Oh, celebrities – is there anything they can’t do? They run for governor, they raise awareness levels for charities, and lately they even get politically active. However, there are two kinds of political celebrities: the ones who genuinely care, and then there are the ones who are just getting active for the same reason Jennifer Lopez gets married – for publicity.
Enter my hero, Jon Stewart.
In case you were one of the unfortunate souls who missed it, Jon Stewart appeared on CNN’s Crossfire and said what many Americans have been saying about the news for years: “It’s hurting America.”
Stewart held his own on Crossfire, particularly fending off questions from co-host Tucker Carlson, who was expecting a walk-in-the-park interview with a Comedy Central comedian. Instead, he got a well-educated debater, which was a change that many, including myself, did not see coming.
Stewart came across as educated, poignant and relaxed all at the same time, proving that comedians can be smart after all. He contested that in order for a democracy to function correctly, the news must provide correct and relevant information to the masses. And suddenly Stewart is the newest advocate for an overhaul of news media. Some cite that he is not really a journalist; others think he is biting the hands that feed him. I say it is about time.
When the Bush administration’s claim that their were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq proved false, The Daily Show seemed to take the viewpoint much of the media seemed to have missed. Their basic stance was: We have been wronged – why doesn’t anybody else see this? Who is asking the hard questions here? Where were our CNN and Fox News then? Why did they seem to give the administration a free ride?
While I’ll admit hindsight is 20/20, it just seems unreasonable that it takes a news show on Comedy Central to give the masses the other side of the story.
Now on one side of the spectrum we have Jon Stewart, whose complaints are well thought-out and supported. But on the other side we have Eminem. Of course when I need insightful political observations I look toward Marshall Mathers.
Eminem’s new video “Mosh” is his first (and hopefully only) attempt at political awareness. It begins with Slim Shady pouring over negative headlines about the Bush presidency showing the misfortunes of some American people. The people get angry, throw on black hoodies and march behind Eminem to the voting booth.
The heart of Eminem’s message is a positive one: get out and vote. However, I question his motivation. Eminem made a name for himself creating controversies to piss off America. If you recall, he caught a great deal of flak for derogatory remarks on homosexuals in songs such as “Criminal.” Of course one should not take Eminem’s comments to heart, as he is just looking to stir the pot a bit. But if you know anything about marketing, you will know that controversy sells, and Eminem is no dummy. Along with the homosexual community, he blasted congress for Columbine in “The Way I Am” and even Christopher Reeve in “I’m Back.” But now he needs something new. So he latched on to the likes of Green Day, and hoped to give his carrier a jump-start by getting political.
While Jon Stewart was on Crossfire was to promote his book, it was barely mentioned at all. He used his segment on the show to question the integrity of their program.
On the other hand, Eminem, has even said in a Rolling Stone interview that he has never voted before, and one reason he wants Bush out is due to fear that his little brother will be drafted. This is all despite the fact that both candidates have taken the same stance against the draft, and the bill that would have implemented it (HR 163) was struck down recently: 402 to 2.
Obviously if Eminem had been slightly informed, his opinions would be more educated, and they might hold some validity.
If celebrities decide to voice their opinions they should do so intelligently and productively, like Jon Stewart. By taking it to the media, he is making the American people aware of how they are being used and lied to. Eminem’s actions are uninformed and his motives are questionable.
I hope America can see the difference.
Sean Blanda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.