Podcast Picks

Podcast Pick: CONVICTION


In an era of fairly stark injustice everywhere we turn, it’s very easy to wish for folk heroes or even vigilante figures to emerge and set things right again. The rise of the Punisher skull as a symbol utilized by the military and the police over the past few years has indicated a significant shift in how those professions view themselves, no longer as public servants, but as vigilantes in a one-on-one fight against villainy. (Of course, the creator of the Punisher himself is very disturbed by this development.) Conversely, as more and more of us become upset with the prison industrial complex and the role police departments play in perpetuating it, we too have a tendency to hope for some rogue hero to emerge and make things right. No matter the side we come down on, we want to believe that someone with the moral fortitude and willpower to set things right will one day come out of the shadows.

This is the backdrop of CONVICTION, a podcast from Gimlet Media that follows the singular character of Manuel Gomez, a Brooklyn private detective who seems (at first) to be a modern day Sam Spade. Manny is a private eye who sees corruption in every twist and turn of the incarceration system, someone who seems to be driven to right wrongs with the passion of a pentecostal preacher. Manny’s clients are mostly young men of color who seem to have been wrongfully arrested by the Brooklyn police. At first, Manny seems like a ludicrous Robin Hood, someone so virtuous and steadfast in his commitment to taking on the Bronx police that it’s hard to believe that he’s actually real.

Of course, as the series progresses, more and more wrinkles in Manny’s image begin to emerge. Many things about Manny are revealed that shouldn’t be spoiled, but suffice it to say that his motives and his methods eventually become far less appealing as we watch him attempt to absolve his clients. Throughout the series, Manny remains a fascinating larger-than-life personality, but it’s difficult to see him as a selfless hero. On a larger scale, CONVICTION is a reminder that lone heroes never topple unjust systems. A couple weeks ago, Los Angeles county agreed to halt the construction of new jails and instead construct a mental health facility. This change came about through over a year of pressure from dozens of activist organizations throughout the county. As much as we might wish that a bold man might walk our streets and take on the bad guys, we’re never going to be saved by lone wolf heroes, it’s always going to take all of us to make this world right.

CONVICTION is only six episodes long, I listened to most of it in one day, so if you’re not looking for a long commitment but want an engaging podcast, look no further.

Carter Moon
Carter Moon grew up raised on Star Wars and Toy Story: there was almost no way to avoid falling headfirst into a love for the art of filmmaking and screenwriting. Born to parents who insisted on well-reasoned dinner conversations, Carter was writing arguments defending his opinions from an early age. His critical affection for pop culture drives his writing and podcasts every week.

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