Chris Ware animation of This American Life story

This is an outstanding cartoon (by Chris Ware) depicting a This American Life story about kids who started a fake TV camera craze at their elementary school. As Graham says, "It's so amazing. Why can't there be more of this? I could watch HOURS of this."


  1. This was the best thing on the This American Life DVD set.

    And yes, I could watch hours of it too. I’d love to see the Peter Pan “Fiasco” story animated by Ware.

  2. What’s interesting to me is that as fun as the animation is, this still doesn’t make This American Life tolerable for me.

    1. That is actually interesting… especially because, for me, it didn’t add anything to my existing enjoyment of This American Life.

      1. What the hell indeed.

        I really like the actual stories told on This American Life but I can’t stand the editing, the little ironic jabs made with the musical clips, and least of all, Ira’s voice. I would rather just hear the people tell their stories from start to finish without the music or read them. sorry. But I do know others who feel this way, so I know I am not alone. It’s an immediate moment of bonding when we discover each other.

  3. I saw this episode on Netflix streaming the other day. The animated part was awesome, especially when the animated kid is whaling on the other animated kid.

  4. The story makes it out as though the other kids would have broken up the fight if they hadn’t had their toy video cameras, and the video cameras somehow took away some of their humanity.

    But as I recall, when a playground fight broke out, kids usually just formed a circle and watched, or cheered on their favorite, without the benefit of cardboard cameras. In other words they behaved pretty much the same, with or without fake cameras.

    1. I agree with you completely.

      I remember many school yard fights with kids getting pretty darn pummelled. Whilst occasionally you might have some friends stepping in trying to stop the things, much more often it was just a ring of kinds chanting until the teachers arrived and broke the thing up. The cameras would have made little difference to the situation.

  5. This American Life is the best “program” on the air – radio and television. If I could choose just one piece of media to maintain access to on a desert island, I think I would choose the This American Life radio program.

    Yay for Ira Glass, et al!

  6. I remember when this episode of This American Life aired.

    The animation is certainly great. No doubting that. But the message of the story is difficult for me to get past and ‘enjoy’ the animation; it resonates so powerfully in an age when everyone blogs and tweets and whatevers about the world around them to such a degree they seem to almost fade from it. To merely become commenters, I mean, instead of participants.

    Wonderful program, This American Life.

  7. We are a disgusting group (humans) of mewling meat bags, evolution is a finite phenomenon. We are all gonna die in a cataclysmic apocalypse (redundant?) and it will be no one’s fault but our own.

    I’m hungry.

  8. Weird. We had almost the exact same thing happen in my school, only they were fake still cameras instead of videos. And minus the beat-down.

  9. They are some nice stoners, and funny ones too. Well, that’s only my opinion. I’m out for a snack

  10. Yes! Go Ware! Now if only he would bless the world with a “Big Tex” or “Rusty Brown” animation.

  11. Yes! Go Ware! Now if only he would bless the world with a “Big Tex” or “Rusty Brown” animation.

  12. I heartily agree with the commenters who remember what it was really like in grammar school.

    If these kids weren’t holding fake cameras they would have been cheering for their favorites and yelling things like ‘kill him kill him’, or chanting ‘fight-fight-fight-fight’ like a percussion soundtrack to the pummeling.

    No outrage or Milgram experiment here, just mockshock.

  13. Yeah, I also agree that the kids wouldn’t have done anything without the cameras either. However:

    I feel like this a failed opportunity on the part of the administration, who could have used this incident to teach the kids a little about journalistic standards and ethics.

  14. I suppose there isn’t much they can do about your feelings towards Ira’s voice. Some people just sound annoying to others so I’m not going to argue that one. I do take issue with your criticism of their production efforts. Some of the music clips may not add much value but other times they hit it out of the park. Take for example ep 366 which included a sample from Warren G’s “Regulators”. This came after a story on the failings of financial regulators in preventing the sub-prime crisis….brilliant.

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