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dark Dean

By Jove, I think he's got it!

Posted on 2008.05.25 at 14:20
Current Mood: ecstaticecstatic
Tags: , , ,
Given that it's been an open 'secret' for ages that RTD was to stand aside soon, I'm pretty damn happy about Steven Moffat as the replacement. (Let's face it, it could have been Matthew Graham). Anyhow, I'm not really here to talk about that, just that I've been pondering RTD's contribution to Who and all that, in the light of what it's going to be like without him.

Also, I've been re-reading back issues of DWM recently. And one particular set of notes by RTD just made me squee in such a high-pitched notes that dogs all over the area sat up and took notice.

I'm going to quote large chunks verbatim, if you'll bear with me:

"I could argue that the Doctor suffered the consequences of his treatment of Harriet, because that brought about...the whole nightmarish reign of the Master. But - I'm just the writer! And once a script has been made, and transmitted, I honestly believe that it belongs equally to those who watch it. Don't like the Golden Age theory? Then discard it. I've got no more authority over the text than you! I really believe that; it's a great pleasure, believing that."

And then...

"It would have become that awful thing, a fact. And that's taking it away from you. It's taking away the choice. The Master's fleeting reference to the Cruciform had 7.5 million viewers; that allows for 7.5 million different versions of the Cruciform to exist. And actually...isn't that brilliant? Isn't that the best thing an idea can do, go anywhere, be anything, for anyone?"

He finishes by saying:

"I think that's Doctor Who's greatest legacy - an imagination that goes way beyond the screen, and all the way into your head, where it's yours, forever."

*punches air*

*punches Matthew Graham for good measure*

YES!!!!! THAT'S IT! This makes me so unspeakably happy I'm welling up a little just transcribing it. And that's the beauty of RTD - for all his flaws, his self-indulgence, his unashamed and constant wankiness, he has encapsulated the very essence of the author-reader relationship with a generosity of spirit that should be made compulsory on pain of surgical insertion of laptop into rectum. And he does it, not with a wrench at turning over his baby to the general public, to tear apart and mutilate at their whim, but with a real joy in sharing the fannish love.

I can only hope that Steven Moffat shares this philosophy, because I think it is the crux of why the return of Who has been such a success. Also, if I ever need to justify fanfiction again, I shall be pointing questioners firmly in this direction.

(Also, I have formed a plan - I intend to kidnap Matthew Graham, tie him to a chair, and beat him squarely about the head with a rolled-up copy of this article until I'm confident the message has sunk in. This is where it's at, MG. Listen and learn.)


lozenger8 at 2008-05-25 13:52 (UTC) (Link)
I think Matt's major failing as a writer probably is in his inability to accept that people other than him have different perspectives! --- he always seems to forget about his own fannish tendencies and believes in Absolute Authorial Authority.

Or, at least, that's what it seemed like it, when he decided to get a bit wanky. I think we might possibly be judging him unfairly for a couple of weeks of wankiness, as since that time most of what he's said has actually been quite reasonable and understandable. He honestly has said people are free to interpret his work how they wish! He has said there's freedom to view what you want to view.

(Also? I recently reread those comments, because I'm an obsessive freak like that, and, perhaps once again I am projecting myself onto him, but part of me once again feels like it was a tonal thing? Like, he was really being slightly self-deprecating and 'one of the boys/cool kids' and it came across as mass condescension? I've done that. It's a bitch. I offended people and felt bad.)

I like RTD's attitude in this regard a lot, but all of the flaws you've listed here for him are so true. I really dislike that he sets up these brilliant scenarios and then squanders them.
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2008-05-25 14:08 (UTC) (Link)
It's possible (she admits grudgingly) that I'm being a bit harsh on MG. I do love his writing, when everything else is removed from the equation, and a year and a bit may just be a bit long to be holding a grudge.

It's just, I suppose, that the sense of horror caused by the creator of the LoM fandom turning on me in the way he did (because it's all about me, obviously!) has never really been exorcised, and although he has gone some way to undoing the damage since then, it's left me with a long-term insecurity about fandom in general.

Rusty, with his comments here, has undone a lot of that for me, and hopefully I can now move on. It's like he's given me back permission to feel good about being a fan.

all of the flaws you've listed here for him are so true.
Oh they so are! And don't even get me started on his Doctor-as-Jesus metaphor. But, in the context of what he says here, his fanwank makes much more sense, because he is a fan. In the same sense of the word as we are. And, as such, he has an equal right to mess about with canon as he sees fit, and we can accept it or not as we choose.
lozenger8 at 2008-05-25 14:18 (UTC) (Link)
I also felt personally injured by Matt's words... even though I'd actually removed myself from the mass complaining at that stage and was trying to forge a life for myself away from LoM fandom.

Gee, that was successful.

But, I think, you have to know that the most important thing about fandom is that it doesn't matter what the creators think. Sure, we try to respect them as much as possible, but at the end of the day, as fans, we don't have to be responsible for living up to an author's preconceptions about what participation and engagement with his/her text should look like --- just as MG and AP say fiction in general doesn't have to be responsible.

Matthew is also a fan! Hell, like Rusty, he's a fan of his own show. What is A2A but fan fiction of LoM? What was his Christmas story but fan fiction of LoM? [And both of these are examples that don't comply with canon, no less! ;)]

I always feel like I owe Matthew a lot, because he's sort of shown me that I am so much better as a writer than I ever thought I could be --- and his angering me immensely has produced a few of my very favourite self-written pieces of fiction. But, uh, I don't really care what he would think of it. Because it's not for him. It's for me and other fans of a specific type.

(I also still feel like Matthew secretly wants to be 'one of us'. That's what his willingness to be interviewed and go to cons and go on TRA suggest to me, anyway.)

Edited at 2008-05-25 14:20 (UTC)
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2008-05-25 14:43 (UTC) (Link)
Gee, that was successful.
Hee! XD Yeah, I must have missed that. Curse this confounded blinking!

it doesn't matter what the creators think.
I know this, deep down somewhere. I must do, otherwise I'd never write anything, and I'd certainly have given up on the LoM fandom. I just find it hard to hang onto that fact, because I'm slightly in love with the creators. Obviously, I wouldn't have been so affected by MG's opinion if I didn't care what he thought in the first place.

What is A2A but fan fiction of LoM?
I haven't decided quite where I stand on this yet. Either it's fanfic, in which case its flaws are forgiveable, or it's a move to capitalise on the unexpected commercial success of Life on Mars, without worrying too hard about retaining integrity in characterisation or even storyline. One of those. Hmmm...*ponders*

I always feel like I owe Matthew a lot
Word. All that I said on my writer's answers, about how much I owe to the Lom community, has to go tenfold for MG. Damn, I hate having to face up to myself like this!

Strike while the irony is hot
draycevixen at 2008-05-26 03:57 (UTC) (Link)
Authorial control? You get to build the universe within your text. That's it. Right there. Hell, you can choose to sue anyone who attempts to plagiarize your work. Sure. That's your legal right.

BUT... you can no more dictate audience reaction/interpretation than poor old Canute could stop the waves. Only an idiot would try. IF you can't convince them of your POV within the text you're certainly not going to achieve it by getting all "shouty" about it.

IF you don't want to deal with an unpredictable reading of your text then NEVER show your work to anyone. It's that simple really.

Smart people know that audience interpretation can work in their favour just as many times as it works against them. There's a lovely story of T.S. Eliot reading criticism of his poetry and then telling a friend "I never knew I was that smart."

Sorry, rambling... *slinks away*
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2008-05-29 08:55 (UTC) (Link)
Yes to rambling, no to slinking away! :D

You're completely right, to the point that what you say should be almost too obvious to be worth saying. But...you don't hear that kind of sentiment coming from too many writers - MG is just one case in point. JK Rowling has expressed similar sentiments, but then has the tendency to get a bit (well, a lot) stroppy if anyone actually takes her up on it, Joss Whedon seems pretty generous with his ideas, but Rusty seems to have totally got the point, and I'm deeply impressed.

Not least because, for all you're right on a common-sense kind of level, it's tough to apply rational thought when you've put a lot of effort and emotion into a creation process, and then faced 'misinterpretation' and criticism.
Strike while the irony is hot
draycevixen at 2008-05-29 11:35 (UTC) (Link)

If a writer is going to survive and not going completely insane, s/he is going to have to accept that a story IS actually created in that space between the writer and the reader and that story will be different every time. What does the reader bring to the table? Is your reader capable, for instance, of finding a murderer to be a sympathetic character. The Dexter books are about a serial killer who kills serial killers (simple summary). There are readers who will find him a sympathetic character and ones who will immediately judge him. The writer has NO control over that, beyond what they achieve *within* their text to convince the reader of their POV.

IF you write something and then you *still* feel compelled to accompany it with a verbal argument because you don't like how the reader has responded, then in your *own* terms you've failed. Of course I'm not factoring in here "knee jerk political reactions" like "you shouldn't write about rape" but "I feel that your story didn't develop enough to justify exposing me to that scene of brutality" IS a perfectly valid reader response whether the writer wants to believe it or not.

If only one or two readers "misinterpret" what you've written, then that may well be due to what they themselves are bringing to the story. But, if a large number of readers "misinterpret" a writer's story then perhaps that writer needs to realize that this is a learning opportunity and re-examine their text closely to see *how* it happened. What the author intended, and what they actually wrote are NOT always the same thing.

Of course it's an emotional process, it is for any creative person. But that's part of the learning process to, learning to create some distance between yourself and your work. Because your only choices are to never show your work to anyone or to brace yourself for impact.

Rambling again, sorry...
sytaxia at 2008-05-29 02:19 (UTC) (Link)
I... In a nutshell, RTD has just not only condoned fanfiction, he's rationalized it and nearly praised it. Wow... While I am very happy that Moffat is going to be taking over, RTD is definitely going to go down in history amongst the fangirls for this - just wonderful!

Thanks for sharing!
I, being poor, have only my dreams.
bistokids at 2008-05-29 08:41 (UTC) (Link)
RTD has just not only condoned fanfiction, he's rationalized it and nearly praised it.
Exactly. And in his position, that's quite something. Puts all his imperfections in perspective. I sort of knew he felt this way - you don't give fans a missing year in a fandom like Who without knowing full well it'll be filled, for example - but it's almost too delicious to have it confirmed in black and white. You should have seen my fangirly bouncing! (Actually, best not!)
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