When we discuss the Master Satirists of the Age, should names like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert be considered? I believe so, yes I most surely do. It doesn't seem one pulitzer prize winner named Chris Hedges would agree with that though:
In this video, while he and a colleague discuss (not over tea) the Master Satirists of the Age, Hedges absolutely blasts Stewart and Colbert:
"Satire becomes destroyed in essence in the hands of figures like Colbert, John Stewart and others,” Hedges asserts. “They will attack the excesses or the foibles of the system, but they are never going to expose the system itself because they are all millionaires, they are commercially supported. You have very few people (George Carlin was one) who will stand up and do it. If you do that, it is tough to make a living. Carlin maybe being the exception. But if you really use Satire the way Swift used Satire, to expose the English barbarity in Ireland because culture, like everything else in the society has been completely corporatized."
I disagree with this assertion. I really do.
First off, who is this Hedges character? The first time I ever heard of this guy was when he had some sort of altercation on TV with a CBC analyst.
I agree with a lot of what Hedges says, but I don't respect his ability to handle trolls. The interviewer is a talking-head in Canada who makes a Tiger of Money formula show and who's shtick is the "bad mean judge" character (a la Simon Cowell). I don't respect how Hedges gets all offended and says he'll never ever come back.
Look, I've been fucking around on the internet since Usenet, man. I've been trolled, got trolled, done the troll, re-trolled, counter-trolled, de-trolled, un-trolled, front trolled, and even back trolled. I've employed the swift-kick ,the ego-stitch, and the body-snatch and have had all those things done to me. I'm a dymaxion troll, I can handle trollin' from all angles whilst trollin' and counter trollin' at the same time.
In this argument between O'Leary and Hedges, the obvious troll is obvious...yet O'Leary still manages to get Hedges' goat. It's actually kind of sad.
What about my homeboys Stewart and Colbert? How do they deal with these types of characters? Do they let the name calling and invective get under their skin or do they enter dymaxion-mode?
Here's Colbert's character exchanging blows with one Bill O'Reilly and his media character:
This is more in the style of the internet "debating" that I'm used to. In this match-up we have two characters, with two goats (one each)...yet only one man will leave with his goat. My man Colbert is as cool as a cucumber throughout the entire match and maintains his goat through the early stages. O'Reilly ups the invective by about 200% and begins literally yelling at Colbert...yet he keeps his goat. When it's all said and done Mr. O'Reilly seems flustered and jealous that Colbert is "more popular than him."
Even on O'Reilly's home turf Colbert managed to leave this veritable Thunderdome...with TWO goats. Why? Because he's a bad ass fucking man, that's why.
Yet way before Colbert was coming on this types of "spin" shows and doing battle, Mr. Jon Stewart had already conquered that circuit:
This is a two-on-one situation and old Jon is the one shorthanded...YET...he is still guiding the tempo of the debate, keeping his shit and bein' cool.
Man, to keep your cool in that 2-on-1 and be witty is pretty bad ass. If I was being fucked with by some bitch in a bow-tie...I would have mauled that fucking dude.
Anyways, the issue I'm trying to raise here is that Chris Hedges is kind of a weiner.
I like Jon Stewart, he can be pretty cool sometimes. The first time I ever saw him on TV, he was playing with toys. He had an action figure of Screech off of Saved by The Bell and he was fooling around talking in a high voice for the action figure (kind of like the act they do on Robot Chicken). I remember thinking to myself...this guy's goin' places.
Out of those three vids above, Jon's has by far the most hits. He's popular, in fact he's so popular that countries with far more oppressive governments are using his Satire Model and character template.
Here's a video of Jon in Egypt:
Bassem Youssef's version of Stewart's show is not something that part of the world is used to.
I wrote a few months back about how making fun of your government or military in some countries is the ultimate crime. That Baba Jukwa in Zimbabwe that I wrote about, there's still a man hunt out for him and people have died under the suspicion of being Baba. Making a joke is not a joke in some places...it's serious business. Satire is even taking hold in Zimbabwe nowadays (anyone ever check out Nyoka and Kunyepa?).
In the case of Bassem Youssef, take this recent article:
The Egyptian government is investigating Mr. Youssef just for making fun of "nationalist sentiments". That's pretty fucked up.
Jon Stewart also ran a bit on his show which caused major controversy in the Oldest Country in the Vorld...The Iran. The Daily Show visited Iran and interviewed everyday people to try and show they are actually very very similar to you and me. It's harder to want to go to war and bomb people when you see how human they are. This bit was pretty good.
See: "Behind the Veil"
One of the men interviewed in that segment was later accused by the Iranian government of being a spy for doing this interview. Don't fret though, everything has cooled down and the man, Maziar Bahari, and Jon are currently making a film together.
Look, when your satire template is being used by people in a Muslim country to make fun of their government...you know you're on to something with your shtick. Okay?
So, back to my main point. When me and my friends gather over tea and discuss the Master Satirists of the Age, the names Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do tend to come up, and we discuss their merits at length.
Do you know which name never ever comes up?