You don’t even have to be a “news junkie” to be aware of the ever-erupting drama in the political arena involving weapons of any destruction. In recent weeks news, in the print, TV, and online media has headlined:
• The Benghazi tragedy with its first hope of “safe rooms” blackened by the loss of the bright talent of an up and coming American Ambassador
• The sequel or perhaps the Cliff notes, where Secretary of State Hilary Clinton describes all that was known “behind-the-scenes,” while various senators upstaged her reports by pummeling her into responding strongly.
• The Algerian carnage begun in the name of rescue unraveled a denouement to expose 37 dead with countries still wondering how many of its foreign nationals are in future danger.
• Closer to home the searing pain, worse than the Greek tragedy of Medea, of hearing how school children were senselessly murdered in their classrooms.
The latter sparked a media slew of actors posturing the various moral attitudes along with the strange new art form, the partisan political ad questioning the protection of America’s most prominent school children, Sasha and Malia Obama. These children were formerly off limits to the pornography or partisan rhetoric. To folks who love their guns, President Obama is the villain even though a recent online poll disapproved of the NRA ad, which New Jersey Governor Christie has called “reprehensible.”
To Piers Morgan, the NRA is the villain. With British restraint. Morgan patiently questioned Texas radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, now the face of gun owners, who interrupted by screaming at Morgan about his rights and challenging Morgan to a wrestling match. Jones sponsored a White House petition to deport Morgan for his anti-gun views. The White House responded to the petition by siting Morgan’s Texas radio host and conspiracy theorist right to free speech.
News has become a voyeur sport to the citizen who through pity and terror chooses where to spend their compassion. Perhaps the predominantly passive culture of action bloody adventure movies has edged on our love of video games wherein participation brings some kind of satisfaction. These games themselves could represent another kind of artistic involvement akin to the new form of installation art that invites viewers to bring their own experience into play. With the ingenuity of this generation of programmers, any hand held device can let us play at destruction and murder, but here the wounded and dead can be resurrected to full warrior vigor again. Anger and frustration can aim at fabricated to murder them en masse or singly with full gore and bristle splashing on their screen.
This is a faster paced installation art, wherein the creator invites the viewer (or gallery attendee) to fully participate in the art form. Process art as they call it today is in full gear.
Stewart (nee Lewinski), who has a Talmudic reasoning when he builds a case, with questions answering questions. From his "fake" news desk, with 16 Emmy Awards under his belt, he displays the spin by folks like Brit Hume and Charles Krauthammer, who said that there were no sequential followup [with] half of the members . . . just making speeches." Characterizing Hilary Clinton in a jump suit being grilled, Stewart concludes that not only do the members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee "suck at their jobs," but he ferrets out the underlying motivation for such hardball stuff with perfect comic timing:,
"Is there anything we can use to stop Hilary in 2016?"
POW! BAM! as he would exclaim, but with appropriate fist pumping. This is what makes his news performance art.
Steven Colbert has another approach. Adopting the personae of a conservative jerk asking dumb questions, much like the court fool. Joining Stewart in the fall of 2010 in the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear with an estimated 215,000 participants, he dressed in a superman costume to emphasize his super pack initiatives. His corporate approach to collecting money underlined the Supreme Court decision to count corporations as people, but Colbert's causes became ridiculous demonstrating no accountability. Later he gave the money to charity, but not before satirizing how big money tries to buy favorable decisions.
Stewart and Colbert have historical precedence in the fool that kept telling King Lear the truth, and the cartoonists of Britain and America who pin point the ridiculousness of power. Yet their true purpose is to differentiate between the slapstick of prat falls and references to private parts, and the real history through which we all pass. For the real meaning of our times, we may have to wait a bit longer than the usual hyped up news cycle full of distorted sound bits.