There are some things that we, as a culture, cannot do without. Oil. Television. Wal-Mart. Cell Phones. Media Punditry. In order for these things to exist, we have to continually evaluate them and to find ways of curbing our dependence on them. Otherwise, we become slaves to our devices. Oil, for instance, needs investigation into alternative fuels to ensure that we are not going off the deep end with our reliance on foreign sources. Television is feeling the balancing force of the internet in reaching their audience. Media Pundits have…well, they have Jon Stewart.
We have, in the past, given the media access to, and influence over, our pliable positions and opinions. This has given way to a breed of media hosts that are, to say the least, irresponsible. Somehow we have managed to entrust public opinion to those from whom we are not demanding a clear picture of their qualifications. There are plenty of media personalities that are loud, well dressed, and seemingly pretty sharp, and we have given them a platform from which to be commentators on our society. The media, including the major television news outlets, are becoming more and more a fuzzy blend of Op-Ed journalism and selective socio-political coverage. How do we know what is right? How do we know what is true and how to distinguish between someone that is merely having a kitchen table conversation in front of a national audience and someone who has a legitimate position and has evaluated that position at length?
The genius of Jon Stewart is his candid nature about the content of his show. It is comedy. It is political satire with clever commentary on current events. He paints himself as he is and gives his show a clear purpose, then he executes his purpose masterfully. It is not surprising, then, that his show is deemed a gem in an industry where purpose is lacking and executing even a faulty purpose is usually done with disregard.
The real beauty of Jon Stewart is his persona beyond the Daily Show. He is a man of true wit and grasps interfaith and international issues in a way that is rare in public figures, let alone those who are responsible for commenting on the world. Here he is in an interview with the Oxonian Society:
He is almost more impressive when he is conversational and when he can connect with an audience more intimately. These are the kinds of informal conversations that most of the media pundits would fail miserably at. You could easily add a laugh track to this clip, take out the colorful language, and play it on network television, as a prime time commentary on political affairs. It doesn’t need any of that – it is perfect as it is, and it is a testament to the legitimacy of the position that Stewart holds in the media culture.
Some of you may remember, or may have seen, Stewart on crossfire during the 2004 election cycle. If not, take a look. It is kind of a long clip, but well worth it:
I am glad to have Jon Stewart to keep us grounded in the laughable state of our current media climate. I think it would do us all some good to make the daily show a regular part of our media diet. Sort of like adding fiber – its good for you and it helps digest all the rest of it.