March 30, 2017

I'm listening to the new podcast "S-Town."

All 7 episodes of "S-Town" (AKA "Shit Town") became available at once — here —  and that makes it difficult to have a discussion. It's not like "Serial," where you'd get one episode a week and could bandy about all your theories and opinions while waiting for the next episode to come out.

I'm in the middle of episode 4 right now, so I'm not sure who I can talk to. I don't want spoilers. I had a good discussion yesterday with someone who was ahead of me in the episodes but being very careful not to say anything revealing, even to react one way or another to my ideas about what I thought would happen. He stressed that I shouldn't read anything about it, and I was all I know, I won't.

But it does make me feel that I need to rush through, so the experience is not spoiled, so I get the artful roll-out of the story as it was intended. I think I'd prefer to get it week by week and to have an opportunity to discuss one episode at a time — as I mostly did with "Serial."

Now, part of what I find myself thinking about is why they chose to dump the whole thing at once, and that's coloring my experience of it. Perhaps they wanted to control the storytelling, and if they restricted the flow, key information would come out in news and social media anyway. The story would be told in any crude, blunt way that anybody who could scoop them chose.

But I'm also thinking that the whole enterprise is exploitative of real people, and episode-by-episode discussion in social media might have questioned the ethics and got some serious antagonism going against the show. Dropping the whole thing at once gets ahead of that phenomenon.

I'll have more to say about exploitation and ethics when I'm finished with the whole show. It's quite interesting and elegantly crafted. The aural art is equal to the visual art which you can see at the link. You might want to get going listening to this thing so you'll be in a position to talk about it with me when I'm ready, which will be soon. Until then, I'm not reading any articles, and I won't be reading the comments to this thread — so go ahead and say anything you like.

UPDATE: Since finishing the post, I've made it to the end, beyond spoiling. Quite an amazing work of art.

24 comments:

Oso Negro said...

What a kind invitation! I shall certainly accept.

M Jordan said...

What the eff is S-Town?

A to the C said...

This comment has been added by the author.

Fernandinande said...

Lileks mentioned this program today.

Bill Peschel said...

Given my proved cynicism about the media and NPR, and that this is set in Alabama, I would be very suspicious about anything they say.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I am halfway through Chapter III and am enjoying it very much. Glad they dropped it all at once because I want to immerse myself into the story, which is thoroughly atmospheric, and not have jerky little episodes separated by a week or two.

Look forward to discussing it when Althouse is done with it.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Bill--That is precisely why I didn't listen to the second season of Serial-because I was not interested in the NPR spin on Bowe Bergdahl. I share your reservations. There is a bit of a gorillas-in-the-mist flavor here, but it's not bad. I can recommend the show.

Fernandinande said...

Bill Peschel said...
Given my proved cynicism about the media and NPR,


NPR's is "THAT American Life".

rehajm said...

I'll give it a go...

Releasing an entire series at once is becoming standard practice, as is binge watching them when they're released.

Jake said...

"the whole enterprise is exploitative of real people"

Indeed.

exiledonmainstreet said...

When I saw the title I thought, "Is this a series about Detroit?"

California Snow said...

I'm halfway through Chapter 2. It's interesting so far but I'm not clear as to why John thought getting in contact with the guy narrating was necessary in the first place.

Fernandinande said...

A to the C said...
This comment has been added by the author.


The Russians deleted my comment which had direct URLs to all the mp3 files.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I don't know what it's about. I searched "S-Town podcast" and the first line was a Vox article titled "S-town is a Stunning Podcast. It Shouldn't Have Been Made."

So I still don't know what it's about, but I understand the smart people feel it's unethical in some way.

Mel said...

You can talk to Lileks. He's four episiodes in as well: http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/17/0317/033017.html

Meade said...

I caught a strong whiff of manipulation/exploitation at the end of episode 3 and want nothing more to do with it.

raf said...

You know what else is annoying? When they release entire books at once, instead of one chapter a week. How can you discuss the advancing plot with others without risking spoilers when they might have already finished the whole thing?

John said...


Blogger raf said...

You know what else is annoying? When they release entire books at once, instead of one chapter a week. How can you discuss the advancing plot with others without risking spoilers when they might have already finished the whole thing?

I know. Dickens had the right idea. Publish A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and other books as serial installments in newspapers before the whole book was available.

the nerve of these modern authors.

I tend to binge watch shows:

1) I watch when riding my stationary bike and like just going from ep to ep rather than having to spend time figuring out what to watch. Usually 1 ep per night.

2) I like the flow of watching the eps all together.

3) I also buy shows. Not much on HBO that I want to watch so I buy the few I do. Watching Berlin station recently I did not have to put up with commercial breaks and that was worth $2 per ep.

Great show, BTW.

John Henry

John Christopher said...

I'm already listening to a podcast called Cum Town. I don't think I have room for Shit as well.

Will Cate said...

I suspect that why they released it all at once is that, well, shit happens, in real time, and can screw up the impact of the weekly episodes (as they discovered in Season 2).

Titus said...

Thanks for sharing. I am going to listen. I ready a Vox article about one of the characters-small town queer living in Alabama who hangs out with racists and top clock something or another in the world-I am sold!

The fag character call his hometown Shittown....love it!

Luke Lea said...

How do you find stuff like this? Once you start listening it is impossible to stop.

Ann Althouse said...

This was very easy to find. It was top ranked on the podcast popularity chart.

gadfly said...

Hitchhikers Guide to the End of "Hillbilly Elegy" Nary a fact worth discussing, lots of speculation particularly from the NPR author, Brian Reed. Those of us who grew up surrounded by Appalachian "White Trash" won't find reality here. All these people have minds that work like John B's? I don't think so, because the outside world was nowhere to be found in their miserable lives.

We don't know from the presentation if John had a lucrative clock restoring business. How can that be true? "So hoist up the John B's sails and see how the main sail sets, call for the Captain ashore and let me go home."

I got through four chapters.