Is it possible that instead of tearing down the hegemonies that exist within Western culture, satirical news programs produce ideologies that hinder serious critique and perpetuate the status quo? How does this form of satirical resistance provide an understanding of power-resistance?
It could be posited that satirical/pundit news shows, although well intended, function to break down cultures, conflate ethnic identities, and reconstruct mythologies that serve to destroy the people for whom they are intending to be advocates. This has serious implications as a people without a culture are no longer a people. Mythologies and/or ideologies serve to bolster our cultural identities and are a vital part of any healthy society. Although the misappropriation of culturally identifying mythologies has been successfully utilized throughout history by various conquering societies, it warrants questioning if contemporary satirical news shows are contributing any lasting impact to the struggle against the status quo.
The Daily Show, hosted by John Stewart, admirably strives to counter the poor journalism of various news programs. The weapon of choice in this noble battle is usually referred to as comedy, but is better defined as satire. The question posited is whether the use of satire can successfully breakdown the cultural hegemonies of Western society, or if it inadvertently helps to perpetuate the forms of power that serves to make individuals it subjects? The Daily Show claims that it is fake news and only exists to make real news accountable to its primary duty of informing the individual of what is occurring in the world around them. The primary areas in which The Daily Show focuses its satirical thrust are Social and political. It can be argued that these have a direct correlation to ethnicity, society, and religion which were identified by Foucault as the forms of domination with which humanity struggles. Although The Daily Show touches occasionally on forms of exploitation, it is in actuality dealing with the issues of domination. Ironically Foucault’s third form of struggle is against forms of subjectivity and submission, that which ties the individual to self and places him in submission to others. The Daily Show does not directly address this issue, yet its individuals, and those who watch them are at the heart of this form of struggle.
The political satire of Western culture is a rich field of observation that deserves far more research attention than it currently receives. The issues of power-resistance within societies takes many invisible forms that are rendered visible through the observation of our cultural media products. It might be that the buffoonery displayed by this form of resistance is not an apt representation of the satirist, but is in actuality the exposed buffoonery of those in power who are being resisted. This realization, if proven valid, would challenge the understanding of satirists, comedians, clowns and jesters, who are not making fools of themselves, but serve as mirrors that reflect the foolishness of those in power.