I didn’t have a chance to post yesterday. I usually spend my time at work composing my thoughts for a post while doing my actual job, and then write something up during lunch. However, I had some stuff to do yesterday that needed to get done ASAP, Pronto, LOL, and so other considerations got left by the wayside.
Which is a totally ingenious introduction into the thing I’m writing about today. It’s nothing particularly deep: making references to the show you love. I’m very lucky to have a husband that loves Doctor Who, almost as much as I do. We definitely know that I’m the more devoted fan, with my constant watching of episodes, my blog, my fanfics, my multiple replica sonic screwdrivers, but having him also as a fan means I have someone to talk to about it. And even if we’re not talking about it, we can make references to it during conversation. The two most common right now are from “The Day of the Doctor.” First, if one of us is, say, on the web and laughs at something, the other says, “Is something funny? Did I miss a funny thing?” The other is putting down the other person with “I don’t like it,” with the option of the second person saying, “Oh! Oh! You never do!” But there are tons more that we make, every day. Most of our references are Doctor Who, but we don’t limit it. Last night, my husband approached a boss fight in a video game saying, “Go! Fight! Win!” Extra credit if you know what that’s from.
In a way, our conversation style reminds me of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok,” in which the alien species that the humans have never been able to communicate with turn out to have a language comprised entirely of references to their stories and legends. For example, the phrase “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” meant cooperation, because the story of Darmok had him arrive at Tanagra and learn to cooperate with Jalad. If you know the legend, then the phrase has meaning, but if you don’t, it’s incomprehensible. Fans of shows are able to communicate in a very similar way. What comes to mind if I were to say, “The Doctor and Rose at Bad Wolf Bay”? How does that differ from “the second Tenth Doctor and Rose at Bad Wolf Bay”? Both phrases communicate a complex web of images and emotions that would be otherwise impossible to describe in less than ten words, or even less than a hundred words.
Most of the time, though, we use references to entertain ourselves. It never fails to make us laugh when we make a reference appropriate to the situation. Though, it is difficult sometimes to not make references in front of people who aren’t fans, which most of our friends aren’t. It’s sort of like being in a group that speaks English and then switching to German just to talk to one person. It’s rude and not ginger. (Ha!)
We had an interesting situation yesterday, with respect to references. We were playing in a roleplaying game and were attacked by a large mass of enemies, and one of the players asked if we had any grenades, which we didn’t. My husband replied, “Boy, it sure would be nice if we had some grenades!” I laughed and everyone else stared at him blankly. Not a single person got it. So we explained, it’s from Serenity, and then one of them said, “Oh, yeah, the movie. Serenity‘s not canon. Only Firefly is canon. If Wash dies, it’s not canon.” The rest of the people in the group agreed with him. It never occurred to me to reject a perfectly good movie/TV show from official canon. I mean, sure, we can ignore the second Highlander movie or the second two seasons of Heroes, because those were terrible, but in this case, Serenity is a great movie that’s being rejected from canon simply because of a character’s death.
There’s a concept called “head canon,” which is the term for a fan or group of fans accepting an idea as canon when it’s not actually in the fandom’s canon. It’s usually used for something that’s added to the fandom, to flesh things out. For example, before we knew about the War Doctor, it was a common head canon that the Eighth Doctor was the one who fired the Moment; it was never explicitly stated, but based on what we knew about the Last Great Time War and the Doctor’s history, it was the best explanation. Creating a head canon in which Serenity never happened seems unique to me. It removes actual published content, simply to erase a character death. And it creates a schism, between those who accept the Firefly universe as created by Joss Whedon and those who choose to reject the final part of it.
Ok, that was a stream-of-consciousness digression. This post was supposed to be about how we share our experiences in our fandom through our use of references. I think a large part of the enjoyment we get from our favorite shows, books, music, whatever, comes from the ability to share it with each other. So, I hope you have people you can share Doctor Who and all of your other passions with!