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Jon Stewart Interview and new movie

Jon Stewart Is Back to Weigh In - The New York Times
Jon Stewart photo taken by Bobby Doherty

The June 15, 2020 issue of The New York Times Magazine has a feature interview with Jon Stewart being interviewed by David Marchese, called, “Jon Stewart is Back to Weigh In.”

When asked about George Floyd’s murder by police:

The police are a reflection of a society. They’re not a rogue alien organization that came down to torment the black community. They’re enforcing segregation. Segregation is legally over, but it never ended. The police are, in some respects, a border patrol, and they patrol the border between the two Americas. We have that so that the rest of us don’t have to deal with it.

About recognizing ambivalence about law-enforcement:

It can be true that you can value and admire the contribution and sacrifice that it takes to be a law-enforcement officer or an emergency medical worker in this country and yet still feel that there should be standards and accountability. Both can be true. But I still believe that the root of this problem is the society that we’ve created that contains this schism, and we don’t deal with it, because we’ve outsourced our accountability to the police.

Facing the reality of centuries-long oppression of a people in the United States:

You know, we’re in a bizarre time of quarantine. White people lasted six weeks and then stormed a state building with rifles, shouting: ‘‘Give me liberty! This is causing economic distress! I’m not going to wear a mask, because that’s tyranny!’’ That’s six weeks versus 400 years of quarantining a race of people. The policing is an issue, but it’s the least of it. We use the police as surrogates to quarantine these racial and economic inequalities so that we don’t have to deal with them.

Jon has made a movie, “Irresistable,” that is making a theatrical and video-on-demand premier on June 26.  (Just saw Plan B — Brad Pitt movie company is involved also.)

 

 

Jon’s thoughts on the movie:

So the idea was to satirize that, to get people to step back and go, ‘‘Participation in this corrupt system is inherently a corrupting process.’’ Because until we view it from that perspective, we will find ourselves stuck in it. That was the thought process behind the movie.

Important words of wisdom about the role of the journalist:

The media’s job is to deconstruct the manipulation, not to just call it a lie. It’s about informing on how something works so that you understand the lie’s purpose. What are the structural issues underneath the lie? The media shouldn’t take the political system personally, or allow its own narcissism to rise to the narcissism of the politicians, or become offended that the politicians are lying — their job is to manipulate.

The voice of reason and reality.

Racism is built into this system. But not all the people in it are malevolent and active racists. There is an inert racism that exists, and it’s pernicious, but I don’t believe everybody who’s part of it is evil. So it’s more a question of trying to remove a right-left axis from the conversation and instead create a conversation around conditions. Poverty is poverty. The right will talk about poverty a certain way, and the left will talk about poverty a different way, but poor people are still poor people. They’re still without political power.

A prescription and assignment for citizens of the USA:

There are issues, but again, we point a spotlight on the anecdotal and pretend that it’s universal. What that does is feed the narrative for people who want to use it for their own purposes. That’s what drives me bananas. We’re basically having giant public fights about symbolism, while the reality of our situation goes unexamined. You’re talking to me; I made a stupid movie about this, but underpinning that movie is a real thing, and the real thing is the corruption and the incompetence that we don’t even think about.

Read the full article here.

 

13 thoughts on “Jon Stewart Interview and new movie

  1. I miss Jon Stewart being on the Daily Show…I didn’t always agree with his views but more often did….intelligent funny man.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for posting this. I love Jon Stewart and I believe we need him and others to speak out against the societal atrocities continually committed in this country. I’m glad to see he is still using his platform for a good purpose. I used to watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart back when Bush Jr. was president. It helped me get through a lot of things that I didn’t agree with at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I miss Jon Stewart. He had a way to make the horrific hilarious. We need more of that these days. Everybody’s so serious and angry. It’s just depressing. Trevor Noah’s funny, but Jon Stewart is a singular talent.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Jon Stewart s a passionate insightful man and i honor his courage-not only in speaking out, but also in actually forming an opinion in the first place. However, i find it ironic that while railing against (as we all should) the tendency to focus on symbolism in order to keep from dealing with the actual issue, he falls into this same trap himself. I take real exception to the idea that the police are border guards enforcing segregation. It’s a great image but it has nothing to do with the hundreds of individual local police departments dealing with whatever comes up under their noses in the moment. Too lump all these together as if they were all one organized army under central control is just ludicrous. While I am not arguing that there is a larger net result to the various actions of all these highly diverse organizations (due to the common laziness, selfishness, greed and short-sightedness of smug, mostly white, capitalists running city councils) nevertheless each police department has its own culture and intent- some thoughtful, some not, some well-trained, others not. But the “police” being themselves diverse and fairly autonomous can only be changed for the better by the the combined efforts of the people living in the communities they oversee. Grass roots activism is the only answer that’s going to work. Maybe, that does start with riots. Certainly the abuse is real, the injustice is real, the militarization, so innately dehumanizing, is real. It takes passion and commitment and drive to be an activist and the inspiration, the call to commit may just be the phoenix rising from our urban neighborhoods in flames.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Christine. You and John (and I) will have to disagree about the border guards enforcing segregation. Where I diverge is that it isn’t along racial lines as much as socioeconomic lines. I remember my kids had a friend who lived with his parents in an exclusive part of town, one road in one road out and policed closely. I was on the way to pick them up from there in my older car with a loud muffler and got pulled over. From the cop, verbatim, “I don’t want to see you in this area again.” The message was clear. Where the “bad cops” take it a step further is if my skin was not white or I wasn’t a female, he probably would have taken the message even further.

      Police are placed in a very VERY difficult and dangerous position, caught between the culture of their fraternity, the mandate of the position, and the very real threat of their life and limb from some seriously fucked up people that carry guns. It’s an unwinnable place to be. I don’t think Jon hates police anymore than I do. We hate what they represent.

      I just watched a really good movie about the police, “Crown Vic,” that gives a halfway accurate depiction of patrol officers on the night shift in a big city.

      Like

  5. Yes, I agree the incident you describe is not uncommon – especially in very wealthy neighborhoods. But most police stations are in local precincts and small towns and deal with the internal happenings of those spaces. To talk about “The Police” as if they were one body centralized and controlled for a specific purpose is basically another kind of gross simplification – as is any ism. I’m certainly not defending police brutality or down-playing the role of many police people in perpetuating racism or classism. I am saying that to regard this large diverse body as a whole unified entity is to insure we will not solve the problem.

    Like

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