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Horror audio drama ‘Quiet Half Loud’ explores concern and hatred in post-9/11 America

(RNS) — Audio dramas — as previous because the radio however lengthy sidelined by tv — have been slowly coming again over the previous twenty years, using the podcast pattern again to wider recognition. At present, what are basically fiction podcasts are incubators for cutting-edge sound design and storytelling, usually within the horror style.

One which’s value mentioning is “Quiet Part Loud,” a compelling hear on Spotify about Rick Egan, far-right radio host, who was as soon as on the high of his discipline. On air, he was racist and xenophobic, however he had a large number of followers whom he referred to as “Crusaders” — assume the wars of the Center Ages between Christians and Muslims — and his voice carried a substantial amount of energy. 

“Quiet Half Loud” tells Egan’s story from the vantage of 2009, eight years after he has misplaced his present and his following within the months after 9/11, when he recognized three Muslim boys from Staten Island as a terrorist sleeper cell ready to strike New York Metropolis’s subway system. His reporting made Egan the goal of an anthrax assault — although it got here to mild that Egan had mailed the anthrax to himself. The revelation destroyed his profession. 

Once we meet Egan, performed by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and actor Tracy Letts, he’s nonetheless blackballed from radio, however a go to from a mysterious lady appears to supply him the possibility to show his life round: She provides him a tape recorder and tells him to research the disappearance of the three Muslim boys he’d focused. 

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Egan quickly encounters Khalil Hakim, one of many boys who disappeared — and hasn’t aged a day within the final eight years. With Khalil’s sister Noor and others, Egan is pressured to chase down and confront an evil spirit. 

Within the following episodes, the drama particulars how concern turns into hatred, the way it solely takes one individual in energy spewing vitriol to result in violence, and the way evil feeds on the concern humankind creates. 

Jordan Peele on the 2014 Peabody Awards. Picture by Charles Manley/Peabody Awards/Wikipedia

Followers of Jordan Peele, who wrote and directed the horror movies “Nope” and “Get Out” and who’s an government producer of “Quiet Half Loud,” will see Peele’s sensibility at work right here. Written by playwright Mac Rogers and writer Clay McLeod Chapman, the present shares with Peele’s personal work the presence of supernatural components, introduced by distorted sounds that make fantastic use of the audio medium.

However like Peele’s work, the concern created by “Quiet Half Loud” depends on the stark horrors of our world.

That features a scene within the fourth episode, “The Boy,” through which Egan breaks into the Hakims’ residence. The police are referred to as, and once they arrive, all of them however ignore the precise intruder and shortly begin making veiled threats to Noor and Khalil. 

Bias towards Muslims in America, by the police or extra broadly, didn’t start with 9/11 however elevated within the aftermath. Noor tells Egan that she was 11 the primary time a classmate ripped her hijab off. After 9/11, when she was 15, a white lady advised her to return to her personal nation. “I’d by no means been that near somebody who despised me a lot,” she says.

Egan has had no small half on this violence. All through the collection, he’s confronted by white supremacist supporters who affirm his ideology. One even tells him within the seventh episode, “Allies,” that they’d dedicated hate crimes at Egan’s route. 

That’s precisely what this evil spirit needs: It feeds on hate, significantly the racist form. It’s chosen Egan as its chosen one as a result of he’s simply that good at spreading hate. 

Egan is supposed to signify what many would view because the worst of society, one thing of an Alex Jones kind. 

RELATED: Anti-Muslim hate is driven by politics, not faith — and it’s preventable, study suggests

However as a result of that is fiction, Egan is allowed some empathy. He has a strained relationship along with his daughter Becca he’s preventing to restore, and he seeks out the solutions to Khalil’s story to redeem himself from the wrongs of his previous. 

Ultimately, Egan does get the redemption he strives for, even when that redemption is considerably much like a biblical proverb: “The mouth of the righteous brings forth knowledge, however the perverse tongue shall be minimize off.”

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