Have you ever read the That’s Not My… books? They’re for really little kids. They’re made of cardboard and have simple yet delightful pictures with textured areas for the kids to touch. Each one follows the same rhythm, so that for That’s Not My Dog the first page might read
That’s not my dog, his nose is too shiny [cue picture of dog with smooth shiny nose to touch]
Then the next is
That’s not my dog, his coat is too fluffy [again with a cute cartoon dog, and this time with soft strokeable fur – watch a toddler with one of these books, they’ll spend forever pawing at the furry pages, tiny pink deviants that they are]
And so on until the right dog is found. Or the right dragon, or pirate, or penguin, or whatever – seriously, these books are like kiddy crack, and the dealers are flooding the market with great product.
But you know what’s really weird? No, it’s not a thirty-six-year-old fantasy writer getting excited over That’s Not My Penguin, though that would be a good guess. What’s really weird is that I keep seeing those same books quoted in online discussions, and the people quoting them aren’t even getting it right.
Take Doctor Who. Pretty much everybody loves Doctor Who, in at least one of the show’s many incarnations. And it’s nice that people want to discuss which ones they like. So I could point at an RTD-era season finale and say ‘that’s not my Doctor Who, the resolution is too angsty’. I don’t do that, because it doesn’t give people much to work with as a conversation point, but other people seem to want to, they’ve clearly read their That’s Not My…, and they’re ready to debate.
But they keep quoting it wrong. They miss out the ‘my’. So instead of saying ‘That’s not my Doctor Who’ they say ‘That’s not Doctor Who’, which is of course clearly nonsense. Any toddler with a fluffy dog to stroke could tell them that. Whether it’s Doctor Who or Star Trek or James Bond or the Marvel Movie Universe or whatever, the version you’re seeing, the version that’s not to your tastes, clearly is that thing. What’s more, it’s somebody else’s beloved version of that thing. Saying that it isn’t would just be kind of rude and belligerent.
Which is why it’s such a shame that people forget the vital ‘my’, which makes clear that they understand that they’re just voicing a perfectly valid opinion, and not trying to be a jerk to others.
I can enjoy my shiny-beaked penguin, even knowing that the less wonderful fluffy-bellied one is on the next page. I can enjoy Moffat’s first clever use of the weeping angels, even knowing that I’d get annoyed at what he did with them later. I can like both Chris Pine Kirk and William Shatner Kirk. And whether I like them or not, they’re all a penguin, or Doctor Who, or Star Trek, or whatever.
They’re just not my penguin.