He’s a funny man, that’s not the question. Funny, and his politics are right on. What’s more, anyone that can make the news digestible in times like these – times of Abu Ghraib and Robert Foley – deserves high ratings. I’ll be ditching Jon Stewart’s visit to UCSB, however, and I encourage that others do the same.
When I first arrived at UCSB two years ago, I was excited to see that high profile intellectuals and entertainers frequently skipped through campus to hold court in Campbell Hall and give lectures or presentations with political content. It builds an informed and active student culture. Now, I’m beginning to think that it’s actually impoverishing and does very little to make student politics meaningful and effective.
My prediction is this: Jon Stewart will come and give a damn funny and energizing speech. Then the students will go home. From there, they won’t join any of the relevant local organizations or movements that are actually doing something to affect the kinds of change that people like Jon Stewart sarcastically lament as necessary every night on the Daily Show. In fact, the students will be skipping meetings for such organizations so that they can spend their evening laughing about how bad things are, and about what zany thing King George did this week (if you think the recent elections are a radical change, then you’ve got another thing coming). And they’ll skip next week’s meeting and the meeting after to catch a glimpse of the next smart, funny and totally irrelevant big shot celebrity pundit. And if it’s not the meetings they’re skipping, it’s the critically important events and lectures on campus that rarely draw a crowd but are so relevant to the political power that students actually have on this campus and in this community.