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Jon Stewart Fans Go To D.C. To Watch TV And Laugh At Old Jokes

Dismiss it if you will, but yesterday’s Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear demonstrated one thing very clearly: Corporate media has the power to motivate huge numbers of people to take action, even if that action doesn’t make much sense. Viacom can use Jon Stewart to get hundreds of thousands of Americans to travel hundreds of miles to attend a rally with no meaning whatsoever on the weekend right before a significant congressional election, when those Americans could be out in the streets organizing for congressional candidates instead. Viacom was able to harness the power of television to take a huge number of people out of the political equation yesterday.

The power of television was in full force at the rally itself, as most people at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear didn’t even see the rally itself. They watched it on television – huge TV screens placed up and down the National Mall.

The most surreal moment came before the official start of the rally, when the TV screens were turned on and tuned in to the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Huge crowds of people fell silent, and gazed up at the screens en masse.

Then, the crowds were shown old clips from the Daily Show and Colbert Report. The clips were from the shows in which Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced that they would hold a rally in the first place. Almost everyone in the crowds had already seen these clips, if not once, many times. Yet, they laughed.

The crowds laughed at jokes they had already heard about a rally that was being planned, but which they were actually attending in the present. The rally was a re-run even before it was over.

That’s when it hit me: These people had all come to Washington D.C., not to participate in any rally for anything, but just to watch television.

7 comments to Jon Stewart Fans Go To D.C. To Watch TV And Laugh At Old Jokes

  • Tom

    Here’s an example of the effects that our effed up government has on its easily influenced sheeple:

    http://jonathanturley.org/2010/11/01/man-charged-with-domestic-assault-for-waterboarding-girlfriend-2/#more-27701

  • JR

    I read the irregular times daily and I respect your opinions but I have to disagree with your assesment of the rally. What would you have wanted them to show before the rally? So you think this was a secret plan by Viacom to get people off the streets? You have the occasional column about nothing. Not everyday has to be serious. Lighten up.

    • Sure, we do light and frothy things from time to time. But we’re not heading up a rally on the national mall (although we tried that once, too), which is a unique opportunity. If we asked (and somehow got) 215,000 people to mass on the Washington, DC mall — more than any demonstration in the past twenty years — and used the time to make jokes and tell people they don’t need to do anything more than they’re already doing, then criticisms that we missed an opportunity would be fair.

    • JR, to equate a rally of over 200,000 people who had traveled long distances, set up by a massive corporation, on the National Mall, with an occasional article here at Irregular Times, is an unbalanced assessment, to put it mildly.

      I can think of a hundred better things for Jon Stewart and his Viacom crew to broadcast on those screens, other than comedy routines. How about profiles of members of Congress? How about selections from the Constitution? How about interviews by roving crews, talking to people about what issues they thought were important?

      These people could have done a whole lot better than reruns of old comedy clips and a cartoon race between Jon Stewart, a robot and a bear.

      We here at Irregular Times have zero corporate sponsors. Zero. We have very, very small bank accounts to work with – microscopic, when compared to Viacom’s. We’ve found, however, that it takes very little money to provide information about many important issues in our democratic society.

      Of course, the suggestions that I’ve given for alternatives to those giant rally TV screens wouldn’t be funny. I realize that the crowd wasn’t there for serious politics. They were there to have a good time, without thinking much, and without any commitment to actually DO anything to try to make things better.

      My critique is not just of Jon Stewart and his corporate comedy committees. It’s of his fans, and their superficial idea of what it means to become an active citizen… watching TV and having a good time.

  • Shut Up, Retard

    I enjoy how you write as if you’ve had some sort of epiphany in discovering that the rally was secretly about nothing.

    I guess in the months leading up to the rally when everyone — including Stewart — proclaimed that it was about nothing (other than perhaps being civil and respectful to one another), it didn’t really tip you off. You must have unconvered some sort of massive media conspiracy!

    No, wait, you’re just a retard.

    • I love the irony, S.U.R. – you’re defending a rally which claimed to be about creating a civil discourse for “moderates” by writing a comment entitled “Shut Up, Retard”. Brilliant artistic statement, there.

      The rally did claim to stand up for plenty of stuff, actually, S.U.R. It just didn’t really stand up for those things.

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