Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Media heroes & a desert island roundup

Jon Stewart, host of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, is about as close as we get these days to a hero in the media. Stewart appeared on "Larry King" tonight and showed he could carry it for most of the hour with his double-edged sword, using humor (whether dry or soggy wet), and the guy's got incisive punditry. Plus, he's got what we see so little these days - intellectual bravery (as opposed to the bravery of physical stunts Americans seem to eat up with "reality tv" these days. Stewart's got the edge to top my list because he's just edgy enough to be a little more relentless than you might expect.

Michael Moore is a hero to many and rightly so. He may be freewheeling at times, but he didn't make that stuff up. The inferences, shams and shames in "Fahrenheit 9/11" stand up to scrutiny, so don't blame him for any Bush-voter and DNC backlash. What a bunch of weenies the DNC folks are who think such verve and populist passion ought to be put out to pasture. We progressives can't always pussyfoot. Call a spade a spade. Call a connection a connection. Bravery means showing and speaking the truth (even warped truth as opposed to blind lies), speaking truth to power.

Bill Maher, the Hamlet of political pundits, is now relegated to HBO, so some of us don't see as much of him - a sad loss for bringing the after-the-bubblegum-news crowd into the fold of ironic skepticism.

We've got Jon and Michael in their moments right now, about as close to Mark Twain and Will Rogers and Lenny Bruce as we can get. These guys live and breath politics, no matter what. They make Leno and Letterman seem like lightweights, though it is nice to see anyone with a television camera pointed at them with the red light ON to be lambasting the current crew in Washington.

As the old guys retire, who is coming up to lead us younger-somethings into caring about civic matters in an age of apolitical and ironic detachment? Jon Stewart is both leading and following the trend toward news that actually matters - silly with a serious streak or serious with a silly streak, depending on what moment it is.

If we've got to endure four more years, we'll need to sharpen our swords however we can. Satire, as much as anything, may help break the backbone of the neo-fascists - or at least give us hope and cause and reason to forge ahead for peace and justice. (Isn't that the lovely lesson of Roberto Begnini's "Life is Beautiful"?

At LoveInWar, a website for progressives to network and find dates, one of the profile questions asks who you'd like to have stuck on a desert island with you (and since it's LoveInWar, not matchy Match, there's a caveat of no sex).

So here's how I answered the question:

"OK, how about what I'll call "The Bill & Bill Show" for starters. The "Bill & Bill Show" would be Bill Maher and Bill Moyers and most of the best guests they've ever had on their various shows, especially those with a stream of witty words and wisecracks. And now, come to think of it, I've gotta add another yin-yang coupling of hosts, Jon Stewart and Charlie Rose and their guests too.... I want a BIG island - sort of like the REAL WORLD minus about four or five billion people.

"To keep things joyous in a bittersweet kinda way, a crew of the most insightful comedians and comediennes of our times, from Robin Williams to Amy Sedaris to Kay Clinton, from Steve Martin to Sarah Vowell to Janeanne Garafalo. I'd gather round a motley cast of castaways (and I seem to tweak this list fairly often, so check back): Thoreau and Emerson, Ed Abbey, Annie Dillard, Antoine de Saint Exupery, A.A. Milne, Ben Franklin, James Thurber, H. L. Menken, David Letterman, Garrison Keillor, Katherine Hepburn, Emma Thompson, Rachel Carson, Meryl Streep, Billy Collins, Van Gogh (we could watch him), Picasso, Calder, e.e.cummings, Bernard HenrĂ®-Levi (gotta have philosophers to keep the conversation going past the first year or so), Pablo Neruda, Ansel Adams (official island photographer), all the 'ones who got away' and the ones I want back and THE ONE and a few good journalists, such as half the staffs of The Progressive, Unte Reader and (especially) The New Yorker, to take notes and report (unofficially) on the proceedings. Maybe even Godot, though we'd be waiting for him...

And dear friends and readers, I'd want YOU there, too!"


At 12/10/2004 8:38 PM, Blogger Aleksu said...

We need voices to balance all the drivel and propagande served by the big news corporations.

At 11/09/2005 9:05 AM, Blogger Antonio Hicks said...

I was just browsing various blogs as I was doing a search on the word poster, and I just wanted to say that I really like what you've done with your blog, even though it wasn't particularly related to what I searched for. I appreciate your postings, and your blog is a good example of how a blog should be done. I've only just recently started a Posters website - feel free to visit it when you get a chance if you wish. Much success, antonio.


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