Camera: iPhone 12
Location: The National Harbor; Oxon Hill, Maryland, United States
The Life and Times of Ben Weinberg
Entrepreneur, ESL Teacher, Traveler, and Writer
Camera: iPhone 12
Location: The National Harbor; Oxon Hill, Maryland, United States
“Whereas traditional media outlets like TV, radio, film, etc. are usually of a certain length whether its 30 minutes, an hour, or 2 hours, podcasts can go on for more than even that with some podcasts clocking in at 4 to 5 hours without stopping.”
I really love podcasts and I have loved them for years. They have been around since the 2000s but only really became mainstream during the last decade of the 2010s. Their popularity to me involves the fact that you really can do a deep dive on any subject under the sun without being constrained to a time limit. Whereas traditional media outlets like TV, radio, film, etc. are usually of a certain length whether its 30 minutes, an hour, or 2 hours, podcasts can go on for more than even that with some podcasts clocking in at 4 to 5 hours without stopping.
It is not easy to have an uninterrupted conversation for so long but there is a real art to it that stands out these days from other forms of popular media. The hosts can pick and choose how many guests they have, their background, as well as how long they would like each podcast to be. Instead of a news report, a sports segment, or a weather minute, where the host or correspondent will be cut off abruptly, a podcast allows the information to be fully thought out without interruptions or commercials. There can be the occasional advertisement read, bathroom break, or even an impromptu cutoff of a podcast due to the guest or host needing to leave the studio early, but for the most part, podcasts are an extremely rare form of media that really is not constrained by lack of space, time, or platforms.
Back in the early days of media, you used to have to rely on a corporation or government funding to get your message out, but today, you can self-fund and self-host your own podcast. There are also different crowdfunded platforms like Patreon, Megaphone or popular website platforms for video and audio like YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, etc. where you can put your podcast on. There are a wealth of choices and a lot of different technology available to make hosting a long-form conversation easier than ever.
The beauty of hearing or watching these conversations is you get to learn from experts in a variety of fields from comedy to film to music to art to sports where you won’t have to pay a dime to tune in. Even if you pay a flat fee to a podcast hosting platform, you will have access to more podcasts and conversations than you can listen to or watch in a lifetime. There are thousands, if not, millions of podcasts available in the world in every major language. Such a wealth of information is something we could not fathom twenty or so years ago.
In an age of short attention spans and ten-second videos, the long-form conversation is still very much in demand. People may enjoy Instagram Reels, TikTok Videos, or a Tweet, but you will never get the same kind of details, wisdom, or knowledge from your average two-hour podcast. Podcasts are not perfect and often come with the bias of the hosts or the guests involved but it’s good to watch or listen to them with an open-mind and an open-heart.
The sheer number of efforts behind the scenes to make a long-form conversation happen should not be ignored. There are a lot of cameras, microphones, sound design, video quality, and getting the guests to appear, which would take a whole production team to put together. Podcasts do not have to be fancy like that but the more popular they become, the more they rival traditional media forms for both the amount of investment and the amount of time it takes to make them happen.
The core of any podcast though is the quality of the conversation, and the best podcasts are those where the host is patient, asks good questions, can answer them from the guest himself or herself, and will describe to the audience what is going on in case they are doing both an audio and a video feed. The most popular podcast in the world, The Joe Rogan Experience, started over ten years ago, and it was far from a polished product in the first episode.
It was not a fancy set with multiple team members and a lot of advanced gear. Instead, it was Joe Rogan, his computer, a microphone, and the help of a friend, who would bring on his friends, to talk about what’s on their minds. Now, it became the most popular podcast in the world not just the host is also a famous comedian, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) commentator, and a former TV and radio show host, but the fact that Joe is patient, understanding, and aware of how the conversation is going.
He can listen for long periods of time without interrupting, is able to get more out of his guests if they are shy, introverted, or not able to talk at length without prompting, and he genuinely knows about each person(s) he has on his podcast. The conversation easily flows because him and the guest do not talk over each other, when they disagree it’s not a big deal, and it doesn’t hurt also that he has some coffee or liquor on hand to make it a more inviting podcast studio.
With almost 2000 episodes under his belt, Joe Rogan among other popular podcast hosts like Marc Maron, Lex Fridman, Andrew Huberman, Sam Harris have not only put a lot of effort, time, and money for the audio and video experience to be good for the audience, but they have also trained themselves well in the art of talking with other people and in being a good host to a wide diversity and variety of guests from all over the world.
Podcasting is a necessary media in today’s tumultuous, fast-changing, and unpredictable world. I find that these conversations are meaningful, educational, and insightful. I do still watch TV and listen to radio programming, but it is impossible to beat the quality and knowledge that is dropped on a good podcast every day.
From news to sports to politics to music and even comedy, there are such good long-form conversations to be had from your average podcast. Whereas the news program will end on the hour, or the radio show will cut off every thirty minutes, you can find multiple podcasts analyzing different topics at a deeper level so that your knowledge and understanding will be much deeper than it would be from your average TV program these days. It is easy for me to see why podcasts in the 21st century is here to stay and why they are number #1 source of information in order technologically dependent world.
While podcasts with long conversations can be prone to bias, misinformation, controversy, and even backtracking after the fact, I still believe that there is no better way to learn from an expert or practitioner in a certain area of human endeavor than by settling into a two or three or even a five hour podcast with just hearing their voice and hearing what they have to say without any commercial or other interruption. If you have not listened to a podcast at this point in 2023, you should start now and remember to watch or listen to the whole podcast even if it is a few hours long. You’ll often be glad that you did at the end of it, and you’ll often learn a lot as a result.
Camera: iPhone 12
Location: United Palace Theater; Manhattan, New York, United States
“In a film with such great and memorable scenes, one scene portrayed as a flashback stands out amongst the rest.”
In a film with such great and memorable scenes, one scene portrayed as a flashback stands out amongst the rest. V for Vendetta is a fictional movie based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore but its focus on what happens when a totalitarian dictatorship rises to power in the fact of domestic and international calamities is relevant to what’s happened throughout history.
To give some background on the scene, Evey Hammond, the secondary protagonist to the masked anarchist and freedom fighter, V, is captured due to her alleged support of V’s activities to overthrow the dictatorial government that has seized power over the United Kingdom. Her hair is shaved, she is forced into a tiny cell, and practically starved for food or water. She is held there until she is sentenced to death by firing squad unless she gives up V’s identity and his whereabouts.
Rather than do so, she stifles their inquisition into who the masked man with the Guy Fawkes mask is leading her to a certain death. As Evey is about to lose hope and give in to her demands, she finds a letter stuck in a small crevice within the jail cell’s walls, written by a young woman named Valerie, not much older than Evey when she was forced into captivity by the government.
Valerie’s written on toilet paper what appears to be her last will and testament before a likely execution, waiting others to know about the injustices that the Creedy-led government has committed against her and why she is sharing her story of what happened to her. Valerie begins the letter describing her normal childhood in Nottingham in England and how she didn’t mind the rain because her grandmother told her that “God was in the rain.”
Valerie discusses how in grammar school as a teenager she fell in love for the first time with Sarah, a classmate, and that she was homosexual. Sadly, Valerie was forced to endure her teacher’s bigotry and disapproval of her sexuality and Sarah breaking up with her as a result. Even more painful for Valerie was introducing her 2nd girlfriend, Christina, and coming out as a lesbian to her father and Mother.
Valerie had to strength to show her integrity and not lie to her parents about who she is as a person, but they did not accept her for who she was and rejected her and even threw her baby picture away. “I only told them the truth, was that so selfish? Our integrity sells for so little but is all we really have.” Valerie’s quote in this scene is what makes it so searing as a quote in that being truthful and showing integrity should be accepted and understood because it is not easy for those seen as ‘different’ to come out as being ‘different’ even though it is what makes us who we are. Valerie’s parents wanted her to be someone who she is not, and sadly refuse to accept her as she is. She kept true to herself and did not sell her integrity as a person, which is more than her parents can say, who abandon their daughter because they don’t accept who she is forgoing their love over something so short-sighted and ignorant of them.
Valerie did not let her teacher and her parents keep her from being who she is and in 2015, became an actress on a film, and ended up marrying her co-star on it. Her partner, Ruth, and Valerie, move to London together, start a rose garden, and begin their lives as a couple, and end up in the throes of the rise of a dictatorship throughout the United Kingdom as Adam Sutler comes to power due to war breaking out around the world. They fear for what their country is becoming as “different becomes dangerous” and Valerie does not understand “why they hate us so much.”
The dictatorial regime that takes power in the UK begins to take away people who are ‘different’ for ‘rendition’ and ‘detention’ without cause or just because they are ‘different’ from others. The Sutler regime uses the false platitude that because of growing insecurity internationally that he must withhold civil and human rights domestically. He consolidates his power and ends up arresting and detaining minorities, refugees, and homosexuals including Valerie’s partner, Ruth. Valerie is all alone and cries for how she will never see her beloved partner again because of this injustice.
“It wasn’t long before they came for me.” Another resonating quote from this powerful movie scene related to the quote of how they come for different groups of people until there is no one else left but me. The ending of this scene has its real-world historic parallels to other genocidal and abusive periods of time where crimes and injustices were committed against ethnic, religious groups and races, just because they were ‘different’, including genocide. Valerie is alone in her apartment when Sutler’s regime’s thugs come for her too. Like Evey, her head is shaved, she is held without doing anything wrong and against her will. Valerie ends up in a small jail cell like Evey and they both are alike too in that they stand for principles that make us humane to each other like equality, justice, and liberty. “For three years, I had roses and answered to no one.
During captivity, Valerie does not lose that last ‘inch of hope’ that she clings to from her free years of living her life as she wanted with whom she loved. “Every inch of me shall perish, but one. An inch.” Valerie implores that even though she only has a glimmer, or an inch of hope left, she will not let them take it from her despite how long she is locked up for. Valerie implores Evey to never give up, stay true to who you are, and cling to the hope that there is still good in the world worth fighting for.
Valerie, sadly, does not survive her detainment as it is inferred that she is experimented on by the regime and killed, but the letter survives, likely because of V himself. V knows Valerie as V knows Evey and his role in using roses for his victims comes from his own knowledge of the inspiration that Valerie was for him.
Valerie gave V hope to stand against Sutler’s regime and now that Evey has read Valerie’s story afterwards in the same prison cell, she will gain the same last “inch of hope” to keep fighting for herself and the world around her especially if she were ever to get free and leave Sutler’s prison. Valerie ends the letter to the person(s) who find her letter that it is important to have hope that things will change, and the world will get better. However, Valerie ends her last written words by saying that what is most important thing to her is to let that person reading know that she accepts them, and she loves them, whomever they may be. “Even though I do not know you, even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you…I love you, with all my heart. I love you.” -Valerie.
While many people around her sold their integrity by not accepting who she was as a person, disowning her, imprisoning her unjustly, forcing her to die in their detainment, Valerie never sold her integrity and she never stopped being herself, which is an inspiration to us all watching this excellent scene and film.