Friday, April 24, 2009

Why isn't NP"Я" US?

Last night I went to "This American Life" broadcast event at the movie theater. It was neat at the beginning: "So this is what NPR looks like," you think. All those buttons and sound effects and clipped interviews and smooth jazz tracks. But then the novelty wears off and you realize, "why on earth did I pay $20 to watch someone read a personal essay aloud?" The highlight of the night was a clip from Dr. Horrible and that just made me think: Man, I wish I was just watching Dr. Horrible on an enormous screen.

The line-up was stereotypical NPR, too: guy who doubts marriage, girl in therapy who hates her mom, gay guy who considers returning to Catholicism. Or in other words: promoting tour, promoting book, promoting book. In fact, Ira Glass took a five minute clip to promote tv show "This American Life." It was like a commercial fest for the Obama-t-shirt crowd. The audience couldn't help giggling when Kashi cereals was announced as a sponsor. A somberer giggle: why do they need 7 grains to produce a show where people are shelling out $20 each to watch what is essentially what they do every show?

I do think this non-event could have been reconsiled by merchandizing. After all, we're all there just to gloat in how liberal and cultured and New-York-y we are...can't you at least sell us a t-shirt to prove it to our friends? Or I think if it were in 3D with little 3D Ira-glasses.

Still, as a national audience, it's odd to see how regional national (nay, international) public radio is. It's still awfully smug in its New York background. How come "This American Life" never portrays anything remotely similar to my American life?

4 comments:

Day said...

This last is a Fantastic question. . . highlighting, I think, all the most serious flaws of the American left.

jo said...

I was thinking about attending this event but believe I got more out of reading this post than I might have if I had indeed attended.

And I think you're onto something with the 3D Ira glasses. Too bad they didn't contact you before planning began.

Marcee said...

My hubby Eric says "amen!"

Best line: "It was like a commercial fest for the Obama-t-shirt crowd."

Speaking of commercial. You ought to be making money with you writing wit. You be fantastic! Miss you!

Skoticus said...

Well, now I feel better that I didn't go. Thanks.

Also, though...so, as someone who likes to read a lot of essays, I really like the everyday things, and with a title like "This American Life" I thought that this was what it would be about. Which it's not. For a while I believed this notion I had for the show, but this bubble has recently burst.
If you listen to last week's show (maybe two weeks ago) Ira says something about wanting all his stories to be about something, for something to happen, for something to change. I lost a little bit of faith in him then. Not that I like his show less, but just that I'll be listening to it differently from now on. I couldn't keep just believing that it was what I was pretending it was.

So yeah...not My American Life.