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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-14-06 03:13 PM
Original message
In Case of Emergency, Break Glass
If you haven't caught Jon Stewart's farewell to Don Rumsfeld on YouTube, you can watch it at Comedy Central's website; go here and then click on "Don with the Wind."

Not only is this an excellent piece of catharsis badly needed by many of us, it is a fabulous illustration of the expressive and rhetorical power of profanity, when used judiciously.

It's also an illustration of why The Daily Show has become a more popular source for news in the US than many of the 'legitimate' outlets. No, not because of the cursing, per se; but because The Daily Show regularly violates all the conventions that the legitimate news outlets use to preserve the look and feel that we have all come to identify with 'real' news. On any given night, Stewart, as the 'anchor,' displays a half-dozen emotional responses that would get him fired from any 'real' news show--including but not limited to outrage, incredulity, anxiety, fear, and frustration. I've always thought that the thing that really makes this show work is the way it reconfigures the viewer/anchor relationship through Stewart's interactions with the 'correspondents.' While the 'correspondents'--like all the real ones we see on all the other channels--continue to act as if whatever absurdity, atrocity, or insanity they're reporting on is part of the natural order of things, and to respond to Stewart's increasingly desperate questions and challenges with the same patronizing smiles and smug reassurances, Stewart acts out the viewer's own frustration and anger at being trapped inside a box whose slick glass walls will only reflect the warped and artificial images that are being sold to us as reality. On the one hand, he mirrors our own helplessness in the face of corporate media culture, our inability to smash the screen; on the other, through his monologues and through the manipulations we know are going on outside our immediate frame of reference, he acts out our fantasy of intervention, the possibility that finally, one day, we might be able to reach through the screen and just throttle the self-satisfied jackass on the other side who refuses to acknowledge the fact that we left business as usual behind long ago and are, as Stewart says in this spot, way past "up shit creek."

That's why the profanity is so important. Casual dropping of the s-word and the f-bomb (always bleeped out) is a convention of the show, precisely because they cannot be used in the context of a 'legitimate' news show. But in this spot is doing something completely different. As the script skewers Rumsfeld for refusing to use language commensurate with either the horror of the Iraq war or his own responsibility for it, Stewart's performance physicalizes the cathartic aspect of profanity. This spot reveals language as a corporeal phenomenon, as the gatekeeper for possibilities not just in terms of what can and cannot be thought or said but what can or cannot be felt, what can or cannot be released from our own bodies. This explosion is powerful not just because it finally says what needed to be said, but because it introduces into televised 'reality' the pain and tension and nausea and heartburn that uncoil inside our own bodies every time we watch one of those talking heads deny, with its pretence of professionalism and self-control, the howling chaos and despair into which the twenty-first century has plunged us.

Stewart and Colbert would, I'm sure, tell you if you asked that they're only comedians working on basic cable and what they're doing really doesn't matter too much. But I think that by being willing--as most of the legitimate journalists were not--to punch through the television screen, grab the slick and smiling lie behind it, and shake it till it screamed, they have both been performing a crucial public service and if I had a medal of freedom for real I would give it to both of them. This is an emergency. They broke the glass. It made a huge difference. I wish I had some way to thank them.

C ya,

The Plaid Adder
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Bobbie Jo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-14-06 03:21 PM
Response to Original message
1. Absolutely!...I couldn't agree with you more...n/t
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Buzz Clik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-14-06 03:26 PM
Response to Original message
2. F***in' A!
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Plaid Adder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-14-06 05:14 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. Abso@#$!lutely! n/t
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Patiod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-14-06 03:31 PM
Response to Original message
3. Loved it, and sent it to a few friends
Nicely put, P.A.
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Gregorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-14-06 03:39 PM
Response to Original message
4. That was the most poignant moment I've evern seen on TDS.
I saw him cry after September 11th. But as you so very accurately wrote, this was a moment of catharsis and action and healing, all in one moment.

He spoke exactly for me.

Ever since then, all my mind has been doing is going over, and repeating, "by golly", "by golly", "by golly". If only my tiny brain would break out of it's repetitive cycle.

Thank you. I appreciate good communication. I find it so difficult to achieve.

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Ian_rd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-14-06 11:03 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. I also remember that crying speech post-9/11 from Jon
And how did he follow that crying? He got back to business, immediately, to poking fun at our government, not pulling any punches, not giving them an inch. That's when I decided that Stewart was great man. When so many others wanted to start giving our government the benefit of the doubt in the name of patriotism, Stewart, and very few other public figures like him, are what kept the First Amendment alive. Free Speech is a living organism. It cries, it screams, it gets in the faces of the powerful and won't leave them alone. And because of Jon, we know it laughs too.
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QuestionAll... Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-14-06 03:43 PM
Response to Original message
5. k&r. I love reading your stuff, PA. thanks. nt
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brer cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-14-06 09:12 PM
Response to Original message
7. Thanks PA. Nice to come home to after a long day.
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thereismore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 08:10 AM
Response to Original message
9. Your best piece ever! nt
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williesgirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 08:35 AM
Response to Original message
10. Thanks for posting - it was great, made my Friday.
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lisby Donating Member (254 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 08:42 AM
Response to Original message
11. You nailed it, Plaid!
I know that they saved my sanity when I was about to give up. Glad see I am not alone!

:grouphug:

Stewart, Colbert, and Co. deserve the place in U.S. history that will, no doubt, be theirs.


Lisby

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dalaigh lllama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 09:12 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. They saved my sanity, too
Day after day I'd read or hear the latest idiocy issued from the W.H., and inevitably I'd become furious, distraught, or both. TDS and Colbert, with their unrelenting satirical exposes, gave me a voyeuristic coping mechanism. Along with this site and a few others, they were and are my main coping mechanism for the "catastroF*CK" known as the B$sh administration.
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BleedingHeartPatriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 09:05 AM
Response to Original message
12. K & R, thanks for this PA. A perfect description of the Gestalt of Stewart.
I remember arguing with friends and coworkers about Stewart vs. Kilborn

I was a huge Stewart fan, based on his stand-up comedy, which was side splittingly hysterical, but a lot of folks were mourning Craig Kilborn. Eventually, they've come around, and most would probably say "Craig who?" at this point.

It's been sweet having the last laugh!

The other service Stewart and Colbert have provided is the sly skewering of political ads. They've cleverly pointed out the utter absurdity of those "my opponent is evil, I tells ya, eeevil" attack ads and reduced their effectiveness. The perfect nemesis for Rove. MKJ

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SutaUvaca Donating Member (472 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 10:42 AM
Response to Original message
14. Cathartic, yes.
Thanks, PA, for the link and the perspective well spoken.
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sakabatou Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 11:22 AM
Response to Original message
15. "It's a catastro-f*ck!"
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 12:19 PM
Response to Original message
16. Great read, dude
Thanks for all your writings :) This one is great!
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Laurab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:55 PM
Response to Original message
17. I couldn't agree more - they've done so much
although they deny it. Aside from pointing out the aburdities on a daily basis, they've educated younger voters, and I do think they've had a huge impact.

I switched from basic cable which didn't have Comedy Central to Direct-TV ONLY for Stewart and Colbert. I did get the shows on a Canadian station, but not until midnight, and there was no repeat. My bill went up about $30, and I consider it money well spent.

I don't watch any other television, except for the occasional football game, C-span, and Bill Maher, but Stewart and Colbert I watch religiously.

They've helped keep me sane, and I too wish there were a way to thank them - I just love both of them.

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LuckyLib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 01:59 PM
Response to Original message
18. This is it! You nailed it. When most of us were wondering, "Is there
anybody out there who gets this besides our few close friends who think like we do?" Stewart convinces us we're not crazy. Great analysis. Thanks.
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diane in sf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-15-06 03:04 PM
Response to Original message
19. Thank you PA
I feel Stewart and Colbert's constant revelation of the common propaganda techniques of the mass media and Bush maladministration in such humorous ways is worth its weight in gold-pressed latinum. Not everyone is going to watch Outfoxed or know it exists, let alone read scholarly books on the subject, but its very easy to crawl over to Comedy Central and be "entertained."
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-18-06 03:43 PM
Response to Original message
20. Dang. Too late to recommend.
Very good analysis.

I think because of them, a new generation will actually apply critical thinking skills to their perception of the news media. I can still recall many years back when my dad actually said "but it's on TV.", when I told him a report was wildly skewed and inaccurate. He learned the truth of that as well after awhile. Many people trust the media far too much, and relinquish thought.

But the most important thing about Stewart and Colbert, et al is: they're just so goddam funny.

I want to bear their man-babies.
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