Saturday, November 13, 2010

I don't know what Jon Stewart is trying to do, but I like it



This is a long Rachel Maddow interview of Jon Stewart, but it's worth the time.  The interview starts with Maddow trying to pin Stewart on his frequent responsibility-dodge that he's "just a comedian," but he successfully starts to pull away from it.  I absolutely believe he's trying to avoid reality with the comedy dodge.  I don't think he has an obligation to go through the other side of comedy into punditry, but he's there now and ought to acknowledge it.  I think his major contribution to politics has been the accepted point that cable news is terrible for everyone - but he's dragging it out a lot further than it will go.  I still enjoy TDS (The Daily Show) from time to time, and think hearing Stewart's voice along with other pundits' is valuable.  But he is a pundit.  He doesn't like it, and I don't blame him, but it's manipulative of him to imply he has no responsibility in news media shenanigans.  He makes a good point that comedy is synthesis, and helps resolve what is right in front of you.

The news media should add up the facts and synthesize a description of reality - but they leave it to TDS, pretending that doing the synthesis would be biased.  There's a truism that the voice of reason is never funny.  TDS disproves that.  

There's a second Yes Men film (That's a Netflix streaming link.) where they start to realize that their pranks may be hilarious, but they're not doing anyone any good.  Them being funny relies on things being VERY WRONG with the world.  So it becomes a question of how to fix things.  Stewart seems to be near that point.  It's not funny anymore; it has never really been that funny that people are being made miserable; and it's time to stop putting jokes where action is needed.  The rally was a little bit of a misfire in that direction.  I know I would have gone to it if possible, just because it seemed like a good time.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your statement that John Stewart is a pundit - he's a satirist. In Canada we have/had quite a few shows like this (the US is only now starting to catch up) such as 'This Hour Has 22 Minutes', 'Royal Canadian Air Farce', 'the Rick Mercer Report'. All these shows take stances on political decisions and events, but everyone knows it's comedy. John Stewart is a comedian; politicians rely on politics to make a living, comedians rely on laughs to make a living. It just happens that Stewart is the lone (or maybe the most accessible) voice of sanity in American political media.

Enjoyed the post though! Have a good one.

Sara E Anderson said...

I think he crosses the line regularly (especially since he had Jim Cramer on the show), and won't own up to it.