Episode 195: Escape to Alcatraz

Source: Hulu

As we have seen in our analysis of the “True Crime Obsessed” podcast, humor is the backbone of the retelling of different true crime cases by the two hosts. Their reliance on humor leads the audience to believe that the podcast is mainly for entertainment purposes- much like the true crime genre itself. It is interesting to note that although the original true crime trope normally contains very suspenseful music and dour hosts that remain private as to not influence the perceptions of their audience, with the new age of media the true crime genre has shifted to entertainment with hosts taking a larger part in the storytelling of different cases. 

As the overall tone of certain media outlets focusing on true crime shifts, so does the content included in the analysis of these cases. The “True Crime Obsessed” podcast is no exception. In podcasts especially, we see more entertainment based and lighthearted episodes which rely on ads to be able to keep the podcast running. In “Escape to Alcatraz” the ads are seemingly thrown in anywhere without rhyme or reason, but as we analyzed further we saw a pattern start to develop. In this episode of the podcast there were six ads, totaling to be 11 minutes and 55 seconds of the one hour episode- four of those minutes dedicated to their Patreon and to support the two hosts. But why? Of course they need the money to continue doing the podcast by renting the space, buying mics, and other gear- but the more important factor is for them to make profit. The ad placement is also very interesting. Before the first ad for Rothy’s, a sustainable shoe and bags brand, Hinds and Pensavalle talk about the racial profiling towards the Soiux tribe, explaining the “horrible newspaper headlines” directed towards the tribe and the escape of possible arrest on the first night- followed by some royalty free music to introduce their first ad. As the episode progresses, we noticed that before every ad the hosts talk about a crucial moment in the story. The hosts might do this to leave a message hanging in your mind until the ad is over- or allowing you to recoup with weird music to give the listeners a break from the story in order to keep their attention. 

In this podcast, the majority of the comments from the hosts are in relation to the people who were associated with the Escape to Alcatraz. They never really touched on the actual importance of the case. While listening to this podcast it is easy to get lost in the hosts petty comments. These comments are a way for the hosts to capture and hold onto the audience’s attention. Through their commentary, the hosts are attempting to educate their listeners on specific documentaries. Though truthfully, the hosts are failing miserably. After listening to this childish podcast, and having to consistently listen to the hosts  comment on the outward appearance of those involved in Escape to Alcatraz rather than the importance of the actual case, it is possible to come to the conclusion that there is no point in listening to the podcast for credible information. The way the hosts speak is more comedic relief rather than educational. The audience can infer that the hosts do this to make light of a heavier topic, which in some aspects can be a good thing, but for those who listen to podcasts for educational purposes and not to be funny, this podcast is not for them. The hosts rather sit and tell the audience how attractive a person is rather than inform them on cases of the past.

In the podcast, the hosts regularly mock the people in the documentary as a form of humor. Some of the main organizations they mock are the L.A. government and the U.S. government. They regularly mock and question why the government would not just give the island to the native Americans, implying that the government is dumb and stubborn. When talking about the plans to give the island to developers they were laughing that they would live at Alcatraz condos, wondering why this would be a good idea. By making fun of the condos the host is effectively making the condo plans a joke. They also mock the government for turning the island into a tourist site. They criticize this government decision heavily because one of the government’s messages against the native Americans was that nothing could be built or live on the island. But soon after they kicked the native Americans off the island, they developed the island into the most visited tourist cultural site in L.A. Regularly in the podcast they make fun of the government for constantly lying and then referencing events in the documentary that contradict the government statements like the cultural site or that the native Americans held guns. The hosts make it clear that they are mocking the government because when doing so at least one of the hosts will be laughing. 

Though the “True Crime Obsessed” hosts are attempting to be entertaining, it only appeals to certain audiences. The audiences that listen for educational purposes will definitely not be listening to these two hosts anytime soon, but those who want to listen to others mock and comment on ridiculous things, those who find mockery funny will thoroughly enjoy Patrick and Gillian as they talk their way through true crime cases.