Arts & Culture

The This American Life Ira Glass Man-Fatuation Post: Nemeses

This week Ira and Co. tackle both sides of arguments Read More

By / December 21, 2011
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After a good five minutes of Ira’s seemingly genuine soliciting (the way only NPR radio personalities can) this week’s TAL episode with the theme of “Nemeses” kicked off.  The themed was introduced via the Boston battlefield that is the issue of abortion and the violence that surrounds it in that particular, heavily Catholic city.  Major violence by pro-life nuts incited the figureheads on each side of the issue to secretly hold court and try to find a way to stop the bloodshed.  Some kind of headway came in the form of mutual understanding of humanity.  Two ladies on each side of the issue, just by seeing one another often enough came to respect and find fondness for one another.

This example is used to profile one of two ways in which major conflicts like this tend to find resolution.  Either the people on opposite sides of the conflict find common ground and slowly things begin to get better, or, as we’re shown in Act I of this week’s episode, a major event shakes up the issue causing a clash that, at some point, begs for resolve.

Poland, as we learn in Act I is a majorly divided country (maybe things might have been a bit better over there if they didn’t get rid of all their Jews so long ago?  But that’s another conversation.)  Poland A, is something akin to the American liberal, generally the younger better educated of the population who believe that Poland is isolating to it’s own detriment.  Poland B is the old-school, heavily anti- communist, Russian hating stalwarts who want as little to do with the EU as possible.  After a terrible accident, which resulted in the death of Poland’s then president, a type B sort of guy, the A’s and B’s of Poland came together in brief harmony. At this point I couldn’t help but wonder: if Newt Gingrich were elected in the US and then died in a plane crash, would the Left mourn his death and find common ground with right?  This common ground falls apart over the issue of voting in a new president. Poland B’s candidate ends up beating out the candidate for Poland A, who just happens to be the deceased’s brother.  As a result of the election and argument over where the dead president should be buried a near civil war between these two sects occurs ultimately resulting in a major protest by Poland B followed by a major protest protesting the protest by Poland A in which Poland B’s protest is profusely mocked with huge crosses fashioned out of beer can’s and large fake stuffed chickens and major discord all around.  Suddenly it becomes clear that Poland amidst this chaos looks like America’s near future in a parallel universe. TAL’s reporter chimes in at the end of the episode, sharing how disillusioned this whole conflict made her feel towards Poland.  Poland she claims is a land of sincerity.  So You Think You Can Dance in Poland in You Think You Can Dance. This being the case, it’s safe to assume that if they have Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader in Poland it’s called You Are Smarter Than A 5th Grader, We Truly Believe This! Or maybe even Are You Smarter Than a Communist?

There was a rare LOL moment this week when Ira refers to a place where long-term tensions have been brewing: New Jersey.

Turns out that deep rooted NJ rivalry to which Ira was referring was between Rutgers University and Princeton University and it comes via the story of young man attending Rutgers with no life.  In the 90’s when people had no lives, they spent their time on AOL, which used to have a function where you could “Warn” someone via IM a few times and have the booted for lewdness.  Well, this wise scholarly Princetonite that became the scorn of our forlorn Rutgers-going narrator happened to be privy to IM Bombing, a harsh tool used by hackers and morons that could kick off an enemy IM’er in a moment.  However, as bad as IM Bombs were, they were nothing compared to Phishing, Mail Bombing, or Ghost IM’ing, but that’s another story.

Thing is, Act II this week is a sad example of an unreliable narrator.  Being from NJ, knowing plenty of Princeton and Rutgers students, I can verify that the later hardly knows that former exists.  So Pro Lifers and Choices, or Polish A’s and B’s, they’re not.  Until next week, don’t forget to donate to Ira can have a fat Chanukah bonus!