Oh No Ross and Carrie
August 18, 2014 1:08 PM   Subscribe

Bob Larson and his teenage exorcists!

Jeez! How many Guided By Voices pseudonyms do I have to keep up with?
posted by jonp72 at 1:11 PM on August 18, 2014 [17 favorites]

They are so going to Hell. And getting alien butt chipped.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:12 PM on August 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

Come for the debunking. Stay for Carrie's creepiness scale calibrations.
posted by audi alteram partem at 1:20 PM on August 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Appearing in Metafilter comments for the zillionth time, in case anyone hasn't seen it: Homeopathic A & E
posted by duffell at 1:22 PM on August 18, 2014 [13 favorites]

I'll be curious about how this show plays out. I listened for a while and found them repeatedly bumping up against the edges of journalistic ethics; additionally, as their profile rises, they may continue to be able to remain anonymous among groups that are so far on the margins as to never listen to podcasts, but they've already been caught at least once (the Golden Dawn people, who were displeased), and I expect some of the bigger groups are already aware that there is a Ross and Carrie out there.
posted by maxsparber at 1:27 PM on August 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

My favorites are the 9/11 truthers and Bob Larson. The Mormon episodes probably tell the most interesting story, and the Tony Alamo episodes are interesting and little sad and horrifying. (Tony Alamo is in prison for child abuse, and is strongly defended by the church members, many who have had hard lives.)

The two hosts come from strong evangelical backgrounds and have become skeptics. They can really click with other believers in a way that I, raised without religious beliefs, just can't.

Two notes:
- The end of each episode is where they rate their experience on a few scales. I don't think it's the best part.
- Carrie can get silly sometimes. I enjoy it; others I know have been turned off.

But they really do spend a lot of time and energy with the groups they're researching. I'm glad they're doing it.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:27 PM on August 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do Trepanning last, maybe?
posted by poe at 1:28 PM on August 18, 2014 [13 favorites]

"journalistic ethics"
They're not journalists. It's entertainment.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:30 PM on August 18, 2014

Anything similar for the anti-vaccination movement?
posted by jeffburdges at 1:31 PM on August 18, 2014

I very much wanted to like this show. Ross and Carie seem to pride themselves in being non-judgmental and having a sense of humor about what they do. And yet, one or two jokes every episode really rubbed me the wrong way.

And then in the Aetherius Society episode, there's a bit where Carrie - seemingly for no reason at all - starts talking in a naive-sounding valley girl voice while summarizing the society's beliefs. And I was like, okay, this is where I get off.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:32 PM on August 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

I had heard of, but not really cared to listen to, until I saw reference to Bob Larson.

My dad listened to him when I was kid and he scared the shit out of me. I haven' t really thought about Larson for a good 20 years so I'm interested to re-visit his whole schtick as an (far more skeptical) adult.
posted by Tevin at 1:36 PM on August 18, 2014

Trees around grass. Sun and leaves upon grass, each a skyward look.
A look to beside, Ross.
Ah, a horrible rotation!
posted by Mblue at 1:36 PM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by clockzero at 1:40 PM on August 18, 2014

They're not journalists. It's entertainment.

Whatever the case. Even in entertainment, there are ethics, and it might be useful to look at how journalists do undercover investigations so that they don't run into problems in the future.
posted by maxsparber at 1:41 PM on August 18, 2014

This sounds a lot like Louis Theroux's Weird Weekend series, where he'd visit people from a certain subculture or lifestyle and hang out with them. People he visited included bodybuilders, legal sex workers in Nevada, pornography actors, Neo-Nazis, and the Fred Phelps family aka Westboro Baptist Church.

Most of them are on youtube, although they were made by the BBC so I'm not sure what the copyright status is.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:51 PM on August 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Anything similar for the anti-vaccination movement?
Do Trepanning last, maybe?

You may be interested in the Maximum Fun medical history show, Sawbones: Trepanation and Vaccines. (The latter is more about the history and current practice of vaccination, rather than a detailed debunking of the anti-vax movement.)
posted by BrashTech at 2:09 PM on August 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

I listened to a few episodes and was disappointed that they didn't do any research or debunking other than going to see the weird people. I would've liked more facts, a la Sawbones (mentioned above).
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:17 PM on August 18, 2014

And I was like, okay, this is where I get off.

Yeah. Everyone knows the Cosmic Masters don't talk like Valley Girls. That's just silly.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:36 PM on August 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm disappointed that they apparently didn't actually stick around long enough to become full-fledged Mormons. I haven't listened to the whole thing yet, but from the description, it doesn't look like they stayed active for a year and then went through the temple, got sealed, etc., or even that they were active in the congregation, actively held church callings, etc. Oh well.
posted by The World Famous at 2:36 PM on August 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm disappointed that they apparently didn't actually stick around long enough to become full-fledged Mormons. I haven't listened to the whole thing yet, but from the description, it doesn't look like they stayed active for a year and then went through the temple, got sealed, etc., or even that they were active in the congregation, actively held church callings, etc. Oh well.

*nod* Mormonism in particular is a community religion. I expect it would be hard to have a 'full' immersive experience without long-term participation.

I recently read A.J. Jacobs' book "The Year of Living Biblically" and had the same impression. He had a decent group of 'spiritual advisors' working with him, but over a full year he only rarely was part of a community. To someone who is religious, the difference and lacks were quite obvious. It rather clearly made his life much more difficult, introduced unnecessary struggles and (especially with regard to following the Torah,) acted as a buffer which kept him from quite a few experiences. He complains towards the end of the book that he has followed many rituals but not experienced much of a spiritual awakening. He had begun the project hoping that the rituals would be a gateway to some sort of enlightenment. And man, I just wanted to bang my head on the desk over that, because so much of the damned book was focusing on him obsessively fulfilling various rituals and making sure he was doing the "right" thing at any given moment. His advisors told him that the goal was not to be perfect, but to learn, and one gets to the end of the book feeling like he's tragically missed opportunities.
posted by zarq at 2:57 PM on August 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

Mormonism in particular is a community religion. I expect it would be hard to have a 'full' immersive experience without long-term participation.

I was impressed with their commitment and entrenchment nonetheless. They were with the Mormons for many months and got baptized. I believe Ross later mentioned that he's still friends with them and that he plays basketball with them.

I like Ross and Carrie a lot! I just listened to the most recent episode on the Aetherius Society though, and it was tough going. They got called out on a root contradiction that has always been in their show. Ross and Carrie claim that they don't do their podcast in order to mock their subjects... they say that they approach their subjects with an open mind and out of a spirit of curiosity. This has always seemed in bad faith to me. I know they do not think of it that way, but most the humor and entertainment value from their show comes from how ridiculous their subjects are. They approach their subjects with the spirit of curiosity that takes you to a freak show, not a physics lecture.

The Aetherius member at the end of the latest episode gave a pretty eloquent speech about how he was insulted by the ridicule of his religion. He was right to be insulted. But I also think it's right for them to have ridiculed it. There's no conflict here unless Ross and Carrie don't want to ridicule or insult people. And they don't. So they resolve this contradiction by blinding themselves to the fact that ridicule is basically what makes the show popular. The Aetherius group called them out on it.

(Carrie says that she thinks they made a mistake with just that one Aetherius episode. That one episode did not stand out to me at the time as being any different from any others. I think it was just as full of mockery as other episodes, but that other groups like the Mormons were better at taking the ridicule in stride.)

My favorite episodes are the ones where they try out various woo products and procedures on their own. The hangover cure episode is a favorite. It is thoroughly disgusting.
posted by painquale at 3:08 PM on August 18, 2014 [7 favorites]

Wanted to like it but was annoyed by the "don't forget to Like us!" And "donate now" on every single post. Plus they seemed kind of . . dickish?

Overall it made me think of:

Alan: Well, last week we showed you how to become a gynecologist. And this week on 'How to do it' we're going to show you how to play the flute, how to split an atom, how to construct a box girder bridges, and how to irrigate the Sahara Desert and make vast new areas of land cultivatable! But first, here's Jackie to tell you all how to rid the world of all known diseases.

Jackie: Hello, Alan.

Alan: Hello, Jackie.

Jackie: Well, first of all become a doctor and discover a marvellous cure for something, and then, when the medical profession really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there'll never be any diseases ever again.

Alan: Thanks, Jackie. That was great!

posted by petebest at 3:30 PM on August 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

At least based on my listening of the Bob Larson episode (and wow, I forgot how bonkers he is) I'm not really sure how they claim to approach their subjects with an open mind. I mean, I think Bob Larson is (and should be!) ripe for ridicule but the entire episode was them mocking the show they attended. So I mean, yes, they're right, it's hilarious but I was hoping for ... I don't know, some insight, I guess? Talk to the followers and try to get a sense of why they showed up and they hoped to accomplish by attending Larson's talk? Some kind of takeaway or reflection, however brief, would have been nice. Because I can make fun of Larson all on my own but I wasn't there to share the experience with others who, unlike the hosts, were believers.

Also Carrie's insistence on calling Larson "Bobo Beaver Neck" was super grating.

I don't know. I think I might listen to more but, it goes in the B lineup of podcasts. But good post, OP, and thanks for sharing!
posted by Tevin at 3:53 PM on August 18, 2014

Heh, thanks, Tevin! I think the show's interesting to listen to. I think they are kinda(?) walking a fine line between trying to do things with a relatively open mind and at the same time, having the same kind of ridicule urges everyone else does. When I first heard the show I expected it to be far more ridicule than it actually is, given the subject matter they cover. I was actually rather impressed at how much they ah, hold off. I sort of find the rankings at the end hard to follow (the silly examples of "if a 10 is the creepiest haunted house you've ever seen possessed by cannibal-eating aliens, and then the aliens went to your house and ate it, and then, and then...." or whatever, drag on so long that I actually lose track of what they were rating it every. damn. time!), but that's usually the silliest part of it.

I held off on posting this until the Aetherian interview went up, and I was about halfway through listening to it before I hit "post" and had to do other things with my afternoon. I kinda think they could use a bit of calling out, as it were. It was a nice change.

And good point as to how long they can keep up being unknown on these investigations.

As for the community participation: that might be hard to maintain when you are joining up for a few months as infiltrators, as it were.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:50 PM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

After wasting almost two hours listening to their rip on the OTO, a group that I also tasted awhile back in the Bay Area, I have to say that they do not attempt to understand or analyze these groups. Instead they just acquire a very shallow familiarity with some of the obvious surface layers and then complain about why they don't like it. In some of these cases it's like shooting ducks in a barrell, OTO included, but what is the value? Will we learn why other people are attracted to these groups? Will we learn about the nature of belief? Will we learn anything of value? I doubt it. All we learn about is Carrie and Ross. Who quite frankly I find to be as irritating as the people they complain about.
posted by njohnson23 at 5:58 PM on August 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

You have to admit, elder Johnson would be an awesome user name.

I have listened to about a half dozen, and I liked the Mormon episodes best and the Sikh one worst, because they really seemed to wrestle with the former while the later was treated as pretty much an exotic joke.

I'll keep listening to see if they get less -- not less sure, but maybe less smug about that surety.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:06 PM on August 19, 2014

Yeah, not as good as Sawbones, but the co-hosts of that podcast are a comedian and doctor, also married. It's tough to beat that combination for a humorous specialized subject, and they seem like naturals. Ross & Carrie is interesting, but the two major weaknesses for me are what others have mentioned. They blur the line of ethical behavior frequently, which was addressed more than once, and they treat the experience as a product to be rated, which is supposed to be ironic, but it detracts from the idea that it's not about just ridiculing their subject. Which is alright, but it's not clear that all their subjects deserve it.

I haven't listened to the episode about Sikhism, mostly because I know some Sikhs and would feel awful laughing at their spiritual practices, whether they knew or not. It's not the spiritual path for me, but there's a deep thread of kindness and compassion running through it, which is evident in the followers I know. It has its own dogma and is problematic in some ways, but to me it would be as troubling as if they did an episode on Judaism. It could still work, but only if they grounded their perspective a bit and didn't react like other beliefs were funny because they seem exotic to a US-based perspective, whether it's skeptical or Judeo-Christian. Kinda like tourists pointing and laughing at the weird things the locals are doing.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:31 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I made my comment above not realizing that the most recent episode was a revisit of Aetherius. I listened to the episode this morning, as I figured I owed it to Ross and Carrie to hear them out.

And I left wishing that every episode were more like that, an open discussion with the people behind the groups they investigate.

It struck me, in Carrie's constant refrain of "Why should I believe what George King says?" that she was really asking, "Why should I believe anything I don't have concrete proof of?" Which is a fair question, but it's really about religion at large, not about the Aetherius Society. I thought their answers were interesting, but I'm pretty sure she left the discussion thinking they hadn't answered her.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:11 PM on August 20, 2014

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