River Song is Melody Pond??? Whaaaaaat?

Through the course of watching episodes of Doctor Who, there have been many surprises that caught me totally off guard, such as Rory’s first “death”, Rose’s “Bad Wolf” powers, or Donna’s character development in “Turn Left”; however, nothing prepared me for the reveal that River Song was actually Amy and Rory’s daughter. I actually screamed at my television as the realization and the implications of this realization hit me. I was deeply impressed with the writing, although it was a little bit deus ex machina style of conflict resolution. Overall, it was one of the most surprising things that was revealed in the show in my opinion.

River Song was a character that I didn’t really like very much when the Doctor first meets her. She’s kind of a know it all, I know something you don’t know type of person, which was narratively off putting for me. As she began to appear more and more frequently, I began to like her a little bit more (but I still didn’t really like her). She represented a sort of narrative “screw you” to the audience, as she already knew everything that lay ahead of the Doctor. However, once “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of the Moon” came around, I began to suspect that this teasing was finally going to come to a head soon. When it was revealed that she was Amy and Rory’s daughter later on, it all finally made sense. Because of the paradoxical nature of River Song, she had to withhold all of this information. When I realized the implications, I was even more caught off guard. She was the girl in the space suit that killed the Doctor, she was stolen by a cult, the Doctor was Rory and Amy’s son in law!

Ultimately, this was one of my favorite reveals in a show famous for them. I was originally off put by the build up (it did feel like it took forever!) but it only made the payoff that much better. River Song is narratively one of the most interesting characters; it seems as if she is somehow woven into almost every major storyline, from David Tennant all the way to Peter Capaldi. I still don’t love her as a character, but what the writers have done with her character demonstrates a true display of how interesting narrative arcs should be done.

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The Problems with “Brave the Shave”

As many know, there was a fairly large charity event on campus this week for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a pediatric cancer charity. Let me begin, I am not at all against advocacy or raising awareness for cancer charities. St. Baldrick’s deals with their money very ethically. All proceeds go into funding for pediatric cancer treatments. So, I do not mean this post as an attack against St. Baldrick’s or those who participated in the Brave the Shave event. However, I, and many others who have been diagnosed with cancer, find a serious problem with some of the methods used by cancer charities, including St. Baldrick’s. First, one of St. Baldrick’s main methods in fundraising is stating that pediatric cancer receives the lowest amount of funding from the greater cancer fund. While this is technically true, it is misleading. Yes, the pediatric fund is the smallest, but children diagnosed with cancer also receive funding from the specific diagnosis funds (e.g. Leukemia, lung cancer, etc.). This is not to say that the pediatric fund is not in need of support, but I believe it is misleading to market it the way that St. Baldrick’s does. My main issue is with the Brave the Shave event. While initially the event may seem to be in support and solidarity of and with those going through chemotherapy, it is viewed as insensitive and offensive by those in the cancer community. While I myself have not yet gone through chemotherapy (and hopefully never will), I must agree with this. Seeing people smiling and laughing while shaving their heads is deeply hurtful and seeing those who have shaved their heads everyday is just an additional, persistent reminder of what they have, are, or going to have to go through. Losing your hair while going through chemotherapy is not a choice you get to make; it is a symbol of the illness they are experiencing and symbol of their own mortality. The Sun did a story about an almost identical event hosted by the Macmillan’s foundation (https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/1725639/cancer-survivors-slam-macmillan-brave-the-shave-campaign-calling-it-disrespectful-and-offensive/). Here are some of the accounts they collected:

But people who have lost their hair to the condition have taken to Mumsnet in fury, accusing the cancer charity of being out of touch with patients.

One user wrote: ‘I can barely articulate how completely distasteful it is,’ while another added: ‘Completely agree about it being distasteful. I meet women suffering from cancer on a regular basis and none of them are happy about losing their hair from chemotherapy.’

Another shared her hair loss story and accused the charity of offending other cancer sufferers.

She wrote: ‘I hate these campaigns. I didn’t lose my hair with my previous chemo, but now I’m clinging to the last wispy bits covering my head.’

‘It is not just about ‘braving the shave’. It’s facing up to the reality that even if/when my hair starts to grow back, I’m unlikely to live long enough that it’ll ever be this length again.

‘My hair falls out everywhere. My scalp is all tingly and sore and flaky. The experience of just shaving off your hair for a laugh is just not comparable at all.

‘All the big cancer charities seem to have completely lost touch with the actual experience of cancer patients.

‘I know they need to make money, but why can’t they do it in ways that don’t upset or offend the people they want to support?

‘Though it’s partly about public demand I suppose.

‘Often the most vehement supporters have absolutely no cancer experience.”

Another sufferer made the point that shaving your head does not ‘make you brave’.

She wrote: ‘I try not to watch these adverts. It actually hurts my head – from the ghost pains of when my hair was coming out during chemo.’”

I want to make it clear that I do not believe that anyone who did shave their head as part of this event had any ill-intent nor am I claiming that this is the opinion of every person with cancer, but I do wish people would put more thought into how it might affect people. There are plenty of ways to show support and stand in solidarity with those going through something as tough as cancer, because ultimately, Brave the Shave is not support, but rather hurtful parody. 

What Doctor Are You?

For this post, I decided to take a personality quiz to see which Doctor I match with the best. I found this on the BBC America website, link here: (http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2013/11/personality-quiz-doctor). With the rise of media companies BuzzFeed and PlayBuzz in the internet age, fans have no shortage of quizzes they can take to determine what characters they are most like. This particular quiz ask questions such as “What is your dream car?”, “What do you look for most in a companion?”, and what strategies I would use given a scenario where daleks take over my neighborhood. As I made my way through the quiz, I found some answers to questions that were obviously tied to a particular Doctor. At the same time, there were some where I had absolutely no clue what Doctor went with each answer. In the end, the quiz told me that I was the Eleventh Doctor. This is its description: “You’re truly one of a kind. They not only don’t make ’em like you any more, they never did in the first place! Somehow, even the most mundane of things can be transformed into a unique statement in your wayward hands. Your ability to raise eyebrows everywhere you go – while still somehow being entirely admirable – is unparalleled. OK, sometimes you make bad decisions and perhaps you’re too keen to let your reputation speak on your behalf, but you are a hard person to forget, and that is how you have come to have a reputation in the first place.” I have always thought personality tests are very much akin to the descriptions of horoscopes. The descriptions are always just vague enough that they can really apply to anyone. Spoilers, the way the stars happened to look when you were born does not contribute or shape your personality. I think this rise of personality tests and the revival of horoscopes is simply the need for people to be affirmed in some sort of identity by an outside source. Even with the Myers-Briggs test, which, admittedly is more specific and intensive than other personality tests, feeds into the ambiguity in identifying people. There are a lot of different personality types in Myers-Briggs, but it is still finite. I think the categorization of personality takes away from the nuance of individualism. When asked what my Myers-Briggs personality type is, I often respond with “Don’t put me in a box!” then eventually admit that I’m an ENTJ. So, do I think a Doctor Who personality test is harmful? No. However, I wish more people understood that though you may be categorized as a Cancer, or an ENTJ, or the Eleventh Doctor, that personality is not a concrete thing that can be categorized, no matter how questions you answer.

The Race Box Question

The U.S. Census Bureau has asked millions of Americans questions regarding their race since 1790. In 1790, the only “races” listed were ‘Slaves’, ‘Free white females & males’, and ‘all other free persons’. There have been many changes regarding the races included, and whether it is an option to click “other” or “none”. As an example, the category named “other race” was taken off between the years 1850 and 1900, and returned as an option in 1910. Many races were not represented and acknowledged until years after the first census. Asians were acknowledged in 1860, 70 years after the first census. Latinos were acknowledged in 1970, 180 years after the first census. White has been the only race category acknowledged since the very beginning. How have they been asking Americans about their race? Through a U.S. Census form that asks you to check the box next to the race you identify with.

Race boxes are asked to be filled out for applications for schools, for subject tests such as the SAT, and for employment purposes. When employing people of color, one must wonder if they are seeking diversity in the workplace or are instead expunging them? It is a completely valid question to ask, especially in today’s day and age where diversity feels like more of an obligation than an embraced concept. Many are afraid of being race exclusive or deemed a “racist”, when the truth is, they did not hire them because they didn’t believe they were the right fit. Affirmative action, or the favoring of those who often face discrimination, is used all the way from college admissions to job applicants. Many argue the use of affirmative action and voice that it goes against what was the “most sweeping civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction”: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (United States, Congress, Senate). In Title VII, it bans discriminatory practices in employment. The question remains, what to do about race boxes?

Race is defined as a group of people with common ancestry, yet with it, comes an unexpected baggage that hasn’t always been there. Race is important in the way that is differentiates us, provides us with a culture (whether we choose to associate with that given culture or not is our choice) that we can share and build relations from, but it also has been providing a barrier to some. It was a barrier in the early 1600’s when slaves first appeared on the scene, it was barrier until the late 1960’s during the Civil Right Movement, it’s still a barrier to some today. Derogatory terms have been tied to race, and hate has stemmed from peoples view on others race. To me, race is a quality that should be embraced but is unnecessary to peruse. It’s a social construct that society has labeled us by, but it by no means represents who we are fully. At the end of the day, race is just another box society is trying to squeeze us in. We should move on and explore the parts of ourselves that would reveal more about us than race ever could.

ScoobyNatural

Scooby-Doo is a classic kids cartoon, that has been loved for many years. The Scooby gang, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby are investigators of the supernatural. They drive around town in the Mystery Machine and look for any incidents that may lead to an investigation. When they go to investigate, the gang usually splits up and look around. Shaggy and Scooby’s reactions are almost always comical because they’re always so scared and the supernatural seems to always target the duo. Usually when they finally capture the creature, the culprit is a person in a costume that has been terrorizing the town.

Now, if you’ve seen Supernatural, you’d know that Sam and Dean Winchester also investigate the supernatural. They drive around in a ’67 Chevy Impala and investigate the supernatural cases. Sometimes, their angel friend, Castiel also tags along. However, their supernatural cases involve creatures that are real and people get killed by these supernatural creatures. The culprits are not simply people in costumes. The show can get pretty gory at some points, but does have its own humor. You can easily find Supernatural memes online about things that happen in certain episodes.

Recently, an episode of Supernatural was a crossover between Scooby-Doo and Supernatural. The title of the episode was called “ScoobyNatural”. Now I wasn’t sure what to expect from this episode because Scooby-Doo is a cartoon, but Supernatural isn’t. I wondered if it would all be a cartoon or if it would be something different. It turns out that the episode starts in the Supernatural universe, where Sam and Dean fight a possessed plush dinosaur. Once they defeat the dinosaur, they leave with a brand new TV and go back to the Bunker. Dean shows Sam the man-cave that he built and goes to turn on the TV, which transports them to the Scooby-Doo universe.

Once the two are in the universe, they quickly realize that something is wrong and that they are in a cartoon. They meet the Scooby gang and Dean tries to flirt with Daphne, but fails to woo her. They join the Scooby gang on a case, but they soon realize that this is not like normal Scooby-Doo episodes. Castiel eventually joins because he is also transported into the cartoon. It is not like normal episodes because people are actually killed and not just fake bodies and the ghost is able to hurt the characters and do other things that the culprits wouldn’t be able to do. It takes a while for the Scooby gang to believe Sam, Dean, and Castiel, but they find the culprit, who is in the Supernatural universe. It was interesting to watch this episode because there wasn’t any swearing or gore in Scooby-Doo because it’s a kid show, but it was allowed in this episode for Supernatural.

Overall it was interesting to watch and I would suggest watching it because it’s different from what you would expect from either show. The characters remain pretty true to their normal selves in their universes. It was cool to watch a crossover for Supernatural because it’s not something that normally happens. There is a lot of humor in the episode too and the reactions of all of the characters make it even better.

Vincent van Gogh & The Doctor

One of my all time favorite episodes of Doctor Who is “Vincent and the Doctor.” It is one of my favorites for two main reasons.

First, van Gogh is one of my favorite artists. I love his paintings and his style. The van Gogh section was the first thing on my list to see at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City both times that I went. One of my favorite van Gogh paintings is titled “Wheat Field with Cypress.” I like it because of the color and the way the painting makes me feel like I’m standing right there in the field. And of course, all of van Gogh’s sunflower paintings are great, I especially like them because sunflowers are my favorite type of flower.

Here is a list of fun Vincent van Gogh facts:

  • He had a brother with the same name as him who died at birth.
  • He was planning to be a pastor like his dad.
  • He painted “Starry Night”, his most famous artwork, while in a mental hospital.
  • He wrote over 800 letters in his life, most of them to his brother, Theo.
  • He only sold one painting while he was alive.
  • In the last 10 years of his life he made around 900 paintings.
  • His most expensive painting, titled “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” is valued at $148.6 million.

 

The second reason I like this episode so much is because I love that the Doctor shows van Gogh how important he becomes to the world. I love that, even if it is only for a few minutes, van Gogh has hope of what the future will hold for him.

I think that we all need a little bit of that at some point in our lives. We all reach the point where we don’t know what’s coming next or if anything is coming next, and though is is impossible to jump ahead and see what’s coming, I think this episode shows that you never know what great things could be waiting for you ahead.

 

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The Caring Doctor

With every new Doctor comes new companions. The actors and actresses change along with them as well the overall feel of the show. With all of this changing though, one thing thats has always stayed the same is the way The Doctor cares for his companions and everyone he meets during his traveling.

For the 9th Doctor he cares for his companion Rose the most out of anyone else on the show. Making sure she is okay and safe at all times, The Doctor watches her every move. From the very beginning as a viewer you can tell that The Doctor is a caring person. Grabbing Rose’s hand, someone who the doctor does not know at this time, in the first episode to save her from the plastic living manikins shows his caring personality. After traveling with The Doctor for some time, Rose begins to develop strong feelings for the Doctor and even more so when he regenerates into the 10th Doctor.

The Doctor’s true feelings towards Rose come out during Season one, episode 13 titled The Parting of Ways. In this season one finale, The Doctor faces up against an entire army of Daleks. In order to keep Rose safe, The Doctor makes the couragous decision to put her in the TARDIS and send her back home in present time. By doing this he risks his life for hers. As we all know at the end of this episode it is Rose that ends up saving the day ironically.

Another episode The Doctor shows how much he cares about Rose is in season 2 episode 14 titled Doomsday. In this episode The Doctor and Rose are fighting the Daleks again in a dramatic season finale. At one point there is a bridge that opens up in a wall connecting to some other universe. During the end of the episode this bridge begins to be strong and and sucks anything and everything around it into it including all of the Daleks. At this time The Doctor and Rose are holding on for their lives until suddenly Rose loses her grip and starts to be sucked into the bridge. When this happens, as viewers, you can see The Doctor in immediate panic as Rose creeps closer and closer to the wall. Seeing all the panic in his eyes at this moment in time shows how much The Doctor truly cares about Rose.

As a doctor you usually care for your patients and for The Doctor in Doctor Who there is no exception. The way he protects Rose in every episode making sure she is okay at all times is the way The Doctor is. He is that loving character that helps everyone and anyone that comes his way during his traveling.