As always, I enjoy Jon Stewart lighting a flame under Fox News’s rear – metaphorically speaking, of course, but the burn is still there nonetheless – and I absolutely agree with The Daily Show’s position on poverty and how Stewart calls out Fox News’s antagonism toward the impoverished. Fox’s blatant contempt for the poor is really unsettling, to say the least, and their glaring contradictions regarding their very own callous statements is beyond perplexing.
“Lazy”, “sponges”, and “leeches” are a few of the many labels Fox journalists and reporters stamp on the poverty-stricken. One reporter even claims that “Poverty is not a function of economic condition, but of character.” Classism is certainly alive and well. Fox propagates stereotypes about the poor by depicting them as government “moochers”, whereas The Daily Show opposes that argument by presenting facts which show how poverty is widely an economical issue, and for many it is also the byproduct of systemic racism.
Which brings us to the topic of Mike Brown and the Ferguson protests where Fox News’s “report” on the situation was a plain dismissal of the police brutality, which has been an endemic in the Black American community, and this country’s prevalent issue with racism.
The Daily Show exposes the paradox that is Fox News and their disclosing of half-truths. For example when police officer Darren Wilson was absolved in the death of Michael Brown due to the U.S. Justice Department’s lack of evidence, the U.S. Department of Justice still reported that the Ferguson Police Department showed “a pattern of Civil Rights violations”. Fox News only reported the former in an attempt to debunk the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protesting. The twist of irony comes when Fox blasts the Obama administration and members of congress for misleading the country, and shoving “incendiary rhetoric” down our throats. Fox even demanded an apology, yet “incendiary rhetoric” and divisive commentary is Fox’s forte. For a network that tends to perpetuate racial conflict (among other issues regarding marginalized groups) and report misinformation, this almost hilarious.
But of course, certain networks appeal to certain demographics and accommodate them, therefore biased reporting is bound to happen. It serves to fuel the target audience’s presuppositions and reinforce their views.
I am a firm believer that media alone does not influence the grand majority, but when fused with various aspects of life, it can shape the perceptions of an individual or a collective group. It has divided opinions within our nation almost in two, with hardly any middle ground. The power of media proves correct in the Satire’s Brew lecture. “Cable’s gerrymandering within certain media networks led to problems we encounter in society today.”
Even though the issues are serious and should be brought to everyone’s awareness, Jon Stewart uses satirical commentary to get his, and the people he represents, point across. Satire’s Brew gives us the parallels between jesters from centuries ago ant the “jesters” of today:
“The jester’s court was the monarch’s palace. Stewart and Colbert’s court is cable TV and the Internet. Openly mocking but always in ‘jest,’ the jester worked for the monarchy but the subtext of what he was saying was for the people, the commoners or the third estate. Stewart and Colbert both work for Viacom, part of a huge conglomerate but still mock the institutions that supply the stage.”
The jester’s targets were authoritative figures, people in power, and at that time it was the clergy and nobility. Jon Stewart is indeed a comedian – a modern day jester – who also targets highly influential people and their handling of the nations issues. In Satire’s Brew, it is said that “…the best satire comes from frustration with society, politics, people, life…” Stewart calls out injustice, questions them, and challenges them. He stands as a surrogate for the “common folk” regardless of his own celebrity and affluence, and his frustration is clearly evident even when conveyed in a jokingly fashion.
I have learned that the medias purpose is to challenge those in the seat of power and represent the people by voicing their needs. It should act as a vessel. Media is also meant to be a form of surveillance or a window into our governments, but unfortunately that has not been the case for quite some time. I have also learned that there is a clever way to craft criticism – like an art form – which we witness from Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and other satirists. Jesters have been around for centuries, possibly millennia, and they will always be around to criticize and challenge those with the upper hand on today’s society.