The Power of You in Fiction Podcast
The non-fiction narrative podcast about fiction and its very real effects on our lives. The POYIF podcast reveals the superpowers we get through our interactions with fictional characters. We sincerely believe that the goal of the fantastical is to give a perspective on the real. And with every episode we aim to remind our listeners that seeing ourselves in fiction validates our existence in reality.
Want to keep up with us? Follow #POYIF on your favorite social media account!
When we finally got our first podcast off the ground in 2015, we were creating a podcast that tapped into a unique voice that our engineering friends felt we had. As engineers, we’re analytical and like many engineers we’re self proclaimed nerds. Perhaps it was Wilson’s interest in sociology paired with my interest in philosophy or the fact that both our mothers were English teachers, but Wilson and I always had a propensity for applying our analytical skills to fiction. So when we started the Comicidal Podcast we simply hoped that there would be an audience that wanted to hear in-depth analysis of the themes and characters in comic related fiction.
Over the course of nearly 100 episodes and 4 years of incremental growth we began to settle into our identity as podcasters. We began conducting interviews, developed consistency, mic rapport, and a dialect specific to the show. However, as creators began to feel we had outgrown the show. Episodic analysis of various works of fiction (some of which were no longer comic related) and the weekly grind of a chat cast did not seem to be worth the effort. Our voice and the level of gravitas we gave fiction were not best suited for, or fulfilled by, this type of discussion. So we decided that the podcast needed to evolve as we had.
While reviewing our podcast feed we realized that we were at our best when we talked about fiction’s parallels to reality in our analyses, and the real impact the creative process had on the reality of the creators we’ve interviewed. Around this time, Netflix launched “The first time I saw me” ad campaign, and the concept of that campaign showed us what our perspective was missing. Wilson and I realized the void we could fill. There are not enough discussions about the impact of fiction and the impact it has on the lives of everyone who interacts with stories. Fiction offers us a lens through which we can view the world and learn to navigate reality.
We then set on a half-year long interview campaign where we hoped to make our broad lens more specific. We interviewed several creators and consumers of fiction and sought to answer specific questions. “When have you seen yourself in a fictional character?” and “What impact has that had on your perspective, your life, and your values?” This series of interviews would serve as the core content for what would become the final season of The Comicidal Podcast, and the pilot season of the ‘Power of You in Fiction Podcast’.
Nearly every guest we’ve had in every incarnation of the podcast has come from a marginalized community. As black males, Wilson and I know that being under represented across fictional media changes fiction’s impact when you finally see a reflection of yourself. Being from a marginalized community has allowed us to ask questions with a nuanced understanding of things we go through as marginalized people.
While I took a hiatus from the cast after the pilot season to work on our transition plan, Wilson tapped LaKase Perry to co-host our Women’s History Month special with him. We first came across LaKase after reading a piece she wrote on how the character Martha Washington changed her life. After reading that piece, I recognized that her experience was exactly what we wanted to highlight on the podcast so we tracked her down for an interview. LaKase’s responses to our questions were powerful, thoughtful, and direct; so much so that LaKase ended up being in two episodes from our pilot season. LaKase’s personality combined with her background in writing and journalism made her the perfect woman to work on the WHM special.
After our experience with LaKase we recognized that a more diverse slate of voices behind the mic, translates to a wider perspective in the topics we cover. That is why as we grow as a podcast we will continue to seek voices from different communities so that people from the communities we cover can have their own voices represented.
Our 5-part 9 episode pilot season served as an introduction into the impacts we will explore on the podcast moving forward. In the first episode we discussed the researched academic effects of fiction on individuals with psychology professors, Dr. Raymond Mar and Dr. Keith Oatley, who study the impact of fiction on the human psyche. The rest of our episodes told stories of how fiction impacted people in different ways through the eyes of those impacted. We told a story about how fiction gave people who experienced othering the avenue to grow to accept themselves fully. The last three episodes showcased how fiction can be used to travel through time by helping us cope with the past, reflect on the present, and simulate the future.
As we continue we hope to highlight these effects in specific marginalized communities. We hope you stick with us!