At 5/15/12 10:20 AM, SteveGuzzi wrote:
They laugh because it's funny, not because it was designated with the label "comedy". If you designated it "high art" it's not like the audience would suddenly transform into a bunch of tophat & monacle-wearing stiffs. When Rush Limbaugh insults folks on his program and then apologizes later by saying it was absurdist humor only meant as a joke, it's not like people go "Oh, it's 'comedy'? I get it now! AAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Good one!"
Where are you placing Limbaugh? Because he is a satirist/lampoonist. First, you've gotta realize that satire =/= comedy. In essence satire is pointing out folly and/or weakness and dealing with it with scorn and derision. Often this does involve humor, jesting, etc. What Limbaugh does is wrap his commentary in his satire; but he is not a serious journalist. Same thing with Bill Mahr; he'll attack people just as viciously (if not worse) as Limbaugh but wraps his comments in the cloak of satire/comedy.
Stewart's show is a half-hour program that airs on COMEDY CENTRAL. His lead-in is a show about a guy making fun of Youtube videos. In an earlier defense, he had to remind O'Reilly or whoever he was speaking with that his lead-in was a show about puppets making dirty prank phone calls.
Why ANYONE thinks it's legitimate to compare what he does in 30 minutes on a comedy channel to the folks who work at the 24-hour news networks, etc. is beyond me. It's a category error. It's stupid. EVERY person who appears in front of national media has the ability to influence others... aaaand so what? Comedians and journalists have entirely different roles and perform entirely different functions, therefore it is only fair that we have entirely different expectations of them.
I think you're being a little extremist here. I don't think the OP is sitting there putting them in either the same category and/or level as legitimate journalists. What I think he's asking is if they do not have some degree of responsibility to put things out there that are (to some degree) accurate. I do think they may. There are people out there, despite CC's, Colbert's and Stewart's marketing of the shows as fake news, that makes them their only source of news. And they also have a greater influence over public opinion than a professor, local officials, etc. In fact their influence could arguably be as great as journalists.
Now I don't think that's right (and I think you'll agree). But we don't live a perfect world.
A good example of this is Michael Moore. I remember his TV program in 1990s (or was it early 2000s) when he put a ficus plant on the ballot because "no one was running against the Republican". He went the entire program, doing this very funny/absurd/satirical device, making the viewer think that this was the general election. But guess what? It wasn't...it was a primary. So I do think they have, especially when imitating something serious like a documentary or the news, a responsibility to ensure their audience keeps it in mind that this entertainment.
As for Stewart...I think he kinda opens himself up to this "category error". He goes on CNN or Fox and pokes their on-air personalities on their journalistic practices. Hell he even refers to himself as a media critic. Finally, he further blurs the line by bringing people on his show to debate, seriously rather than purely comedically, his media criticisms. If you're sitting there thinking I'm making this up...refer to his second highest-rated episode of the series: his debate with Jim Cramer over criticism/spots attacking CNBC.
So yeah...I think Stewart uses his status of a comedian to hide behind when the heat gets turned-up on him when he puts on his serious, media/social critic hat. So no...I don't think Stewart is immune because he does blend those roles and categories. Therefore it is not stupid or illegitimate to ask these questions. So I think there is some degree of intellectual dishonesty (or some may call it cowardice) when Stewart hides behind the "satire" or "comedy" label.