Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Jester Jon Stewart

As in King Lear, we might hear the blandest truths from a comedian's take on what is going on in the world.

In the interesting yet entertaining (an accurate description of Jon Stewart's TV persona itself) article in The Guardian today, I learned more about this satirist and his impact on the English speaking society.

When a number of well educated and intelligent people actually switch over to Stewart's The Daily Show to get a more accurate angle to the news than they get through American mainstream media, it says a lot.

The figure of the jester in the king's court is well known, as the only figure allowed to speak the truth without layers of cloudy rhetorics. In Shakespeare's King Lear, the jester is the one speaking the truth to spectators and readers and adds depth and clarity to the seriousness of the characters' actions. He puts his finger straight to the wound and tells us how and why it hurts. The same can be said about Jon Stewart and his crew.

As a Non-American it is refreshing to see his view on reality. From the outside it is hard to see what the American people actually think about the wildly subjective angles presented in the Fox News Channel, for example, or the black and white rhetorics of the present president, George W. Bush. To see Stewart make as much, or even more fun of the U.S. president than foreign media does is enlightening as well as entertaining for the outsider.

His take on the reality presented through mass media probably reflects many people's frustration with news coverage in the U.S., and I must say that The Daily Show's news angles come as a relief to me. At the same time he feeds us non-Americans with sharp-witted information and creative constellations about what is actually going on in the U.S., without all the filters the news normally seem to go through. So the filters are down, but what's up is an intelligent approach and an eye for surprising parallels between recent and not so recent political climates (like, for instance, the comparison between George W. Bush's speech 8 years ago discussing what he was going to change when president, almost identical to one of John McCain's most recent speeches).

I'd rather see Jon Stewart's news show before many of the "serious" news from different American media, as with Stewart I find witty and to-the-point interpretations of what is going on. Which is quite time saving, really. Why read five different editorials in serious news papers, when Jon Stewart does the job for you five times better?

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