When Being A Doctor Who Fan Makes You Money… But Steals Your Soul
Missing episodes. That’s a topic that always causes laughter, isn’t it? Over the past few weeks, The Mirror has been publishing “amusing” content, one of which you might have seen: the spoof history of top Doctor Who episodes. It was quite amusing, but easily forgotten; a problem with online content, a medium where ideas are transient, except in extremely rare circumstances.
What you may not have seen – and we won’t link to it for your sanity – is the insulting diatribe against ten new series era episodes that The Mirror “would be happy if the BBC wiped and deleted.”
It isn’t enough that people have sweated blood and tears and travelled to danger spots around the world in search for genuinely lost episodes, apparently. No, now the BBC is being encouraged, in an act of cultural vandalism, to intentionall wipe episodes that the paper – in the shape of the post’s writer, Martin Belam – has a dislike for. A dislike. Of episodes of a TV show.
As a newspaper with an online presence, The Mirror has a need – nay, a desperation – to maintain its audience, hence this horrendous piece of clickbait, its full title: “The 10 episodes of new Doctor Who that we would be happy if the BBC wiped and deleted.” Oh, and it has a subtitle, too: “We need to face facts. There are some episodes of Doctor Who that deserve to be destroyed.” You know what? There are newspapers that deserve to be destroyed too. The Mirror is quickly turning into one of them.
It lacks integrity. Perhaps Martin Belam would like to remind himself of the meaning of that word.
But I digress. Traditional newspapers are dying, you see. This is why their online presence has to be strengthed with regular visits, in order to generate advertising revenue. Strengthening can be anything from publishing compelling, original content, or knocking out crap like “if I wanted a Doctor Who musical, I’d like it to be like the Buffy musical episode, not an extended choral performance.” It’s trite, shallow and intended not for fans, but for the coffee swilling hangover merchants to chuckly over during their morning skive in the middle cubicle. In short, the article isn’t for the likes of us, instead aiming a childish (perhaps someone pitched it as “a sideways look”) swipe at the show, all hung on that emotive topic, the Omnirumour.
Interestingly, Martin Belam claims to be an “online news veteran”, although we really can’t find anything that backs this up with any solidity, other than his expertise in cynical article writing. You could find out more about him via his blog, martinbelam.com, for instance, although he seems to ooze smug, so it may prove icky, of not a waste of time. He’s also on Twitter, @martinbelam – be polite, though, should you find yourself asking about the meaning of that article on The Mirror, and whether he really thinks that Curse of the Black Spot, The Time of the Doctor, Fear Her, The Idiot’s Lantern, In the Forest of the Night, Kill the Moon, Closing Time, Robot of Sherwood, The Rings of Akhaten and Aliens of London/World War Three should really be deleted, and what he thinks that says about his appreciation of culture, or his own relationship with Doctor Who.
Just remember: somewhere, there’s a fan for whom one or more of these episodes are among their favourites.
Belam isn’t the only one engaged in this nonsense, however. One look at Metro and What Culture! reveals Doctor Who-related articles written by people… well, people who really should know better, fans with their own sites and heavy Twitter presences. But these guys – who are presumably making some useful extra cash and raising their profiles as fans (and good luck to them) – know where the line is.
For all of our attempts to generate not-very-much-money, like the majority of Doctor Who sites we’ve never sold out. There have been a handful of controversial posts on our own site over the years, but never have we sunk so low as to attack Doctor Who. For a supposed fan (identified by the details shared in The Mirror article) to mock the missing episodes in a drawn out, pointless rant “listicle” is bad enough; that it appears on the online site of a major national newspaper is frankly insulting. While I’m not writing and editing this site, I’m responsible for content in the online security and Linux sections at www.makeuseof.com, the web’s largest independent technology site (a description that really doesn’t do it justice). At no point would I (or any colleague there) dare to insult either the readership or any community in such a way.
It lacks integrity. Perhaps Martin Belam would like to remind himself of the meaning of that word. It certainly doesn’t apply to selling out on your favourite TV show (his Twitter account page loves the soulless Cybermen) for a few quid.
Oh, and why are we not linking to the post? Well, it doesn’t deserve to be read by the esteemed readership of Kasterborous. Labelling a series of insults as “fun” or “satirical” doesn’t cut it, frankly. It’s horrendous clickbait, and those responsible should be ashamed of themselves.