Is it OK to love Serial?



Last week I was driving around the Pacific Northwest.


To pass the time I listened to seven episodes of Serial, the podcast where Sarah Koenig and her team investigate a murder that occurred in 1999 in Baltimore County.

It’s incredibly well-done storytelling.  Compelling, entertaining, and now wildly popular.  Serial is fun.

But is it ok?  

As with all things there’s a backlash.  I read this attack, which comes at Sarah for “white privilege,” and it didn’t ring valid at all to me (but then again I ate white privilege mixed in with my chocolate chip pancakes every Saturday morning as a kid).

I can’t get involved in whether this is really Hae’s brother, so let’s forget about that too.

What I’d say makes me a little queasy is the tone. Is it ok to have a great, fun listen as the kids play Nancy Drew about a teenage girl who was strangled and left in the park?

All across American media we turn murders into entertainment.  Is this one any worse?

How many murders are depicted on TV in America in a year?  A thousand?

I truly dunno.  But Serial did make me think of this long, deeply sad article by Eric Schlosser, author of the incredible Fast Food Nation, which is about what happens to the family of a person who gets murdered.

If you like Serial, I give my highest recommendation to Popular Crime: Reflections On The Celebration Of Violence by Bill James.  Maybe my favorite book read in the last five years.

Go ahead, read an excerpt.  

Anyway, I was glad to have Serial as I drove around.



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