A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Sanity and Fear on the Mall

Last weekend, more precisely October 30, 2010, a date which will live in satirical infamy, a ruthless and provoked attack on American political fear and loathing occurred in America’s front yard: the Mall in Washington, D.C. It was there that forces from a cable television network dedicated to comedy and American satire unleashed themselves onto the multitudes gathered in the name of sanity, political compromise, and moderate discourse. The throngs were huge, enthusiastic and — from all accounts — most had a good time.

The event, labeled Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, conceived in the wake of Glenn Beck’s Rally to Restore Honor, was hosted by Comedy Central’s The Daily Show host Jon Stewart. The original intention might have been to poke holes in Beck’s hyperbole, but it grew to be the largest gathering of people united for the sake of laughing at our collective fears and, dare I say, themselves. Stewart carried the sanity portion of the program, while fellow Comedy Central show host Steven Colbert (The Colbert Report) handled the fear side.

It was almost like it was meant to be the comedy version of Woodstock, only there was no line-up of comedy all-stars, had a shorter duration (three hours as opposed to three days) and no brown acid. Okay, that might be an exaggeration. Maybe there was some acid present, but so far I haven’t heard of any reported overdoses of controlled substances. In any event, the rally covered both sides of hope and fear in a true sense of being fair and balanced. (Oh where have we heard that cliché before?)

Stewart and Colbert dueled back and forth with their respective points of emotional view throughout the proceedings. Stewart awarded a select few with his “medal of reasonableness” for their displays of courageous acts of moderate temperament against forces of extremism. Colbert had his own award — the medal of fear, symbolized by a gold-embossed figure of a naked man running with scissors. One of the fear awards went to the true targets of the event: cable news networks that foment their right and/or left wing agendas. Since no representatives of the cited networks sent anyone to accept the honor, Colbert gave the award to a seven year old girl.

The comedy — rather mild when compared to a Marx Brothers classic or an episode of Monty Python — alternated with musical acts as diverse as Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow and an unlikely duo of Ozzy Osbourne and Pete Seeger look-alike Yusef Islam (or, if you prefer, The Artist Formerly Known As Cat Stevens). Obviously Islam’s inclusion was a nod to religious tolerance. Yes, it was wonderful, and as the Christian God might put it, “ was good”.

Glenn Beck and Fox News were never mentioned by name because they are actually only a small part of the bigger problem. Stewart, Colbert and company rightly outed the entire media for their on-going orgies of fear and bias. The right (Beck, Gingrich, Coulter, etc.) was represented just as much as the left (Olbermann, Maddow, Blitzer, etc.) in the various montages of news program highlights that no longer inform, but rather inform and intimidate. Stewart made the point with a surgical flourish of his satirical scalpel that the enemy is not on the right, or the left. It is the same enemy which an iconic political leader reasoned was our true foe only a few hundred yards from where Stewart made his point. As FDR said in 1933, the enemy is fear itself.

Now the crowds, estimated to be in excess of 200,000, have returned to their homes throughout the United States, and are preparing to exercise their Constitutional right to vote for members in both houses of Congress. Fear is heavily favored to win the day, but distress not - the voices of reason will not be drowned out. Righteousness may go on a short vacation and injustice may ride a wave of populism, but no matter. We should all remember another tried and true cliché: whatever the outcome, the republic will survive.

Now go in peace, with a cream pie on your face and a banana peel beneath your feet...

(Thank you for reading. Please remember...Steven Colbert gave an award depicting a NAKED MAN to a SEVEN YEAR OLD GIRL! I just thought I should emphasize that point once more.)


Anonymous Easily Amused said...

Wish I'd been there (except for the award mentioned above). Sorry you missed the good old days before Cat Stevens turned.

November 4, 2010 at 2:49 PM  

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