If you have not heard of ‘Serial’ yet- chances are you are living under a rock or one of those annoying I-hate- the-internet type people that must immediately stop reading because nothing I say will be relevant to you.
If you are part of the rest of the 99 per cent of the population you will know what I am talking about. The wildly successful podcast produced by the creators ‘This American Life’ (TAL) re-investigates the 1999 homicide of American teenager Hae Min Lee in Baltimore County, Maryland and has basically broken the Internet.
Journalist Sarah Koenig interviews various players in the case, namely Lee’s ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed. Syed who maintains his innocence is currently serving life imprisonment for her murder based on the eye-witness testimony of star witness Jay Wilds.
Even after its conclusion the podcast has spawned mega cyber hits and controversies. Wilds, who refused to be interviewed by Koenig, recently hit back at his portrayal in the podcast and the internet stalking it has fuelled in an interview with The Intercept.
Serial’s mesmerising part documentary, part editorial format invites the listener on Koenig’s journey as she navigates the murky waters of crime, the justice system, truth, memory and the strange beast that is the modern jury. The response to the podcast has in turn provoked questions on privacy, the internet and trial by media in the modern age.
Beyond these very serious questions however is the more pressing one on how to discuss the internet phenomenon of our times. ‘Serial’ is a phenomenon akin to being stranded on a desert island- it invites strange intimacies with unlikely bedfellows. Long conversations and speculation bonding strangers as they try to nut out and solve the conundrum of ‘Serial’.
Those who parry tend to fall into these main categories:
The TN will come in late in the conversation; usually having binge listened to the podcast after realising they don’t understand any of the conversations around them. They will enter the fray armed with what they think is an impressive contribution, but mispronounce someone’s name or have no recount of basic information like the call log. They will get stuck on a piece of information long after the topic has been dissected, dealt with and explained.
They started listening to ‘Serial’ before it became famous. They have an account on reddit. They get the Crab Crib reference. They probably introduced you to the podcast. They are the first to post or message you with the latest hilarious parody or update and know all the extraneous, context information. THEY WOULD ALSO LIKE TO REMIND EVERYONE OF THAT FACT. There is nothing worse to the know-it-all then to be shown up by a more hardcore know-it-all. The benefits of talking to the know-it-all is as long as you exhibit the proper homage; you have a personal ‘Serial’ breaking news service.
Sitting on the Fence but don’t think there is Enough Evidence to Convict
Well du’h. The most obvious and safe position. The sitting on the fence guy is usually the good guy in the office who shuns gossip and just wants to avoid confrontation. They won’t hazard a theory because they’re modest enough to admit they just don’t know.
I’ve Got a Feeling
The ‘I’ve got a feeling’ person will pretty much bypass all evidence to create their own judgment based on their ‘gut feeling’.
This fan is very much in touch with their emotions. She’ll say things like: ‘He just doesn’t sound guilty to me’, or ‘I don’t trust him’. The ‘I’ve got a feeling fan’ relies on what they believe is their highly developed perception, which is like an in-built lie detector test that allows them to magically read people. They will analyse voice inflection and character and feel they can imaginatively enter into the minds of main players and surmise their inner most motivations.
Solved it Cowboy
The solved it cowboy is completely invested in their verdict and is not open to dialogue or negotiation. The case that has puzzled legal minds and hard working journalists and advocates is really an open and shut case to the cowboy. The solved it cowboy (usually male) just knows how it all went down and won’t bother with the fine details or ambiguity, because well… trust him on this one.
The Moral High Ground Crusader
The MHGC will go to great lengths to lament how tragic or exploitative the media/justice system/the case is just to prove how much finer their sensibilities are. They will however continue voraciously consuming and critiquing anyway.
If you are the first to share this article with your friends, you know who you are. If it is shared to you, I’m sorry sister but you’re a TN for life