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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What to Expect from Daily Show/Colbert Report Rally in Washington?

John Stewart and Stephen Colbert do not claim the mantle of journalist, nor are they pundits, or activists, or even advocates.  They are self-deprecating and humble entertainers.  But the message behind their truthiness and satirical comedy may inspire a usually uninspired segment of Americans to get off the couch and head to the nation’s capitol for the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” on Saturday, October 30. 

“The appeal of Stewart and Colbert will draw people to the National Mall who might not otherwise turn out at a political rally or participate in politics in traditional ways,” said Lauren Feldman, assistant professor of communication at American University, whose research includes the political impact of late-night comedy. “Ultimately, Stewart and Colbert are comedians, and because they are billing the events as entertainment and not as a call to action, the rally could even be an attraction for people who don’t typically follow politics closely.”

Feldman says the Stewart/Colbert events have the potential to reach people far beyond those flocking to Washington, D.C., October 30. Satellite events in cities across the country, including Chicago and Seattle, and buzz in social and mainstream media will likely lead to a “snowball” effect, drawing even more people into the process than the D.C. events would on their own.

“Media coverage of the events, which likely will be widespread across entertainment-oriented as well as traditional news outlets, will help make the midterm elections more top-of-mind to citizens who may be on the fence about whether they’ll vote on Election Day,” Feldman said.

I’m going to the event with my wife and some other friends living in D.C., and I have to admit I’m not sure what to expect.  One friend told me she was troubled by the idea of celebrating apathy, and others have wondered what exactly the show will contain.  Will it just be a 3-hour version of the Daily Show and Colbert Report?  Or will there be something of more substance, some plea for real debate or an urge to participate in the process? 

We shall see.  And hopefully, we shall be entertained.

Are you or anyone you know going?  Tell me what you expect to see, or what you thought after the event in the comments. 

Read more about professor Feldman’s analysis and work at American University here: Stewart/Colbert Events Are Path to Deeper Political Activism

Posted by Thom Canalichio on 10/20/10 at 01:21 PM

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