My thoughts on Jon Stewart's rally

by phil on Sunday Oct 31, 2010 1:28 PM

Isn't the rally kind of a contradiction?

Jon Stewart's rally is a contradiction. That's why it requires comedy. The media is inherently biased toward sensationalism. But more specifically, media leadership is inherently biased toward enthusiasm. And by media, I mean all media that involves delivering informative content, spanning everything from talk radio to wikipedia. I have hundreds of edits on wikipedia, and I've participated in revert wars, and the person who wins is whoever is the most enthusiastic. And the kind of insanity that the rally is targeting is when that enthusiasm becomes so exaggerated it distorts issues and polarizes the public.

You know when you're at a party, and it's like six people standing in a group, how it's usually an obnoxious person controlling the floor who doesn't know what he/she is talking about, but because he is loud and sensational, and what he says confirms what people already think the group believes, he gets the floor. Unfortunately, that's the way things work on a grand scale. The loud demagogue always wins out.

There's a study saying that leaders have a higher incidence of borderline personality disorders. But you don't need to read a study to acknowledge that leaders are always unreasonable because it takes an unreasonable person to believe consistently that they should override everybody around them.

What the rally is really about

I credit two things for the creation of this rally: healthcare reform and the filibuster. Many people are upset about how the process of healthcare reform played out, with the crazy Town Hall meetings and fear-mongering about a Marxist takeover. And these same people are upset about the 40-person Republican majority in Congress, thanks to the filibuster. Anybody who was gleeful about Obama and the Democrats winning in 2008 were looking forward to a series of legislative accomplishments, and instead now feel deflated. The reason the Republicans have banded together so tightly for the filibuster is they don't want to be torn apart by the hyperbolic media.

I have disagreed for some time, with at least one implied suggestion of The Daily Show

I don't think we need to turn off the TV. If we turn off the TV, then we turn off the only way that most people know what's happening on a national/global level. I'd rather have people watch FOX News or CNN than get their news from their friends in the bar or a chain forward.

I guess I'm just frustrated

It's an ideal world that Jon is reaching for, where everybody reads balanced newspapers and fact-checks their chain letters. But in the real world, we care the most about our personal survival, about building relationships, about nurturing our families, and entertainment. 80% of what motivates Jon Stewart's audience is that he and Colbert are funny. It's a happy coincidence that the funnyman also confirms their political persuasions. Same with Glenn Beck and Rush. People listen to them because it makes an otherwise boring three-hour drive kind of stimulating. People are not actually interested in politics at all. Political coverage has the news and the ratings, and it makes the most noise, but if you talk to people about actual policy nuances, their eyes will roll.

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