If you only caught parts of Rally For Sanity on TV, or the net, you could be forgiven for wondering what exactly it was all about. Even Stewart himself acknowledge the ambiguity in his own message “What exactly was this?”
For me yesterday’s Rally is an extension of what Jon Stewart has been doing since he took over The Daily Show. Slamming the news media, with its own medium. The Rally, is just another medium, albeit much much larger, to flip over.
Sitting at the rear of the press section, looking over all the TV cameras, photographers, journalists scribbling furiously, broadcasters practicing live crosses, this event is to big for media to ignore. I couldn’t help but feel an immense sense of irony as Stewart and his team carefully slapped faces of the 24 hour TV networks, and the press, with only a passing mention to Capitol Hill for two hours straight.
“The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems and illuminate problems heretofore unseen, or it can use its magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous-flaming-ant epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.” (Jon Stewart)
For four nights a week Stewart himself uses his magnifying glass to do the same to the fourth estate. Yesterday he used the biggest magnifying glass possible and took the piss on the biggest scale imaginable.
The show itself tried valiantly to entertain the masses gathered. While the nuance of the comedic pieces got lost on the sea of rally goers, the sentiment didn’t.
For Stewart this wasn’t about politics, it was about society, and how the media is polarising its audience and turning them against each other. Unsurprisingly such a complex idea doesn’t translate to clicks, or sound bytes. As a result, the following day, it was covered very little in the mainstream media as Jeff Jarvis writes.
“The morning after: The Rally to Restore Sanity was about media, but media didn’t hear. The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, MSNBC, and, of course, Fox News all played it down on their home pages; the Guardian and Die Zeit Online played it bigger.”
But does that really matter when 215000 moderately minded individuals (125000 more than Glen Beck’s Rally) came out to support, and cheer on their spokesperson for reason? I don’t think so.
At the time, sitting at the back of the media pack in the National Mall, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this event. 24 hours later I am blown away, by Stewart’s courage and feel privileged to be part of the biggest satirical event ever staged.
Irony is alive and well in the United States of America.