Jon Stewart's Daily Dose of
They're not fake news. They take the real news and spin it into a fake newscast, but the facts are real, and the people they have on the show are very real, the issues are very real, and the impact they're having is very real.I've been meaning to write about the Daily Show. What exactly is "the impact they're having?"
-Huffington Post's Rachel Sklar in this video about the feud between Geraldo/O'Reilly and Colbert/Stewart.
What is the Daily Show about, really? It's just sort of vague irony and cynicism. The Colbert Report, at least, is a satire of right wing zealots. The Daily Show isn't really about anything.The Village Voice recently discussed an academic study that found that in 2004, young people who were exposed to the Daily Show became more cynical about politics and the news media.
-Musician and cultural critic Reginald Lamar
It may be more instructive to see The Daily Show not as an agent of disaffection so much as a symptom of a larger psychological trend. In Generation Me, Twenge cites 40 years of data from a popular psychological scale that measures "internal" versus "external" personalities. ... By the researchers' yardstick, the average college student in the early 2000s is more "external"—that is to say, more cynical—than 80 percent of her early-'60s forebears. The long-term effects of rising externality are clear and grim. "The impression is that there's nothing I can do and it's all going to hell, and you can see that in kids as young as nine," says Twenge. "Some of it is actually realism and practicality, but some of it is counterproductive cynicism.Hm, not the same, but certainly not preferable, either (or is the Voice doing that 90s trick where 'the actual meaning is the complete opposite from the literal meaning'?). Anyhow, it all sounds an awful lot like the argument for depressive realism, which holds that depressives perceive the world around them more clearly than "healthy" people do (since part of clinical healthiness is preserving oneself from the harshness of reality).
"Everything that externality correlates with is horrible: bad academic performance, depression, anxiety, alienation," Twenge continues. "And yet the argument makes sense—of course we can't all change the world. Certainly for young people who are left of center, this last presidential election was a lesson in cynicism." Since Twenge's Generation Me is akin to a big-tent Generation X, perhaps that epoch-defining aphorism from Slacker still applies: "Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy."
One cognitive symptom of depression might be the loss of optimistic, self-enhancing biases that normally protect healthy people against assaults to their self-esteem. In many instances, depressives may simply be judging themselves and the world much more accurately than non-depressed people, and finding it not a pretty place.
OK, so there's a certain clarity to depressive realism. But a depressive realist argument against political idealism amounts to my 8th grade motto "why bother?" Well, that's not a very inspirational position from which to cover the news.
Somebody get Jon Stewart some St. John's Wort. Or at least a coherent point of view.