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The Problem with Jon Stewart struggles with the same problem that has always vexed Jon Stewart

  • Vox

    "Is this show supposed to kick-start change? Is it supposed to be a news show? Or is it supposed to just be funny?" asks Constance Grady of Stewart's new Apple TV+ series. "Stewart has obviously thought about those questions. But he doesn’t seem to have come to any clear conclusions. 'Your purpose can’t be efficacy,' he told the New York Times, when faced with the question of whether his particular brand of political satire can change anything. 'Your purpose has to be, what’s the best iteration of this idea? How do we best execute our intention? That’s the whole purpose of making things.' But that position belies the unstated and deeply idealistic tenet of liberalism that lay underneath Stewart’s satire all along: If you simply make it clear enough that those who have power are lying to those who don’t, you will have an effect. You state your case in the marketplace of ideas, and if you do it well enough, people will buy your idea and discard the old bad ones. You go on Crossfire and you explain why they’re wrong, and you do it so well that they cancel the show. That’s how it works. Stewart made his case for the so-called disenfranchised center very, very well. But in the long term, it doesn’t seem to have offered anything but a momentary catharsis to people who already agreed with him, while engendering a sense of lazy smugness that’s proven hard to shake. That’s a legacy he is still grappling with."

    TOPICS: Jon Stewart, Apple TV+, The Problem With Jon Stewart