I’ve been catching up on a lot of old podcasts recently and finally had a chance to listen to the StartUp podcast’s 7-episode arc on American Apparel (originally broadcast in late 2016).
It begins as a profile of Dov Charney, the founder and former CEO of American Apparel, who is trying to launch a new clothing business. But as it dives deeper and deeper into Charney’s history, it provides a level of detail and insight that goes beyond the headlines. Charney comes off as enterprising, sharp and hard-working, but also completely self-delusional and self-destructive.
There is some tape in this series that blew me away — several gut punches that I did not see coming. It was riveting. I think I enjoyed this series more than I did S-Town, which is widely regarded as a game-changer in terms of long-form podcast storytelling.
Producer and host Lisa Chow should be proud of what she accomplished here. I’ve linked to all 7 parts below.
Listen to Part 1 here.
Listen to Part 2 here.
Listen to Part 3 here.
Listen to Part 4 here.
Listen to Part 5 here.
Listen to Part 6 here.
Listen to Part 7 here.
You can also subscribe to the StartUp podcast on Apple Podcasts.
During my recent drive down to Las Vegas, I had a chance to catch up with dozens of podcasts. Radiolab in particular has been on a tear, with some of their most important and powerful work coming out in the past few weeks. Among these: their “Nukes” episode, which I’d recommend for anyone who cares about the fate of the world.
TL;DR – It’s as bad as we all think it is; there are essentially no checks on the U.S. President’s power to launch nukes; the decision can be unilateral; and no easy path exists to change that. Enjoy.
Amanda Hess, writing for The New York Times, has written a thorough takedown of the new (and apparently very popular) “Missing Richard Simmons” podcast:
The relationship between journalists and subjects shouldn’t be confused with friendship. Journalists have power over their subjects and a responsibility to try to minimize harm. But Mr. Taberski leverages his claim to friendship to reverse the equation, arguing instead that it’s Mr. Simmons who has the responsibility to speak to him, and to explain himself to his former acquaintances and fans. He compares Mr. Simmons’s relationship to them to the responsibilities of a licensed therapist. Mr. Taberski says he took care to ask Mr. Simmons’s manager “if there was something serious going on, like illness, so I could just let it be.” But is depression not an illness? Is a person’s gender identity not sufficiently serious to leave alone? Having decided that Mr. Simmons’s reasons for withdrawal are not “serious,” Mr. Taberski feels freer to pursue the guy.
“Missing Richard Simmons” speaks to both the possibilities and the limits of the emerging prestige podcast form. Many of the podcast’s tropes — the mystery framing, the crowdsourcing of clues from the audience and a format that focuses on the narrator as much as his subject — are borrowed directly from “Serial.” By turning a journalist into a friend and casting a man’s personal life as a mystery, “Missing Richard Simmons” has retooled the stale Hollywood documentary as an addictive media sensation. But it’s also turned it into a morally suspect exercise: An invasion of privacy masquerading as a love letter. Mr. Simmons is a public figure, and that gives journalists a lot of latitude to pry. But a friend who claims to want to help Mr. Simmons should probably just leave him alone.
Many recent true crime and mystery podcasts/shows have exhumed details from the lives of private citizens for public entertainment. While shows like Serial and Making a Murderer are ostensibly about correcting some systemic or institutional injustice, they still wreak havoc on the lives of those who are its subjects.
If we take “Missing Richard Simmons” at face value, then it appears to have all the devastating impact of other similar shows, only without the journalistic value — just the veneer of it. Truly upsetting.
This week on the /Filmcast, we tackle Kong: Skull Island and discuss how X-Men is a metaphor for any minority struggle.
This week on Gen Pop, we chat with Mark Harris from New York magazine on how Trump presents a lot of opportunities and a lot of risks for late night hosts. Be sure to check out Mark’s article on the subject over at Vulture.
On this week’s Gen Pop, we cover recent X-Men films and TV shows that have changed how we think of “superheroes” as a genre.
On Gen Pop this week, we had a delightful time speaking with Dan Fienberg from The Hollywood Reporter about the role of Saturday Night Live in our current political climate.