Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Silence Will Fall

Sometimes it’s pretty hard to explain your fandom to a non-fan.
“Why are you writing on your skin?!” my mother cried. “What if it doesn’t come off and you have to go to work like that?”
“It’s Silence Day, Mom,” I explained. “Other Whovians will get it.”
“What will you say to people that don’t understand why you have tally marks on your arms?” she asked.
“I’ll stare off into the distance and say, ‘I... I don’t remember...’ and then get a scared look on my face and make another mark, and when they ask why, I’ll look confused and act like I don’t know what they’re talking about.” She shook her head at me and walked away.
There are many people who won’t understand, but those who will are my kindred spirits. Even if we don’t know each other at all, we’ll be able to talk together at length about Daleks, Cybermen, and Silurians. They’ll be excited to whisper with me about The Silence and how they were defeated by that mad man in a blue box: The Doctor.
Doctor Who is a long running British science fiction show which began in 1963, took a decade and a half hiatus in the nineties (with the exception of that movie in 1996), and then rebooted in 2005. It’s about a long lived time traveler who occasionally brings along passengers to have adventures with him. His TARDIS (the blue box that takes him to his adventures) travels in space as well as in time (hence the name: Time And Relative Dimension In Space), so his adventures take place on earth, on foreign planets, in the past, in the present, and in the future. The show was originally meant to teach history (with trips to the past) and science (with trips to the future), but it evolved into something even more fun, exciting, spine tingling, romantic, and wondrous. It’s got bad guys everyone loves to hate, and good guys that everyone loves to cheer for. It’s got dedicated fans all over the world, and chances are if you know one of them, then you’ve either been badgered to watch the show with them or been indoctrinated after you gave in.
Moffat was inspired by Edvard
Munch's The Scream
designing The Silence.
On April 23, 2011, the episode The Impossible Astronaut aired for the first time in the United Kingdom. Steven Moffat, the show’s executive producer, took the opportunity to introduce some new villains. We’d been hearing about them in passing during the whole of the previous season, with the occasional comment of, “then the silence came,” and things like that, but I never suspected that they were a race of beings. I just thought that maybe some cataclysmic event happened on that specific planet that killed off half the population or something.
The Silence, creepily tall aliens, are literally forgettable. Their power over other beings is telepathic. They are able to plant ideas in the heads of the people who see them, but also immediately able to erase the memory of their presence. This allows them to go wherever they’d like and not have to do any work. Have you ever made a sandwich and then looked at it, realizing that you weren’t hungry and weren’t really sure why you made the sandwich in the first place? If The Silence ate sandwiches, that impulse could have been planted in your head by one of them.
Amy is about to discover that she's seen something that she
doesn't remember seeing.
Photo courtesy of Wired.com
Don’t worry; The Doctor defeated The Silence. It involved the moon landing and a lot of zapping Richard Nixon from place to place, but he got it done. He had help. Some of his companions traveled the world for months to try to learn more about the enemy, but they weren’t able to find much, since The Silence were erasing themselves every time they were seen. The only thing they could do to remind themselves they’d spotted one of their foes was to make a mark on their skin. After they’d forgotten, they could look down and see evidence that The Silence were present.
I found this reminder about the event
on Google+.
Just like fans of any other show, one of the best places Doctor Who fans (or Whovians, for short) like to congregate and talk about the show is the internet. For a while I’ve been seeing chatter about “Impossible Astronaut Day” and “Silence Day.” Fans decided that they would celebrate their Whovianness by showing it off to the world on the second anniversary of the day the episode aired. “Tell your friends!” the messages urged. I haven’t seen any of The Silence today (or maybe I have and I forgot), but any fan of Doctor who that happens to glance at my arm will instantly know that I am a fan as well (and also to be on their guard against The Silence).
If you’re a Whovian, Impossible Astronaut Day is not something that is required. But it is fun. If you’re not a Whovian, I only have one thing to ask.
Do you want to come over and watch Doctor Who with me?

1 comment:

  1. You actually did the tallys? That's awesome.

    So cool to hear that Moffat was thinking of The Scream--I saw the actual painting at MoMA last week and only then made the connection.