Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Journalistic 2nd cousins on the offensive as a Confirmation illustration

(maybe I should call these posts the Jon Stewart clip of the week)

Another reason I appreciate Jon Stewart is that he doesn't pass himself off as a classic serious journalist. He only exposes how foolish journalists can appear. In this clip, Jon goes after CNBC for its claim to be a high quality source of financial information. I appreciate that he is an equal opportunity skewer--if you look foolish as a broadcast journalist, you will be exposed, regardless of whether you are Fox, CNN, CNBC or any of their cousins. Not only is the content suspect, but the approach; talking heads really aren't talking heads any more. They're SCREAMING heads--which increases the chance of looking ridiculous, while also reducing credibility of the content. Passion is appropriate and desirable, but it seems like there's the audio level is either around 1-3 on the dial, or it's all the way up to 11. Broadcast journalist/personalities use far too much 11. As do preachers.

Stewart's points regarding current events hold greater resonance because they take away the fear of naming injustice and foolishness. Martin Luther also used humor as a rhetorical device in exposing injustice in the church--this was a powerful discussion last weekend as I taught Confirmation. We are currently watching the 2003 film "Luther." The students were trying to understand the humor of Luther as he lectured to theology students in Wittenberg. They didn't understand why it was funny until we discussed the quip "18 of the 12 apostles are buried in Spain," lampooning the market for relics and making money for the church off of fear. So I asked them who uses humor to expose injustice? They named Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart almost right away. This was a great Confirmation discussion--although I'm not sure folks from my seminary would readily draw parallels between Jon Stewart and Martin Luther.

What else do Luther and Stewart have in common? I'm sure they could both be asses. Actually we know a lot about Luther being an ass--he's not exactly a good role model for analyses on ethnicity or race. And Jon Stewart can be a one trick pony--but Luther and Stewart are good tacticians of humor and exposing injustice and foolishness.

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