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comment by veen
veen  ·  24 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Jon Stewart Is Back to Weigh In

Commenting partly in the hope that more people read this.

My gut reaction to this article is something akin to yass gurl but I'm genuinley curious if you guys recognize your country in this. He gets at a few fundamental criticisms; racial segregation, governmental incompetence and corruptness, dysfunctional media, etc.

Is he simplifying things too much, or simply speaking the quiet parts out loud?

Odder  ·  23 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Honestly Jon Stewart kinda seems like a loser here - I think he's somewhat of a poster boy for ineffective activism. He got 200,000 people out to DC ten years for a rally to do... absolutely nothing. It took him 9 years and quitting his job at the daily show to get a bill funding medical care for 9/11 first responders. And his show in general pivoted more towards laughing at the state of the world rather than doing anything about any of the problems he covered. Hell, I remember in the mid-2000s that "Daily Show viewers" was basically the weasel-word political demographic that "redditors" is now - embodying young, upper-middle class educated whites with low political involvement but generally moderately left-leaning views. Basically the same as "Bernie-bros."

My general take on Stewart is he's the kind of guy who would encourage or glorify spending your whole life campaigning to have a single racist statue taken down rather than getting a mob and pushing it in the harbor. He's an advocate for social change but not overall quick social change because that's scary and unpredictable and as someone who is insulated from any direct consequences of social problems he can afford to wait for the slow arc of history to bend toward liberalism. In a sense it's really frustrating to read or watch anything he says because although he usually "gets it" about what's wrong with the world he generally doesn't ever present issues in a way where anyone can imagine solutions to those problems.

mk  ·  23 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Hey I was at the rally. Were you?

I sympathize with the criticism, but think his approach is informed by traditional journalism. My guess is that Jon sees it as his duty to shine a light on an issue, rather than be the one to resolve it. However, I think the ground changed during his watch. The issues he started highlighting at the outset of the Today Show (which he ingeniously transformed from celebrity gossip) became commonplace as political tribalism and propaganda became the norm.

Odder  ·  23 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Nah I was a bit young for that in 2010 and once Stewart and Colbert combined their rallies it became clear it was going to be more of an entertainment piece than a rally so I wasn't about to beg my parents to let me go. That was actually a large factor in why I stopped watching the Daily Show - it seemed more like a farce after that.

I think Jon Stewart got a lot of things wrong around that time, though he wasn't the only one. There was a narrative he was putting forward that the growing political divisions in America were caused by the media itself being extremist, which is a very self-centered position for a media person to take. I think it was a mistake a lot of us made, though - we all vastly underestimated the extent to which the media was preying and capitalizing on existing political, economic, and racial divisions in this country, rather than creating them.

Between welfare cuts, NAFTA, tax cuts eroding budgets, and the 2008 economic crisis there were a lot of opportunities for people to develop more extreme political views, either distrust of government, distrust of large corporations, or distrust of both - all of which tend to pull people away from the center, and given America's history of suppression of leftism starting in the 50's and 60's, that tended overall to pull Americans to the right. Campaigning to change the media's language around these issues proved ineffective because it didn't address the reasons why extremist media resonated with so many Americans - lack of control, stress, racial tensions, etc.

I think that's also an example of why what Jon Stewart did (highlighting issues instead of proposing solutions) was overall ineffective or even made issues worse. When you present issues in a non-solution-oriented, non-empathetic way, it is very easy for your audience to draw conclusions about the causes of those issues that blame everyday people for being bad and corrupt and stupid rather than subject to external forces that make them bitter, distrustful, and short-sighted. Which is, in its way, a passive form of extremist media - I think if you're saying "look at these people acting like idiots" enough your audience stops thinking of them as people acting and starts thinking of them as idiots.

b_b  ·  24 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think his analogy of police as border patrol between the segregated Americas is pretty spot on. I've tried to argue that the police are now if a symptom than a cause, and I've never really found the right words to express that.

I tend to also believe that media generally and social media in particular have stoked resentment between us to their benefit and our detriment. I have lots of conservative friends, and we get along great, but every now and then one of us will say something that is just completely alien to the other sounds we basically live in different information environments. Really strange and not at all helpful how our "marketplace of ideas" has differentiated over the years. I think Jon is spot on with his media analysis.

But also thanks for commenting. I also hope now people will read this.