Arts & Culture

The Ira Glass (Nancy Updike) Infatuation Post/ This American Life Review: Will They Know Me Back Home?

People are strange, when you’re a stranger. Nancy Updike is no mystery flavor, but she’s also no Ira Glass. Read More

By / March 16, 2011
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People are strange, when you’re a stranger. Nancy Updike is no mystery flavor, but she’s also no Ira Glass. Fortunately, she has used her two weeks wisely, laying on the profound that have made these episodes memorable. This week, Nancy takes us  through the questions, Do you still know me? Am I still me? Will They Know Me Back Home? in regards to individuals who have left for war and returned as strangers.

Story 1: I’m worried about January; who will he be?

In the theatrical rendition of a chapter in Pulitzer Prize winner David Finkel’s book The Good Soldier reveals much about the transition of character in returning soldiers and evolutions of relationships with family, lovers, and strangers.

Story 2:  She wasn’t just good at her job, she loved her job.

The genius of the episode manifests in the conversation between the first act/ story and the second. At about the same time, we are transported to Iraq where “Sarah” is put to work by the Americans with her husband’s  blessings after big papi can’t step up in the tumultuous political climate (It’s the same woman on the last show focused on Iraq in which she found the way Americans were using Iraqis like tissues.). Her language skills land her a gig interpreting and researching for U.S.A.’s Alpha company, as she becomes the femme fatale that brings down the thugs who melt at her Girl 6 Iraqi voice. And in the spirit of Women’s Month, it seemed appropriate to hear the rare story of an oppressed woman (by her culture, by her family) who became empowered, indispensable, and able to bring about change on a grand scale. In the end, justice is not afforded on her part despite her feats. Maybe it takes an Einstein to recognize that, “All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.” Ironically, the system that afforded her empowering responsibilities was the same to abandon her in bureaucratic hell. Updike rightly leaves us there to ponder the true underbelly of This American Life.