Archive Page 2


Jon Stewart and Blogging


I apologize for putting up two Daily Show posts in a row, but this is a topic that particularly interests me: blogging. Self-proclaimed “blogging evangelist,” Arianna Huffington was on to plug the new Huffington Post book. She gives pointers on what people should blog about and spars with Stewart over just how much should be blogged about.


Although I visit her site constantly, I find Huffington to be a bit abrasive. It may just be the fact that she sounds like The Count from Sesame Street talking politics, but her site bothers me when it puts up stories like this one. It calls Sarah Palin out for wearing the same clothes at appearances that she wore on the campaign trail, the same ones they made fun of her for spending too much money on. If I buy a coat for even just $300, I’m wearing that coat in the shower sleeping in it. This kind of counter logic that plagues all partisan punditry, detracts from the site’s credibility.

It is safe to say I am a huge Jon Stewart fan, but this interview makes me question where he stands in the old journalism versus new journalism debate. Stewart points out the perceived weaknesses of blogging and doesn’t really act convinced by Huffington’s arguments against them. In fact, his argument that people don’t really need to blog about eggplants, is kind of stupid. At the end of the day, if there are people who want to know more about eggplants and you have that information, throw it out there.


Maybe Jon Stewart was just prodding his interviewee to get her ideas across. After all, though the interview did not close an argument, it never got personal. Maybe he wasn’t expressing his ideas, but the ideas of a part of society. But it seems to me that when Stewart interviews someone he agrees with, he works to get these people to express why their ideas are right and possible counterarguments are wrong. With Huffington he criticized her and didn’t point out blogging’s merits much.

This makes me nervous when one of the leading political voices of our generation (you’re just lying to yourself if you don’t see it), not buying into what I see as the future of journalism. But then it hit me that this may not be the case. This interview revealed a little animosity between the two, particularly the part where they talk about Stewart blogging for Huffington. I’d be surprised if he did this because of the ridiculously liberal skew of the site, but he seemed a little annoyed with her in general. I believe Stewart’s lukewarm treatment of Huffington is much like the way hot, but kind girls act towards ugly, but forward guys when they’re trying to bring them home from a bar. These girls aren’t objecting to the idea of sex, but more to sex with those guys, so they act pleasant but don’t leave the possibility out there.

This was not Stewart’s finest interview, but there is still plenty of hope for blogging. I just hope Stewart and Huffington have an affair, because the hits on this post will shoot right through the roof.


The Fox to MSNBC Switch

With a new ideology in office, Fox News is no longer the power house serving its admnisatration loyally. Instead, MSNBC seems to be emerging as a force. Last night on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart compared the networks:


I loved this segment, because I saw those same commericals on both the networks. The MSNBC one is so blatantly pro-Obama that it makes me question how much of a watchdog they can be, while the Fox News one exploits America’s insecurities to the point I don’t trust them for any clarity in sorting out of the day’s events.


When it comes down to it, this is network news and no matter who comes out dominant, the money-grubbing nature of network news will prevail. Stewart acknowledged MSNBC’s weekend lineup, and over the break I had the pleasure to witness a “Caught on Camera” special. Though it was sensationalism at its finest I couldn’t look away. I equate this show’s effect on me to the effect that would be had on a 10-year old who just saw the Jonas Brothers spontaneously combust at the Kid’s Choice Awards. My jaw hung open as I watched brutal crimes being caught on camera.

The one that affected me most was a video of an old man pumping gas. You see via security camera, a large car jacker stroll up to the man and start punching him in the head, not one, not two, but twenty-one times. He then gets in the car and drives off while the old man collapses into a ball on the ground. Then the announcer drops the bomb on you and reveals a crowd of people gathered watching the man get punched repeatedly as if they were watching a movie being filmed about old men getting socked. Then, the double shocker comes as after the carjacker leaves, the crowd decides that’s that, gets into their cars and drives off, LEAVING THE MAN LYING THERE.


I tell this story not just to point out the vast shortcomings of humanity, but rather to point out the vast shortcomings of cable news. These are not clips they’re airing to bring justice to the victim because in most cases, the suspect had already been apprehended. These clips keep more sets on MSNBC, because you really can’t look away. Not many people got fed up and switched it at punch fifteen because of a desensitized society.

So maybe MSNBC isn’t going to help us run a country that has proven to be kind of tough to run. Fox News certainly doesn’t have the track record for it, and for every exploitative MSNBC clip, there are three CNN clips about skydiving dogs. (I searched for the article after I came up with that off the top of my head, and what do you know).


I can’t write off these channels completely because I do believe punditry has its virtues. Stars will come out of this election in the media, but maybe cable news isn’t the only place to look. The garbage that passes for news is alays going to be there, but the Internet provides selectivity. People are still going to clip “Old Man Gets Punched 21 Times,” videos, but they have more of a chance not to than ever before. Baby steps America…


A Comic Evolves With the Internet

Get Your War On is a political comic strip that appears in Rolling Stone and other, less traditional newspapers. It debuted about a month after 9/11 and has since attacked our government for mainly its war-prone ways using a viciously cynical voice to do so. The strips are made from about six old clip art pictures slightly tweaked to portray office worker sheep, classier Joe Six-Packs, as frustrated, passive observers of politics.


Since Huffington Post site 23/6 came around it has been trying to achieve success in the world of liberal political satire, and trying to catch the tail of the oh-so-funny Bush administration. They signed GYWO writer, David Rees to do videos for their site. Though I’m not sure of how successful the clips have been, this medium change has also changed the comic strip.


After hearing voices put to these snarky characters and to see their red outlines smoothly move against the plain white backdrop, I realize that this is exactly how I hear the strips played out in my head. What this switch to video does is give GYWO legs. The clips will probably be e-mailed through places similar to where its characters work. Snarky humor coupled with simplistic design translates GYWO to video nicely. Here’s a clip of the latest talking about the Obama bandwagon:


“Obama doesn’t salute the flag. He throws rocks at bald eagles and eats the wrong kind of lettuce.”

It will be interesting to see how this comic holds up with its liberal stance and its anti-war message in an Obama administration. So far, it has been using the strategy of making fun of Obama on a conceptual level as opposed to attacking his direct actions. This comic was a baby of 9/11 and should be fun to watch grow up.


Fake News of Change

Since Barack Obama became the President-elect, people have been intently listening to see what he is actually going to do. In doing this, they have goals in the back of their minds. A comedy group called the Yes Men have been handing out fake copies of The New York Times today.


Handing this out to people may take some light criticism from those who think this would make people think it’s the truth like Orson Welles’ infamous airing of The War of the Worlds. But overall, this is a paper that ultimately lines up goals for Obama. I’m not saying the Iraq War will end just like that or what shown will be accomplished, but even through bipartisan eyes this looks like a much better world.


I went to the Yes Men site, and found that they are not so much a comedy group as they are a watchdog group. They define what they do as “identity correction, impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.”

Their Wikipedia entry lists their accomplishments, which range from posing as the World Trade Organization and arguing the function of the U.S.A.’s Civil War to trashing on big oil.

This is an important group because they are built up on protecting public interest and rejecting conumerism. These are exactly what we need more of today.


One may argue that the group’s deceptive tactics are ethically questionable but if they are picking on ethically questionable people, who can take issue? Barack Obama needs to be thinking about the power of these types of groups the moment he steps into office.


Enter South Park…

Last Tuesday, Barack Obama was elected to become the 44th President of the United States, and maybe more notably the first black President ever. At 11:00 on election night, Obama was officially declared to be the winner and the world watched as hysteria exploded at Grant Park in Chicago. People went nuts and justifiably so considering the amazing strides made in race relations over the past half century. Barack Obama is a man who is seen as God-like by a large part of America. It’s impossible to not look at this guy and feel inspired in some way. His story is an unusual one and seals his place in the hearts of millions. The tears of joy that were shed that night needed to come for civil rights, but this man isn’t God. Barack Obama is a politician first and South Park pointed that out last Wednesday night.


Link to Full Episode

Just 22 hours after Obama’s win South Park aired their first overtly political episode of the season. It was great, but as an avid South Park fan, I saw it to be a little too same-old compared to the rest of the season. This season has seen many movie parodies that just wear thin. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are obviously movie buffs but need not show it off so much. This episode was a take on Ocean’s Eleven, portraying both candidates as international spies, as well as others they campaigned with. This plot line, in my mind, took the back seat to the other.


This is Randy Marsh.

My friends and I revere him as the best character on South Park, among stiff competition. He is used to show all of society’s obsessions rolled into one person. He has been almost physically dependent on the Internet as well as Guitar Hero in the past, but in this episode he depended on Obama.

Randy Marsh serves as warning to Obama’s proud, dedicated fan base. This is what happens when you let an idea vault you out of reality.


Over the next seventy-something days, Obama news will fluctuate and people will lose interest. His support will probably go down and hysteria will subside. So, Obama supporters, stay engaged.

Sarah Palin will not be there to laugh at and SNL will once again be hard to laugh at. Joe the Plumber will go back to (sort of) plumbing and the sun will rise tomorrow.

This Presidency is still the most important one in many of our lives but don’t take it for granted because the election’s over. Stop extolling the virtues of Barack and start questioning him. Don’t be Randy Marsh…



The Onion or the Drudge Report?

I always go to the Drudge Report when I need a quick glimpse at what’s happening in the news. I use it because its partisan reporting contrasts my own biases as well as for a simple layout that is easy to digest that prioritizes the biggest story. Today, the day before the election, Drudge’s biggest story was this:

Yes, that is a picture of Obama flicking off the camera. It links to a nineteen second clip of Obama speaking and congratulating McCain for the race he has fought.

He itches his face or maybe goes to pick his nose, realizes he is on camera and stops. (Ring any bells?) This itch of defiance is all McCain’s supporters have to go against Obama with. I find it hard to believe that even McCain’s supporters think Obama is giving the finger to their campaign or that Drudge believes that himself. This is a ridiculous attempt at news, and it shows the downside to blogging. The gatekeeping here is clearly out of whack.

I chose to talk about this article because it legitimately looks like it could be on The Onion. I have kissed The Onion’s ass so much on this blog that my eyes are beginning to water, but there’s a reason for that. Take a look at this story they published back in 1993. It is about a forklift driver’s interview with Rush Limbaugh and its apparent significance to the public. The guy is just an average American who uses basic thinking about Bill Clinton to vilify him, while maintaining naive, untrue views of the man. Sounds familiar… In fact, it sounds dead on.

Joe the Plumber is our nation’s Roy the Forklift Driver. He is a symbol, but when used as anything more than that will fail and fail again. When Shep Smith says, “Man, it just gets frightening sometimes,” the game is over.

Who knows though? Maybe this just isn’t Joe the Plumber’s election to save. Tito the contractor?


Guiltlessy Picking on McCain

LOL Cats are the worst of the Internet. The concept of lolcats is taking (sometimes) funny pictures of cats and adding a first person narrative of what the cat is doing, peppered with grammar and spelling errors. I know I sound like a crabby old man hearing a T.I. song for the first time, but lolcats make me feel 400 years old.

When I saw that there was an lolcat political humor site, well, I just didn’t go. Why up my blood pressure like that? But eventually I stumbled upon Pundit Kitchen, and you know, it’s not half bad. Yes it’s left winged but what else is new? They pick on John McCain too much, though at no fault of their own. Everybody picks on John McCain these days but that’s just everybody’s way of coping with how disturbingly poor his campaign has been run. So far I’ve been looking at satire and constantly monitoring my own even-handedness. But these two campaigns are getting difficult to even compare anymore. That being said, here are a bunch of Pundit Kitchen pictures that make fun of McCain:

I like how this captures the perfect facial expressions.

...But this may do an even better job catching a magical expression.

...But this may do an even better job catching a magical expression.

He just can't seem to get away...

He just can't seem to get away.

Is this even funny or just intensely creepy?

Is this even funny or just intensely creepy?

This is a site that proves political opinions can be voiced in all different ways. It’s not all “The New Yorker,” and intelligent discourse is in the eye of the beholder.

Speaking of intelligent discourse…

You’e seen Dramatic Maverick. You’ve seen Fun With McCain. I give you…

Presidential Danceoff. And it’s the greatest thing ever.

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Water Cat

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