Nerds: Inexplicably Compelled To Continue Nerding

« October 2015 »

Memo to approximately 2,000 rabid Whovians: YOU HAVE ANGERED ME.

We haven't talked heavy nerd shit in a while, so let me be clear that nerds can still anger me. For example, right now, I have to think about Doctor Who. More specifically, the now decade-old revival of Doctor Who. More specifically, the Steven Moffat years of the now decade-old revival of Doctor Who. Henceforth, to save time, this concept will be expressed using the term "NuWho". Very easy to type.

I don't like thinking about NuWho. I like watching it just fine, but thinking about it is for suckers. NuWho should be treated like a meal at Taco Bell. Pleasant enough at the time, but if you are forced to pay any attention to it after you've consumed it, it's likely to be very unpleasant. I don't know what the authorial intent was, but the final product doesn't hold up well to being thought about.

I mean, yeah, you could point to NuWHo and say that it has themes, and emotional arcs, and all those things other television shows have, but NuWho treats them the way OldWho treated sets. It had them, because it felt it needed them to be like other TV shows, but if you poke at them, or even go near them with too heavy a tread, THAT SHIT WILL WOBBLE.

Which is one reason angry Who nerds have made me angry. By making enough noise to register on the general pop culture Richter scale, they have forced me to think about NuWho, and I don't like that. The other reason they made me angry is the specific noise they're making. It is, somewhat fittingly, a warbling, high-pitched whine.

You see, Doctor Who's lead character, The Doctor, has traditionally wielded a tool called a sonic screwdriver. Some may quibble with the use of the word "traditionally". Some also like to poke a rabid dog with a stick. Neither is wise. What is a sonic screwdriver? It is a magical plot device that mostly unlocks doors. The easiest way to explain the sonic screwdriver is to provide an answer to the question of "how long does it take the sonic screwdriver to unlock a door?" The answer is "slightly less time than it takes a monster to reach the door". It's a dramatic shortcut and a toyetic prop.

And here we get into a mild spoiler for the two-part premiere of the current season, but you probably don't care, and you probably shouldn't care either. The Doctor has given up the sonic screwdriver. I can't remember if it happened at the start of this season or sometime near the end of last season because Taco Bell Metaphor, but it happened. Near the end, he needs it, and that's when he reveals, in a very Moffaty moment, that its functionality has been migrated to his cool guy sunglasses.

A change to a traditional element of a beloved nerd icon? Nerd anger? The pieces are starting to come together in your mind, aren't they? A social media movement. A petition on that's garnered about 2,000 signatures. A response to the "controversy" from the show's creator. A spike in my blood pressure. All these things are deeply and fundamentally related.

Because seriously, who gives a shit? The sunglasses do the same thing the metal stick used to do, which is whatever the fuck the writer needs it to do. Plus a new trick vaguely relevant in the third episode that doesn't really matter here and could have been done with a cellphone. The show didn't change, a prop did. The new prop isn't any dumber than the old prop. Both props were pretty dumb.

But even if you somehow concede that the sonic screwdriver is a vitally important part of the Doctor Who mythos, have you people not been watching the show for the past five years? Who do you think Steven Moffat is? Because every bit of evidence on the screen is that Moffat is a guy who will take a toy off the shelf, play with it a while, and then put it back exactly the way he found it.

Moffat is a traditionalist in rebel's clothing. He doesn't change things because he thinks they need changing. He changes things so that it'll be even cooler later on when he undoes the change and bring the thing he changed back. Preferably with either triumphant or heartfelt music behind it, depending on the context. There are nine episodes and a special left in this entire season, and if you don't think the sonic screwdriver's gonna be back by the end of the year, then you also don't think you're watching Doctor Who. You think you're watching The Wire In Space or some shit.

Nobody cares, for a sufficiently practical definition of "nobody". The funny thing is, before this story crossed my eyeballs and hijacked my brain, I was going to make fun of a completely different, but equally pointless, angry reaction to media. But we'll put that off until Thursday.

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