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I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The cool, refreshing rush of hatred

I write for a newspaper, and I often write about what I think, so I get my share of hate mail. After all these years (OK, five years), I sometimes wonder if I have become so jaded that the ability to hate a newspaper story written about somebody else has left me. Thanks to this, my fear has been abated.

I don't hate this story because I love Jon Stewart. I hate it because the guy makes an annoying argument. First off, he never says why Stewart isn't funny. He falls back on that age old track of ripping "the elite" for thinking that he's funny. If "the elite" finds him funny, he must be an elitist, right? Because, seriously, why doesn't this fella do more jokes about how his wife won't let him watch football?

This leads into the second thing I hate about the story: the guy either is an idiot or deliberately misleading with numbers. I quoth: Take a look at the Nielsen figures for the show, and the numbers are startling. This supposedly terrific program, with its high hipness factor - people actually say they get their only news from "The Daily Show" - is averaging 1.3 million viewers in January, most of them men between the ages of 18 and 49. During November, the political high season in which Stewart and his cohorts supposedly thrive, the show averaged 1.45 million viewers ... For comparison, Nielsen estimates there are 218 million people over the age of 18 in the nation's 112 million homes with televisions.

I'm not even going to waste my time debunking the popularity=good argument. Does this guy really believe that every single one of those 218 million people watch TV every single minute of the day every day? Does he believe even 50 percent of them do? What is he, 5? Even if all those people were TV-obsessed shut-ins, they have 500 channels to choose from. That tends to divide the audience a bit. But Huff addresses this point.

Now, before the legions of Stewartites start bellyaching that the show airs on Comedy Central, so the numbers are going to be smaller, stop. Comedy Central is in 88 million homes, so it's well-distributed.

Again, he's either stupid or misleading. Being in a home doesn't mean the channel is being watched. I have approximately 79 channels that I have never, ever watched in my life. If a cable show can get over a million vierwers, that's a success.

I did write this guy some knee-jerk hate mail, by the way:

Hey Richard,

I'm sorry you don't like Jon Stewart. Unfortunately, Larry the Cable Guy wasn't available to host the Oscars. Maybe Carrot Top is free?

A member of the non-masses,

Steven Hyden

I admit, my references were easy. But I was too busy enjoying the hatred to care.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. What a goose hag. I'm glad you were able to rediscover that ability to hate.

In other news, Maury is having "My wife needs to know.... I have sex with men for money!"

,m

12:02 PM  
Blogger Thomas Roz said...

Dude needed something to write about other than the latest "Desperate Housewives" spat. Pretty lame reasoning on his part, I must say. Even if you don't find Stewart and his writers funny, how can you not respect the niche they've carved on cable? And I hate the "this is where people get their news" soapbox. You can't get with the show's humor unless you pay attention to credible news outlets. Hahaha ... a Hamas joke. How ... funny?

12:33 PM  
Blogger paul said...

I'm a fairly recent Daily Show convert due to 1. cable package finally including Comedy Channel and 2. TiVO, but it is the rare show that goes beyond triggering amusement into producing a real laugh for me. I only wish the guests were a little more Charlie Rose and a little less Tonight Show, but that is a fairly minor beef.

That being said, I don't think it is a moral weakness of the writer not to find Jon Stewart funny or to pan his selection as the host of the Oscars. I feel the same way about Viva La Bam. In some ways, one might find this kind of criticism encouraging in the same way that Sarah (my teenage stepdaughter) finds it encouraging that I don't like some of her shows.

I do think it is a weakness of the author not to offer an alternative when making such a complaint. Maybe Oprah would be a suitable host for the "Woman's" Super Bowl? She can certainly think on her feet. Upon further analysis, he may find that the media doesn't produce universally adored personalities anymore. Events like the Oscars and the Super Bowl are exceptions that prove the rule of our splintered mediascape.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Steve Hyden said...

I don't care if this guy doesn't like Jon Stewart. Just point out why he isn't funny. Are his punchlines too easy? His points too obvious? His schhtick too obnoxious? Just give me something other than the old "TV critics like him and regular people don't" line.

1:23 PM  
Blogger paul said...

Yeah... as a criticism of the Daily Show franchise, the article didn't do its job.

But, I doubt that you would get the same hate rush if he had written a poorly constructed criticism/commentary on 'Hope and Faith', for example.

1:39 PM  

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