While driving to Tahoe the other day, me and my boyfriend listened to his first episode of This American Life. It just so happened to be the episode, "What Doesn’t Kill You," in which a girl gets bitten by a shark and her family refuses to do anything about it.
While we listened to it, we kept grimacing, groaning and outright yelping in anguish from this girl’s plight. Afterward, I told him he had to turn it off because I could not deal and we were going to listen to nice, calm music for the rest of the drive. Neil said, “Whoa!! That was the most gripping story I’ve ever heard!”
"What are you talking about?!" I yelled. "It was disgusting!"
"Yeah but look at your reaction! Weren’t you so into it?"
"We never would have run that story like that," I said, shaking my head, "No way! No way! Never!! I’d play it for the bosses and they’d say it was too violent, and Anna would get nauseous and wave her hands in the air. Look at me! I’m all upset now! I’m all angry and grossed out! What if there were children in the car? What if you just wanted to listen to some nice relaxing NPR on the way to work or something and you listened to this and got PTSD? We cut excessive gore out all the time so the listeners don’t shit a brick. They freak out when we put boobs in a story."
"But the gore is the point of the story! The episode is all about how much a person can take."
"Yeah, well, it’s effective because I can’t take any more."
"But it’s so interesting! How her parents didn’t do anything, it’s got all these layers of betrayal and….!"
"Yeah sure you can keep that all in, but you’ve just gotta cut out some of the gross stuff. Like the line about the bowels in her stomach? EUGH!! C’mon, I would have cut that. The poop is unnecessary."
"Well, Ira Glass thought it was necessary, so."
"Oh no you didn’t."