Monday, August 26, 2013

A Glossary Of Doctor Who Fan Slang

It is well known that every fan community creates its own vocabulary to refer to the series, its tropes and ideas, and even the community itself. Whether you are a "Buckster" (a fan of Buck Rogers), a "Lostie" (a fan of Lost) or a "Starbuckster" (a fan of Buck Rogers who works at a coffee shop), you have no doubt created a language all your own to talk about the series with fellow fans. But how does a new fan of Doctor Who (or, as we call them, a "Whobie") learn these common slang terms? Below is a list of definitions that should help you get into a "slanging match" (a common Doctor Who term for a discussion of the series on an Internet forum) quickly and easily.

Frock: A Doctor Who story in which the characters wear elaborate, impractical outfits. Most people consider the "frock" style to have its apogee in the late Hinchcliffe era; 'The Robots of Death' and 'The Deadly Assassin' are both considered to be extremely "frockish" stories, with Zilda's outfit as the crowning glory of fashion absurdity. The term was later incorporated into the "rad" style of the New Adventures, primarily due to the influence of Kate Orman; she remains to this day a lifelong surfer, and she incorporated Australian surfing traditions into virtually all of her novels as an inside joke with her surfing friends. Since these traditions involved surfing while wearing floor-length evening gowns (the origins of the tradition are not known, but are presumably related to the Australian superstition that they confuse the sharks that infest most Australian beaches) the two terms became conflated for much of the 1990s.

Gun: A Doctor Who story featuring projectile weapons. Some fans consider only stories in which physical projectiles, propelled by gunpowder, are fired from guns to be "gun" stories; others expand the definition to include any type of weapon that fires from a distance without human power, such as energy blasters. The definition is constantly argued about, and the utility of the definition is always in question; however, most are in agreement that these are the antithesis of "frock" stories, primarily because there's no place to conceal a gun in an evening gown.

Monopticon: A science-fiction convention specifically geared towards Doctor Who fans. The first Monopticon occurred in 1966, in Longleat; the convention occurred at the height of the short-lived "Monomania" craze that popped up after the first appearance of the one-eyed, mop-topped monsters from 'The Ark'. Not only did Monomania tap into the same vein of fan enthusiasm as Dalekmania, it also synergistically fed from the Beatlemania then taking place throughout Britain--for a brief period, the Monoids rivaled the Doctor for popularity, until it was pointed out that (like the Monkees) the Monoids did not play their own instruments. With the rumors that the upcoming story 'The Smugglers' would feature Monoids disguised as pirates (with a scene where the pirates would remove their eyepatches to reveal an expanse of blank skin underneath) the fans were at a fever pitch of excitement, and several made plans to meet and watch Part One when it came out. The plans grew into a formal convention, called 'Monopticon I', and fandom has called Doctor Who conventions Monopticons ever since. The line, "I wouldn't dream of interfering with your Monopticon," from the Doctor Who serial 'Four to Doomsday', was intended as a sly dig at fans who feared that JNT's involvement in fan culture would lead to his co-opting it.

Quarrier: A true fan of the programme. The term is taken from a group of fans who decided, as a mark of their devotion, to visit each and every last one of the quarries used to film exterior scenes for Doctor Who. Normally, this is easily done, as it merely involves visiting each and every last one of the quarries in Britain (as well as one quarry in Spain that was used for some pickup shots on location for 'The Two Doctors') but in this case, they complicated matters further by wishing to a) visit the exact location where the TARDIS prop was placed during the filming, and b) visit them in the same order that the series depicted them. This meant months of intensive studying of the video footage, matching the types of rock visible and the approximate state of the quarry at the time of filming to photos obtained from the quarry owners (who agreed to assist them after extensive financial compensation.) After finally determining to within a span of two feet where the TARDIS props were placed, they set out on their pilgrimage; the tour involved criss-crossing the country several times in order to visit each quarry once for every time it was used in a BBC production. The group visited one quarry in Wales six times, each time going back to a spot within twenty feet of their previous trips, in order to avoid seeing any quarries out of order. And even though the group was committed en masse to a mental institution not long after the completion of their tour, their abiding love for the series has been immortalized in this charming slang term.

Rad: Short for "radical"; this refers to a Doctor Who story whose tone evokes the free-spirited and adventurous surfer sub-culture of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Common tropes in these Doctor Who stories include extreme sports like skateboarding and windsurfing, and an acceptance of the sublime beauty of nature ("sublime" in the classical Romantic sense, that is, evoking both wonder and terror simultaneously) as a part of everyday life. Paul Cornell came to exemplify both the "rad" and the "frock" Doctor Who story after the novel 'Human Nature', which he famously came up with while on an Australian beach with Kate Orman. The two of them had completed a marathon surfing session, both wearing the traditional Australian surfing gowns as they crested wave after fifty-foot wave, and they brainstormed the novel while drunk with the adrenalin rush of surviving the beach's shark-infested waters. The book inspired much of the tone of the New Series, although most of the surfing material was lost when it was adapted for television.

Soldeed: A fan who takes advantage of the convention atmosphere to enter into carnal relations with a Doctor Who professional (whether in front of or behind the camera.) (The professional, that is, not the action, although the latter is not entirely unknown either.) It is not entirely certain where the term comes from; some have suspected it to be a play on "entering the Power Complex", while others suggest that these fans, like the character that inspired their nickname, are entering into a relationship they can't talk about with someone both powerful and horny. The name is not gender-specific; there can be both male and female soldeeds. In all cases, the act of sleeping with a professional is known as "doing the dirty soldeed", and the return to the fan's hotel room the next morning, still wearing the slightly rumpled costume they wore the previous day, is known as "the Great Journey of Shame". Some fans have attempted to label Who professionals who seek out hook-ups at conventions as "nimon", but the effort has been bogged down in a debate over whether the plural of "nimon" is "nimon" or "nimons".

Trad: A race of monsters from early 60s Who. The Trad came from the planet Tradoon, and resembled (according to reports at the time) anthropomorphic insects with tufts of fur at each joint. Fan rumor has long held that these were repurposed Ice Warrior costumes, but as no episodes survive from any of the Trad stories and no photographs exist of Trad costumes, it's impossible to be sure. In fact, one of the most notable things about the Trad is how little material survives of their appearances; the original episodes were wiped (see the essay, 'The First Lost Episode Crisis') and the surviving audio recordings are so garbled and distorted as to be incomprehensible. Even when the Trad were licensed for an appearance in the old TV Comics, a printing error rendered the strips illegible. With no pictures, film or audio recording of the Trad, they have entered legendary status as an "un-monster"; only the very early fans, those who remember watching the episodes as they came out, have solid memories of these lost stories. These Trad fans hold up the lumbering, slow-moving, easily confused monsters as an exemplar of a kind of Doctor Who that is sadly lost to us forever.

VidFIRED: Removed from canon. In the mid- to late 1980s, the Doctor Who Appreciation Society was one of the earliest and most influential fan organizations; at the time, it was considered to be the singular voice of Doctor Who fandom. At the height of its influence, it decided to perform a comprehensive review of the first twenty-five years of the series' history, removing from canon any video, or "vid" that did not live up to the expectations of the fan committee (chosen from a slate of respected fans old enough to remember the stories at time of first broadcast.) The plan began auspiciously, with only three stories "fired" from the Hartnell era ('The Edge of Destruction', 'The Web Planet' and 'The Gunfighters') and two from the Troughton era ('The Enemy of the World' and 'The Space Pirates'). The group fell to dissention, however, when they reached the Tom Baker era. Some on the committee wished to VidFIRE the entirety of the Graham Williams era, while others pointed out that the Key to Time series deserved preservation. In vain, the group wrestled with the issue, eventually deciding to return to it once they had decided the fate of the rest of the series. It seemed that they had reached accordance once again when they unanimously decided to VidFIRE the entire Sixth Doctor era; however, the effort broke down entirely when a small but vocal contingent demanded to "preemptively VidFIRE Season Twenty-Six". It was this dispute that ultimately led to the fragmentation of British Who fandom. It seems like every fan has one or two stories they wish didn't exist, but nobody can ever quite agree as to which ones they are.

Voord: A Who fan's collection of merchandise, novelizations, videos/DVDs, et cetera. Supposedly, this term got its start from the infamous East End "Whooligans" fan club of the late Sixties, a band of rough-and-tumble enthusiasts of the programme who liked nothing better than a few pints of lager, a saucy lass, and a brawl over whether the first story should be called 'The Tribe of Gum' or '100,000 BC'. According to fan lore, one of the group obtained as the prize item in his collection a prop from the serial, 'The Keys of Marinus' (the title was decided on after an infamous riot that left twelve hospitalized.) In traditional Cockney style, he called his collection his "Voord hoard", which was abbreviated to his "Voord" in everyday conversation. As he boasted to other fans about his "impressive Voord", others took up the term in their counter-boasts, until it entered general currency today.

Whobie: A new fan of the programme. Most whobies assume this to be a portmanteau of "Who" and "Newbie", which is one of the things that mark them as a whobie; the term actually refers to a Doctor Who fan club that sprang up in the early 1970s among a group of naval personnel stationed in Britain. Most of the Seabees (members of the US Naval Construction Battalion) stationed on the base were seeing Doctor Who for the first time, and while enthusiastic, their constant questions about the history of the show irritated British fans. They started to assume that any fan unfamiliar with the programme must be a "Seabie" (as most British fans were unfamiliar with the written form of the term "Seabee", they assumed it ended in "ie") and they started to use "bie" as a general suffix for someone lacking in knowledge and experience. ("Whobie" for Who fans, "Corbie" for Coronation Street fans, "Tribie" for Triangle fans, et cetera.) Even though the suffix has passed out of general use, inexperienced Who fans are still known as "Whobies" to this day.

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