Part of the drive behind this project was the need to hear fresh voices. It seemed like my podcast feed in particular was crowded with indistinguishable voices, the same opinions on the same things in an infinite loop. Probably no coincidence, then, that so many of the podcasts I listened to were dominated by men. It’s not like I listen to footy shows and download car commercials; this is in the less traditionally male domain of a pop-culture nerd, but even so, the women’s voices were surprisingly few. It was stifling, and one of the starker changes when I began this Experiment.
One of the shows that survived was Wham Bam Pow with Cameron Esposito. I’d listened to the beginning of their 39th episode before my April 1st cutoff, and wasn’t immediately hooked. I left it sitting in my feed, Downcast silently judging me for having only “partially listened”, for weeks. Looking back on it now, having finished the episode tonight, I was probably a little premature in my judgement; not only had I barely listened to 20 minutes, it’s also an ensemble podcast, and they tend to grow on you. One of my all-time favourites, NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, was not an immediate love, but as you listen and learn about the people (as well as their tastes, their biases, and so on), you build a connection with them.
So it was that I found myself converted to Wham Bam Pow. It seems odd now to look back, and realise that this podcast, which fit so neatly into what I’d wanted, was sitting on my phone this whole time, but it took a famine for me to see its value. When I picked it up this evening, Cameron (along with panelists Rhea Butcher and Ricky Carmona) was talking about Spike Jonze’s film, Her. I’m unabashed in my love of Her, even though I can see plenty of issues with the gender dynamics. And mostly, I found my opinion repeated back at me on other podcasts and reviews, with greater or lesser degrees of emphasis on said gender issues. It was even more stark, then, when Cameron and Rhea gave a number of well-articulated and considered opinions on the film’s flaws. Most of their criticisms were valid observations about the film’s portrayal of women: you can argue about the dynamic between Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlet Johansson, but they were rightly unimpressed by the treatment of Rooney Mara’s character, and the Joaquin-centric nature of Amy Adams’ role. Ricky’s opinion of the film was closer to my own, but the moment I found most interesting came when Cameron (or Rhea — I’m still new, and can’t always differentiate their voices) pointed out the different ways in which men and women seemed to experience this movie. That was what sold me. This is exactly the kind of voice I wanted to hear more of: one that is different to my own. And it was right under my nose all this time.
I still like the movie, Her. Cameron and Rhea’s criticisms are totally valid, and will factor into my experience of the movie when I watch it again (some time in 2015, probably), but aren’t enough to spoil the film entirely. What I will relish, though, is the contrasting voice. If it does nothing more than challenge my opinion, and help me to sharpen my argument, then it can only be a good thing.
You can check out the episode I listened to, along with heaps of others, on iTunes or here.
Give it a listen, and let me know what you think. If you have any other podcasts made by and starring smart, opinionated women, please tell me! I’ll run out of episodes of Stuff Your Mom Didn’t Tell You too soon if I keep devouring them at this rate, but that’s a subject for another day!