Another Lazy Jon Stewart Tribute

Ken AshfordPopular CultureLeave a Comment

I call this lazy, because I’m not writing it.  I just liked what The Rude Pundit said in a couple of paragraphs:

Stewart was never our crusader. If he was going to change things, it would be on a small scale, by bringing attention to issues like veterans’ rights and 9/11 responders’ health. He was our pressure valve, but his Daily Show wasn’t meant to be cathartic, even though sometimes it was. It was meant to make you angry, really fucking angry, that shit was going this way. The problem was, as it always has been, that people are notoriously difficult to move to action. The best comparison the Rude Pundit can come up with is Bertolt Brecht, the German playwright. Brecht wanted his plays to enrage people into action at the injustices of the world, not just enjoy a nice time at the theatre. The problem was that the masses never left Mother Courage calling for an end to war. And people left Threepenny Opera humming “Mack the Knife,” not ready to attack the capitalist pigs. So, of course, Stewart was, as he professed, just a comedian. Except when he wasn’t.

Despite what he keeps telling us, “Jon Stewart” is dead after tonight, as much as “Stephen Colbert” died when that host’s host moved on to the great network in the sky. Whatever Stewart does after, his persona of Daily Show host is gone. What we lose in that is perhaps more deep than the humor, incisive and broad, and the social critique. We lose a way to frame the world, even if that frame was in opposition to Stewart’s obvious positions. We lose a way of understanding how we are being manipulated. By then end of his run, Stewart had earned our trust. He went from the smart-ass brother to the father a generation wished they had. “Jon Stewart” is dead. We shall never see his like again.

I thought Stewart’s final monologue, coming toward the end of his final show last night, was something akin to Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” farewell speech in the sense that it was surprising and timeless and should be listened to.  Speaking for the last time at (to?) his old friend, Camera Three, Stewart talked openly (and un-bleeped) about bullshit.  It was an optimistic speech and a perfect summation of what Stewart has been doing these few years – exposing bullshit in the media and in politics.  He broke down the types of bullshit and urged us to be vigilant.  He’s telling us to do for ourselves what we have relied on him to do.  Maybe it is time we flew from the nest.  Watch this:

Here’s a “rough transcript” that appeared on Twitter last night:



UPDATE:  Writing about Stewart’s monologue, the New York Times uses the actual word “bullshit” — rare.