Dan Carlin's Hardcore History: Show 61 - (Blitz) Painfotainment
January 29, 2018 5:58 AM - Subscribe

WARNING Very intense subject matter. Pain is at the root of most drama and entertainment. When does it get too real? This very disturbing and graphic show looks into some case studies and asks some deep questions.
posted by Tevin (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Huh! I didn't see this had come out.

I'm in a weird place with this show in general. I was a superfan for a long time, but I've had a creeping concern for Carlin's methodology (at bottom: any time the historical record is even remotely ambiguous, you can count on him to take the most sensationalist interpretation); and the way he's talked on his other show about the American political situation since 2015ish has made me wonder how much stock I should put in his interpretation of the past when I find him so colossally wrong about the present.

So I guess I'm curious to see how the discussion here pans out. If people come in raving, I guess I'll wade back in.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 7:34 AM on January 29, 2018 [4 favorites]

It was an hour of what could be a decent factoid essay surrounded by three hours of Carlin vamping. Then, after 4.5 hours of Put a Kid in a Time Machine thought experiments he has the effrontery to talk about how they had to cut so much material. THE EFFRONTERY.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:54 AM on January 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's tough going so far: I'm glad I decided not to start listening just before bed. I found the theme of the performative nature of executions particularly fascinating: the perspective that both the crowd and the victim could participate in a capital ritual that achieved a kind of redemptive grace for both, and how this was increasingly overturned and made a mockery of by victims of the Great Schism who refused to play by rules. I'm about half-way through now; I would recommend listening in small doses.
> the way he's talked on his other show about the American political situation since 2015ish
Yeah, I had to stop listening to Common Sense as Carlin's fascination with the rise of Trump (isn't this interesting), goaded by his political accelerationist desires, came closer to barely-disguised glee at the possibility of Trump bringing the whole thing down. That, and his absolutist free-speech tendencies, and thus ignorance of the dangers of fascism and the paradox of tolerance. To his credit, I think he's realized how short-sighted his contemporary political thoughts were: looking at the site, there hasn't been a new Common Sense show since the middle of last year.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:38 AM on January 29, 2018 [4 favorites]

Honestly I feel like calling your political podcast Common Sense is a red flag in and of itself, no matter what your intended meaning.

I have noticed how much waffling Hardcore History does, especially when comparing it to more focused shows like In Our Time or Something True which are of smaller scope but also a lot denser. Is this a recent affliction?
posted by Merus at 5:13 AM on January 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm about half way through. . . and so far it's been a bit of a slog. I'm as much a fan of gruesome historical torture stories as anybody, but listening to Dan Carlin tell us how shocked he is by things sure grows tiresome for those of us who don't happen to be Dan Carlin. I had to quit when the temptation to shout, "Get on with it" and "get an editor" grew overwhelming. Planning to get back to it eventually.

Also, I haven't heard the concept of "modern man" used so often without irony since newspapers were interviewing Ota Benga in his zoo cage. The idea that no contemporary humans - and certainly not Americans - would celebrate cruelty is hard to take seriously. Lynchings seem like a more immediate contemporary analogue than action films.
posted by eotvos at 11:48 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Maybe I'm too sensitive. I know the show is called "Hardcore History", but I noped out of this one at the three minute mark. After the happy surprise of a new episode, I now have to wait another 4-6 months for another show/series that has a 50% chance of being just ok (kings of kings, Celtic holocaust), a 25% chance of being fantastic (countdown to Armageddon), and a 25% chance of being unlistenable (this one.) It's frustrating to me how uneven these shows are, but I keep it in my feed in the hope that someday there will be another great episode or series again.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:04 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm also annoyed at how he went on for years on Common Sense about how we desperately needed a president who would break the mold of the two-party system. Well, now we certainly have that with trump, it's a complete shit show, so he chooses to go dark with Common Sense now rather than offer his commentary on our current situation. Is there nothing interesting to say about the trump presidency and today's turbulent politics? Really? Nothing to say at all?
posted by double block and bleed at 4:19 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

He's definitely commented about irony of wishing for a break in the two party system and ending up with Trump. It looks like he averaged about 3-4 CS episodes prior to Trump's election compared to 2 last year so ... I don't know.

I couldn't make it through this episode. I think I get what the's trying to do but this is just too much for me. I got about halfway through and just ... couldn't any more.
posted by Tevin at 12:26 PM on February 6, 2018

Aaaand having gone back and made it through about half of this (I'll probably finish over the course of my next few dog walks): sssssigh. Thinking about it, I think Carlin does his best when he's constrained by a very specific narrative or topic. So Countdown to Armageddon, clear narrative, very solid work. Same with his episode about Hiroshima. This one, I can see that he's in the neighborhood of some interesting questions, but it's so big and diffuse that with every point he raises, he leaves five or six vital side questions unaddressed. And for a guy whose biggest vice is going with the most sensationalist interpretation of any given event/topic, this is just a minefield. I know that I've heard lots of other more rigorous historians walk back against the idea that Roman gladiatorial fights were always to the death. And so on.

Sometimes his "I'm not a historian, I'm just a fan of history" thing seems like an admirable admission that he's not an expert; other times it seems like a lazy dodge.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 7:46 AM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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