Ira Glass plays clips from a documentary film called Please Vote for Me, by Weijun Chen. It follows a third grade class in central China in the very first election they've ever had or witnessed.
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Stef Willen tells Ira about a time that she took matters into her own hands, even though she was only a lowly production assistant on a reality show.
We play excerpts from the documentary film Troop 1500. In the film, girl scouts from an Austin, Texas, troop visit their mothers, all of whom are in prison.
Marti Noxon used to work for a company that did "product placement" for the movie industry. When auditors came to check that clients were being correctly billed, the company's bosses took unusual steps.
When an Arkansas National Guard Unit is sent off to Iraq, they assume they're going to help rebuild the country, since they're trained as an engineering unit. But once they arrive, they find themselves in a combat zone, unprepared and ill-equipped.
Fans of movie musicals might know about something called the "I Wish" number. In many movies and Broadway shows, it's the main character's first song, in which they express the hope that will set the story in motion.
Host Ira Glass talks with filmmaker Alan Berliner, who for six years collected old home movies he found at thrift stores and garage sales. He says that almost all of them document either rites of passage, like birthdays and weddings, or moments of leisure—the beach is especially big.
From the time he was a little kid until the time he graduated high school, Darren Stein made movies with his father's video camera. The cast was composed of friends from his street, a suburban cul-de-sac in Encino, California.
Host Ira Glass talks with Sarah Koenig, about the first and only time a movie star came over to her family's house when she was a kid, and how it didn't go too well, for the celebrity or for her. The movie star, Robert Redford, ended up stealing all her parents' attention, attention they usually lavished on Sarah, the youngest.
Ira interviews three of the people involved in making the documentary How's Your News?, about a team of developmentally disabled people who travel across the country doing man-on-the-street interviews. He talks to two of the developmentally disabled reporters, Susan Harrington and Joe Simon, and to the film's non-disabled director, Arthur Bradford.
The story of Tyler Cassity and how he's trying to remake one of our oldest rituals of commemoration.Tyler is one of the owners of a cemetery called Hollywood Forever, and he's been introducing 20th century technology to American funerals, which haven't changed much since the Civil War. At Hollywood Forever, the cost of a burial includes a video of your life: to be shown at your funeral, to be viewable at kiosks on the cemetery grounds, and to be posted—for eternity—online.
When the end of time comes, what videos will we watch? Under fundamentalist Christian doctrine, the first thing that will happen during the End Time is that all the good Christians will be whisked suddenly to heaven. We hear clips from Left Behind—a video designed to be played after all the Christians have vanished, by all the people left behind.
A high school student named Rebecca tells the story of a friend of hers who changed over the course of four years from a preppy alternative kid to a member of the Latina clique to a ghetto girl to a Clueless girl (a girl who models herself after the girls in the film and TV show Clueless). It's hard to imagine many boys changing style this quickly, this willfully, this many times.
Ira and the movie Fast, Cheap & Out of Control. Advertised as wacky, it is anything but.
Howard Rabinowitz and The Truth About Cats and Dogs. (4 minutes)
Danny Toro, a member of a Chicago street gang for ten years, explains what gangster movies he liked most in his gang years and why. Scarface, with Al Pacino, was a good movie to get him pumped up to go out with his boys. A Lucky Luciano film taught him a lesson in how to be more compassionate with members of his own gang.
Mark O'Brien is a writer in California, who lives most of each day in an iron lung, thanks to a childhood case of polio. It's an excerpt from Jessica Yu's Oscar-winning documentary.
Ira reads from In Dreams Begin Responsibilities. (7 minutes)
LuAnne Johnson is a teacher who sold her story to Hollywood and saw it made into the film and TV series Dangerous Minds, in which a character named LuAnne Johnson does things the real LuAnne believes are unethical and silly.
Eighteen-year-old correspondent Claudia Perez goes to an audition where a thousand Mexican women and girls dress up to play the slain Mexican pop star Selena in an upcoming film about her life. Feelings about Selena run so high that when her fans talk about her, they often cry.
Artist Julie Laffin talks about the inspiration for her "kissing projects." Jessica Yu's film Breathing Lessons is about Mark O'Brien, a man using an "iron lung." In this excerpt, Mark talks about the yearning he tries to quell through the use of sex surrogates. Poet Luis Rodriguez reads his poem "Waiting." Writer Dolores Wilbur tells a story of wanting love.