Sorry, Jon Stewart, but I was just way too busy to make it to your rally

(2PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

As we all know, there was a rally in Washington, DC on Saturday.  It’s gotten tons of attention in the media and had some high profile guests, like The Roots, Jeff Tweedy, the Mythbusters and, of course, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Its aim is…well, nothing.  Just to get together on the national mall, have some laughs, and get the Viacom-sponsored duo some attention.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But my previous enthusiasm for the rally and for the brave master satirists hosting it has been tempered lately.  It seems not to be any kind of beneficial political activity, but, as Irregular Times put it, a promotion of “inactivism.”

The Rally to Restore Sanity was corporate-sponsored, televised, tweeted, and perhaps a strikingly accurate (and sad) reflection of what America is today.

The website Irregular Times has done a good job of writing about this over the past few days.  Here are a few choice cuts:

Fuck you, Kid Rock

“I can’t stop the war, shelter homeless, feed the poor

I can’t walk on water, I can’t save your sons and daughters

Well I can’t change the world to make things fair

The least that I can do is care.”

– Kid Rock, Rally to Restore Sanity

The hell you can’t:

Kid Rock,

who lives in one mansion in Malibu

another mansion in Michigan

and voted for John McCain

to keep his capital gains taxes lower

The man is filthy rich. Kid Rock can do a lot of the things he says he can’t do. He chooses not to. If we work together, we can stop the war, shelter homeless, feed the poor and change the world to make things fair. Will we choose to?

Jon Stewart’s Rally To Help Corporations Outsource American Jobs To Overseas Sweatshop

Unlike a genuine political rally, Jon Stewart’s Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear was full of corporate advertisements. People attending the rally were handed pre-made signs to show whether they stood with Sanity or with Fear… and on the back of every sign was an advertisement for Yahoo.

In another bit of advertising, free hand towels were handed out to people attending the rally, because… well, I have no idea why they were handed out. What do people attending a rally on the National Mall need with a hand towel? The hand towels featured the official logo of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, and the logo of Reese’s, which makes candies with chocolate that’s harvested by child slaves in Africa. The towel itself was manufactured not in the USA, but in India, where textiles factories have a long and consistent history of using child labor, paid pennies a day to work in dangerous sweatshop conditions, if the children are paid at all.

Jon Stewart Fans Go To D.C. To Watch TV And Laugh At Old Jokes

The most surreal moment came before the official start of the rally, when the TV screens were turned on and tuned in to the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Huge crowds of people fell silent, and gazed up at the screens en masse.

Then, the crowds were shown old clips from the Daily Show and Colbert Report. The clips were from the shows in which Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced that they would hold a rally in the first place. Almost everyone in the crowds had already seen these clips, if not once, many times. Yet, they laughed.

The crowds laughed at jokes they had already heard about a rally that was being planned, but which they were actually attending in the present. The rally was a re-run even before it was over.

That’s when it hit me: These people had all come to Washington D.C., not to participate in any rally for anything, but just to watch television.

Even Jon Stewart’s big final speech that focused on the role of the media was incredibly frustrating.  The lack of depth seen in the media is precisely because of control of corporate conglomerates like Viacom, which sponsored the rally.  And instead of focusing on breaking up the big media companies or something like that, Stewart took a very superficial view of politics, calling only for “moderation,” which is an ambiguously beneficial quality in politics.

I know Stewart said that he wasn’t trying to insult people who are passionate and active in politics.  But that is exactly what he did.  He mocked us and he encouraged people to do anything else before they join our ranks.  His rally – with a rallying cry of “I can’t change the world” – served only to justify servile passivity and guiltless obedience to the ruling order, one which nourishes itself through war profits, oil profits, and sadistic practices like state-sanctioned torture.

And I know it wasn’t supposed to be a political rally!  But that’s beside the point that’s being made here.  Over 200,000 people showed up for what was essentially a big concert.  When I went to the nation’s capital in March to protest against the war, there were, at most, about 10,000 people there.

We have become a corporatized people, and that can perhaps be demonstrated by both this rally and the rally which preceded it.  Glenn Beck’s disgusting perversion of Martin Luther King’s rally was indeed a corporate-sponsored event.  Corporate donors are what fuels the Tea Party, not any kind of grassroots effort, which is mild at its strongest.  The rally this Saturday, on the other hand, was more blatantly passive and corporate-sponsored.

This might sound ridiculous at first, but Stewart’s rally was, in a way, a kind of tea party of the Democratic Party (I would have said “American left” there, but the left is mostly outside of the Democrats and maybe too small to merit a role in Stewart’s rally).  It was a timid gathering of misguided individuals who have legitimate anger toward the status quo (and of course not all of the attendees came because of politics), but are only reinforcing it through their actions.

Even our activism is corporatized these days.  We’re raising money for candidates along with corporations or we’re attending corporate-sponsored rallies or we’re tempering our criticisms so we don’t offend the corporate-sponsored media or we’re buying products “for a cause.”  We’ve been turned off, tuned out, and dropped into a culture of consumerism, and even our activism is now following.

So, yes, I was too busy to go to the rally on Saturday.  I was spending a few hours working for a local Green Party candidate, making my voice heard, not content to merely laugh away the nation’s troubles.

18 comments

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    • Mu on October 31, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    .

     . . . your cynicism re:  Jon “It’s Both Sides’ Fault” Stewart.

     That he would lump Olbermann in with the likes of Beck and Hannity, well, I’m done with Stewart.  What bullshit.

     Here’s what I wrote, not too many moments ago, on Huffington Post (that some certainly “get” and others, well, don’t):

    Thank you.

    Maddening to see, even here, this “it’s both sides” narrative puked-forth. As I say in a reply below, please, show me the ideological pure and wild-eyed Trotskyites that now dominate the Democratic Party a la how the TeaPeople and other fanatics now dominate the GOP.

    I’m not that old, but I’m old enough to know and to remember that the Democratic Party has moved to the Right, dragged along by a GOP that’s moved from the mere Right to the crazy Kook Right. The fact — FACT — that the John Birch Society’s having a resurgence and is not seen as extremist anymore by Republicans (Goldwater thought the Birchers were nuts – Goldwater) is indicative of the degree to which the GOPs gone stark raving Right Wing mad.

    But the Kumbaya-ers here want to pretend that it’s “both sides.”

    .

     and this (echoed in many of my recent comments here at Docudharma, too):


    You’re either too young or too delusional to see that there IS NO “left” counterpart to the Tealiban in America. The Democratic Party is much more to the Right of what it was a generation ago. If things were “balanced” then the Democratic Party would now be dominated and pushed by a loud, wild-eyed, uncompromising faction of Trotskyites who have a few dozen of such faction’s candidates in neck-and-neck races against moderate Republicans (as if!) for the U.S. House and Senate.

    Please, point those out to me. Name names. Name House and Senate races where the Democratic Trotskyites and Bolsheviks are in barn-burner races with moderate Republicans.

    Well?

    .

    • Diane G on October 31, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    around the 2:48 (past actually) mark on c-spans coverage of the Comedy Rally – Stewart talks about why be afraid of stupid shit when there are real threats like MARXISTS homophobes and racists who DO want to ruin America.

    http://www.c-span.org/Watch/Me

    “Marxists actively working to subvert our constitution, like racists and homophobes who see nobody’s humanity but their own”

    Got that?

    If you think that Capitalism is bad, that Corporations are bad, you are the REAL enemy, just like haters.

    Now, some of the show, flitting through it was cool – but THAT is the Comedy Central Channels MESSAGE… everything is cool, but those three things.

    Muslim doesn’t equal terrorist, but ALL anti-capitalists are bad.

    But thats isn’t who real Liberals are according to John.

    We must all make reasonable compromises now.

    Yeah, like thats not what we have been doing, while getting our throats slashed John.

  1. Rossi, I respect and agree with most all of what you have to say – but this time I disagree

    Stewart’s corporate sponsorship – not shocking.  After the 90’s Woodstock, I firmly believe a turd would get corporate sponsorship, if a dollar could be made.

    Is Stewart a  Bill Moyers? Hell no – he’s a a comedian. An entertainer. As for Stephen Colbert, look at his bio. He could care less about politics. He just found a lucrative revenue stream.

    Having said that, because the entire TV media is corporatist, there are very few TV reporters now that are credible or have the cajones to ask tough questions. Each side has cheerleaders, but no real reporters.

    What I find as a real shame, is a comedian is the only one who posed the exact questions to our president, that I would have.

    Oh yeah, and don’t forget the meaning of “.com” .

    • banger on October 31, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    was just a fan rally and had nothing to do with politics–it was, in fact, anti-political telling us just to accept the status-quo and admire our own cleverness at seeing beyond the theatrics that passes for politics in this country. Well this is so obvious that it takes no cleverness to see. People are just thrilled to see someone famous actually admit he sees the absurdity too. It was a cultural not political rally as was, in actuality the Beck rally.  

  2. kos what

    busy doing this

    http://www.survivalrealty.com/

    • Diane G on November 1, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    http://www.truthdig.com/report

    I wrote it up here:

    http://wildwildleft.com/diary/

  3. Photobucket

    only evidence that it was somewhat worth it :-/

    • Xanthe on November 2, 2010 at 11:11 am
  4. Hard to imagine getting a chance to ask Obama questions for 15-20 minutes and not bring up Iraq or Afghanistan.

    http://www.commondreams.org/vi

    Jon Stewart spent a whole show last week interviewing Obama about everything from health care to the economy. But neither man mentioned the wars, even though the billions spent on them could go a long way toward fixing the economy and paying for health care

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