My Favorites: Doctor Who a.k.a. “Nu Who”

*Includes series spoilers, so if you’re not caught up, proceed at your own risk.*

Firstly let me, as a fan, comment on Nu Who’s biggest news, the casting of a woman in the role of the incoming 13th Doctor. My comment is, “Holy shit, I can’t believe they actually did it.” Yes, there were many hints dropped in series 10 and calls for a female Doctor, but I was one of those people who never thought the producers would actually allow the Lord to become a Lady, despite the Master becoming Missy and the character himself alluding several times that he’d be okay with it, and to tell you the truth, that’s what made me okay with it. Although I identify a feminist, prior to series 10, I was one of those fans who didn’t think the Doctor should be a woman—not because I thought a woman couldn’t play the part as well but because the Doctor has been well-established as a male character. But changing him from male to female doesn’t rewrite or retcon what our hero has been through, whom he’s loved or what she can still do. Plus 12 being super pro-female (“We can only hope [the future is “all-girl”]) tickled me to pieces.

I don’t care that people think the move is “PC” (politically correct)—I am fascinated and excited about the casting of Jodie Whittaker, and in truth it is her casting that has solidified my continuing on to series 11 (which I briefly considered not doing because losing Peter Capaldi hurts so frickin’ much) because I really want to see what a woman brings to a role that has been so historically male. Also, based on that one-minute clip of her reveal, I believe she can do it. When she lowered her hood and the camera panned in on her blossoming smile as she gazed upon the TARDIS, the joy and titillation in her face was simply beautiful. It was evocative. It was wholly the Doctor, and if she can convey that in one minute, I look forward to finding out who 13 is and how she’s going to add to the mythos of the Doctor’s storyline.

Besides, if I want to get petty for a moment (and I do), I now get to laugh at all the close-minded fanboys and fangirls who never thought a female Doctor would come about and who are too stubborn to even give her a try. I mean, really, July 16, the day of Jodie Whittaker’s casting, was the “day Doctor Who died”? A woman can’t bring to the part what all these men can? Boys have lost a role model? What is this bullshit? Boys can’t look up to a woman? Why not? Girls look up to male figures all the time—why can’t it be the same the other way around?

(Because we’ve been conditioned to believe it’s not the same when it comes to boys idolizing women, that’s why. Some of it has to do with sexualization, I guarantee, and because they’re too busy being hot,  women can’t possibly embody the same type of strength, ingenuity and proactiveness a male role model can. *rolls eyes*)

We all need opposite-sex role models; that’s part of how we learn that we can admire and respect people who are different genders than we are. If girls and boys had more access to female role models in power in general, media would be a better medium and the world would be a better place! And while I don’t think a person is sexist for not wanting a woman to play the part, to judge that a woman can’t do as well in the part as a man can is the mark of an attitude of prejudice and a narrow mind. If worst comes to worst and the ratings bomb during her run, they’ll obviously just give the part back to a man (like they won’t do that anyway after having a female Doctor), so why shouldn’t she at least have a go? It’s not a big deal if she bombs because so many fans expect her to, but it will be a HUGE deal if she’s amazing because maybe some minds will change. Change. Change is at the core of what a Time Lord is, has been in the nature of the Doctor for the 50+ years the show’s been in existence, and if a fan can’t handle the simple change from a male lead to a female lead for a while, then maybe he or she wasn’t much a fan to begin with.

Okay, enough about that. This post is meant to center on why I love Doctor Who and why others may love it too, not its divisive decision-making. So allow me to begin…

Twenty-first century Doctor Who, much like another show I love (The Walking Dead), goes down in my TV-watching history as one of the most equally heartbreaking and heartwarming programs I have ever been so highly blessed to come across. I’ve been watching the continuation of the 1963-1989 British sci-fi/drama on and off for 10 years now, but not for the main reasons most Whovians tune in. It’s not for the time-travel plots (which I admit I rarely understand fully because that’s just not how my brain works) or the special effects or makeup or monsters or even just the Doctor himself—it’s for the Doctor’s relationships with his companions and the actors who portray their bonds so authentically and beautifully. Plus Murray Gold’s scores are pretty terrific too.

  1. The Cast. At the moment I’m writing this, I don’t recall having seen a bad performance on Doctor Who, barring those from child actors because I find most child actors to be quite bad. (Sorry, kids.) But the adults are A+. I’d be here forever if I was going to gush about the complete cast of 10 series, so let me make a blanket statement and say that everyone who stars regularly in this drama runs the gambit of emotions, and they all successfully make you feel every inch of every emotion their characters are going through. It’s hard not sympathize with them, even if you don’t like them or disagree with their actions or opinions in the moment. In fact, four of my favorite actors, people whose careers I now follow, come from this show: Peter Capaldi, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman. I believe that Peter Capaldi (12) is the best overall actor to helm the main role, though I believe David Tennant (10) was best suited as the embodiment of all things that encompass the Doctor, which I say in spite of the fact that Matt Smith (11) was my favorite Doctor. Clear as mud? I promise it makes sense, at least in my head. I don’t think any actor has captured the Doctor’s alien quality, his naked vulnerability or his ferocity better than Peter Capaldi. I found David Tennant’s talents to be best conveyed through the pathos, confident charm and depth of darkness he gave his Doctor. His eyes, his eyes! What he said with his eyes… And Matt Smith was a wonderful successor to fan favorite Tennant (no, I’m not mentioning Tom Baker except to say I’m not mentioning Tom Baker! I’m not talking about Classic Who here!), capturing a similar tone but adding a special touch of whimsical warmth, optimism and understanding, as I believe 11 to be the Doctor most accepting of change so far. As for Jenna Coleman, by virtue of playing the companion who impresses me the most, she was the actress who impressed me the most. She gave Clara enough strength and bite and heart that I admired the character regardless of all her faults and the hate she gets. As the reigning Queen of Unpopular Opinions, yes, I am a Clara fan. Absolutely. And you can’t be a Clara fan without being a Jenna Coleman fan.
  2. The Characters. I have love for all of the main companions: Rose Tyler (specifically series 1 Rose because I didn’t care for her during her romance with 10 nor did I like their romance as a plot point period), Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Amy Pond, Clara Oswald and Bill Potts. I do love Clara, Martha and Bill in particular. However, I love the Doctor the most. I love all my Doctors (and respect all the others who paved the way for the show and the character to continue).
  • The 9th Doctor: I haven’t made it through the whole of series 1, but I’ve always been fond of 9. I can relate to someone forlorn and eccentric, sad but strong.
  • The 10th Doctor: 10 was my first Doctor, the one who introduced me to the Who-niverse, rife with fantasy, fears and wonder. Because I suffer from major depression, I always felt very close to him because of the deep sorrow and regret he carried around (in the aftermath of the Time War, like 9), but at the same time, I didn’t give a crap that he was mourning the loss of Rose because I so disliked their being together. Otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed 10—he was funny, fierce, energetic and smooth, and I credit him with being the first character ever to present to me the concept of reacting to things that are different with awe rather than immediate hostility or fear.
  • The 11th Doctor: This was the Doctor who helped me get through college, which was the worst time of my life and when my depression and suicidal ideations were at their peaks. He gave me so much hope that things could change for the better, that there was still good amidst all the bad, all with his zaniness and tenacity and affection for his companions; he inspired me to keep pushing in spite of all the hellish pain, just as he did, and because he kept pushing, he was able to formulate a plan to reverse the worst decision of his life and save Gallifrey. Eleven got me home, even if we had to go the “long way ’round…”
  • The 12th Doctor: Because of his newly adverse reaction to affection and general grumpiness, I never felt as close to 12 as I did to 10 and 11, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love him. I have always felt for and loved him and grew to appreciate him over his tenure as an emblem of strength and didactic compassion. He’s strange, surly, articulate, old-school in both his subtlety and grandiosity, operatic even, and it was a pleasure watching him grow from someone who asked in his second episode “Am I good man?” to someone who’s (currently) adamant against changing his persona for fear that he would have to start the journey to discover he is good all over again. Oh, Doctor. You were good then and you are good now, though you will soon no longer be a good man. Instead you will be a good woman. I just hope she can find the kind of peace that comes from embracing yourself and find it swiftly the way so many of her predecessors never could.

The Doctor confuses me, shocks me and ticks me off occasionally, but he also makes me laugh, makes me think and helps me hope, for which, as a young adult with deep depression, I look up to and appreciate him. I love his genius, his quirkiness, his epic oratory skills (oh my gosh, I could listen to Peter Capaldi especially make speeches all day). But the thing I love about the Doctor the most, the one thing that sets him apart from so many other characters even though he’s an alien, is that he loves—loves in so many different ways yet always so dearly, so ardently, and he doesn’t let inevitable loss stop him from loving again or loving still, and I love that.

  • Clara Oswald: I love Clara. She is my favorite companion because I found her to be realistic and relatable in that she had a lot of good points that managed to eclipse her many flaws. I know a ton of people hate Clara—my own boss told me she disliked Clara because she was “demanding and selfish,” which was certainly true sometimes, and that she “had no heart.” Pfft, WHAT? She overrode Earth’s choice to blow up the moon and saved a defenseless creature. She challenged 11 to reclaim his name and purpose when he planned on using the Moment to destroy Gallifrey once again. She appealed to the stony Time Lords to give 11 another regeneration cycle. She tore herself into pieces and scattered herself about the Doctor’s timeline so she could always be there to help him. Finally, she died for Rigsy, an average character, and she did it with dignity, concerning herself only with making sure the Doctor would continue to “be a Doctor” in her absence and how to die bravely like her late boyfriend, Danny Pink, did. Clara has a huge heart; she’s smart, resourceful, affectionate, good with kids. She’s also bossy, smart-mouthed, vain and reckless. She is a full person to me, far from a Mary Sue or a helpless hottie or a fawning love interest (although the argument could certainly be made that she and 12 harbored romantic feelings for each other, but I don’t subscribe to that interpretation), and I admire her and love her and hope she comes back at Christmas. Again, I’ll be laughing at all the fans who hate her if she is there because I’m an adult like that.
  • Martha Jones: So underrated. So underappreciated! Though she spent a good chunk of her season pining for the man who loved her only as a friend (which generally irritates me as a viewer, I don’t know about you), I still came to love and appreciate this kind, cheeky, bright young woman, this resilient leader who walked the earth to proclaim hope in the name of the Doctor, to save him when no one else could. He could always count on her, his greatest (platonic) support. She was a doer more than a thinker like Donna and Bill, and I think of her as an overall more “independent” companion, if that makes any sense, since she had to cope without the Doctor when he was stuck in the persona of John Smith and when she had to support him financially as he was leaving instructions to Sally Sparrow on how to handle the malevolent Weeping Angels. She was strong enough, independent enough and secure enough in herself enough to know when to walk away from the Doctor and when to come back to help him. Unlike the way I thought of Rose or Amy or Bill, Martha is a woman, not a girl, and deserves to be heralded as one of the Doctor’s most steadfast companions.
  • Bill Potts: I personally relate to Bill probably better than any of the other companions, even though I briefly studied to be an English teacher like Clara was. She’s played by Pearl Mackie, a biracial actress, and I too have a white parent and a black parent, and while I don’t have the afro, I have those eyebrows; in fact mine are bigger. Bill is an LGBTQIA+ character and I’m the “A” on that spectrum. She’s an academic, as I once was, and genre-savvy so she’s kind of a geek; she’s emotional and vulnerable and loves her mum. She even listens to Little Mix! Again, I’m like, “Ooh, me! Pick me! I can relate! Representation is awesome!” But besides all these things, what makes her especially special to me, actually, is her mental fortitude, a trait that’s hardly ever focused on but a poignant point to make given that some of us in the audience wage a mental war every day against illnesses of the mind. It was an image of love conjured up and maintained by her imagination that defeated the Monks and her incredibly strong sense of self and pride in who she was that staved off the complete Cyber-conversion. Bill is an optimist and strong in a way that is not usually identified or praised, and the fact that series 10 took the time to celebrate her for this type of strength pleases and inspires me. She also loves the Doctor, as it was stated explicitly in “The Pyramid at the End of the World”—not romantically (obviously, lol) but as her “foster tutor,” as a man who values each sentient life, who hopes when there seems to be no stars left in the sky, who wanted to spend his time teaching her because he believed in her and because he knew she made the ordinary extraordinary…who chose her for a friend because he saw that she was the type of person who, when she didn’t know something, smiled instead of frowned. Not only do I love the Doctor for the same reasons, I had very close relationships with the majority of my teachers in high school and loved them for what they gave me and how they believed in me as well. Bill reminds me of the best of me: she is youth, she is strength and she is love, and I hope to see her at Christmas as well. (I NEED her and Clara to meet! But if they don’t, I guess there’s always fan fiction for that…)

One more note regarding Bill: It makes me positively livid when people have the nerve to say Bill is strictly the product of “the politically correct/feminist/liberal bullshit agenda” or that she isn’t “hot” enough to be the main companion. I guess all that female characters are there to do is be hot and be white, right? Well, how dare you. How dare you say that 10% of the entire world shouldn’t be represented in this girl’s orientation. How dare you say that half of the world shouldn’t be represented in this girl’s skin color. How dare you try to undermine, minimize and deny this character’s worth, her unique beauty, the merits of Pearl Mackie, and me and women like me by writing off this non-white character as an avatar of the “politically correct agenda.” You’d best check your (presumably) white privilege. The world is not 100% white people, so why should TV shows portray it that way? It’s so important for me and women and girls like me to see parts of ourselves reflected in an international televised sensation like Doctor Who, to know that we can be present and pertinent in sci-fi too. Shame on those making these butthurt, bullshit comments. How they infuriate me. I swear I’ve stepped in mud puddles deeper than 90% of the people on the Internet. And again, to take my mind off my righteous anger, I go back to cackling in triumph at the casting of a female 13.

  1. The Doctor-Companion Relationship. The bonds between our brilliant oddball lead and those who connect him with their humanity as well as his own are the heart of the series, in my opinion. With the exception of 10/Rose and 11/12/River Song, I see the Doctor’s relationships with all of his companions as beautiful, fiery friendships and emotionally intelligent platonic love stories. Donna and Martha were his best friends. Amy and Rory became his family, his in-laws. He had a traditional mentor-student relationship with Bill, and whereas Clara also became one of his best friends, she became his equal in every sense, emerging from her timeline as her own type of Doctor, complete with her own TARDIS and companion (Ashildr/Me). I thought that was interesting and befitting of Clara’s character, and it is the friendship between 12 and Clara that’s my favorite. What he did for her in “Heaven Sent,” what he did to get to Gallifrey just to have the chance to save her, takes my breath away, touches me beyond what any romance story has stirred within my heart. When it’s revealed in “Hell Bent” that he died every day (just like that line in that song by Christina Perri, “A Thousand Years”! Seriously, when I’m in an emotional Doctor Who mood, I listen to that song and switch between gifs of the various Doctors hugging their companions and it makes me want to weep nearly every time) for 4.5 billion years to try and save her, I am a crying fangirl mess. No, as I stated before, I do not ship them. I’ve never been in love and romance rarely interests me, but I know what it is to love your friends. To really love your friends. Twelve loved Clara so much and she him and I them because the way 12 expresses his love is different than his predecessors—much more inward but not a degree less powerful. But love can manifest itself as a destructive force as well, as the Doctor came to find out when he shot a fellow Time Lord to escape Gallifrey with Clara and reached the literal end of the universe, leaving him and Clara with no choice but to part ways to rediscover themselves as individuals and allow the universe to heal itself in the wake of their break. Clara omitted herself from the Doctor’s mind, leaving nothing but echoes of her essence behind. But he remembered her theme, that lovely tinkling, flowing melody of curiosity and warmth, and after several references to her in series 10, his mind (possibly jumpstarted by the oncoming regeneration) booted up an image of her, along with all of his other mainstay companions, saying his name. You’d best believe I about died of emotions when he remembered her because if that were possible, I would have. Now I just need her to be there when 12 regenerates—I want Clara, Bill, and the First Doctor to usher him into the change—and then he can die happy and I can die happy, lol.

Whew! I had a lot to say about this one! Makes sense—I’ve ranked Nu Who Doctor Who as my 13th favorite TV show ever. It’s played an important role in my life so fear, giving me joy as I watched in high school, giving me hope as I soldiered through college and making me think and appreciate certain things about life as a young adult transitioning further into adulthood. It’s just…a real blessing of show and I will be forever grateful to the BBC for airing it in America so we too can share in their fanciful and felicitous phenomenon.

What do you think about Doctor Who? Are you more of a classic-era fan or do you prefer the version currently airing? Who’s your favorite Doctor? Companion? Which was your favorite series? Episode? And (of course I’m going to ask this) how do you feel about Broadchurch actress Jodie Whittaker getting a turn to pilot the TARDIS? I mean, I obviously have my opinion on it, but all comments and viewpoints are welcome so long as they are expressed with some level of decorum, please and thank you. Yes, and I thank you for reading (or perusing or skimming, for which I do not blame you, because this was a long-ass post).

-BP

Currently/Recently Awesome: NOTHING

I’m a day late in posting, which should illustrate how enthusiastic I am to address the current topic…

In my opinion, for my personal tastes, there hasn’t been anything currently or recently airing, playing or released that has inspired me enough to write a full blog post about it. No movies, no music, no video games and no, I don’t have Netflix, so I don’t know what I’m missing that’s streaming (I hear tell The Handmaid’s Tale and 13 Reasons Why are particularly good and socially relevant).

There are a few TV shows that have just ended or are on now that I’ve liked well enough, in that I believe they’re above average on an entertainment level but not exceptional: American Ninja Warrior season 9, Ink Master season 9 and MasterChef season 8, with scripted dramas Better Call Saul season 3, Gotham season 3 and Doctor Who series 10 being the best and most highly recommended in that order. I tried Humans season 2 since I loved season 1, tried Genius season 1 since the extraordinarily gifted and brilliant Geoffrey Rush—my absolute favorite actor—was cast as the titular genius, Albert Einstein, and even sat through the mess that was the latter half of Empire season 3 for the sharp and sizzling Taraji P. Henson, but alas, found all of these shows to be disappointing if not downright dull. Still, I was even ready for the best shows to be over, which signals to me that I was not as satisfied with them as I wanted to be. I would cover the one-season wonder I just discovered, the critically acclaimed, daring and delicious Sweet/Vicious, but its run was over this past winter season, so it can hardly be called “recent.”

As for the “awesome” part, when I classify something as “awesome,” I’m describing something that consistently wows me throughout the duration of its story. It has to tick the box on everything: plot/continuity, character, action, mystery, humor and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to provoke within me both a thoughtful and emotional response. I have to be thoroughly impressed, from the depths of my brain to the core of my heart, and I just haven’t been this spring/summer season. Now that doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t be. Again I recommend the above shows (in fact I’m going to be covering Doctor Who, specifically “Nu Who,” in  next month’s “My Favorites” because it is a show I do very much love dearly) as they are all worth checking out, but whether they’re worth spending hours with, worth getting wholly invested in? That’s up to you.

What TV shows (or other entertainment mediums) have you been enjoying lately? What, for you, has been “currently/recently awesome”? If you care to leave a recommendation or quick review, please drop me a comment.

Thanks.

-BP

P.S. Here in the U.S., the Doctor Who series 10 finale airs at 8:30-10:00 p.m. Eastern/Standard time on BBC America. I’ll be there, sitting on the edge of my seat, no doubt trying to contain my fangirl feels—will you?

This May Interest You: My “Girl Power” Playlist

Every now and again everyone needs inspiration, something to give you a little extra pep in your step, fire to fight your fear and comfort when you’re down. Being someone with depression, I feel down quite often. Being a depressed, plus-sized, feminist woman of color, the state of the world, heck, the state of America—the politics, the race relations, the sexism, the socioeconomic gaps, etc.—has me feeling down basically all the time.

I feel like my identity doesn’t matter, which in turn means my opinion doesn’t matter because I hardly see anyone who looks or thinks like me represented in popular media, the outlet to which I turn to to escape despair. They tell us the wage gap is a myth and women need to stop complaining—it’s obviously a compliment when they praise us for our beauty and mothering or domestic skills but not our talents, intelligence or ideas. They tell us minorities are equal to the majority despite the lack of visibility/roles for Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, Indians, Native Americans and bi- and multiracial people. They tell us that just because women may have stretch marks or a double chin they’re just as valuable to society as women who don’t—oh wait, no, they don’t. And it all makes me feel like I don’t have a chance in hell of becoming a published author because no one is going to listen to a size-16, Black/White/Hispanic woman like me, and the depression deepens.

So. To where do I turn when I pull myself far enough out of the abyss to remember I need to start un-brainwashing myself from years of believing I’m inferior to men, to whites and to the physically fit and attractive? To the entertainment that does include and speak to people like me because people like me—people like usexist.  We have voices, and here are a few for every occasion, women and girls.

Some are sung by women, some by men, but the point is the same: they either apply to us or are straight-up for us and you know what? We have to be for us, too.

Fight Songs

  • “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme” by TV Tunesters
  • “Swing to Glory” from BtVS series finale “Chosen” by Daniel Jay Nielsen
  • “Salute” by Little Mix (the most-played song on my iPod; helps pump me up to write the most important idea for a book series I have ever had, one for minority girls, about minority girls, by a minority girl)
  • “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten (duh, lol)
  • “Stand By You” by Rachel Platten
  • “Forcefield” by Jax
  • “It’s On Again” by Alicia Keys feat. Kendrick Lamar
  • “Rise” by Katy Perry
  • “People Like Us” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige
  • “I Know Where I’ve Been” by Queen Latifah
  • “One Girl Revolution” by Superchick
  • “Freedom” by Beyoncé
  • “Good Woman Down” by Mary J. Blige (as in “You can’t keep a…”)

Inspirational Songs

  • “Something Beautiful” by Tori Kelly
  • “Call Me Beep Me” by Banaroo (originally sung by Christina Milian, this is better known to the world as the theme song to Disney’s Kim Possible)
  • “Wings” by Little Mix (I have The Voice cover by Tess Boyer)
  • “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyoncé
  • “Can’t Hold Us Down” by Christina Aguilera
  • “Little Me” by Little Mix
  • “Invincible” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato (I have The Voice cover by Brittnee Camelle)
  • “Girl On Fire” by Alicia Keys
  • “Roar” by Katy Perry
  • “Just Do You” by India.Arie
  • “Brave” by Sara Bareilles
  • “Mean” by Taylor Swift (I have The Voice cover by Danielle Bradbery)
  • “Don’t Hold Me Down” by Colbie Caillat
  • “Happy” by Leona Lewis
  • “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Born To Fly” by Danielle Bradbery
  • “Beautiful Flower” by India.Arie
  • “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars
  • “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash (I have The Voice cover by Anita Antoinette and Mayra Alvarez)
  • “I Make My Own Sunshine” by Alyssa Bonagura
  • “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift
  • “Free Your Mind” by En Vogue
  • “Diamonds” by Rihanna
  • “Fly” by Nicki Minaj feat. Rihanna
  • “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
  • “Almost There” by Anika Noni Rose (from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog)
  • “Control” by Janet Jackson
  • “Black Girl Magic” by Sierra McClain (from Empire)
  • “Respect” by Aretha Franklin
  • “Firework” by Katy Perry
  • “Unbreakable Smile” by Tori Kelly
  • “Spectrum” by Florence + The Machine
  • “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz (I have The Voice cover by Christina Grimmie)
  • “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne
  • “Stand” by Rascal Flatts (I have The Voice cover by Cassadee Pope)
  • “Irreplaceable” by Madilyn Paige
  • “Titanium” by David Guetta & Sia (I also have The Voice cover by Madilyn Paige)
  • “Superwoman” by Alicia Keys
  • “Mama” by Jussie Smollett (from Empire)
  • “The Voice Within” by Christina Aguilera
  • “Sing for Me” by Christina Aguilera
  • “Fly” by Maddie & Tae (I have The Voice cover by Brennley Brown)
  • “Think Good Thoughts” by Colbie Caillat
  • “Gold” by Britt Nicole
  • “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield
  • “Ugly” by Christina Grimmie
  • “Not Fragile” by Christina Grimmie
  • “Most Girls” by Hailee Steinfeld
  • “Wait Til You See My Smile” by Alicia Keys
  • “Indestructible” by Mary J. Blige
  • “With Love” by Christina Grimmie
  • “Rise Up” by Andra Day

Self-Acceptance Songs

  • “Scars to Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara (I have The Voice cover by Wé McDonald)
  • “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera
  • “One Step at a Time” by Jordin Sparks
  • “Dark Side” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Video” by India.Arie
  • “I Am Light” by India.Arie
  • “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga
  • “F**kin’ Perfect” by P!nk
  • “Wild Things” by Alessia Cara
  • “Still Crazy After All These Years” by Paul Simon (I have The Voice cover by Emily Keener)
  • “Shake It Out” by Florence + The Machine
  • “Try” by Colbie Caillat
  • “Who Says” by Selena Gomez (a song that asks us to question who taught us we weren’t good enough because much like other forms of hate, self-hatred is usually learned)
  • “Secrets” by Mary Lambert
  • “Body Love Parts 1&2” by Mary Lambert (a spoken-word declaration, a revelation)
  • “Redneck Woman” by Gretchen Wilson
  • “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” by James Brown (I have The Voice cover by Juliet Simms)
  • “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry

Relationship and/or Breakup Songs

  • “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore (I have The Voice cover by Darby Walker)
  • “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera
  • “King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles
  • “Gonna Get Over You” by Sara Bareilles
  • “Get Yourself Together” by Christina Grimmie
  • “Ghost” by Ella Henderson
  • “Done.” by The Band Perry
  • “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” by Beyoncé
  • “So What” by P!nk
  • “Goodbye” by Kristinia DeBarge
  • “Bartender” by Lady Antebellum
  • “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
  • “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child
  • “A Little Bit Stronger” by Sara Evans (I have The Voice cover by Danielle Bradbery)
  • “I Do Not Hook Up” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Mr. Know It All” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “A Broken Wing” by Martina McBride (I have The Voice cover by Holly Tucker)
  • “The War Is Over” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Little Black Dress” by Sara Bareilles
  • “Dollhouse” by Priscilla Renea
  • “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” by En Vogue
  • “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
  • “Part of Me” by Katy Perry
  • “Express Yourself” by Madonna (I have the Glee cover)
  • “Get It Right” by Teedra Moses
  • “Think” by Aretha Franklin (from The Blues Brothers)
  • “Independent Women Part I” by Destiny’s Child
  • “I Don’t Need a Man” by The Pussycat Dolls
  • “Miss Independent” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Miss Independent” by Ne-Yo (a great feminist love song in which Ne-Yo describes his admiration for a woman who “wants him but doesn’t need him”)
  • “Make Me Better” by Fabolous feat. Ne-Yo
  • “No Scrubs” by TLC
  • “Dip It Low” by Christina Milian feat. Fabolous
  • “Bootylicious” by Destiny’s Child
  • “Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me” by Susan Sarandon (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the moment Janet takes control of her sexual desires)
  • “Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding (I have The Voice cover by Caroline Pennell)
  • “No More (Baby I’ma Do Right)” by 3LW (uh-oh, my age is showing…)
  • “Halo” by Beyoncé
  • “She Is Love” by Parachute
  • “Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones (I have the cover by The Sundays)
  • “These Words” by Natasha Bedingfield
  • “She’s a Lady” by Tom Jones
  • “Stronger” by Britney Spears
  • “A Woman’s Worth” by Alicia Keys

(Hmm. I have a lot of songs about relationships even though I have never been in a relationship. Go figure.)

Feel-Good Songs

  • “Some Nights” by Fun. (I have The Voice cover by Christina Grimmie; the lyrics aren’t exactly feel-good but the music is, as are the dulcet but powered pipes of the lovely, late Miss Grimmie)
  • “#thatPOWER” by will.i.am feat. Justin Bieber (I have The Voice cover by Judith Hill)
  • “Keeps Gettin’ Better” by Christina Aguilera
  • “Bella Finals” by The Barden Bellas of Pitch Perfect
  • “World Championship Finale 2” by The Barden Bellas of Pitch Perfect 2
  • “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles
  • “Do What U Want” by Lady Gaga feat. R. Kelly (I have The Voice cover by Sisaundra Lewis)
  • “Catch My Breath” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Who I Am” by Jessica Andrews (I have The Voice cover by Danielle Bradbery)
  • “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack
  • “Just Fine” by Mary J. Blige
  • “Suddenly I See” by KT Tunstall
  • “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge
  • “We Found Love” by Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris
  • “Something Kind of Ooooh” by Girls Aloud (a good workout song off the fabulous soundtrack to an underrated romance-comedy called Run, Fatboy, Run)
  • “Queen of the Night” by Whitney Houston
  • “I’m Every Woman” by Whitney Houston
  • “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain
  • “Show Me How You Burlesque” by Christina Aguilera (from Burlesque)
  • Lady Marmalade by Patti LaBelle (I have the Moulin Rouge cover)
  • “We R Who We R” by Kesha (formerly Ke$ha)
  • “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae
  • “I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado (I have The Voice cover by Mathai; another where the lyrics aren’t particularly inspirational but the melody is calming)
  • “One” by India.Arie
  • “Selena” by Wyclef Jean feat. Melissa Jiménez (a tribute song honoring lovable, late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez)

Honorable Mention: “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy, a pioneer song for the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s.

There we have it, my personal “Girl Power” playlist, a bevy of songs reinforcing the kind of feminism and empowerment I stand for: equal opportunities, rights and treatment to men; emotional independence; sisterhood; and varied definitions of beauty and the recognition and appreciation of inherent female resilience. Ladies, what are your favorite go-to empowerment songs? If you care to share, please leave a comment below. What you share just might make someone feel better! After all, it was lists like these that helped me and led me to form my own.

-BP

Taboo Topics: Choosing to be Childfree

Hi. I am a 25-year-old woman who has no desire to have children now or in the future. I am going to be childless or, to use the term I learned in college and rather prefer, childfree. Shocking! Or is it? In this day and age in the 21st century, is it really all that shocking for young women not to have or want kids?

I only count this as a taboo topic because it is, from what I perceive, still a relevant social expectation that women get married and have children. Oh, you can have a job now, but your real job is to raise a family—that’s what’s at the core of a woman’s worth. It’s what the Bible says after all, that women will be “preserved” through childbearing!

Well now. As both a Christian and a modern woman, I have to say I think this edict is positively medieval and, even more to the point, pardon me, bullshit.

Giving birth to a baby doesn’t make you worthy of being seen as a saint any more than being a sperm donor makes a man worthy of being seen as one either. Having children doesn’t automatically make you a good or bad person, doesn’t make you better than someone else, just like watching horror movies doesn’t make someone a bad person and going to church doesn’t make someone a good person. But then again, the Bible’s got plenty of bullshit in it. There are A LOT of things in there that I don’t believe were inspired by a loving, fair God but more by cowardly, power-hungry, fallible men, and this is one of them, but I digress.

I don’t have a grip on what this expectation is like for young men; I presume they’re asked about when they’re going to settle down and have kids just as much as we young ladies are. The only difference is, that in the past, they didn’t have to to have a fair quality of life. Women come from a background of economic oppression (unable to vote, to own or inherit property, to attend school, to work certain jobs) and sometimes even emotional repression and had to get with a man just to survive, until what, like the 1970s? Wasn’t that the height of women’s lib?

We’ve got a long way to go still—hell, look who got elected as our president—for women and other minority groups to be treated as equals to men and the majority, but we’ve come pretty dang far in 50 years. Scores of women are getting an education. Most women have jobs and dare I say careers. Girls are no longer being programmed by Disney to think they have to wait on Prince Charming to swoop in and save them. They can make a happily ever after happen on their own. Relationships are now a choice. Sex is a choice. Having children (in most cases) is a choice. We don’t have to if we don’t want to because we now have the economic and emotional means (by claiming our independence and inherent resilience) to take care of ourselves.

So why do people still care? Why do people want to control aspects of others’ lives that they have no business trying to be a part of? One of the great mysteries of humanity. I think it has to do with pinpointing what’s different and talking about it. Wondering about it. Feeling superior to it. Feeling sorry for it. Being puzzled by it. Whatever it is, it’s because of some satisfaction someone gets from marking another person as different and therefore separate. People just love putting others into categories—makes it easier to judge them. It’s like an alarm goes off in his or her brain: “Whee-ooh! Whee-ooh! Something different than my own values/beliefs/conceits! Whee-ooh! Whee-ooh! Must react! Must select judgment! Anger? Envy? Confusion? Pity? Disapproval? Select judgment!”

In my experience God likes variety, so people are diverse. We’re not meant to fit one certain category under one certain label. But some people just can’t let it go. Someone even called me an “evolutionary failure” because I’m going against what people were meant to do, which is procreate. Look, I don’t give a damn what evolutionary biology says I’m supposed to; I’m more than a body.

Here, these are my personal reasons I don’t want children:

  • Because I am mentally ill. I have OCD and anxiety and have struggled with profound depression for almost 15 years, and I know some parts of these illnesses are genetic. I do not want to pass this kind of pain and dysfunction on to an innocent child, nor would I want my children burdened with my baggage or to be burdened myself with theirs.
  • Because I’m not in a relationship. There is no man in my life with whom I would consider entering a lifetime commitment that includes children and I would not want to raise a child by myself. My mother was a single parent and I was raised as an only child—I have seen how hard the single parent must work and know the suffering of the child who feels she is neglected because of it. I’m not saying it’s not doable, of course it is, but I have assessed myself as not strong enough to be able to handle both a career and motherhood.
  • Because I identify as asexual. Yes, we asexuals exist. We even have a website (AVEN)! An asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction and, therefore, has an extremely low libido or sex drive. For example, when I look at handsome men (or even beautiful women), they please me aesthetically, as in I like to look at them to appreciate their beauty, but never do I feel the desire to copulate with them. To make a baby, you have to have sex. Frankly I don’t want to have sex. Ever. Even the thought of it frightens me and repulses me. I will be content as a clam to die a virgin, and even more content that I didn’t have to experience the pain of my cervix stretching five times its natural width to squeeze out a gooey, screaming little person into the world. Yeah, no thanks.
  • Because of the world we live in. Speaking of the world, I’ve found I’m not too fond of it anymore. Lately, thoughts of suicide have become a cozy alternative to realizing I probably have another 50 years on this frosty, merciless, miserable rock we call Earth (yes, I’m in therapy). My outlook on life has become so pessimistic that the thought of bringing a child into this world actually awakens a ghost-like guilt in my chest. I think I would feel bad for having a child. I would feel like I’d never be able to protect him or her. He or she could get shot at school or at the movie theater or the mall. Fall victim to cyberbullying or date rape. Get killed in one of the wars that always seem to be raging. I’ve heard mothers say the exact opposite, that they want their children here to experience the good in life. Well, from my standpoint the means don’t justify the ends.
  • Because of overpopulation. We have over seven billion people on the planet. Plenty of other people are having children. I don’t need to add to the overcrowding we’re sure to experience in the decades to come.
  • Because I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. To give a short explanation, PCOS means your hormones are messed up, bestowing upon you the lovely gifts of irregular periods (I haven’t had one since August 2016), excess body hair and weight and a bunch of cysts on the outsides of your ovaries. Because it is a hormonal disorder, it is difficult for women with PCOS to conceive. Knowing it’d be extra hard for me to get pregnant just reinforces my desire not to have kids. I’m not going to spend my money on fertility treatments. I’m saving that shit for me!
  • Because I am a selfish, impatient person. I don’t believe I have the maternal spark—I’m compassionate and affectionate but not nurturing. I’m not keen on focusing what little energy my mental illnesses afford me on someone else, and a child should be a parent’s number one priority. Because of the type of person I am and because I have a long-term goal of being a writer, for which I would absolutely sacrifice time spent on trying to have a family, I honestly don’t feel like it’d be fair of me to have a child. Wouldn’t be fair to her or him. So the most unselfish thing a selfish person like me could do is not have any children in the first place.

There are plenty more reasons not to want children. There are also plenty of reasons to want them and many downfalls to not having them, I acknowledge that. I will grow old alone. There will be no phone calls, no visits from grandchildren. No one to help me shower or go to the bathroom when I’m old and decrepit. There will only be silence, the unspoken voices of what and who could have been. I will never know the feeling of what it’s like to be pregnant, never know the intimacies of the miracle of life growing inside me. And, for all my bluster, when I’m feeling particularly depressed and worthless, I do feel like less of a woman for not wanting kids/being virtually unable to bear them. I know it’s not true. I know I can contribute to society without giving the world another person to house, but not being a mom in a world and a generation where it feels like everybody else is makes me feel inferior to them.

So then we just have to look at the positives for not having children: I’ll save myself around $250,000 (I learned on Dr. Phil that that’s about what it takes to raise a kid from birth to age 18); I don’t have to have force myself to have sex (woo hoo!); I don’t have to worry about gaining even more weight and trying to get back in shape after delivery; I get to be in control of my schedule—I can sleep when I want and don’t have to change diapers or go to boring school talent shows; I’ll save myself the worry and grief and pain that inevitably comes with raising a teenager (pssht, I’ve got enough grief, I don’t need anyone else’s). I’ll be free, in other words, to pursue my own interests, responsible for me and only me.

And that kind of freedom is the life for me.

What about you? Do you want to be childfree to? Why or why not? Tell me in the comments below.

-BP

Millennial Nostalgia: Things We Grew Up with that Are 10 Years Old This Year

Yes, I realize I missed posting last month, and I’m going to make up for it with this post by addressing the topic I missed.

To ignite a little nostalgia—and also to make you feel really old so I’m not alone in the feeling—here is a list of things that debuted or rose to popularity 10 years ago, in the year 2007.

Songs

  • “Umbrella” by Rihanna feat. Jay-Z
  • “Low” by Flo Rida
  • “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood
  • “Lip Gloss” by Lil’ Mama
  • “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White Ts
  • “Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé
  • “Makes Me Wonder” by Maroon 5
  • “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” by Soulja Boy (remember that stupid dance? I do)
  • “Cupid’s Chokehold” by Gym Class Heroes
  • “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis
  • “This Is Why I’m Hot” by MIMS
  • “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston (where did he go, by the way?)
  • “Bubbly” by Colbie Caillat
  • “Lips of an Angel” by Hinder
  • “SexyBack” by Justin Timberlake
  • “Teardrops on My Guitar” by Taylor Swift (I remember this as her first big hit)
  • “It’s Not Over” by Daughtry (still can’t believe he was voted off that season of American Idol)
  • “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie
  • “Like a Boy” by Ciara
  • “It Ends Tonight” by The All-American Rejects
  • “Apologize” by Timbaland feat. OneRepublic
  • “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse
  • “Walk Away (Remember Me)” by Paula DeAnda (I miss her! Haven’t seen her since she was eliminated on season 6 of The Voice…)

I was still listening to these songs on a CD player back when the volumes of Now That’s What I Call Music CDs were still in the 20s!

Books

  • Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (we all had a copy reserved, did we not? I KNOW I DID)
  • The Shack by Wm. Paul Young (the book I’m currently reading at the request of my half-sister)
  • Blaze by Richard Bachman (Stephen King’s pseudonym)
  • Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
  • City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
  • Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  • The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
  • 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (I vehemently want to make something clear: I am only mentioning this book because it was popular in 2007, not because I support the Twilight series because I DON’T)

Movies

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (I saw this three times in the theater and it has become one of my top five favorite movies of all time because it’s one of the only movies that completely met and satisfied my expectations)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (my least favorite of the Potter films)
  • Transformers
  • Hairspray (remake) (which I loved)
  • Halloween (remake) (which I hated—way too gratuitous and made almost all the characters unlikable)
  • The Simpsons Movie
  • Spider-Man 3 (which I, as the Queen of Unpopular Opinions, liked)
  • I Am Legend
  • Saw IV
  • Freedom Writers (I think we all watched this in English class, lol)
  • Juno
  • American Gangster
  • Black Snake Moan
  • 300
  • Knocked Up
  • I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
  • 28 Weeks Later
  • 1408 (I looove this movie)
  • The Mist (I also looove this movie)
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Live Free or Die Hard
  • Ratatouille
  • P.S. I Love You
  • Rush Hour 3 (I own the other two but not this one if that tells you anything…)
  • Enchanted (Amy Adams is amazing…someone tell me why she hasn’t been awarded an Oscar yet)
  • The Darjeeling Limited
  • Gone Baby Gone
  • 30 Days of Night (not bad, not bad)
  • There Will Be Blood
  • No Country for Old Men

TV Shows

  • Chuck
  • Chelsea Lately
  • The Sarah Silverman Program
  • Gossip Girl
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • iCarly
  • Yo Gabba Gabba!
  • Wizards of Waverly Place
  • Kitchen Nightmares
  • Rock of Love (with Bret Michaels)
  • Road Rules
  • Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?
  • Californication
  • Burn Notice
  • Mad Men

I watch(ed) almost none of these…except the ocassional Kitchen Nightmares or AYSTAFG episode and the sequel series to Rock of Love. Why? I have no idea. Don’t judge me! 😀

Video Games

  • BioShock
  • Portal
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Halo 3
  • Mass Effect
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
  • Resident Evil 4
  • Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
  • God of War II
  • Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
  • Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
  • Silent Hill: Origins

I was still gaming on my Gameboy Advance SP (SpongeBob, Star Wars, Fantastic Four, Harry Potter, Fairly OddParents, etc.), so I didn’t play any of these.

Fads/Other Popular Things

  • Crocs
  • Velour tracksuits
  • The iPhone
  • American Idol
  • High School Musical 2
  • Hannah Montana
  • Bratz Dolls
  • Trying to interpret the series finale of The Sopranos
  • Talking about Britney Spears’ public meltdown (I’m not judging her; it’s tough having a mental illness…and that statement is an understatement)
  • Rickrolling

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

A lot has changed yet some things have not. And I don’t know about you, but I wish I could go back. The year 2007, when I was 15-16, was one of the best years of my life. Sophomore year was better than freshman year. I loved my teachers and the sports I played and the music I lost myself in. I was practicing my writing by penning horror fan fiction. I miss the security of all those things. I miss it like the sky misses the sun when it sets. And I, and anyone else who misses his or her halcyon days, have to accept that the sun set on 2007 ten years ago.

That’s just the way it is. Now all there is to do is focus on making 2017 another great year.

Let’s hope we can and let’s hope it is.

Was 2007 a good year for you? How well do you remember these 2007 hits? Do you remember 2007? If you do, feel free to tell me how in the comments below.

-BP

Guilty Pleasure: Not Particularly…Again

Welp, I’m late. Not that anyone cares since nobody reads these posts, but I’m just dropping in to say there will be No Guilty Pleasure post for the month of January (I don’t care what the date listed says, I’m posting this at 7:50 p.m. on January 31st) for personal reasons. Personal reasons that may or may not carry over into February. It’s too early to tell. :/

I hope you’ve had a good start to the new year. Hopefully there will be new, positive developments for us all as the year unfolds.

-BP

My Favorites: “My Favorite Time of Year”

Happy Holidays! And for those of you who celebrate either one, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! Since it’s the season for winter music, I thought I’d share a beloved holiday tune of mine: “Favorite Time of Year” by India.Arie, Joe Sample and Tori Kelly. Though released just last year, I very nearly consider it to be a classic for the cozy, quaint pictures the lyrics paint amid a sprinkling of jingle bells and a cheery piano soundtrack.

India.Arie and Tori Kelly trade off verses before coming together to explain “why Christmas is [their] favorite time of year,” with India’s tones warm and dulcet like freshly made chocolate drops and Tori’s like a mix of sugar and sunshine. It’s impossible to feel cold listening to these ladies.

The artists are only one reason I cherish the song. Another? Because I can relate to a lot of the lyrics:

  • “Kids are making angels in the snow” (of course most of us have done that!)
  • “Magic tricks by Uncle Joe” (I have an Uncle Joe)
  • “You can feel the loving in the air” (I feel like you really can feel the care in the air—the kindness and compassion and gratefulness)
  • “Grandma sitting in her favorite chair/With a halo of silver hair (I have a grandma with silver hair)
  • With a smile lighting up the room/So sad grandpa’s gone too soon (while I still have my lovely grandmother, my grandpa is deceased, having passed almost ten years ago)
  • “Chocolate smells fill the room” (not just chocolate but those of cinnamon, turkey, ham and potatoes too!)
  • “Santa’s ringing bells outside the door” (a little reminder to do your good deed for the year and drop some money in the Salvation Army bucket)
  • “Ate so much I’m about to pop” (I always do this)
  • “There’s no place I’d rather be/Than with you, my family (this is true for me)
  • “Your loving is the sweetest thing I know” (because of my mother and grandmother I know what it is to be unconditionally loved and it is indeed the most incredible feeling)
  • “This is why Christmas is my favorite time of year” (it’s mine too—it’s exciting and sweet, filled with laughs and togetherness)

My absolute favorite part of the song, though, is the line,

“Everybody smile, 1,2,3/Time for Tyler Perry’s new movie!”

It makes me grin if not downright chuckle. It’s a funny thing to say itself, but the really charming part is when India.Arie delivers the Tyler Perry line, she sounds like she’s giggling too! I love listening to such a genuine moment of joy captured on recording. And you know what follows? A subtle round of applause. Oh, lololol. It’s just awesome. And like the rest of us India must know the man releases a movie, like, every month. They just did a Madea Halloween—I’m sure there’s a Madea Christmas special in there somewhere.

So if you’re in the mood for a good Christmas song, this one immediately “takes you there.” The ladies are soothing, the music bounces beyond the lyrics, which fittingly support the song with reasons why holidays are our best times and why they are universal, using gentle reminders to be grateful for what and whom we have.

I’d post a link to the video but won’t since I don’t have YouTube’s permission to do so/am not comfortable doing so without permission. If you’d like to have a listen, make sure you click on the India.Arie version, not the Debby Ryan song of the same name (though hers is probably good too).

May you have warm, safe and happy holidays wherever you are.

-BP