I’m immediately drawled into this first episode like a fish to water. Ira Glass opens up the discussion of “The Real Thing” by taking on a bigger look at how to pursue their ideal images through deceitful ways. Ira Glass opens up this discussion with how there are men posing as Vietnam veterans. I found this to be extremely engaging as a listener because it's like, who does this? The fabrication of the fake Vietnam veterans just astounds me because of all the struggles going on in the world with how poorly veterans are treated nowadays. With this sort of facade expose, we go deeper into depravity by learning about Kelly Mcever’s firsthand experience of entering into the world of California gang life. It’s through this experience where she slowly starts to notice how her appearance, mannerism, and language mimics that of the girls she hangs out with. Mcever states “I started wearing lots of sports T-shirts and jeans and sweatpants and platform shoes, and pulling my hair back, and wearing darker lipstick, and just starting to fit in-- trying to fit in-- all for the sake of the story of course, in my mind at the time”. It’s really haunting to hear about someone unconsciously losing themselves in a fantasy world that’s so unrealistic to who they are as a person. This ideal image is further explained in the part of the podcast where we hear from a grown man, Glenn Loury and John Simpkins, a journey in understanding what it’s like to be what society deems a “real” black man. It a unique discussion on how black youth struggles to navigate their own feelings of what it’s like to be black versus what society thinks blackness really is. One quote that I found particularly enlightening from Loury was his statement about his own children “I know that my boys will be black in a way so very different from that which characterized my own life. And my thinking now is that the best thing is that they wear that racial identity lightly. Not that they'd be indifferent to their blackness or ashamed of it, or look at it as an irrelevancy, but that I'd hope that they would be able to be black in a way that leaves them flexible and adaptable and open and not parochial and narrow.” I found this particularly interesting because we really get to see this unique story of how someone loses their sense of reality through the pursuit of self-image.
To view the full podcast, follow this link: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/138/the-real-thing