I (along with the rest of the world) just binge-listened to the S-Town podcast and now all I want to do it talk about it, analyse it, dissect the characters.
Here are my thoughts, jotted down immediately after crying/listening to the very last episode.
If you have not listened to it. GO AND LISTEN TO IT RIGHT NOW. And then come back and talk S-Town to me!
WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!
After the first episode of S-Town, I was not convinced. I really had to talk myself into listening to the second. It was the high production value that convinced me – they were doing great things with the medium. I was listening for the production! After the second one – I WAS ALL IN!
Initially I felt incredibly uncomfortable. This podcast was using a man’s tragic death as entertainment. However, in the context of his second-rate, inadequate funeral…. perhaps this is the most brilliant way to showcase his life and remember him. A life worth recording in such a way.
The production value, use of sound, the sound track – absolutely exquisite. Best I’ve ever heard in any radio/podcast program. Probably best in the world at the moment.
Also – incredible use of time. Brian Reed recorded over three years, and then jumped back and forward in time to great effect…
It sounds as though John B was bipolar. He seemed to be constantly cycling through manic episodes (ie. fixing clocks in his workshop at all hours with little to no sleep, his larger-than-life feelings, superiority, fixing the world etc… and at other times: ’suicidal’ periods). Church = self-harm.
If he was such a genius, surely he knew well the risks of mercury poisoning. Perhaps he knew, but he did not care?
There are too many things left unresolved: Does Tyler have the gold? (their off-the-record conversation must have revealed so much) He kept hinting at police corruption, but never properly explored the idea – apart from the somewhat brief interlude about Officer Jerry’s friendship with Tyler. Is that the extent of it – or is there something else he knew but could not say?
It is a wonderful portrayal of the human condition: all the magnificent flaws and beauties and vulnerabilities. All the way through I kept wanting to answer the question: who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?
But the thing is: we are so much more complex than that. Everyone with their own story, informed by a different life experience. Everyone has some good and some bad. And it seems everyone is constantly suspicious!