Sean Joseph Patrick Carney VS MFA Thesis 2009
Tanner Dobson's Totally Relevant Podcasts
Using fictional host Tanner Dobson as a surrogate for myself, I have created simulations of public radio Internet podcasts where the traditional content of cultural programming is subverted through the employment of the absurd, the outrageous, and the politically incorrect. I speak through Tanner because it allows me to turn off my social filter; I would otherwise be entirely uncomfortable saying much of what escapes from his mouth. The unorthodox structure and timing utilized in these programs demand a more intimate engagement from the listener. Multiple voices argue simultaneously, musical accompaniments appear completely out of context, and the social topics at hand are rarely covered with any kind of legitimate discourse. Confusion results, requiring multiple listenings to absorb the excess of sounds and characters.
This project aims to satirize popular media’s ability to influence the contemporary American zeitgeist. While radio, television, the Internet and other media forms can and do educate and inform, very often they instead reinforce social stereotypes or perpetuate counter-productive cultural mythology. Like popular media, I examine relevant social issues like economics, racial tension, sexuality, celebrity, violence and more. These are all topics of extreme complexity that do not receive diligent media investigation; they are addressed without a true criticality. My shows quite literally almost never even address the proposed issues, illuminating a similar problem in popular media culture. Much of the content presented in my podcasts is crass or offensive, and this paper will explore in detail why that content is informed by a theoretical framework based on humor and satire, and is not just shocking for shocking’s sake.