Arts & Culture

The Ira Glass Infatuation Post/This American Life Roundup: “Pro Se”

Just as you think you are having a déjà vu repeat, you learn that the man dominating your headspace is not rerunning on autopilot, but building on his old tricks and giving you more than you could have asked for. … Read More

By / July 14, 2010

Just as you think you are having a déjà vu repeat, you learn that the man dominating your headspace is not rerunning on autopilot, but building on his old tricks and giving you more than you could have asked for. This week’s Life presents an oldie, but the majority of acts feature updates and interviews that change things up. Pro se is the name of the game, and working on behalf of one’s self has rarely felt this rewarding.

Ira tells that "1.8 million people represent themselves in court…These are amateurs being sent in to do something that is technical and full of jargon and totally intimidating." While it sounds like a promise-ring-bearing-recent-college-grad going into domming at a dungeon as a lofty career-move, the clients in this episode pull it off with hot and not results.


Act 1: I didn’t know that such mysterious, crazy noises existed in me

Repeat story with a happy-ending update by the act’s end is one of my faves. Hot hot hot is the Clockwork Orange scoring of a story on British mental institution Broadmoor and its "sane" teenage resident who faked his way in to get out of a prison sentence. But I don’t mind an aces repeat performance, especially in the midst of surreal 1970s cinematic madness. Yeah, baby.

Jon Ronson narrates this act, a journalist introduced to our droog aforementioned in the Dangerous and Severe Personality Unit.

I’ve never been a proponent of faking it-it’ll get you in trouble and madly bored despite a moment of artificial satisfaction. It can also get you the win if you’re Spain. But the way in which the psychiatric resident follows the works of the greats as a means to his ends is a beautiful thing: "You just plagiarize the character that Dennis Hopper played in the movie Blue Velvet." Still, the risk one takes in faking it pans out probably: stuck in a Kafkaesque universe sans fulfillment in which everyone around you feels justified to treat you as they do.

While the system in which he was engaged was an unsane one itself, the system’s peon fell in deeper via miscalculated moves. Putting trust in a social system that popularized Scientology, Eugenics, the DSMIVTR and Oprah alike is like trusting that the gangbangers you zombie followed into the Los Angeles motel room will provide you with some sweet summer lovin’. While the crazy antics of Droog might make him a very good lay, it’s a much easier enterprise on the other side where other nutty sexies roam about without medical reports.

Act 2: You cannot unring a belle

Fucking with the system is done again as Jorge Cruz represents himself in court, breaking up an entire system.  Amateur lawyering begins corrupting the jury and the rules in his defense. I got wildly excited about this unreal self-service that harms no one. The lawyer is so aghast:

Ira:"[Cruz] won based on a personal appeal just by winning people over with his personal story."

Francisco Calderon: "Yeah, that’s the part that’s so troubling here: because I don’t view him  a a person that would win somebody over…he didn’t have that warm personality that would make a juror gravitate towards them…I just still haven’t fully grasped that."

Meaning: This guy was not supposed to be serviced by the system, but swallowed up by the gloryhole of it’s morals. In turn, sexy chaos 1, Puritans 100.

Act 3: Dominate and Intimidate

Sibling defense is one of the few forms of insurance a girl might have in her world. With her own personal mafia, rules can be broken, and they are. They really are, as exemplified in this Dalinian reality of an act. Going completely off the map, narrator Jeff Simmerman is also interviewed in the episode’s updated content, revealing motives to depravedly explore the unknowns of socializing.

Act 4: Ira: "No, no no. I understand-you’d be upsetting the order."

I’ve considered hiring an intern for myself in the past, maybe a freshman European exchange student. "If you can get someone under you, it’s simple math that you are not on the bottom." Stef Willen’s roleswapping experience in hiring one for her production assistant’s assistant position doesn’t necessarily get her what she wants in the end. However, I’m all about the GGG attitude of the media world where gonzo weirdness is absorbed into production mode, which doesn’t exclude craigslist hookups.

In act 3, Ira asks,

"Did you know you had this in you?"


Throwing off your world with the power sequestered within is the meaning of life, like a Mae West, Marylin Monroe, LiLo doing their thing and dominating a system that didn’t know it was a sub to begin with.