xer-files
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
  Satire makes a difference
:: Jon Stewart's The Daily Show is "bad for Americans" ::

The Daily Show and Political Activism

The popular debate about whether Jon Stewart's The Daily Show is "bad for Americans" won't go away. Indeed, worries got so big that now FOX has launched a conservative antidote, "The _ Hour News Show" which premiered this week. Now streaming on YouTube, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough ran a piece featuring Daily Show clips and two pundits debating whether "therapeutic irony is rendering us politically impotent." Similar fears were fanned last year when news media had a fiesta with a questionable study by two academics which claimed that watching The Daily Show breeds cynicism and lowers young voters' "trust in national leaders." In September, The New York Times Magazine ran a savvy piece called "My Satirical Self" about a generation of satire in which Wyatt Mason describes how "ridicule provides a remedy for his rage." In 2003 in an interview with Bill Moyers, Moyers asks Jon Stewart: "I do not know whether you are practicing an old form of parody and satireor a new form of journalism. Stewart replies: "Well then that either speaks to the sad state of comedy or the sad state of news. I can't figure out which one. I think, honestly, we're practicing a new form of desperation (July 2003, PBS).

by MEGAN BOLER
 
Comments:
It seems to me that what was satire and irony when it was published or distributed will, if it is really effective, be less charged and maybe even boring to later seasons and generations. So we are wise to review the cultural mileau.

Perhaps therein lies one way to quantify or measure it's effectiveness?

Sometimes, the greatest 'value' of satire is the opportunity it gives TV viewers to follow how it's subjects/targets respond or react. Maybe that is enough of a function? TV is not capable (generally) of being culturally sensitive, so humor will strike different folks differently. I think discussion about it "activating" folks is null due to so many variables among viewers. Yet there is no better medium to reach billions of people almost instantly (if you can afford it).

confession: I no longer watch current TV. The people I know who do watch it every day say it is too boring. The best antidote to boredom, it seems, is laughter. Maybe real people can take it from there?

Marco Guide
Carol Kinkead Stock Photography
 
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