Humor is a powerful tool that can be harnessed by the alternative media in an effort to give a voice to the disenfranchised and to attract an audience for alternative thought. For the purposes of this project, alternative media is an amorphous term that can be applied to any media that is owned by an independent company rather than a mainstream corporation or media that gives significant attention to views not normally expressed by that of the mainstream. This project will examine the uses and reactions to comedy in the alternative media, as well as study the alternative media that use comedy as a way to usurp the mainstream media's hold on the way news is delivered and discussed. These forms will include television, such as news spoof shows The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and printed sources, such as the satirical newspaper The Onion and several alternative political cartoons.
[...] The viewing public and the CNN network executive were forced to agree with his assessment. This may be one of the most blatant examples of how political comedy can affect the mainstream media in a way that might make more room for alternative viewpoints. As an aside, it turns out that Carlson's arguments about the lack of hard- hitting news on The Daily Show were not only irrelevant, but untrue. Indiana University has recently announced a new study conducted by Julia R. Fox, an assistant professor of telecommunications. [...]
[...] It would certainly be nice if, after every episode of The Colbert Report or every glance at a Minimum Security cartoon, the viewer took those punch lines and turned them into positive political change. But these vehicles for laughter don't offer concrete ways to do that. Laughing at the mainstream is the first step; realizing the inherent failings in our media is the first step; taking part in the mockery is the first step. The next step is tricky, vague, and has many paths. If these types of comedy weren't available, I believe there would be a void in American media that would be incredibly detrimental to the alternative press. [...]
[...] Though the Comedy Central channel may not be an alternative platform (the repercussions of which will be discussed later), the humor of these two shows seems to advocate beliefs often found in the alternative media. The popularity of these two programs points to the idea that many people agree with the decidedly anti- conservative sentiments expressed by Stewart and Colbert. At the very least, they enjoy mocking the mainstream along with the hosts. Interestingly enough, the Fox News channel recently responded to this growing popularity by launching their own comedy news show with a defined right-wing slant. [...]
[...] In a country with a twenty- four hour news cycle, where celebrity fluff pieces are filling the airwaves, and it behooves the mainstream corporations to take a soft touch to the day's news for the sake of ratings and shareholders, alternative media is fighting a losing battle. So what exactly is there to laugh about? Everything. Comedy is one of the greatest coping mechanisms in human history. “That's what we always laugh off—gravity; the weight and pressure of life (gravitas means seriousness), until we feel light enough, finally, to rise above our problems (levitas means lightness),” notes Barry Sanders in his book's introduction. [...]
[...] Another form of comedy in the alternative print media is political cartoons. Many small alternative newspapers print syndicated cartoons that share their views and, like the modern edition of The Onion, many cartoons find a home online. Stephanie McMillan, creator of the comic Minimum Security, says she can humor to try to help people open up to issues that they might otherwise be unwilling to confront.” Unlike television shows or satirical newspapers, political cartoons have to get their message across in a very small amount of space, which may make alternative political cartoons seem more aggressive in their treatment of subjects. [...]
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