The American Life: Cruelty of Children

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So after our first listen to the series “This American Life” which dealt with the college lifestyle and Penn State as a party school, the second episode I listened to was quite different, and interesting to say the least. ┬áIt dealt with the object and base of power in the hands of adolescents . Ira Glass, David Sedaris and Ira Sher each provide three different but unifying stories that illustrate this theme of power within the 60 minute radio show. The title also happened to be quite different than what actually went on, as I envisioned stories of abuse against children, it was somewhat the opposite.

Act One was primed to be a humorous segment of the show but there was obvious pain and negativity that was shown through the comedy. While life was a struggle internally and externally for the guy, he found ease through the humor and comedy. Masking your true feelings behind these wall of jokes is extremely painful and I sympathized with his problem.

“The Man in the Well” was a powerful and explicit creation of the abuse of power by those who just gain it. After finding an adult man stuck in a well, a group of kids decide to not call for help and let the man die slowly and painfully. Kids are usually the ones being commanded and directed, and so in this situation without the proper guidance, they took a decision, and it was painfully and unfortunately and wrong one. Their motives would be unknown but the action as we look at it from our point of view was horrendous and the result is sickening, and the music playing to the story gave the bizarre story yet an even more twisted presence.

The third story of the bunch was more optimistic and successful in a sense, as it tackles the subject of students in elementary school subjugating and segregating themselves from each other, and the approach a teacher took to fix this problem, and it seemed to do very well. Its very important this type of social standards and behavior don’t follow children farther out into their lives, and the goal of ending social norms and exclusions like these altogether.

This episode was yet another very interesting one, and I’ve gotta say that I really do like Ira Glass’ production on making these very vital shows. Looking forward to our next episode!


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