Monday, July 07, 2008

"This American Life" host Ira Glass

Necessary Conversations

I've been hooked on the Showtime television version of Ira Glass' "This American Life" lately and I will tell you, honestly, that counter to what every hardcore American Life fan has feared, it is not a bastardized version of the 13 year-old cult radio show.

The most recent episode I saw featured an Iraqi man who now lives in New York after his family had to disperse to various countries under the Bush occupation. This man decides to set up a mobile discussion booth and travel across the Midwest on a quest to seek those Americans who supported the "War" on Terror, and to try to find out why.

His "Talk To An Iraqi" booth reminded me of a Christian Science Monitor article I had read a few weeks ago, about a series of "living libraries" that travel the world. In a "living library," people from various minority groups, or those with "fringe" backgrounds, sit around and make themselves available to anyone curious about them. For instance, you can schedule a conversation with a Rwandan refugee, a transgendered individual, or a neo-Nazi. I think discussion programs like this are remarkable and ultimately necessary to bridge the communication divide among international communities whose worlds are increasingly colliding through global turmoil; they also help to mend our dysfunctional systems of popular media. They are necessary conversations to be having.

The "This American Life" episode was amazingly compelling. It both made me disgusted to be an American, and gave me hope for future generations (see the home-schooled 11 year-old at minute 4:00 who apologizes for the occupation).

I think the television medium was utilized in a a way that adds a poetic visual depth to the show to enhance the humanistic elements of the American Life stories when the show could have easily become sullied by a drab documentary format. See below:


Sean Wraight said...

THANK you for posting that video Amity. Amazing stuff indeed. To see an eleven year old apologize for the occupation of Iraq was staggering and one of the most hopeful thing I have seen in ages.

The world is a better place because of "This American Life" - I like to think of it as 'imagination fuel' if you will. We should all aspire to the lofty creative heights that Ira Glass so often brings us to.

Excellent, excellent post!


P.S. I am very jealous of your being able to watch the show. It hasn't managed to reach this far North yet. This will do just fine in the meantime.

tw said...
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