Not necessarily Doctor Who fans, but certainly people who are media fans of one sort or another. Someone (in the Guardian I think) recently commented that Doctor Who is to media fans what football is to regular folk, something everyone maintains a passing interest in just because everyone else does and so it eases conversations. It's not, I don't think, unreasonable to assume that media fans know who RTD refers to, and won't feel instantly alienated by a mention of Colin Baker that goes beyond laughing at his coat. I don't particularly want to go to the effort of self-censoring especially since I am interested, at least in a passing way, in how the production team effect what appears on the screen and I have readers who are considerably more knowledgeable about those aspects than myself and often have something interesting to say when I make an observation. The same applies to mentions of classic Who with the added incentive that I am actually actively interested in talking with people about classic Who as well. Excising such references from my reviews would, I think, somewhat reduce the purpose they serve for me.

My posts get automatically cross-posted to Facebook, because I know there are a few people there who are also interested, but I've also got old school friends, cousins and a random smattering of work colleagues on my Facebook friends-list who I assume have no real interest whatsoever. So my assumptions about the audience clearly don't hold there. I could probably figure out how to create a Who fan filter on Facebook to exclude all those people, but I tend to assume that there is so much noise on Facebook that everyone is quite happy to just skip past a Doctor Who review from me, if a Doctor Who review is not their kind of thing.

So, after some thought, I'm not going to attempt to change the way I write these things, because I enjoy writing them the way I do and I get the amount of feedback I want.

I suppose all I can do is apologise to those people on Facebook who somehow feel compelled to read them even though they don't like them.

Though reading this back, I may delete it from my FB feed, it's gone on considerably longer than I think the original complaint actually justified.

And yes, in case you were wondering, I am stuck on a programming problem at work. How could you tell?

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/133375.html.
 
 
 
lukadreaminglukadreaming on December 2nd, 2014 03:04 pm (UTC)
I'm definitely a casual fan of the show, but enjoy your reviews and don't find myself that confused by references, although some stuff is bound to pass me by. I think they're perfectly accessible.

I hope the RL shit eases soon.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 03:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks! RL looks to be easing although with the unspoken promise that it could all get suddenly worse at no notice.

I'm glad they seem accessible. I think parrot_knight's are also fairly accessible (though again there is stuff that passes me by, especially since I lack his background in media history), but I think they are accessible enough and interesting, at least to people who are interested in that kind of thing, and if you aren't interested in that kind of thing I don't quite understand why you are reading and engaging. It's not like there's a shortage of writing about Doctor Who out there.

It's bizarrely like this person feels there is only "One True Way" of discussing Doctor Who.

Edited at 2014-12-02 03:11 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - parrot_knight on December 2nd, 2014 03:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 03:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - parrot_knight on December 2nd, 2014 08:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 09:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wellinghall on December 2nd, 2014 06:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wellinghall on December 2nd, 2014 06:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 09:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
philmophlegm: dalekphilmophlegm on December 2nd, 2014 03:12 pm (UTC)
Keep writing. I always read them, and I'm really not the sort of fan who reads what other fans think most of the time.

However, could you explain the terms "BNFdom" and "media fan"? (I'm guessing that BNFdom is the sort of thing that JN-T might have got up to when nobody was looking...)
louisedennislouisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 03:18 pm (UTC)
BNF is an acronym for "Big Name Fan" - big fish in small ponds essentially, but there are fans who are famous among fans and get a certain amount of social cache out of that. Writing a regular blog about, say, Doctor Who would be a reasonably good way of becoming a BNF assuming the blog were good enough to attract readers and you publicised it energetically and maintained it consistently. Being better known among Dr Who fans is conceivably a reason I might be writing these things (and indeed it is to the extent that I publicise via who_daily - I just feel I've reached the level of fame among Who fans that I'm happy with).

Media fan is a term I've seen used to describe, well, the sorts of people that tend to hang out on LiveJournal. They are fans primarily of TV shows and Films rather than, say, science fiction in its written form, comics, or gaming though obviously there is a big overlap (and fans of those other things also hang out on LJ in disproportionate numbers but not quite to the extent that media fans seem to). I wouldn't necessarily expect a role-player to know who Russell Davies was, but I'd expect a media fan to - in the same way I know who Joss Whedon, J. J. Abrams and JMS (because I'm not going to try to spell his surname just now - but the Babylon 5 man) are.

Edited at 2014-12-02 03:20 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - philmophlegm on December 2nd, 2014 03:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 03:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - parrot_knight on December 2nd, 2014 03:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 03:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - parrot_knight on December 2nd, 2014 03:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 03:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - a_cubed on December 3rd, 2014 01:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on December 3rd, 2014 10:57 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - a_cubed on December 3rd, 2014 12:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Susan: oneandriverlil_shepherd on December 2nd, 2014 03:30 pm (UTC)
I have never been a Dr Who fan but, speaking as a long time media fan with an interest in TV history (and film, and comics, and written SF, and fandom) I find all your reviews perfectly accessible, though parrot_knight just occasionally loses me in specific Who references. (Possibly because I don't know much about Who fandom, despite having friends in it.)

Edited at 2014-12-02 03:30 pm (UTC)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 03:43 pm (UTC)
It's difficult to gauge precisely what level to pitch things at, even if I felt I had the energy to worry about it here, because you can irritate by over-explaining as easily as you can by under-explaining. I would say parrot_knight is much more specifically writing for Who fans and those interested in television history than I am and hence there is a greater level of detail and assumed knowledge.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on December 2nd, 2014 03:55 pm (UTC)
Also, keep writing! You have an independence of thought and association with other spheres of intellectual activity (that sounds pretentious - it isn't meant to be) which make your reviews more interesting and more identifiable than perhaps mine are, as I sometimes try too hard or become hung up on points which perhaps I wouldn't if I were a trained media historian or literary critic (I was rebuked for half-baked amateur criticism by one BNF once).
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 04:02 pm (UTC)
I think your history background shows in a desire to cover all potentially relevant details, while a science background tends to encourage you to discard anything you don't consider directly relevant to your argument. My philosophy tutor once commented to me that it was a distinction he saw very clearly between the essays turned in by his students with humanities backgrounds and those, like me, who were doing Maths and Philosophy. I often feel the difference between your reviews and mine is that you give a sense of wanting to have thoroughly discussed everything about a story where I tend to pick on a couple of points I thought were interesting and discuss those alone. If I can't think of anything interesting I often find I'm floundering a bit about what to write but it does at least serve to keep the length down which has a value on the internet.

Your anecdote reminds me of when I was studying my MSc in the early days of the Internet when one of my peers excitedly told us that Marvin Minsky (a pioneer of Artificial Intelligence) had replied to one of his posts on usenet. When we gathered around to see it turned out that Minsky had called him a naive and ignorant philosopher.
(no subject) - wellinghall on December 2nd, 2014 06:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - parrot_knight on December 2nd, 2014 08:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on December 2nd, 2014 06:59 pm (UTC)
I like your reviews! Please don't stop writing them! Along with an increasingly-skimmed DWM, your reviews and parrot_knight's reviews are my only real links with fandom these days (some would question how much contemporary DWM reflects contemporary fan discourse, but that's another question entirely).
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 09:55 pm (UTC)
I don't intend to stop, though they are low enough down the priority list that they have frequently not happened of late. But I still intend to write them. It's just that when you see constant sniping from a particular source, particularly one you once admired and would expect to be receptive, at least in a generic sense, it is rather disheartening.

However, I have now tweaked my Facebook settings, so hopefully interaction will be reduced in future.
(no subject) - a_cubed on December 3rd, 2014 01:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on December 3rd, 2014 11:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
MysteriousAliWays: Primeval - Connor Whuh?mysteriousaliwz on December 2nd, 2014 09:27 pm (UTC)
Oh good grief. Who are these people to dictate what you should write? If it doesn't mesh with what they're interested in reading, it takes half a second to scroll past a post.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 09:58 pm (UTC)
That's one of the bizarre things about the whole thing, he regularly leaves comments on my Facebook posts about the story in question - albeit normally of the "Dr Who is good now for watching with the family but was rubbish in the 1980s" ilk but then posts stuff elsewhere and makes comments on parrot_knight's posts about how we should all grow up and stop taking it so seriously.

As you say, if you don't like people writing about Dr Who, don't read. It's not that difficult.
(no subject) - parrot_knight on December 2nd, 2014 10:06 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 10:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - parrot_knight on December 2nd, 2014 10:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - louisedennis on December 3rd, 2014 11:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - parrot_knight on December 3rd, 2014 11:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
bunn: Paddle of Rebukebunn on December 2nd, 2014 09:38 pm (UTC)
I like your Who reviews

Write more of those.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 2nd, 2014 09:58 pm (UTC)
I intend to, promise.
Adilo Creamon: min1the_marquis on December 3rd, 2014 08:48 pm (UTC)
Please carry on writing the reviews I like them, and I am not what anyone would call a Dr Who fan as I'll watch it and have watched it in the past but I don't feel a desire to see every episode - does that make me an unfannish-fan? As for the troll ignore the berk! Scrolling past is really low effort
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 4th, 2014 07:17 pm (UTC)
I don't think I've ever felt a strong desire to see every episode. Obviously we're sort of doing that with the Randomizer project, but that's more in the name of always having something to watch of an evening...

I don't think "the troll" is really a troll.