Jon Stewart to Retire

I only just found out about Jon Stewart’s decisions to retire from The Daily Show tonight.  I realize many of you have probably already heard about this.  I don’t need to be the one to tell most of you that we have been lucky to have him on television since 1999.  The Daily Show has been a place we could go to laugh and remain sane in these years of insanity.  Not only is his own contribution tremendous, but without him we would have never had The Colbert Report.  I have only seen one episode of The Nightly Show, but hopefully that and whoever takes Stewart’s spot will keep this kind of truth telling comedy going.

I think the most important thing Stewart is done is helped people decode the bullshit that is cable news.  It’s true that many people before Stewart knew that something in our media wasn’t right, but sometimes it helps to have someone that can adequately verbalize what you feel.  Night after night he was not only able punch through the mask of talking head absurdity, but provide people with the tools to do it themselves.

Why is it that, so often in our society, comedians are the only ones that can get at the truth?  If we had a mainstream news media that was actually doing its job, Stewart wouldn’t have been needed.  However, many of us unfortunately know that he, or someone like him, was needed.   Because he could do what he did through humor, he was able to get away with things that others could not.  One of my favorite quotes, that I have probably used too frequently here is Oscar Wilde’s quote, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”

Hopefully there will come a time when someone like Stewart isn’t needed, when we can actually trust television media to give us an accurate picture of what is going on in the world.  I don’t think that time will be soon though.  In the meantime, lets be glad that he was able to slip unnoticed through the gates, in this kingdom of madness.

Above is Jon Stewart’s famous Crossfire appearance.  Crossfire was a show on CNN.  It was a typical cable news program where you would have one rightwing pundit and one leftwing pundit debating the issues, without any kind of real insight give.  There also was no weight given to either argument, letting the viewer know if one or both were at all rooted in fact.  Jon Stewart went on and at the time did the unthinkable: He told the truth about why this kind of show was so meaningless.  Crossfire didn’t last much longer.  

Former Seattle Police Chief Against Militarization

This is Norm Stamper, the former Police Chief of Seattle, on Stephen Colbert, making the case that our police forces have become too militarized and that they need to change their methods.  Entertainment that also presents a clear picture of what is going on.  

Red Moose Jumps Car During Wet T-Shirt Contest

I think I could work at an ad agency.  I’ve already got a few ideas for great ads.  In one we show how refreshing beer is by filming the beer as if it were a woman at a wet t-shirt contest.  In other a I would sell a hard liquors while showcasing its dangerous bad boy image by having a tough looking red moose leap from building to building in a city.  I was also thinking of a cool ad for Chevy where a daredevil drives one of their cars backwards off a ramp. 

The above all sound pretty fucking stupid don’t they?  They are all real ads that air nightly while I watch the Colbert Report on Comedy Central’s free streaming.  Every time I watch real TV I sit dumbstruck at the ads that appear.  Who thinks these things up?  These are ideas that any stoner could concoct about three water bongs in.  Many of today’s ads feature what seems to me to be free association.  It’s like they are so desperate to get our attention that they will put anything up there.  And these are the people that make all of the money!

The worst ads are the ones that try to make you feel emotional.  They will tell some inspirational or heartbreaking story with really sappy strings, only to show the company name at the end.  This is nothing but crass manipulation.  Another kind of common manipulation is when they hint that if you don’t use their product you won’t get laid.  When I watch ads on TV I don’t know whether to laugh at the absurdity or cry at the wave of stupid that has swept into our homes every night. 

I am convinced that the most important thing about selling a TV ad to a company is making them believe your bullshit.  Most ads of today are random, shameless, or just plain idiotic.  How rare is it that you actually see anything clever or something that tells you something about the actual product that is being pitched?  I am convinced that in these ad sales meetings it is all about whoever is selling the ad making whoever represents the company believe that they know what the hell they are talking about. 

Ok, the ads above were really used.  But I do have a good one in mind that will work for any product.  I think there should be a fluorescent yellow bear on a surf board surfing on lava coming down the side of a volcano.  It doesn’t mean anything, but you just might stare at the TV long enough to wonder what the hell is going on, just in time for the company logo to pop up.