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So say you're a corporation. Say you want to influence the US government on one of your
favorite issues. What's a better value proposition? Should you buy a congressman? Or should you
buy stock in Time Warner, the parent company of HBO? I am referring, of course to the surprising
power wielded by John Oliver.
John Oliver, if you're not aware, is a British comedian who permanently resides in the United
States. A Daily Show cast member for eight years, In April of 2014 he launched Last Week
Tonight on HBO. The power of News and Comedy is not a new phenomenon. Jon Stewart and Stephen
Colbert have been celebrated for it for over a decade now, but Last Week Tonight is kind
of a new beast.
Stewart can provide a reliably progressive and sarcastic take on the days events, but
he has to be careful. He still doesn’t want to antagonize advertisers. That’s why the
Daily Show mostly just preaches to the choir on the generally acknowledged evils of Fox
HBO is different, it's a subscription service. The lack of advertisers means you can do what
you want, as long as people want to watch it. Bill Maher has been on HBO for a while,
but he seems to mostly use the platform for poorly researched whining about Muslims and
for blathering from half-literate celebrities. From the get-go Oliver was up to something
Every episode features an in-depth segment on a single issue, that gets released to Youtube.
I’ve never actually watched a full episode of the show, but I’ve watched the YouTube
segments with growing interest. He has shed new light on topics ranging from Net Neutrality
to the ways that State legislatures make laws.
In October he weighed in on Civil Forfeiture laws. These laws represent one of the worst
aspects of the drug war. As I’ve covered elsewhere, Last Friday Eric Holder, the US
Attorney General, announced that the Federal Government was reducing its exposure to the
Civil Forfeiture business by limiting the ¨Equitable Sharing” program.
People have been trying to fight this program for decades with no result. The US congress
tried to reform equitable Sharing in 2000, but a last minute amendment neutered the legislation.
Like most of the Drug War, Civil Forfeiture was an evil boondoggle that it seemed nobody
could beat. John Oliver has made real progress with a 16 minute comedy piece involving pop
culture jokes.
No holds barred satire has a long and noble tradition, but its hard to find real examples
in Television. People talk about the Smothers Brothers, a few Saturday Night Live sketches
and the careers of the odd comic here and there, but all of them end up kicked off the
air. It shouldn’t have taken 70 years for us to get to true consistent TV satire, but it appears
that we’re finally here. Im still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that it took
a wayward unit of the Time Warner empire to get us here. Long may it last. If John Oliver
can stay the course, he may end up as one of the greats.
Thanks for Watching. Please Subscribe.


How Powerful Is John Oliver?

208 タグ追加 保存
ShangKuan Liang-chih 2016 年 7 月 26 日 に公開
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