My 5: Pop Culture Moments That Shaped 'Conversations With People Who Hate Me' Host Dylan Marron (Exclusive)
By Emily Krauser
Night Vale Presents/Telepictures Productions/Warner Bros./Paramount Pictures/20th Century Fox/Getty
Most people want to run away from comment sections and bullies (and the bullies in comment sections), but Dylan Marron isn't most people.
The New York-based writer and performer may be best known as the voice of Carlos in the beloved mystery podcast, Welcome to Night Vale, but as the host of his very own podcast, Conversations With People Who Hate Me, Marron is taking a break from fictional narratives to, as the title suggests, take on his haters.
"Online comment sections feel like a microcosm of our current political climate. As a writer and performer whose work exists mostly on the Internet, I would get a ton of hate messages and comments," Marron tells ET. "Initially, I wanted to just block out the negativity, but as I realized that (some of) these negative comments were opportunities for actual conversation, I didn't want to keep turning these people away from my digital front door. So I let some of them in."
One would seemingly need the thickest skin of all time to open the door to these kinds of online fireside chats, but the most fascinating part of Conversations is that the subjects rarely feel like antagonists and the listener hardly feel like a voyeur. Instead, it's a sociological experiment into understanding people who may not be like you and learning about life in the process.
In fact, Marron even goes as to purposely avoid calling his guests trolls, no matter what they may have said about him online.
"One of the most difficult things about starting these conversations was earning my guests' trust that my goal was not to humiliate them or 'own' them, but truly only to talk," he admits. "This was especially difficult before the podcast began when I couldn't show them episodes to say, 'See, I just want to talk!' Everyone is so on guard these days to make sure they're not being taken advantage of or misrepresented in the media, and for good reason. It would sometimes take some coaxing to prove that it wasn't a trap."
Once you get to know Marron, it's hard to believe that he's setting you up for a trap, as he's a genuinely nice guy who's interested in learning about and from others. He's also fascinated by the entertainment world, which makes his work in the Night Vale Presents network, which hosts Conversations, all the more fun.
That's why ET asked Marron to share the biggest pop culture moments that shaped his life -- and we're pretty sure you'll enjoy the ride:
Britney Spears' 2000 VMA Performance
"Watching Britney strip from a pants and jacket into a glittery bodysuit literally took my breath away, so much so that I faithfully rehearsed the dance for months, hoping that one day the school administration would demand that I perform it for the entire middle school. They never did, but I was able to confront the fact I needed a more realistic outlet for my desire to perform."
Home Alone 3
"A casting call went out to all New York City public schools announcing that the Home Alone franchise was searching for its next Kevin McCallister. The notice said that all types were welcome. I dragged my parents to the audition and discovered that only the white kids were moved on to the second round. I learned three important things that day: disappointment is inevitable, systemic racism is real and not all successful franchises must be rebooted."