Friday, April 27, 2012

How Jon Stewart +Stephen Colbert Are My Andy Warhols

Image c/i …part of a facebook sharing endeavor.

Jon Stewart & The Daily Show embody the circumference of my news network. He is where I get my current events. It may seem odd, or may not at all, but he gives me the ills of the world {of which there are many} in palatable “bites” that I can chew up and swallow. At the end of long days, after hours of nothing but living in and like a life-preserver or a pool buoy, trying to add some buoyancy to the psyches of the many beautiful and aching souls I meet with every day (as a trauma therapist) I need anything else I imbibe to be soft and palatable and with a side of truth and a peppering of sardonic wit.

And Jon Stewart serves me my meal of “news in nearly real-time” just the way I ordered it. Yum.

So, I began thinking the other day about the purpose that Jon Stewart and his later-night counterpart Stephen Colbert serve to a wider consuming audience then just me in my jammies after a long day.

I realized Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are like Andy Warhol. When I was studying art history, a bit in high school and then later in undergrad, with my nerdishly artsy bohemian friends {before I dropped out and drove to Colorado for a few years of “living” on not much} I remember exploring Warhol’s work and traveling to an exhibit of his in Philly with a friend of mine. Andy Warhol was known for his neon-saturated art prints like the one of Marilyn Monroe and his literal “soap boxes”. He built his name on the sarcastic way in which he portrayed the art world and the art in it by making fun of it. His art pieces were a play on the cultural art of the times and the nature of people–how we will {often} become hungry for something because of its cultural value and not necessarily because of its genuine nature.

Socially, we do that as a culture with politicians, celebrities, and everything we consume on a regular basis. Warhol just pointed it out. But in the process of doing the most taboo thing of pointing out, “Hey, that emperor has no clothes on,” people began to gravitate to his art for its ability to make fun of itself and the society it existed in–and inside of that reverence for the irreverent Andy Warhol became an iconic artist…his non-art became the most honest art of all, to many.

Now while I was never awed by his soap boxes {figurative or literal} or impressed by his neon caricatures, I found his message and society’s response to be very interesting. He was the ultimate paradox and remembered enough that most people know his name a number of decades after his death.

In contemplating on my favorite hour of news and sometimes my favorite hour of television nightly, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report I began to think how their anti-news-culture-culture has become not just its own news brand but also, in not being tied to the same system of etiquette as the other news channels, they have become the newsiest news in town {at least for me}.

Not that there aren’t valid news stories or news networks in existence. And not that I love Anderson Cooper any less {my non-romantic man-crush}, but in their irreverence they have gained some reverence. And they are the only news I watch {for the most part}.

So, how do you feel about the anti-news-news of the Comedy Central 11pm EST lineup? Do you watch either show? If so, what draws you to them? How do you feel about mainstream news media? Is Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert your “Andy Warhol”? Would you like to see a debate mediated by either Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert–or both?

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