The Best of 2017 (2017 Wrap Up Post)

Introduction:

2017 has finally wound to an end. It’s been a crazy year, but there have also been some pretty awesome moments, and I’ve discovered a few amazing things I’d like to share with you today, including books, movies, music, YouTube shows, and more! Scroll down to check out my ‘best of’ list and recommendations, as well as my end of the year wrap up!

DISCLAIMER: Just so you know, all opinions I express in this post are entirely my own. Nobody has bribed me, sent me free stuff, blackmailed me, kidnapped me, or hacked my blog to get me to say this stuff. I just love all these things, and I love sharing cool stuff with all my friends. I hope you enjoy the list!  😄


Best of 2017


Best Of:

Movies, TV, & YouTube

I have a difficult time making any real decisions, so for some of these categories there are multiple picks.

Best Film(s)

  • There honestly weren’t a ton of really awesome films that I got to see this year, so the selection I have to choose from for this category is relatively small. It’s honestly a bit of a tie between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Thor: RagnarokWhile I did like Spiderman: Homecoming, I enjoyed Ragnarok a little bit more, maybe because I’ve been looking forward to it for at least a year now. It certainly did not disappoint. And The Last Jedi far exceeded any expectations I’d had for a Star Wars film, so they’re honestly about equal, in my opinion. You can read my review for Thor or read my review for The Last Jedi, if you want to hear my more detailed thoughts about the films.

Best TV Show

  • Maybe this is a little too obvious, but my pick for best TV show of 2017 is Netflix’s Stranger Things. There is so much internet hype about this show, that if you have been anywhere online you can’t help but here about it. And the show certainly lives up to the hype! Thrills, chills, adventure, as well as fabulous acting and writing abound, and I am very excited to see where the show goes next! You can read my full review of both seasons here. Another Netflix original, their new adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events, also gets an honorable mention. It was very well done, and I would love if we got another season, as I would like to see the story continue! You can read my review of that here.

Best YouTuber/YouTube Series

  • This award goes to The Game Theorists (and Film Theorists) for their exceptional year of theories! I just discovered the Theorist Crew late last year, and they have become my all time favorite YouTubers. While I love MatPat and his hilarious, well researched (if sometimes far fetched) theories about video games, movies and TV shows, I also want to give a shout out to Austin, the creator of The SCIENCE! which is another video game themed show that can be found on the Game Theorists’ channel. His more recent episodes, especially the ones about Halo and Hello Neighbor, are chock full of cool facts, equations, and all around awesome science stuff. If you love video games (or movies) and like far-fetched theories and science-y weirdness, I would highly recommend checking out these two channels.

Best YouTube Red Original

  • I got a free trial of YouTube Red this year, mostly to watch the Game Theorists’ YouTube Red original show. While I highly enjoyed MatPat’s Game Lab, which is a real-life continuation of Game Theory, where they tested stuff from games in real life (such as playing soccer with cars, as shown in Rocket League, or trying to survive Five Nights at Freddie’s IRL) I would have to say that my favorite YouTube Red series was actually Mind Field, which is hosted by Micheal Stevens of Vsauce. Mind Field explores the science of psychology, particularly looking at the reasons why human beings behave the way they do, while also exploring a few other fascinating psychological concepts, such as isolation and its effect on the brain, or how people would respond in real life to the infamous Trolley Problem. While as a Christian I don’t agree with everything Stevens says, Mind Field is still a fascinating exploration of some of the science behind our behavior, and I would highly recommend that you check out the first episode of the show, which is available for free on the Vsauce channel.

Music

Once again, there are multiple categories here, and once again, I am an indecisive bean who had multiple picks for one of them…

Best Song

  • There is literally no contest here. The best song of 2017 is Machine by MisterWives. I was originally introduced to this indie pop/alternative band through Twenty One Pilots. MisterWives opened for them during the Quiet is Violent tour, and during the TØP hiatus I’ve been trying to find new music to listen to, often by looking up bands that have toured with them. I only like a few songs by the band, but Machine is a definite standout. Rebellious, rollicking, with lyrics that offer a candid take on the modern music industry (my personal interpretation of the song), it’s just an awesome piece of music, and you should probably have it somewhere on your  playlist. Give it a listen right here:

 

Best Album(s)

Two albums released in 2017 really stood out to me, one of them from an old favorite, and one from an artist totally new to me.

  • Canadian singer/songwriter Lights’ new album Skin & Earth is by far one of her best albums to date, and I have no hesitation in naming it as one of the best albums of the year. Savage, which is one of my favorite songs off the album, is totally unlike anything Lights has done before. Her vocals and lyrics are always on point, but there is a very raw and real anger coming through in this song that I really love. Savage also features Josh Dun of Twenty One Pilots on drums, which is pretty awesome, as it’s basically a collaboration between two of my favorite artists ever.
  • The second album is After Laughter by alternative rock/pop punk band Paramore. I just discovered the band this year, and I am loving their awesome, kind of retro-style rock music. After Laughter has a good mix of slower, quieter songs, and fast, exciting songs that just make you want to get up and dance. Probably my favorite song off the album is Pool, although Hard Times and Fake Happy are also fantastic.

Books

There were several books I read this year that really got my attention, and they all deserve mentions in this post.

  • The first was Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. It was a heartbreaking, very real story inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement about a girl who witnesses her best friend get shot by a policeman when he wasn’t doing anything wrong. The book has some strong language and innuendo, but the raw, honest story, told through the eyes of a girl who lives with discrimination and fear of police violence every day, more than makes up for any of that. It is a very important book, especially for this moment in time, and I am very glad that I got the chance to read it.
  • Unsanctioned Eyes by Brianna Merritt is an intense thriller that delivers all the feels. Brianna’s writing kept me right at the edge of my seat throughout the entire book, and I can hardly wait for the sequel, which should be arriving sometime next year. The story follows Quinn Rogers, a fearless assassin whose past is starting to catch up with her. The book is fairly dark and violent, but there are Christian themes of redemption, as well as a bit of hilarious humor to lighten the mood, and all in all it was just a fantastic read. (I need to read it again soon!) You can check out my full review over on Goodreads.
  • Finally, Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia more than deserves an honorable mention. This was a bittersweet exploration of fandom, online friendships, and anonymity. I was very excited about this book, and it did not disappoint. You can read my review over on Goodreads if you’re interested in my thoughts.

Honorable Mentions

Here are a few things that didn’t really fit into any of the other categories, but which I thought really deserved to be mentioned in this post.

Secret Midnight Press

  • Secret Midnight Press is an independent publishing company and curiosity brand created by authors Ashley Dun and Jesse Cale, and based in Columbus, Ohio. They publish emotional poetry books, go on book tours with artists like Tessa Violet and GiveMeMotion, and create special seasonal boxes full of books and goodies. I just got Ashley’s book Smoke Signals (burn this) for Christmas (you can check out my review on Goodreads, if you like), and I have tickets to their January show in Columbus, which is also very exciting. They strive to create a safe space for people to express their feelings, and to provide hope to others who are struggling with mental illnesses like depression, or with difficult emotions and circumstances. Above all, they try to stay creative and curious about life. Ashley’s poetry is gorgeous, and I hope to be getting some of their other books soon. I also think that Secret Midnight Press will be a project that I continue to support for years to come, so I thought they deserved a mention on this list
  • Visit the Secret Midnight Press Website.

goodDYEyoung

  • goodDYEyoung is another independent company I’m happy to be able to support. They create vegan, cruelty-free, safe hair dye products in bright , beautiful colors, as well as providing temporary hair color products as well. If you follow me on Twitter, you may know that I dyed a bit of my hair using their purple color. I used it straight on my hair, without any bleach, and while it colored my natural hair pretty well, I’m planning to get some of my hair bleached sometime in January, and dye it again. Their semi-permanent colors are PPD free, meaning no nasty chemicals all over your head, and easily mixable so you can get exactly the shade you want. The dye also had natural conditioning agents, leaving your hair silky-smooth and brightly colored. I would highly recommend you check out goodDYEyoung if you’re thinking about dying your hair!
  • Visit the goodDYEyoung website.

The Bright Eyes Project

  • Created by Aimee Meester, the Bright Eyes Project Podcast is a creepy sci-fi adventure taking you to fantastical spaceships, strange purple planets, the depths of space, and more! Complete with enough aliens, conspiracy, mysterious disappearances  and cliffhangers to drive anyone crazy (*cough, cough* we need the next episode, Aimee *cough, cough*), Bright Eyes is perfect for any sci-fi lover, whether you’re completely new to the fiction podcast format (like me!) or are a long time listener.
  • Check out the Bright Eyes Project.

Personal Highlights

  • I completed the first draft of Book 1 of my super secret sci-fi project, and wrote over 30,000 words of Book 2… and then promptly got stuck. I’m still trying to figure out where to go next. I’m really excited about this project, but I’m just a bit stuck on it right now.
  • I wrote over 30 poems, which is very exciting. I used to hate poetry, but then I took most of a poetry course (I never actually finished it… :/) which made me super excited to try writing my own poems! I write in mostly rhyming verse, but I’ve experimented a lot with free verse as well. I basically have a whole book of poems now, but I don’t know if I will actually publish it. We’ll see!
  • I published my second book this year! The Tangle was released in both paperback and ebook formats on November 4th this year, after being run as a serial novel on Channillo.com. It’s a paranormal suspense novel, which has absolutely nothing to do with my first book, Behind Her Mask was Death (several people have been confused about this) and you can pick up a copy over on Amazon, if you’re interested. 🙂
  • My blog is officially more than a year old! I totally missed my blogaversary, which happened back in April or May, I believe, but I have now been blogging for over a year. I wrote a total of 70 posts this year, and I hope to write even more in 2018!

Looking Forward

I may have mentioned at some point or other that I was planning to release a novellette set in the world of Behind Her Mask was Death this December. Well, obviously, that didn’t actually happen. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish working on the book and getting feedback on it until a couple of days ago, so I will probably publish it sometime in early 2018.

Other than that, I actually don’t have a ton of plans for 2018. I’ll keep working on all my in-progress projects (of which there are a great deal…) and perhaps we’ll see another book at some point, but I don’t know. I’m still struggling with my super secret sci-fi project, so I’m not sure what will happen with that. We’ll just have to wait and see!


Thanks so much for reading my end of the year recommendations and wrap up! I hope you’ll check out a couple of the things on this list, and that your 2017 was a blessed and lovely year. See you in 2018!

🙂

Who We Are (A Guest Post By Julia Vanlandingham)

Who We Are

Hey everyone! My best friend Julia wrote an amazing essay which I posted on here a few months back, and… she’s done it again! I hope you enjoy this awesome guest essay. 🙂


Who are you? It’s an easy question, right? So simple: Who are you? My answer to this question most of the time sounds something like this, “I’m Julia, I’m 17 years old. I have four sisters and one brother. I also have one brother-in-law, one sister-in-law, and one baby niece. I LOVE mathematics, but I don’t like writing. I’m not that good at writing, because I have a very mathematical brain.” That may describe some aspects of me (some incorrectly, but we’ll get to that later), but does this answer really say who I am? I think not. This description say my name, my age, and my profession (or projected profession). This describes how others perceive me on my surface, but not really truly who I am.

The things we are passionate about, the activities and people we love, the experiences we have had: these are the things that shape us. However, what does that really mean? It means that as we grow older we change. The friends we have and the environment we live in will shape how we talk and act. The activities we participate in will either spark our interest in a certain field or scorch it. The people we love will change us in many ways. Whether it be that you pick your clothes up off the floor for them, or you mow the lawn everyday for them, it is a deviation from your normal behavior. So, people and events shape us, but is that what defines our identity? Are we simply the sum of all our actions?

Oftentimes we describe who we are based on what we do or what other people have told us we are. As an example, my whole life I have been told I was a bad writer. Now, let’s get something straight, at one point in time I was very bad at writing, but I worked hard and I have changed that. So, I always thought of myself as a bad writer. I thought that was one of the things that defined who I was. The longer I was told this, the more and more it was engrained in my mind that was me: Julia, the mathematician who can’t write.

I think that, in this case, the sum of all the parts is so much less than the whole. So, what is missing, what makes us a whole and not simply a sum of actions? Well, the answer is simple, but also so very hard to see at times: God. The missing factor is the Lord. This is what makes us who we are really, this is what defines us. First and foremost we are a child of the King. So, as I describe myself the biggest and most important part of who I am is not that I am a mathematician or that I have a big family, or that I once was not good a writing. It is that I have been saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. I have lived, died and been risen with him, and that is what makes me who I am.

So, we are not simply defined as what we do or who we know, there is so much more to each and every one of us. Oftentimes we do not take the time to get to know people deeply, to really get to know who they are. This leads us to see them as the sum of their actions. Often this can lead to misconceptions about people, and sometimes it can hurt that person deeply for a long time. When someone is told repeatedly that a certain characteristic defines them, they will eventually begin to believe it. They will start to tell themselves the same thing, and they may believe that is who they are. Once someone has told themselves that this thing defines them for long enough, it is hard to go back. It leaves a scar. One that most people can’t even see. One that maybe the person can’t even see themselves. It takes a long time and much help to see that this doesn’t define them.

So, whatever it is that you have been told defines you. Whatever you have told yourself defines you. Whatever you think you are bad at and that you just can not do that thing and it is going to hold you back. Forget it. That is not you. Do not let anyone else tell you who you are. Strive everyday to live your identity in Christ, the only thing that can never be taken from you.


I hope you enjoyed this amazing guest post! What are some ways we could learn to shape our identities in Christ? Let’s chat in the comments!

See you again soon. 🙂

Theory: Is Twenty Øne Piløts’ Internet Silence A Promotional Stunt?

UPDATE 4/22/18: Obviously, this theory is total garbage. If you haven’t heard about all the awesome stuff going down around the new TØP era, please check out this Reddit thread! If you really, really want to read my garbage theory, which was written last year, when we knew absolutely nothing, the full text is available below. Stay alive, and stay street, my frens! ^_^


Hello, internet! It’s theory time. I know this isn’t a normal type of post for me, but last night I was having trouble sleeping, and you know what? I was just lying in bed, pondering how soon Twenty One Pilots would release a new album (because, you know, I like to cause myself emotional pain by contemplating these things), and something kind of just went ‘click!’ in my mind.

Twenty One Theories

Now, maybe this particular set of information is fairly old news, but I just thought it was really cool, so I’m going to be setting out my theory anyway. Let’s see if we can predict some things about Twenty One Pilots’ illusive next album! Here goes…


Nota Bene: I refer in this theory multiple times to Twenty One Pilots as pulling a promotional ‘stunt’. Often, the word ‘stunt’ can be used in a negative light: referring to some fake or deceitful event, especially a scandal, concocted in order to market a product.

I use the word in this post only because I don’t think that there’s a better word I could use to describe the kind of thing currently going on. I do not use this word negatively at all; in fact, I think that TØP’s marketing and promotional tactics are extraordinarily well done and can definitely set an example for online marketing. TØP is not using these ‘stunts’ to deceive or con people, but instead to build hype in an interesting, exciting way, so, again, I do not use the word negatively.  Anyway, that’s just my little disclaimer. Onward into the theory!


Theory: TØP is currently pulling a big promotional stunt for their next album.


Background

Although there has (to date) been no official announcement of a new album from alternative hip-hop/rock duo Twenty One Pilots, it should be noted that they are known for using extremely elaborate online stunts and marketing schemes in order to raise awareness for new albums. For Blurryface, the band’s most recent album, they set up social media accounts, a website, and an interactive email address for the character Blurryface, a creature who embodies fear and doubt and who was the main focus of the concept album.

To date, as of July 6th (Mostly. July 18th in one case.) both the official and personal Instagram and Twitter accounts of the band, as well as their official YouTube channel and Facebook page, have fallen silent. This, along with several other pieces of evidence enumerated below, leads me to believe that this silence is, in fact, a large scale promotional stunt hinting at a new album and the beginning of a new ‘era’ for the band.

Several fans I’ve seen online —as well as Tyler Joseph, the band’s vocalist and piano/ukulele player— have pointed to this being ‘the end of the Blurryface era’. The caption of Tyler’s latest Instagram post [to date] (written, as always, in cryptic Tyler script) reads:

tylerrjoseph:.:few festivals, then hometown shows, then cycle is complete:.:whatsnext………………………………….|-/

This little message makes it fairly clear: album’s cycle is complete. The band finished up their summer tour back in July, and has since gone silent. The era is at an end, and we should be eagerly awaiting news of a new album. But is there any more evidence that this ‘silence’ is, in fact, a promotional stunt for that as yet illusive album? I’ve compiled a few interesting points below:


Evidence

The stunt itself: On July 5th, 2017, the official TØP Instagram posted for the last time [to date] uploading a short highlight video from the band’s recent tour. On that same day, the final chapter of ‘Sleepers’, a video series chronicling that tour, was posted on the band’s YouTube channel. To date, both of these social media platforms have fallen silent, posting nothing for the past two months.

On July 6th, the official TØP Twitter posted a series of images with what appear to be lyrics from various TØP songs, written backward on an increasingly darkening background which, as some people have remarked, looks like a closing eye:

Sleeper 7

Sleeper 6

Sleeper 5

Sleeper 4

Sleeper 3

Sleeper 2

Sleeper

Translated, these lyrics read:

You’ll have to come and find me

My pretty sleeper

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just lay down

I will face the night again

Nobody dreams when they blink

Remember the morning is when the night is dead

And now we just sit in silence

After this cryptic message, the band’s official Twitter also went silent, and replaced its former profile pic, which had showed the TØP symbol |-/ with one showing only the symbol’s middle dash. The Twitter page’s cover photo has also been changed to a black background with the word ‘Silence’ written across it in TØP-style script. This has happened consistently across the band’s YouTube channel, Instagram, Facebook page, and Tumblr site, which also fell silent on July 6th after the update.

Silence

Twenty One Pilots’ Twitter profile, as of today

All personal Instagram and Twitter profiles of band members Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun have also fallen silent, although not at the same time. It should also be noted that Josh Dun was active on Twitter on July 18th, when he replied to a Tweet from h3h3productions, over a week after silence officially fell across TØP’s online presence. To date, both band members’ Instagrams and Twitters, while not used prolifically before the silence, have not been posted to for almost two months, indicating that they too are a part of the stunt.


My Conclusions

Silence has fallen. Whether or not this entire coordinated stunt is simply an announcement of an extended hiatus for TØP or an actual promotional stunt for their next album (and I strongly suspect that both could be true), this has finally marked a definite end to the Blurryface era, though not, perhaps, the end of Blurryface himself. The cryptic lyric-poem could be seen as a farewell from the character, but it could also be seen as just an announcement of his own hiatus, as he bides his time as well, waiting to return in the band’s next album. The line “I will face the night again” is particularly telling.

Promotional stunt or no, we can certainly expect a new album from TØP fairly soon. Blurryface was released back in 2015, so the band is fairly due for a new album: their first album (self-titled) was released in 2009, and their second album, Regional At Best, was release two years later (in 2011). Two years after that, Vessel was released (2013) and again, two years later, Blurryface appeared. If the pattern holds, we should be seeing the announcement of a new album anytime now.

What can we expect this new album to be about? Of course, no one can tell for sure, but these quotes from an interview with Tyler Joseph about what the band is working on are fairly telling:

I was working on something last night that I’m really excited about…Right now I think it would be a little less up-tempo than the last record. I would want to focus a little more on the lyrical content.

 

There are parts of the self-titled record that, production-wise and vocally…There are so many things wrong with that record, or at least perceived as wrong. But the authenticity, lyrics, delivery and the fearlessness of the songwriting, I’d like to try to take [TØP] back to that. It’s really hard to write a slower song. I want to try to write some slower songs again.

If I can take myself out on a limb a little bit, I would theorize that we will certainly be seeing the return of Blurryface, or some character like him, in the next album. Blurryface represents Tyler and Josh’s self doubt, fears, and struggles. While some have been talking about the ‘defeat’ of Blurryface, fears, struggles, depression, anxiety, and all the things he represents (and all the issues that the band members struggle with and explore so passionately in their songs) are not things that can be just defeated, or put behind you forever. At least not in this life.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on this issue, and while information is currently fairly scarce, I will be very excited to see what happens going forward! I personally cannot wait for Twenty One Pilots’ next album. But, hey, it’s just a theory. A Twenty One Pilots theory! Thanks for reading.


What do you think? Have I convinced you? Is this whole ‘Silence’ thing a promotional stunt for TØP’s next album? Do you think we’ll see the return of Blurryface? Chat with me in the comments! I’d love to hear your theories.

🙂

Challenging Ourselves: Why Writing Needs to Be Difficult

Here’s something that should be said more often: Writing is really, really difficult. From the outside, it looks deceivingly simple. You open up a Microsoft Word document, bang out somewhere around 40,000 words, and suddenly you have a novel. What could be easier? Why are those authors over there whining about the pitfalls of editing and the horror that is first drafts? What do they have to complain about? Writing is easy!

I used to think like that. I used to think that if it wasn’t easy for me, than I must be doing something wrong. I must not be a good enough writer. I’m procrastinating too much. My sentences are incoherent. Most the time, I fail to have an actual plot until I’m about half way through the first draft. I must not have had enough practice. I am not worthy to call myself ‘author’ unless I can write a new book every three months and have it be completely fabulous the first time around.

Here’s the thing, though: none of that is true. Writing is not easy. We don’t write because it’s easy. We don’t write so that, someday, it can be easy. We write because we have to, because it challenges us, because we are called to write. We write for the same reason that musicians make music and painters paint.

This might not sound super relevant, but stick with me for a moment: I work at a gym, a jungle gym, where kids come to learn parkour and gymnastics. Before I got a job there, I took classes. My teacher, now my boss, had a few things to say to us students about challenging ourselves. I am greatly paraphrasing, but, “If you’re doing something and it’s easy, then you’re not learning anything,” he told us, “Pick something difficult, something that you can’t do, and do that until it’s easy. Then pick the next difficult thing.”

So when we write, and it seems impossible to get it just right even on the third or fourth of fifth draft, let’s not complain (not too much, anyway). In that moment, you are learning something entirely new. You are learning the ten thousand ways that don’t work in order to find the way that does. You are mastering something difficult. You are improving your writing, even if in the moment it looks like absolute rubbish. Writing is not easy. It’s not supposed to be. If we wanted to do something easy, we would be shuffling papers in an office somewhere. Writing has to be difficult so that we can learn to write better.


Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post. What do you think? What are some things you find difficult, or some difficult things you’ve mastered or learned from in the past? Let me know in the comments.

🙂


Challenging Ourselves

Unpopular Opinions: The Thirteenth Doctor

On Sunday, the 16th of July, 2017, the BBC announced their pick for the new Doctor on Doctor Who. One of the longest running sci-fi shows in history, Doctor Who has been broadcasted for over 50 years. In all those years the main character of the series, the Doctor — a time-traveling, double-hearted, slightly mad alien Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, who can regenerate into a new body whenever he is about to die— has always been portrayed as male. Whether sporting a bow tie or a trench-coat, a multicolored scarf or a fez, whether carrying a celery stalk or a supply of jelly babies, the Doctor has always, always regenerated into a man.

Not so now.

Actress Jodie Whittaker was just announced as the new star of Doctor Who. She will be taking over the role from Peter Capaldi, the Twelth Doctor. “I want to tell the fans not to be scared by my gender,” she says, “Because this is a really exciting time and Doctor Who represents everything that’s exciting about change. This is only a new, different one, not a fearful one.”


I was honestly not quite sure what to think when I heard that a woman would be taking over as the Doctor. On the one hand, according to show canon, a Time Lord can technically regenerate into a person of the opposite gender. At the moment, the world is charged with massive conversations about diversity and equality and feminism and equal representation in the media. This would appear to be the perfect answer to that conversation: the introduction of a woman into a role that has always been played by men. At least, many people would say so.

I have nothing against diversity, as far as it goes (i.e. not making every character in your story white and male). But there is something about this contemporary thrust for ‘diversity’ in the media that feels extraordinarily off. As a writer myself, a creator of characters, I have come to understand that if you force a character to be something that they are not, it can wreck the entire story. Trying to force two characters into a romantic relationship; trying to force a character to feel happy in a situation where they would, in fact, be resentful; trying to force a male character to be female, and vise versa… these things will never work as well as leaving the character alone to be who they are in the first place.

Characters are funny creatures. The best of them are like people, fully formed personalities that you uncover bit by bit, like getting to know somebody in real life. When you force them to be something they are not, you destroy that illusion of reality. You have hijacked a character, a story even, for your own purposes. Stories evolve and grow and change naturally as you write and discover what exactly they are about. They are not meant to be manipulated into saying something else.

The BBC’s decision to cast a woman as the Doctor feels, to me anyway, like forced diversity, the manipulation of a story into conveying a message. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against women having leading roles in television or movies. I don’t think women should be disrespected, or paid less than men for doing the same amount of work, or forced to prove themselves to be just as good as men, because somehow that is a measuring stick for this sort of thing. But there is no one size fits all technique when it comes to diversity. Doctor Who may play by a very esoteric set of rules, but the show’s own lore is fairly contradictory on the point of sex-changing regeneration, and there are a few other objections I can raise to the casting of a female Doctor.

But lets take a step back for a second and really look at this show. It’s not as if Doctor Who isn’t diverse or doesn’t portray strong female characters. Some people seem to forget that the Doctor’s female companions, at least in the reboot, aren’t poor, damsel-in-distress types. Martha and Donna are probably some of the strongest characters in the show. Rose, even though she gets a lot of flack for some reason or other, is creative and brilliant and so, so strong in times of hopelessness. Some people also seem to forget that the female companions of the Doctor are not always there to be love interests. Some people forget that the Doctor had rich platonic relationships with not only Martha, but Donna, Amy, and Clara as well; four out of the five female companions in the reboot (I can’t yet count Bill, as I haven’t seen any of her episodes, but I gather that she isn’t a love interest either.)

Are we out to destroy all shows and books and films with male leads? Have men suddenly become evil, or alien; nonhuman? Look me in the face and tell me that this outlook, rampant in our culture even if not expressed in so many words, is not sexist. Sexism can go both ways, and right now many people are extremely angry at men for being men. Isn’t that exactly what they accuse men of being; angry at women for being women? Aren’t we being slightly hypocritical here?

The dynamic of the Doctor — the mad man in the blue box— and his companions, both male and female, platonic and romantic, his friends and his family, his wife (don’t you forget River), his relationships with the people he meets on his journeys… you could say that it is these dynamics that make the show itself. And this is where I say something that many of you will not like: men and women are different. They are treated differently, because in some situations they have different roles. They act differently. We like to plaster over these differences in the name of ‘equality’, but all it does is cause confusion. But gender, whether we like it or not, is intrinsically tied to personality, to who we are as people, to what we do and how we act. Women will always act in certain ways, see the world in certain ways, be different people than men.

And by changing the Doctor into a woman, the BBC will have changed him into a different person entirely.

Character relationships will break down. Certain dynamics will no longer be possible. The Doctor will be a completely different character. No writer can change that. Or they might try to force it, and run the risk of ruining things entirely. The show will change, and probably not for the better. Change is often good. Variety is the spice of life. But you cannot change the way the world works, no matter how much you try, and I would hazard a small speculation that this change will not do the world longest running sci-fi show any good. In fact, it may doom Doctor Who in the end. The writers will end up trying to push a message so prominent in our culture today: that no one is bound by truth, that you can be absolutely anyone, literally, regardless of gender. And, unfortunately, this message is just not true.


Philosophical arguments aside (for the most part), the show’s own lore seems to contradict itself on several points when it comes to sex-changing regeneration. Please note that there will be some spoilers ahead for River Song’s story arc, so if you haven’t watched this part of the show yet, please proceed with caution!

Spoilers

When a Time Lord is about to die, they instead regenerate into an entirely new body. This is why there are currently thirteen different ‘versions’ of the Doctor (not counting the War Doctor from the 50th anniversary special), each played by a different actor. Although the Doctor says several times that Time Lords can regenerate into people of the opposite gender, there are also very clear differences between male and female Time Lords. One major difference is that female Time Lords (or is that Time Ladies?) can actually control aspects of how they look when they regenerate. Male Time Lords cannot. This is established both by the Doctor (who complains after various regenerations about the size of his ears, his ‘new teeth’, and, most often, that he’s not a redhead) and the female Time Lord River Song, who can concentrate on a dress size or other feature during regeneration and achieve it in her next form.

For there to be specific differences between male and female Time Lords, there would first have to be such a thing as male and female Time Lords. If you were born male, you would not be able to predict or control the physical characteristics of your regeneration. If you were born female, you could. You might still regenerate into someone of a different height or weight or ethnicity, but these are all physical characteristics. And although the current culture would have us believe otherwise, gender is much, much more than physical characteristics.

So, these two things are not logically consistent. If male and female Time Lords have different traits that set them apart, how can a male Time Lord regenerate into a female one? Has he suddenly crossed over that boundary? Can he suddenly control his regeneration? And the reverse is just as confusing. If a female Time Lord regenerates into a male, does she suddenly lose her ability to control her regeneration? Can she concentrate on becoming male in the first place, or is that just random like it seems to be for a male Time Lord?

I would love to see a black or Asian Doctor, or a Doctor of any ethnicity. In fact, it would be an amazing opportunity for actors of different cultural background to bring something new to the show. But a female Doctor, especially at this particular moment, just feels far too much like a blatantly political decision, not a decision which retains the integrity of the show itself. It might even contradict show canon. And any piece of art, be it a novel or a show or a film, should never be made to force a political opinion. That defeats the purpose.

All of this goes to say that I am not thrilled about the new Doctor. But I think I’ll give her a chance. Who knows? Maybe something amazing will happen. I have only one request: that instead of turning this into an opportunity to rant and hate on men or women, we instead judge the character not by their gender or ethnicity, but by their portrayal. Women should not be inserted into the media just because they are women. They should be portrayed because they are people, and a legitimate part of humanity. If the writers of Doctor Who can do that with a female Doctor, and not lose sight of the original message of the show itself, then they will have won.



Thanks for reading this unpopular opinion! What are your thoughts about the new Doctor? Are you excited, or nervous? Do you think that Jodie Whittaker is a good choice for a female Doctor? Let’s talk in the comments below.

See you again next time!

🙂


The Thirteenth Doctor Edited