Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To Air or Not To Air

So, Big finally finished up our latest episode, Liz's "Cinezas and the Ash King." It's the first of our Broken Mirror stories, and it was a long time in coming. A long time to think about what the reaction might be.

You see, we recorded the show like we regularly do, with no real planning for what we'd say, and certainly no intention to offend anyone* . . . but I have issues and things I'm passionate about, and Big's got his own opinions, and the conversation followed an unknown path.

As soon as the microphone came off, Big started to worry. What if we had said something that would truly bother people, would piss them off enough to stop listening to the show, or worse, shout out their righteous indignation in our forums, causing either Big or I to be so hurt WE quit doing the show? Big reminded me that we had two forbidden subjects on our show: Politics and Religion. And we'd just mentioned both of them.

Even though it was late at night, Big and I spent another hour talking about how divisive those two topics are, and he brought up my George W. Bush-bashing in an episode a year ago, and how he very nearly deleted it from the show for fear of alienating listeners.

So we talked, and I started to worry, and he was already worried, and I started to get paranoid about what to do about it. Was just bringing up the subject enough to offend people? Would a disclaimer be alright? Would it be enough? Might people choose to be offended?

Well, Big asked listeners in public what they thought, and I emailed a couple of people close to the show to ask their advice. Liz was willing to jump on the grenade and have the episode not air because she thought (at least I believe she did) that it was her story that was outrageous rather than anything we might have said. But pretty much everybody said, "Go ahead and air it, after a disclaimer, and if people have a problem with it, the problem is theirs."


We have had headaches before due to statements on the show, but with no idea of what might happen, we forged on. We recorded an episode of That Gets My Goat inspired by an experience I had after work, and my hatred of the Lifetime Movie Network. We had a laugh, and I vented, and once it was done, and the heat of the moment had passed . . . I started to wonder again, if maybe this would be the show that folks would freak out about. Even though nobody listens to That Gets My Goat.

Well, the more I thought about it, the more worried I became. To me, context is a big deal--the kind of thing that everything hinges upon--but to a lot of people, there's no such things as circumstances and intention. Bad is bad, black is black, wrong is wrong, even if the picture is incomplete.

Ultimately, I decided to shelve the episode. I didn't set out to piss people off, but I didn't want any additional controversy or angry cowgirls on their moral high horses. I guess that was cowardly, but having not yet aired the potentially inflammatory Cinezas show, I was already in a sensitive place.

And I can always unshelve it later on.

It's nice to have a voice and a forum to speak, whether it's doing funny voices, making a statement, or just shooting the breeze. Big and I got together this week, and instead of complaining about things that upset us, we each talked about something positive(ish) that had been going on in our lives. I shared more than I had on the show before, and Big . . . well, he's just so darn handsome, isn't he?

I imagine those episodes will go over well.

I don't know if this blog entry was a worthwhile one or not. Perhaps I should've been more specific about statements made and worries I've felt, or maybe this wasn't necessary at all. Maybe nobody cares about the thought processes of a couple of podcasters.

If the latter's the case, though, I gotta wonder why you're reading this right now. Yes, sir, you.

Rish "Jean Doumanian" Outfield

*If you've listened to the episode, I really didn't cut much of what we said out. Maybe it was innocuous, but you really never know what will bother people.


  1. Well, if you've ever read my FB posts, you know I don't care a whit about offending people if they need to be offended.

    I take my advice on this subject from Lord Reith, the longtime head of the BBC: “There are some people whom it is one's duty to annoy!”

    So you may want to take my comments with a grain (a bucket?) of salt.

    But having said all that, the story and the parts you left in did not, I thought, warrant the whole disclaimer and all your apparent anxiety about whether people would be offended. I'm not sure what people would be able to be offended about, exactly.

  2. I didn't think it was my story, per se, but that it precipitated conversation you were uncomfortable airing. At least I THINK that's what I thought. Thunk.

    Now I have to back to old emails and see if what I think I thought is what I said I thought.

  3. I, personally, found nothing offensive about the episode. Unless you cut out some really offensive stuff, you had nothing to worry about. I've heard far worse. It is, however, really nice to see some actual humility displayed on your part. You were genuinely concerned and you let us know a) there might be some offensive stuff and b) that you cared enough about us to consider shelving it.

    You guys rock. Keep up the awesome work.

  4. Steve/Laura said, "It's really nice to see some actual humility displayed on your part."

    That gives me pause. Do we come across as a pair of arrogant tools on the show? Despite the silly voices, I'm an extraordinarily sensitive person, and Big is the type of dude to cry during cellphone commercials. I sort of hoped that came out on the air, even though it is often just a half-arsed comedy show.

    And really, aren't all creative people sensitive, wanting the approval of those around them, wanting recognition for their work, wanting to connect with people on some level? "Notice me, Mommy. I made a podcast just for you!"

    To be honest, the disclaimer wasn't so much to protect the fragile ears of somebody who'd be offended that I called God a "dude," but to prevent a nasty backlash, as often happens on the internet. Though we didn't share them on the air, we got a couple of genuine Hate Letters of the Week in the summer, and both Big and I were so upset by them, we took a little time off the podcast, and got caught up on watching episodes of "Castle" instead.

    I think I speak for both of us when I say that we quail in fear nearly every time a new episode goes out that it'll happen again, despite our attempts to be harmless and amusing. Or to read a story (for free) to the best of our ability.

  5. No, you don't come off as arrogant tools. A friend of mine listened to this episode and this is a quote: "There is a slightly sweaty, male-nerd air to their podcast sometimes, but they are a funny pair." I think that sums it up rather neatly.

    And part of the beauty/agony of our humanity is that we want to be part of a group so terribly. Story telling is one of the oldest forms of this, and you two get in front of those mics and manage to pull off something many people cannot.

    I deem you Rish "Shaman" Outfield.

  6. Not a profoundly sweaty, male-nerd thing, so we've taken a step up from our last review then.

    Although that's mostly because I lost a little bit of weight since then, so I don't sweat quite as much as I used to.

  7. I still believe that being nerdy is a plus. Nerd is the new cool, and has been for the past 10 years. I say that with all conviction, plus it helps me cope with my work nickname of Nerdo.

    Most people can't do what you guys do, and do well. Sweaty just adds that edge of "Hey, is that a sport?" kind of thing.

    And being noted as 'funny' (funny ha-ha, not funny strange) is something most people cannot claim yet yearn to be.

    And yes, you definitely took a step up. Because you are getting better. This year the nomination, next year the Parsec.