When I think Serial by Sarah Koenig, I think of a few different arguments and disputes:
- The most glaring and obvious one is the ethical struggle of Adnan’s fate. Should he be where he is just because one Dennis Rodman-looking kid with a very inconsistent story thinks he heard him say “Imma kill that bitch” in passing?
- Is Adnan the charming sociopath that the judge said he was? In my opinion, a master manipulator wouldn’t be so dumb as to involve any extras in the murder (Jay).
- Finally, where does Koenig land on the spectrum of subjectivity and objectivity when dealing with this case, and how does it affect audience perception?
When I think of the raging battle between Subjectivity and Objectivity I think of a hockey fight. As they all start, Subjectivity impulsively lands a not-very-clean hit on one of Objectivity’s team mates. As the victim of the hit cringes on the ice, Objectivity maliciously skates up to Subjectivity and the two drop their gloves almost simultaneously. Objectivity delivers three strong right hands to the face of Subjectivity, the last of which sends his helmet tumbling to the ice. Subjectivity counters by pulling down on the sweater of Objectivity, trowing him off balance, and subsequently landing a strong uppercut. Objectivity answers with three more rights, the second of which breaks skin under the eye of Subjectivity and blood flows. Just when you think Subjectivity has lost the fight he gets an arm free and connects seven or ten strong rights to the face, neck, and stomach of Objectivity. Objectivity falls to the blood stained ice and Subjectivity immediately skates to the penalty box. Moments later Objectivity gets to his feet and slowly skates to his box. You can feel the leftover adrenaline seep from both skaters as sweat and steam continue to exit their bodies.
Sarah Koenig knows of his fight all too well. It must have been at the forefront of her mind as she produced this podcast and attempted to execute it ethically.
Koenig’s broadcast style is a major factor in the objectivity-subjectivity spectrum. In Episode 03: Leakin Park, she introduced Mr. S in a kind of way that made him out to be elusive, even artistically creepy…thats subjective. Later, she uses clips of the police interview of Mr. S, thats objective, but it gets muddied by Koenig’s somewhat subjective introduction of Mr. S– Even the fact that she wont use his real name makes him sound creepy. What does Mr. S stand for? Mr. Streaker? Why can’t she just call him Jim? or the guy who found the body? I’ll tell you why, Koenig needs to maintain the reader-writer dynamic of truth and honesty. Without that she’s just a voice, just a 45 year old woman who used to work for the Baltimore Sun.
As you may have noticed, looking back to the top of this post, my first two bullets are quite subjective. They tell you where I stand in the case of Adnan. My final bullet is objective, asking you the reader to think for yourself.
My point is, there will never be an entirely objective piece or an entirely subjective piece of nonfiction that is worth reading. Even the most objective piece includes a hint of subjectivity and vice versa. We as readers subconsciously enjoy this variety and use it as a tool in our own personal investigation.