Earlier this month “The Daily Show” host, Jon Stewart announced his resignation as host of the show at the end of the year. While I still consider myself to be in a period of mourning, this announcement has allowed me to understand the impact political satires has had on the way I consume media and understand the world. He allowed the Don Lemons and Bill O’Reilly’s of the world to incessantly run their mouths while creatively and tactfully keeping it real and calling a spade, a spade.
“The Daily Show” operates as a commentary of sorts, with real news headlines cleverly manipulated to expose the contradictions and absurdities of certain opinions and ideologies. Segments such as “IndecisionX” and “Guantanmo Baywatch” are staple segments that play off of problems that we consistently seem to be talking about. Accompanied with these commentaries, Stewart regularly brings in political figures, celebrities, authors and other figures for conversations on their latest work. While this may be the more “serious” aspect of the show, the conversations are never dull and his guests come with good spirits.
Most of Stewart’s famous commentary comes shortly after breaking news events and I often find myself alternating between aggressive nodding and uncontrollable laughter during his commentary. It reminds me that I’m not alone in my opinions and that there are people who view the world in a similar light to myself.
Stewart’s tenure on the daily show is coming up on 17 years. Naturally, he has been there through all the ups and downs and has carried many through tough times. These years have allowed Stewart to maintain a rapport with his loyal audience, which has given him a sufficient amount of influence over opinions. I respect Stewart because I believe his power has been used for the greater good, since we have seen that those in positions of power often sell-out. He’s given the Bush family a run for their money, has been labeled a “self-hating Jew” for his opinion on Israel and has helped deconstruct the absurdity of Islamophobic rhetoric.
While his views are controversial to some, he is a personality that is relatable to so many. Once my mom forwarded me an email she wrote to Jon Stewart after his coverage on the Gaza war last summer. He doesn’t just speak to liberal college students, but he brings generations together through his ability to deconstruct headlines and rhetoric. His opinions have resonated with frustrated consumers of American media and whose opinions on events and personalities are appreciated.
Much of my grief about Stewart leaving the show is selfish. As someone with limited agency, I want someone in a high-profile position who encourages critical evaluation instead of blanket acceptance. Media as a whole lacks this, it contradicts its entire existence.
If you feel that Stewart didn’t represent your voice or opinion, I urge you to appreciate at his style rather than his content. While there are questions and issues that leave us heavy-hearted, or with fried brains, the humor and light-hearted comedy he brings to many of these topics make them more digestible.
Many have argued that it is Stewart’s time to leave, and after 16 years we need a younger face as the host of “The Daily Show.” And this argument is very valid – we need to give an opportunity to a younger personality so that in 20 years we have another personality so revered in the political satire community.
Obviously, the subsequent question is: who will replace Stewart? There is no doubt that there are many who are more than qualified to take his position – many of which are current correspondents on his show. At the end of the day, whoever replaces Stewart will no doubt do a fantastic job. There are plenty of personalities who have potential to change the way people consume media, like Stewart did in his capacity as host. After his stint as the director of “Rosewater,” I have faith that Stewart will continue to inspire people around the world to critically look at information that is shot to us in through the media. Change is uncomfortable, but necessary. I have hope for the future of “The Daily Show” and Jon Stewart – neither has let me down yet.
Aliza Asad is a third-year public health policy and international studies double major. She can be reached at email@example.com