Saturday, July 25, 2009

Art Imitates Life

The memorial services for Walter Cronkite had just concluded when the next reminder that we're not in Kansas anymore showed up. Politics Daily reported Friday that the current issue of Time Magazine (I was only vaguely aware that magazines were actually still printed; how quaint), based on a survey of some nine thousand folks, has concluded Jon Stewart is the most-trusted newscaster in America.

As a child I have memories of David Frost with something called "That Was the Week That Was" (listening to the musical salute to the state of Mississippi, circa '63, you realize this is the BBC version of the show). And we all remember Dennis Miller and others on Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live (I'll skip the 'back when it was funny' gratuitous shot, since it's on way past my bed time now and I have no idea if it ever was funny). My point is there's always been a tradition of these types of send-ups as entertainment and parody can be liberating and rebellious all at the same time.

It wasn’t coincidental that one of the first things Hitler and the Nazis did after seizing power was eliminate Fasching or Karneval observances from everyday German life. If there was one thing the gang who couldn't shoot straight knew it was that they didn't need or want anyone poking fun at them.

But in a country that televises poker tournaments and spelling bees on an All-Sports Network, and covered the death of Michael Jackson like it was the passing of Mary and Joseph's other Son, naming Stewart the most trusted newscaster in America is still quite a leap. Hand on my heart, I didn't think it would be Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck, but it says a lot about us, and maybe more than we can stand, that we'd choose Stewart. I'll just put it down to 'convergence' and grow more uneasy that the line between surreal and cereal narrows more by the day.

"Don't believe I'm taken in by stories I have heard. I just read the Daily News and swear by every word. I'm not one to look behind, I know that times must change, but over there in Barrytown, they do things very strange."-bill kenny

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