Friday, January 21, 2011

Laughing in the Dark

I'm keeping a blog on public diplomacy for my course, and as I'm not above poaching my own material, I'm reprinting today's entry below:

Thursday night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart interviews Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi of Parazit, a VOA-sponsored Iranian satirical news show:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Kambiz Hosseini & Saman Arbabi Extended Interview
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

These men have not only exquisite taste in both trousers and blog hosts, but a passion for addressing tyranny and hypocrisy, with humor. In terms of reaching an audience, the men say people either love them or hate them. The people they try to reach are in the first category, and the people in the second category tend to be the subjects of their show.

As a public diplomacy vehicle, VOA is regarded by some as propaganda and by others as legitimate journalism, but by other measure, the men behind Parazit have made major strides over the past two years -- and not just because they get free kebabs at restaurants now. They've attracted a diverse and growing audience and earned a reputation for even-handedness in their coverage of the news. As an August 2010 PBS interview of the duo reported, "When audiences tune in, they understand that no one is beyond the reach of the show's biting wit."

I've frequently expressed dubiousness about the effectiveness of Twitter and other social networking sites in bringing about change, and I don't think these men are going to start a revolution overnight. Still, as Mark Twain wisely noted, "The human race has only one really effective weapon, and that is laughter."

No comments:

Post a Comment