(no subject)

Date: 2011-10-27 01:47 am (UTC)
sarken: jon stewart with his head on the desk ([fake news] headdesk)
From: [personal profile] sarken
I have a lot of feelings about this article, but since I am part of The Stewart GenerationTM and therefore "aloof hipness trumps emotional attachment" for me, I'm going to start off with some sarcasm and cynicism: oh, goody, the old progressive populists versus liberal elitists argument again, in which we must be reminded that "liberal" and "elite" are dirty words. The difference, of course, is this article uses Jon Stewart and Michael Moore to get page hits symbolize everything that's good and pure about progressive populists and wrong with liberal elitists.

I'm not a Michael Moore fan, but I actually started off a lot more sympathetic to the arguments in this article than I am now, mostly because I agree that Jon Stewart should neither be above reproach nor canonized as the patron saint of the American left. So what happened to change my opinion? I reached the end of the article, which contained this: Michael Moore is a populist and Jon Stewart is an elitist.

It made something in my brain click, and then I went back through the article and realized it has a rather anti-intellectual bent, and I am so god damn sick that attitude in American politics. This article manages to use words like "educated" and "erudite" in the same scornful, pejorative manner you typically hear coming from the right.

The anti-intellectualism starts pretty early: I have recently argued with two self-proclaimed liberal college professors who attacked Moore for “ambushing” Charlton Heston and often “getting his facts wrong.” I love how the criticism "'getting his facts wrong'" is put on the same level as "'ambushing' Charlton Heston" so it can be dismissed just as easily. The comment about ambushing is an opinion on Moore's approach, something you are free to agree or disagree with. Getting facts wrong, on the other hand, is something that can be proven. If it's true Moore got his facts wrong somewhere, it's a valid criticism of him and his work. Rather than tell us what those damnable professors think Moore got wrong -- and if they didn't specify and give evidence to support their argument, why didn't the author ask them to? -- and whether or not they were right about it, the article just expects us to roll our eyes and dismiss the claim, as if it's either impossible or insignificant. Instead, we're supposed to focus on the "moral outrage and romantic sentimentality [Moore brings] to his films, interviews, speeches, and books," and the way "Moore weeps, shouts, and uses words like 'love' and 'God.'"

Truthiness: 100% greater than just plain truth, apparently.

The article also talks about how Moore is a college dropout while Stewart is the "son of a physics professor, a college graduate, and an avatar of the intellectually superior style of yuppie political communication" that involves projecting the image of being an "erudite, sophisticated critic who knows better than everyone else." My problem isn't the argument that college dropouts can make worthwhile contributions, or even the argument that educated liberals look down on people like Moore. My problem is the insinuation that this makes the people who make emotional arguments somehow more correct, or at least more worthy of praise, than people who make intellectual arguments and who, good heavens, have the gall to have "sanctimonious self-confidence in being right." (Incidentally, when you're using facts, it's a lot easier to be confident you're right.) Stewart's arrogance might not bring people over to the left in the same way as Moore's weeping, but, despite the article's claim that "the liberal character...prefers detached satire as the ultimate weapon of political persuasion," Stewart's goal is to entertain his audience, not persuade people to believe in the left's causes. Hell, their goals are so different, it doesn't even make sense to compare Moore and Stewart and the way "the cocktail party and faculty lounge scene of the liberal establishment" reacts to them.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-10-27 04:04 am (UTC)
yank_abroad: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yank_abroad
Personally I got a lot of "yes, exactly" moments out of this article's focus on Jon Stewart. But I think the article would have been more effective if they had compared Jon Stewart to Keith Olbermann (I'm a fangirl, of course I'd think that) because Keith is intellectual and educated while still using the exact passion and moral outrage they're talking about here.

Scornful criticism of KO from the left is rarely about the facts of his argument. It's almost always about how his yelling and name-calling make the rest of us look silly. This is a thorn in my side, because while it's true emotional arguments are not automatically more correct than intellectual ones, I'm heartily sick of the idea that displaying emotion or being "undignified" - all girly-like - automatically disqualifies you from the conversation.

Jon plays this card all the time, IMO. He has chummy debates with Bill O'Reilly and Mike Huckabee, thereby validating their bizarre opinions and making them appear reasonable, all because they make a show of being entertaining enough to be on The Daily Show. Meanwhile KO, who is much smarter and more thoughtful then O'Reilly and Huckabee, will probably never appear on TDS because his displays of emotion make Jon uncomfortable.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-10-27 10:46 pm (UTC)
sarken: leaves of mint against a worn wall (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarken
But I think the article would have been more effective if they had compared Jon Stewart to Keith Olbermann...

I think it would make sense for someone to do that, but I don't think this article could. It's too hung up on the idea of passion versus detachment as part of a Real America versus Liberal Elites culture war narrative:
Moore, while taking all the right positions and displaying all the right characteristics for a political and cultural leader – courage, boldness, uncompromised expression of contested beliefs – represents everything that the modern, educated liberal casts as inferior. Moore is obese. His appearance is consistently sloppy and working class. He’s a college dropout. He has an apartment in New York City, but continues to spend most of his time living in Michigan. He’s devoutly Catholic.

An overweight, relatively uneducated, Midwestern Catholic is the image that most liberals mentally sketch when they consider the cultural enemy.
The gist of the article seems to be that "aloof hipness" will never have broad appeal outside the "politically impotent" "cocktail party and faculty lounge scene of the liberal establishment," and that the left will have to sacrifice this aloofness if it wants to alter public discourse and reach a general audience (i.e., Real America).

And it's totally right, too. I mean, just look at how Olbermann appeals to a much broader audience than Stewart!

...oh, wait.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-10-27 05:21 am (UTC)
erinptah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] erinptah
Some reactions, in no particular order:

1) Wait, since when is Jon Stewart "physically fit"? (And didn't the last widespread article that criticized him keep harping on the notion that he was old and sick-looking?)

2) I second [personal profile] sarken on the anti-intellectualism issue.

3) This notion that the Daily Show's comedy only works for frivolous hipsters who don't really care about the issues has been around for years and years, and I'm sick of it. When I first started watching, Bush had just been re-elected, and every joke was an affirmation: "Other people see how ridiculous this is. Other people are angry about it too. You're not alone."

These days, the laughter acts as a release valve. Critics seem to believe that true investment means being earnest and straightforward and angry all the time, when human psychology doesn't work that way. A 24/7 diet of anger, no matter how justified, will burn you out eventually. Processing some of the frustration through sarcasm and funny faces can be what activists need to break the tension, sleep soundly, and wake up refreshed and better able to face the next day's worth of work to be done.

4) I wish every article that criticized Stewart wouldn't act as if it was the first to stumble upon the notion that you're allowed to criticize Stewart.

5) I also wish these articles would stop hiding behind "ooh, look at us, we're standing up to the soulless establishment that says criticizing Stewart is blasphemy" when they're making stupid criticisms.

And yes, even speaking as one of the arrogant acolytes, I think there are non-stupid criticisms to be made. I would love to see more posts focusing on "this thing Stewart said/did is wrong" (his praise of O'Reilly, for instance, could fall under this category) and leaving out all the "Stewart is not saying/doing this thing I wish he would say/do" (e.g., complaints about the lack of "serious policy proposals" at the Rally).


Fake News, Serious Business

April 2012

123 4567

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags