I just came across something that made me very happy and very sad at the same time.
I was going through old Doctor Who posts of mine, and I found this post that I had written after The Snowmen aired, and it was basically me trying to be rational against people making judgements about Clara when she technically hadn’t been in a single episode yet (or like, two, but you know what I’m getting at).
Younger me had so much optimism in what I could expect of people.
And I came across this comment I made:
“Actually, I am really excited about this. That’s a thing I love about New Who. We’ve known the Doctor for so long, there’s barely any secrets (except for his name) that we don’t know. So I like them focusing on the companion instead. And Clara really intrigued me. Also can I just say how awesome that for once IT’S THE DOCTOR CHASING AFTER A COMPANION? I mean, almost all of them keep looking for him. Rose, Donna, Sarah Jane… But here, we have the Doctor chasing after someone for once. THANK YOU….! “
And then, jumping ahead just a few post later, having watched The Bells of St John, I was complaining about this exact thing.
I mean, as it turned out, S7.B, however messy it was due to production issues, was at its core trying to be a subversion of the exact trope most people accuse it of having (the mystery girl thing). But I just feel like in that first comment, I was totally open to that. I wanted to see that. That is what ended up happening, with a commentary on it as well. We had the Doctor as our following-character, and Clara was the mystery (that turned out to not be mysterious at all, in the end).
Popular opinion happened. Both with friends, and with the internet as a whole. You were not supposed to like Moffat, you were not supposed to like Clara, or at least the direction Moffat was taking her, and you were not supposed to like Eleven.
And I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate or completely subjective reasons to do all of those things. I’m just saying it became a requirement. It wasn’t until I rewatched s7 without a lot of expectations on what I was supposed to think that I went ‘hey - there’s some pretty interesting stuff in here!’.
Without that demand to have certain opinions, who knows how open I would have been to s7. Maybe I would have loved it, maybe I would have hated it. I don’t know, and I never will, because I didn’t form my own opinion about it. And I’m not saying this was like, the internet’s fault, because I should have been able to separate what people were saying from my own enjoyment and opinions of the show. But I very much think that there was (and is) a way of reasoning in fandom, that perpetrates this thinking. The ‘don’t think for yourself, don’t be open to changing your opinion, just try to dig for more interpretations that supports this very specific thing’. I never did give that series a shot on my own terms, and I just kept on seeing the things I was told was there, and didn’t even make an effort to see the rest.
And that’s sad.