Podcast of the Week: YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS
Since the very first years the filmmaking machine began turning in Hollywood, California, promises of stardom have drawn thousands from across America and the world to its famous streets. This was true in the early 1900s, when studios just barely existed, and it is still true now, despite a hundred years of proof that chances of success in Tinseltown are far less than likely. YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS examines those 100 years through a strong microscope, telling the “secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.”
YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS has no central message nor spin; it focuses entirely on getting to the root truth of whichever topic Karina Longworth, the host, is exploring. In many cases, the in-depth backgrounds are more interesting than the “official” or known stories, and Karina makes sure to present all theories and rumors that have been suggested, and then point to the one she thinks most likely and explain her reasoning. I recently listened to the series of episodes about Charles Manson’s Hollywood, which dealt with everything from Charles Manson’s childhood, to his friendship with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys and desire for rock ‘n’ roll stardom, to the gruesome details of the Tate-Labianca murders themselves. Her intricate but clear storytelling made it creepily easy to understand how Manson insinuated himself into the Hollywood scene of the ‘60s, and how the youth culture of the ‘60s was uniquely positioned to accept him into the fold.
Most series of the YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS podcast are not quite so gruesome. Other murders mentioned beside the Manson murders remain nothing but rumors, usually pointed out by Longworth to be likely covered up by studios wishing to protect their stars’ reputations, and by extension, their own—a fascinating situation in its own right. Manson’s Hollywood is just one of many series, and most explore interpersonal relationships and cross-town rivalries between studios and stars. Other series include The Many Loves of Howard Hughes, MGM Stories, Six Degrees of Joan Crawford, and The Blacklist (parts 1-16), a veritable smorgasbord of every type of Hollywood story imaginable.
History can be really boring. I hated taking history class in high school, and once I graduated I made a point to avoid the subject indefinitely. But YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS feels more like half-forgotten family stories with characters that sound vaguely—or very—familiar, as we’ve grown up steeped in the apocryphal stories of Old Hollywood. Almost every name mentioned will at least ring a bell, as American culture (and media) has glorified the lives and experiences of Hollywood stars, permeating every resident’s life without exception. But YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS is most enjoyable for its refusal to mindlessly glorify and a fierce commitment to exploring all avenues of inquiry for each and every story.
YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS truly does live up to Karina’s statement in the beginning of every podcast and dives into secret and/or forgotten histories. So not only will you get to listen to some really interesting and outrageous stories about the Hollywood titans you or your parents may remember from your youth, but there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to really impress at parties with your “secret” history knowledge (OK, maybe don’t call it that). (And as a bonus, you’ll get to hear cameos from other podcasters playing Hollywood characters, including Craig Mazin of last week’s Podcast of the Week, ScriptNotes!)