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?