There is something wonderful about fandom and being a fan of something so powerful that you feel compelled to create something in its wake. Today’s Video of the Day is called You’re Born, featuring new Doctor actor Jodie Whittaker. It’s a fan edit of scenes from Doctor Who by a fan who describes herself simply as Zoé, and it’s about what it’s like to regenerate and who you become.
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This video is important beyond simply being a beautifully edited tribute. Tributes are nice, and even heartwarming, but this short piece goes beyond just that. Here’s why.
The Springboard Effect
Here’s a lesson that some of the biggest studios could learn: fandom is not just passive consumption. Fandoms spring up around a movie, book or television series when the hooks are there that allow fans to create their own stuff based on them. Watching something passively may be fun, once or twice, but to keep somebody coming back for more time and time again requires some kind of feedback loop. People want to feel like they’re part of the conversation. It makes them feel like they’re part of something wonderful, something larger than themselves. It also gives them a sense of belonging, and everybody responds to that.
A lot depends on the physical trappings of a creative work. If there are things that people can make that will bring the bits of the fictional universe into the real one, the one they live in, and if fans can make these bits themselves, they will. This is how fans respond to things. They like what you’ve done so much that they make new things from your universe so they can hold them near and be a part of them.
Fans can be so swept up in the message and emotional contrails of whatever they’re fans of that they can be inspired to creativity themselves. Those who are so inspired to create their own stuff based on worlds created by others often develop their skills so highly that they become the professionals that make creative worlds for the next generation.
We need them. That’s where new creators come from.
That’s where videos like Zoé’s You’re Born come in. This is a creative expression of the intellectual and emotional gestalt that Doctor Who represents to her. It’s also some pretty masterful work. Doing these videos is turning Zoé into a really skilled editor, and she may end up doing this as a life’s calling. She’s clearly on her way.
Coming of Age
The other important message that comes through from this video is that The Doctor’s regeneration cycle is really a coming of age story. Each time the Doctor regenerates, it’s a new body, a new face, and a new life to look forward to. We see the new Doctor stumble and flail a while before finding his (or her, now) feet again.
In this regard, The Doctor is very like us, and because of that we find the character relateable in important ways. It partly explains why Doctor Who is so popular, especially with kids and young adults. Even when what we see is a cranky white haired Scotsman, he’s still finding his way. And, as adults, we see ourselves in him too, struggling to be what we’re meant to be and always being aware that we’ve somehow fallen short.
The Doctor, though, lights the path for us. Even though he often awakes from the regeneration experience not even being sure of self identity, the Gallifreyan just keeps moving forward. He’ll try out a theory, then when proven wrong, walks it back calmly and just moves forward with a modified plan, and eventually wins the day, often with little more than his wits.
Well, and sometimes that impenetrable fortress of a time machine, or a boost from alien technology that he keeps in his pocket.
In the end, though …
… the Doctor is a great big kid, still finding his way, still learning who he is and how the world really works. Each regeneration is a new beginning. As humans, we can’t regenerate physically, but we can still be reborn as someone new if we choose that path for ourselves.
Today’s video reminds us of that.
Zoé, well done indeed.
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