October 31, 2010


Stewart-Colbert rally: Skits, songs, empty message (David Zurawik, 10/30/10, Baltimore Sun)

That is all I am going to say about the wit and so-called keen social commentary of the comedic moments brought to us Saturday at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear by these two cable TV comedians who have been endlessly compared to every satirist from Swift to Twain this week by some of my adoring and critically-challenged colleagues.

As for the other non-musical guest talent, consider the "performance" by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, of the Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters," who spent 10 minutes asking the crowd to do various versions of The Wave. wasn't that transcendent?

The music was another matter. Mavis Staples' closing the show with "I'll Take You There" was so perfect it was almost worth suffering through Stewart's pompous, empty, politician-phony closing speech to get to it -- almost.

I say almost because Comedy Central, Stewart's employer and partner in this production on the mall, didn't let me hear all of the closing number. They had to cut away to tell me that today's rally was brought to me by Volkswagen, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and LG (electronics).

And that's one of the things that I think is most fascinating about the whole Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear: the way Comedy Central essentially commodified all those folks who showed up in the mall, rounding all of them up and delivering them to advertisers -- along with viewers like me in front of our screens. Weren't the good intentions and hopes that tens of thousands who came to the mall being exploited for profit?

Say what you will about Glenn Beck and his rally in August: He and Fox News, his employer, didn't sell the folks who supported him on the mall to advertisers that way. There were no peanut butter cups being advertised on my screen as I watched. There was no commercialization of any kind that I discerned on my TV screen. Not only didn't Fox News televise the rally, the channel barely covered it. But not so Stewart, Colbert and their employers.

..Beck is just a product. His rally marketed him.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 31, 2010 8:33 AM
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