Ironic sincerityhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/ironic-sincerity/

Ironic sincerity

Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity was both chaotic and worthwhile

It’s always been the comedian’s prerogative to speak truth to power,but when television satire sensations Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert led a Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington,the simple force of their premise was undercut only by the archness of the whole affair.

The 215,000-strong rally was billed as a non-partisan event — though it was a response to the Glenn Beck-led Rally to Restore Honour in August,and right before Tuesday’s mid-term election. The idea was not to express any specific political disgruntlement,but to take America’s national temperature down a few notches. Instead of the fervid imaginings and invective that passes for political discussion,the rally asked for a more civil,rational discourse. “If we amplify everything,we hear nothing,” said Stewart. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) started on a soulful ‘Peace Train’,only to be cut off by Ozzy Osbourne singing ‘Crazy Train’ and then,a final love train — it exemplified the chaotic,interrupted ethos he was talking about.

In parts,it was almost unbearably meta,a rally that mocked the idea of the serious political rally,and the reporting of it,it was ironic even about irony and sanity. Sample this from Stewart: “There are two options for reporting on a rally — it was either a tremendous success or horrendous failure.” And this: “some of you see it as a clarion call for action. Some of you more ironic cats see it as a ‘clarion call’ for ‘action.’” There were placards puncturing the idea of placards,and messages happily clashing with each other. Which was as it should be,given that there was no concentrated message to convey — except the one civics lesson on the sign that said “I disagree with you,but I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler.”