There are two types of people in the world right now–Those who couldn’t care less about Avengers: Infinity War and those who feel personally attacked by Infinity War.
Fortunately, no matter which camp you fall in, this post will not have spoilers (Thanos did demand silence, remember?). Instead, I use this movie analogy as a way to work through how I interpret the world. As the end of my fellowship draws closer, I’m thinking a lot more about how I see the world and what paths would help me see the world even clearer whilst maintaining some semblance of peace. But, of course, to figure out an ending, we’ve got to go back to the beginning.
It’s no secret that I’m drawn to superheroes in all forms of media (movie, television, web comics, paper comics, pulp, cartoons, etc.) because the stories and characters are the ways we keep history alive by applying the same myths and figures in new bodies and names, by coping with disastrous events (ex. mutants after the nuclear war, the numerous Godzilla works after the massive atom bombs in Japan, etc.), and prediction of events if we continue on the paths we’re currently on. The superhero genre has a way of meeting their audience where they are, in terms of comprehension. And although there are points where can do better and seem to be taking steps in that direction (“see” audio documentary here), we’re getting there.
The same can be said for audio. Radio journalism is not what initially drew me to audio. It was podcasts, i.e. the flexibility to listen whenever, the freedom from the broadcast clock, the wide range of topics, but most importantly, the conversational style. The most successful podcasts are NOT monotone; they are NOT full of elevated, superfluous language; they are NOT high-brow. Why? Because they meet people where are, in terms of their understanding, and therefore, can convey how these complex topics–about the environment, about the economy, about education–aren’t actually complex if someone explains them and iterates that it affects everyone, no matter you’re socioeconomic status, racial or ethnic identity, gender identity and sexual orientation. Like the superhero genre, there are strides the audio industry can take to reach more people and include more people who are constantly left behind.
Being intentional (which takes massive preparation and extensive input outside of your immediate knowledge) about how to use the medium to reach the audience is only part of the game; being successful in execution is equally important. You probably think I’m gonna list some canonical literary examples or Academy Award-winning movies? Nope.
(My film professors would’ve loved the subtle commentary on movie theaters in the age of technology in We Bare Bears “Shush Ninjas”)
(The Amazing World of Gumball does a ton of economical commentary and engages in media theory through the different materials they use for minor characters)
is best example of representation and
Steven Universe is but one example of how animation explains a concept that adults struggle to explain)
(The original Teen Titans animation series (not to be confused with Teen Titans Go!) tackled complex topics that kids and adults are even afraid to admit to themselves, let alone talk about, like manipulation and self-esteem)
I’ve ever seen.
To be fair, not all animation does this, nor should it. Like all media, some sources should be purely to educate, some purely to escape, but the most memorable do a little of both. And it was this balance and utilization of how medium affects a narrative that pulled me to study English (this was my concentration BTW). One source I go back to frequently is Avatar: The Last Airbender.
How can one show successfully explain a military coup, explore the dynamics of war invasions, retreats, and strategy, introduce and maintain a blind character as part of the ensemble, gently handle the implications of child abuse and necessity of forgiveness, and still have all the makings of a kid’s show, including but not limited to: bathroom jokes, the (multiple) picking of boogers, sibling antics, unrequited crushes, and an eccentric uncle?
For these reasons (and more), I watch ATLA when I need to escape but always understand more about my life once I finish my binging.
So now, as I consider more about what paths I want to take and how to reconcile who I want to be into the view of the world I have now, I think about to this scene from Book 2:
This is a process, but my favorite part of ATLA is that it’s okay not to know. It’s okay to say “I don’t know.” And maybe right now, that’s my answer. I don’t know…yet.
What I’m Listening To: Gimlet’s The Habitat. The true story of when six volunteers agreed to live in a mock-Mars environment, for scientific purposes. I’m really excited about this series because I remember when the experiment was first being reported, which wasn’t that long ago. (I just started so don’t @ me)
What I’m Reading: Getting caught up on my comics! G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel (If you enjoy the MCU and looking to get into the comics, I highly recommend the new Hawkeye (trust me), Ms. Marvel, or the most recent Captain Marvel comics; the more serious types? See Captain America, Civil War, or Jessica Jones; also, you can’t go wrong with any of the iterations of Spider-Man, whether that means high-school Peter Parker, adult Peter Parker, or even Miles Morales because, of course, they crossover from time to time)
What I’m Watching: Isn’t it obvious? Avengers: Infinity War (2018) (yes, more than once) and that’s all I’ll say about that. Also, I’m finally caught up on the Blackish-spinoff, Freeform show Grownish and consider this quite a feat since Yara Shahidi is fantastic and literally #hairgoals.