Tell me story, tell me story
Tell me story, remember what you said
You promised me, you said you would
You got to give in so I’ll be good
Tell me a story, then I’ll go to bed
I still like being read to. I like it so much that I could binge-listen to TV or podcast documentary series all day every day. It’s like radio used to be when it was at its best. A good bedtime story for me as a child always included a bit of music (my dad singing badly), some vivid illustrations, and a good tale, well told. That hasn’t changed.
Today I listened to and half-watched High Profits while I pottered about the house. In the last few months I’ve also watched Making a Murderer about Steven Avery, I listened to the Serial podcasts about Beau Bergdahl and Adnan Syed, and I watched the TV series The Jinx about Robert Durst. They are all great stories, well told. They provide just enough titillation to be entertaining, just enough information and innuendo to be outrageous, and just enough editing and music to keep the narrative moving.
I’m willing to bet that the producers of these shows were read to as children. Their shows have all the earmarks of a loving parent adding drama to children’s stories by speaking in scary voices, making attempts at strange accents, and sometimes singing, too. It’s the whole package. The shows are in documentary format but with the flair of a fictional movie. Sometimes they are so compelling that you think it must be fiction, but then you are jolted back to earth in the face of real humans living really troubled lives.
Like children at bedtime, we want to be scared and soothed at the same time. These TV and podcast series somehow manage to accomplish the same effect. In the safety of our living rooms we are informed, entertained, and sometimes frightened. Each episode is just long enough to hold our attention, and each ends with us wanting to know more. At that point, though, we get to sleep safe in our beds.
The people who are the subjects of these shows have come to life for us only because their stories have been told really vividly. And, their stories are heartbreaking. When mom or dad tells the scary story, we know the evil-doers will lose in the end. The good guys will get them. Now that these documentary filmmakers have told these terrible stories, I hope the people whose stories they told will get some good guys to fight the bad guys for them, too.
I half-wish it was all fiction, but perhaps there really is a boogeyman in the closet.
Lyrics from the song Tell Me a Story by Frankie Laine (1953): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjBWApYXSTg