There's something shockingly normal about the categories of artistic mediums chosen to be picked over on this website; movies, TV shows, music, games, and books all feel like they belong, their artistic niches already well-developed and accounted for, still with room to expand in unforeseen ways in the near future. It adds even more to this notion that podcasts are this odd, black sheep, where its artistic merit is in question.
What elevates that even further is the utter lack of 'the' podcast; there are plenty of movies, shows, albums, games, and books that, to people maybe only tangentially familiar with those spaces, hold almost universal significance; This American Life feels like its main champion, but even then it lacks some air of widespread acclaim despite its seriously impressive numbers.
Part of the medium's awkwardness is that it occupies such a weird space—without visuals, interactivity, or music core to their consumption, the only podcasts that are more than conversations or monologues are simply plotted-out stories that display some central narrative, yet at their core are serialized audiobooks. It is a medium that takes good elements from audiobooks and radio, and simply stays in its same place, in effect an archived radio show.
In that core mode, it seems to simply lack the significance as a cohesive technique—and without a doubt that is most of the reasoning behind there not having been a motive to review them here. But the unfortunate point is that there is a lot to love about podcasts and that unique space they have.
Its effective feeling of being a silent observer to a conversation, or being told a previously unheard of story—especially at a societal time where there's so little room to stretch out during the day, and listening while multitasking is such a commonplace phenomenon—is a really niche, appealing sensation. It almost seems to posture a campfire-esque state of idle observation, a collective human connection to some innate love of hearing and relating, even if it's been technologically disconnected from that root.
So even now, when podcasts haven't been in my personal consumptive rotation, their artistic means is so alien as to make its very fundamentals hypermodern in a unique sense; it is a connection isolated from others and the world, on one's own terms. And in an age of loneliness and societal unreality, when anonymous interpersonal connections with online personalities are so prevalent, it fits rather well.
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