Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kate Hoyt Podcast Exercise

Welcome to Mars: Other Tongues, Other Flesh

This podcast dealt with science fiction depictions of extra-terrestrial contact and phenomenology as viewed through the socio-cultural lens of the 1950s suburban boom and attitudes towards the Other. As I have read accounts of the CIA-led experiments with LSD, this podcast added a new perspective as the host's knowledge of both the science fiction historical narrative and the concurrent real-world developments on this front were quite extensive, and he had obviously labored in making connections between the two. The remarkable added value of the podcast was lining up developments in scifi books and movies with eerily reflective historical events that were taking place behind the scenes within the CIA and other government endeavors.

The format of the podcast was a mostly one-take recording of the host's unscripted (although, I have to imagine, pre-outlined) monologue on the subject, along with a constant other-wordly, technologized soundtrack in the background. Occasionally, this format would break and insert a sign-of-the-times recording of an advertisement or speech from the era being discussed, but it was mostly constant in terms of the host's voice narrating the historical developments that unfolded and the background soundtrack. What was interesting is that there was no break in format or tone to delineate the difference between discussions of a science fiction book or movie plot and real-life historical occurrences.

The host discussed developments on the scifi front within the context of the 1950s emergence of suburban culture. More specifically it discussed this cultural and historical phenomenon in terms of prominent attitudes towards the Other. For example, while there was much fascination in science fiction culture in contact with beings or experiences from outer worlds, this was paralleled by extreme segregation within the suburbs. The host points out that while suburban culture was fixated on propping up the facade of the "ideal" and the "pure," there was a lot of behind the scenes deviance that occurred (both sexually and in terms of substance use) and this tension may have been a factor in the fascination of the cultural trope of extra-terrestrial contact. So, in making these connections, I would say that the host's analysis went beyond merely outlining biographical and historical developments.

I first noticed the use of sonorous objects with various clicks that echoed within the background soundtrack, which coincided with a significant narrative point being outlined by the host. I believe that, although the soundtrack appeared to have been composed in isolation from the narrative discussion, key sonorous tropes were lined up with key narrative statements for effect. Another sonic technique - although I hesitate to call it a "sonorous object" - was an insertion of an Aunt Jemima advertisement from the 1950s which showcased the prevalent attitudes of the white suburban culture toward African Americans, and historical residue left by slavery. This technique was particularly effective at placing the narrative within a cultural context of subjugation of the Other.

If this were my podcast, I would have used more sonorous techniques to delineate what was being narrated as a plot of a science fiction novel or movie and was was a real-life historical occurrence. The consistency of the soundtrack rendered the narration confusing in terms of which arena the host was referring to. I would have used the background sonic environment to help differentiate these two references. I might have also used more of a cut-up approach in terms of inserting actual sonic footage from the times (such as the Aunt Jemima ad, which was singular in it's insertion and full length).

1 comment:

Trace said...

Kate, I'm really intrigued by your close observation of the sameness of narrative tone that addresses both the sf content and the historical content. I hadn't really thought about the ways in which this actually normalizes differences across the types of content and thereby reinforces the thematic points about how these realms of fiction and history reinforce and help explain each other (whew, that was a mouthful!).