6 Things To Watch or Listen To If You Want to Be A Badass in 2017
Well, babes. The deformed hellspawn of a year that is 2016 will soon lose its cosmic battle with Father Time and die a long-overdue death. So all those hoops you’ve been jumping through? To fit in, to play it safe, to keep those people liking you? To keep your parents happy, to avoid awkward confrontations with your mama’s older half-sister and keep your co-workers from talking behind your back about that crazy side gig you wanna try? Yeah, kiss those goodbye.
Seriously. Why bother anymore? In fact, I’m confiscating all your fucks. You officially don’t have any to give anymore. I know I don’t. You might chalk it up to me finally beginning to discover myself at 23, or you could chalk it up to the fact that some of our political and social institutions have revealed themselves to be a complete Kentucky-fried mess this year, but I’ve decided to get a head start on my spring cleaning by throwing out those two fucks I still gave in 2016. Okay, wait. Backtrack. That’s easier said than done. I’m a hard-wired Good Girl™. Everything about me, from my conservative Nigerian Christian upbringing to my shiny Stanford education, makes it very hard to stop wanting to please people all the time and follow the imaginary script that will make everyone proud of me. I’m still training myself out of my tendency to obey first and question later. I still catch myself ignoring my own needs (shoutout to working on spreadsheets at 3am!) or hiding away things I want to do or say or write because they have to be absolutely (UNASSAILABLY) perfect first, or even hiding my political opinions from certain overseas family members.
I need help sometimes, and if you’re anything like me, you probably do too. So let me share these with you. These are some of the stories, videos, and podcasts I’ve discovered this year that might help remind you that you’re not alone in your battles, that progress is possible, and that life is way too short to hold onto any more anxieties that keep you from chasing what really matters to you and being 100% yourself.
1. “The Read” with Crissle & Kid Fury
This phenomenally raw and hilarious podcast feels like a conversation with my two best friends and has gotten me through more rough days than I really want to admit. They take on everything from absurd New York transit fiascos and Beyonce albums to police brutality and the U.S. election. They’re fearlessly Black, boldly queer, and unabashedly political. And still manage to make me ugly laugh at the top of my lungs.
2. “Throwing Shade” with Erin Gibson & Bryan Safi
The tagline of this podcast is “taking a weekly look at all the issues important to ladies and gays, and treating them with much less respect than they deserve. Can ya handle it?” And friends, Romans, countrymen? These two absolutely deliver. Trust me. They look at some of the most heinous and heartbreaking (as well as the most uplifting) stories from current events and pop culture and to turn them into delightfully crazy but still informative comedic riffs. A liberal woman from Texas and a gay man from a conservative Muslim family? They’ve definitely taught me a thing or two about living a functional authentic life when you’re the odd one out.
3. “Magic Lessons” with Elizabeth Gilbert
In a way, it’s almost easy to tell the repressive or constraining people or societies around us to buzz off. What can be a lot harder is doing the same to the critics and doubters in our heads. In this podcast hosted by Eat, Pray, Love author Liz Gilbert, she guides creative people through the issues that are keeping them from chasing their dreams and creating what they want to create. A recurring theme in the advice that she gives is that “correct” and “perfect” don’t exist. Don’t wait for the right time, don’t wait for it to be “good,” don’t worry that you’re too old or too young or not experienced enough. The world needs your voice. Whatever it is you want to make, whoever it is you want to be, start NOW.
4. “Iris” (2014), directed by Albert Maysles
Iriiiiiiiiiiiis. IIIIRIIIIIIISSS! Does Iris even need an introduction? Yes? Okay. Irish Apfel is the famously flamboyant 93-year-old style maven of New York. She’s bad, she’s bold, she’s fully dedicated to her quirky style, and she advocates true uniqueness and style at all costs. She wipes her nose with standard gender, age, and beauty norms. Plus she’s so genuinely charming that watching this is scientifically proven to brighten your life outlook. If you’re looking for an example of fearless and lasting authenticity, you can’t do much better than Iris.
5. “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” (2012), directed by Alison Klayman
This documentary profiles the radical Chinese activist and artist Ai Wei Wei, who is known for giving a literal middle finger to the world’s institutions of power even in the face of arrests, exile, and torture. Most importantly, he’s been a great model for me in how to channel a rebellious, fight-the-power spirit into work that is wonderfully whimsical and creative. No matter how many times I watch this, I can’t get over how daring he is to speak out against injustices and call a couple of, you know, global superpowers out on their wrongs.
6. “To Be Takei” (2014) , directed by Jennifer M. Kroot & Bill Weber
What a treasure Takei is and has been, especially in the ways he has been speaking out this year. This documentary about how he’s become such a beloved pop culture figure while pushing his way out of the margins as an out gay man and son of Japanese immigrants is so joyful and deeply inspiring.
These people all decided, somewhere along the line, sometimes early in life, often well past their so-called “prime,” that they didn’t have to look or think or act the way everyone tells them they have to. They brush past the risks and the criticism to be who they are and do what they care about, and one way or another, they’re making the world a better place by doing so.
In 2017, let’s live freely, joyously, and not give one single solitary fuck what any real or imaginary “rule-makers” have to say about it. In a way, there’s nothing special about the people and the stories I’ve shared. That’s the exciting part. There are plenty more out there who are inspiring us by fully embracing their voices and their badassery, raw and unfiltered. And I want to know about them. I’m going to keep adding my own finds to this list. Please let me know what you’re reading, watching, or listening to to help inspire and galvanize you for 2017. Your girl needs all the help she can get.