Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jon Stewart, Bill McKibben, Fox News and Comedy

Jon Stewart's visit to Fox News has generated lots of discussion about the distinction between political satire and ideologically inclined news. (For people who haven't seen it, here is a link to the whole interview). Stewart portrays himself as a comedian who looks at things through an ideological lens -- but places the comedy first -- rather than an ideologically driven activist. Chris Wallace, for whatever reason, doesn't seem to get the distinction.

But all one needs to do is look at an example where ideology -- rather than comedy -- reigns. Specifically, environmental activist Bill McKibben (author and founder of 350.org) recently wrote a Washington Post op-ed piece (“A link between climate change and Joplin Tornadoes? Never!”) that was subsequently narrated and illustrated by Stephen Thomson of Plomomedia.com.

Compare this with what Stewart does -- when the ideology comes first, the comedy suffers. McKibbon's piece comes across as sarcastic rather than satirical and, no matter what you think of the message, most people won't find it as funny as what Stewart does. Point, set, match to Stewart.

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