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S01.E19: Drones

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The United States has launched a huge number of drone strikes under President Obama. It’s widely accepted and extremely terrifying. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minster of India visited New York and did some classic New York things. Also, some weird, inexplicable things.

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And also, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has to show up alongside Seth Rogan at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, saying "You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?!!" Also adding as a little adlib "Are you talkin' a-boot me? Eh?"

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For "Words newscasters coyly refuse to say" I was amazed and impressed that they had examples for every single letter of the alphabet. They fudged a little on a few, but close enough. They really do have a crack research team.

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Nice bits on the show.  The drone expose was good, lots of information and great comedy with the wedding video.  I think most Americans like the idea of drones because its a way to kill others (hopefully enemies) without risking American lives.  They look at it as a video game and don't realize how risky it is for others.

 

Loved the words newscasters refuse to say.  Very well done.

 

Yes, why is Ayn Rand still a thing.  Its great that they showed that while she's a Republican icon economically, she's not really with them on religion.

 

And Kansas and porn was great.

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I loved the bit about Ayn Rand. It always amazes me when Republicans hold her up as some icon of capitalism and the free market. A modicum of research reveals that Ayn Rand's heroes were gangsters and swindlers. She advocated for being a selfish asshole. Granted, many Republicans privately advocate for being a selfish asshole, but fewer are brazen enough to do so publicly and proudly. I just don't think they really get where Rand is coming from. And no, she would not be lionized in today's Republican party. She was an avowed atheist, and the type of Republican she would campaign for would be the worst of the worst.

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I haven't been watching the news lately. Has Obama dyed his hair? If the clip (Jonas Bros) they showed was recent, then I'm surprised his hair was so dark.

 

And what was the deal with the Indian guy (prime minister?) ? I didn't catch what he had done to be banned from entering the US, and why is he doing these big "shows"?

 

The drone segment was interesting but depressing. I was glad to end the show on the Kansas porn story.

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I think LWT mentioned Modi's being barred from entering the U.S. during its coverage of the Indian election, but I couldn't remember exactly what had happened either. Here's a story from Time.com which talks about that as well as the Madison Square Garden rally.

 

My boyfriend in college was super into Ayn Rand. I think it's excusable to go through an Ayn Rand phase when you're 19. And yet, Americans who read "The Hunger Games" or "Twilight" are shamed in some quarters, while grown-ass men in positions of power like Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan can go around praising Rand and still be considered Serious Republicans (and, in Ryan's case, "the intellectual leader of the Republican Party"). The LWT clip needs to rack up about a million more views.

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I never read Rand until I was a grown-ass woman. A friend of mine insisted I do; she was terribly anxious to know what I thought (i.e. did I agree that it was a philosophical game-changer). When I told her I thought The Fountainhead was tedious drivel, and any worldview that included exactly zero giggles, even less mirth, but with a dose of rape could never be one I espoused. She blinked in confusion, but then was persuaded I was (of course!) right. Yeeks. How is that still a thing, indeed.

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The hand job clip was comedy gold. I hope whomever found that got a bonus.

 

I'm surprised that Rand hated Reagan and they don't even know that. Actually, I'm not. Politicians by and large are kind of dumb and I'm not surprised they're getting policy advice from a book and not actually talking and working with others. 

 

The thing about the drones that they didn't mention is that it's probably just making people hate America even more. All we hear about is 'we have to destroy ISIS for good.' Well, this isn't helping. 

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This show wouldn't be that far out of place beside someone like Maddow on MSNBC or alongside shows like The Stream or Consider This on AJA. The segment on drones was superb, like an investigative editorial, and I didn't laugh once. Perhaps there is something lost in the transition from HBO to YouTube that makes the show seem more serious than the full experience of it is, some segments that are more strongly comedy-oriented? Anyway, I know TDS aired on CNN International for some time (maybe it still does), but I can't picture the relatively over-the-top satire of TDS or TCR alongside actual news shows. I can imagine them on HBO (wow, that'd be something), but they are a great fit for Comedy Central and really thrive there. I cannot begin to imagine LWT on Comedy Central; anything other than HBO would be a downgrade for the show. John's straight-forward commentary peppered with jokes seems more in line with special-focus editorial programs; they have managed to fill a completely different niche than TDS and TCR--a 60 Minutes cut in half with sort of an Olbermann fury and eloquence, sweetened by charm that is all Oliver.

 

It's been interesting to watch the show evolve. On the one hand, reading articles about LWT and John is like rereading what the media has been saying about TDS and Jon for at least ten years, and it's amusing to observe this cycle of looking for a non-journalist to praise for doing coverage that they label as better journalism than what is provided by many in their own profession. Jon and Stephen never shifted their position on that, so the media has moved on to a new target. (One of these days, Howard Kurtz is going to latch onto John and try to become his O'Reilly.) On the other hand, unless I'm missing something with the segments that aren't online, this show is developing into something quite different from and much more somber than TDS and TCR. I don't think that's a bad thing; none of these shows cancel each other out. But it'll be interesting to see if John maintains that he's comedy first and second. Some people still seem to hate Jon Stewart for saying that all of these years, and TDS is clearly a comedy first and second show. LWT has a very different tone.

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Jebus, Kansas, legalize weed and be done with it, would you?  I realize it wouldn't solve all the financial woes of the state, but even people plowing through a gallon-sized drum of cheetos reflect more dignity on a state's educational funding than someone who has to fire-sale dildos comfortingly stored in Home Depot boxes, to really make folks wonder where they've been.  Your educational dollars at work, Jayhawks.   

 

 

The segment on drones was superb, like an investigative editorial, and I didn't laugh once. Perhaps there is something lost in the transition from HBO to YouTube that makes the show seem more serious than the full experience of it is, some segments that are more strongly comedy-oriented?

 

I don't think it is YouTube that renders the drone piece rather somber.  Between the teenager talking about how his blown-up grandmother's corpse had taught him to fear a sunny day, thanks to drone strikes, and an outline of the rules (or terrifying lack thereof) applied to deploying those deadly buggers, grins were difficult to come by in the piece.  It started with a giggle for me (although, those poor people, way to start married life...traumatized, slightly paranoid and mildly bruised) by the second time they were airing the same footage it became a case of "Oh splendid, and here we have proof that they aren't overly accurate on top of all else.  Oh happy day.  Argh."   It was a great piece.  The Drone graphic was darkly hilarious, I admit but in that "Welp, no point in worrying about my cholesterol , what with the world being doomed and all.  I should probably have a stick of butter with a cream chaser for dinner, come to think of it." sort of way.  

Edited by stillshimpy
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The segment on drones was superb, like an investigative editorial, and I didn't laugh once.

 

Same. This is common for me when watching satirical shows, though - the horrible truth of what they are satirising is too painful for me to laugh at it. That's why I love LWT's 'And now ... this' bits and the silliness of segments such as 'Sex Space Geckoes'. They really do strike a wonderful balance.

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I don't think it is YouTube that renders the drone piece rather somber.

I didn't mean that piece. I meant the overall show itself, viewed incomplete in individual segments on YouTube vs. seeing the full episodes on HBO. The segment itself was somber, for sure. That was my point; that there are lots of serious clips, and I hardly laugh when I watch them. So I wonder if I'm missing some comedy-heavy segments that don't make it to YouTube and lighten up the tone, or if this is also how it feels to watch the show on HBO.

 

Same. This is common for me when watching satirical shows, though - the horrible truth of what they are satirising is too painful for me to laugh at it. That's why I love LWT's 'And now ... this' bits and the silliness of segments such as 'Sex Space Geckoes'. They really do strike a wonderful balance.

Ah. I've missed that silliness for the most part; that might explain it.

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You need to borrow a friend's HBO Go password and watch all 30 minutes sometime, Fremde Frau, just to see what the experience is like vs. watching the clips!

 

Personally, I'm very glad my husband became addicted to "Game of Thrones" and made us splash out for the HBO subscription so we can watch the full show (though it's nice that they put so much up on YouTube). I think the tone of LWT often veers closer to "righteous indignation" than ha-ha comedy. But some topics are definitely more serious than others -- I mean, Miss America was much sillier. If they covered stuff like drones every week, it might be a bit too heavy.

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You need to borrow a friend's HBO Go password and watch all 30 minutes sometime, Fremde Frau, just to see what the experience is like vs. watching the clips!

 

Personally, I'm very glad my husband became addicted to "Game of Thrones" and made us splash out for the HBO subscription so we can watch the full show (though it's nice that they put so much up on YouTube). I think the tone of LWT often veers closer to "righteous indignation" than ha-ha comedy. But some topics are definitely more serious than others -- I mean, Miss America was much sillier. If they covered stuff like drones every week, it might be a bit too heavy.

 

Interesting -- I would consider TDS & Jon Stewart much closer to righteous indignation than LWT (well, apart from Ollie's Caillou obsession).  I see LWT a lot more like, "Hey, did you know about this?  Here are some humourously presented and relatively balanced facts about something that you should probably be aware of - please discuss."

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I think my sister has a subscription to HBO. Damn, that's a great idea, trow! Why didn't I think of that before?? I'm always waiting a year or so for the DVDs with Game of Thrones, too. Where has my brain been?

 

I think the tone of LWT often veers closer to "righteous indignation" than ha-ha comedy. But some topics are definitely more serious than others -- I mean, Miss America was much sillier. If they covered stuff like drones every week, it might be a bit too heavy.

Yeah, some of those segments are pretty silly; that's a good point. I still haven't gotten McConnell's old man equipment out of my mind's eye. (Thanks for that, John!) And just to bring you all down with me: here's the link. You're welcome!

 

As far as the general tone of the serious segments, I agree with trow that it's more righteous indignation than sort of a detached, confused sort of poking fun. I probably mentioned this elsewhere, but I think one of the differences is that, with TDS (and TCR), they tend to expect you to already be aware of the issues (and they mainly focus on daily or big news stories aside from things like Stephen's District series and the correspondent pieces on TDS), whereas LWT is more or less assuming ignorance and informing the audience of an issue that may not get mainstream play. I think that contributes to it, because TDS and TCR can sort of leapfrog to jokes and satirical commentary, whereas LWT walks the viewer through more deliberately and has a pretty clear editorial voice throughout the long piece that directs which facts are revealed and how they are interpreted as they are revealed. TDS and TCR do that, too, and get called objective just like John is being called objective. To me, he is nonpartisan, and I think that is being conflated with being "objective" or "neutral." The segments aren't balanced in the sense that the side that John finds morally objectionable is getting an even-handed treatment--that side is getting exposure, but it's through his perspective and he points out pretty strongly how fucked up he finds it. I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all. That's something several former or current TDS people have said, that Jon emphasized that they should each find their own voice, whatever that voice is, and base their material around it. It's like Jon is Walsh/Montana, and John came up like Steve Young: you knew that brilliance was there all of those years, and now he's playing his own game and will be measured for his own skills, rather than in contrast to who came before. (Well, if the media and bloggers would stop trying to make comparisons based on their own short attention spans.)

 

Anyway, that's not to say Jon and TDS never get righteously indignant--they definitely do, and I think those rather paradoxically end up being some of their best segments--but I think the overall focus is less about sharing outrage about the absurd and more about finding comedy in the absurd. At least, that's how I see them. That said, Jon's been dropping the comedy quite a lot lately. I think if anyone is consistently free of (actual) righteous indignation, it's Stephen... which is kind of an amazing testament to his talent, because the fact that he's always in-character as a parody of conservatives makes his performance theoretically the most overtly biased and preaching-to-the-choir of them all.

Edited by Fremde Frau
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I guess we're interpreting "righteous indignation" differently.  I would consider it, generally, an angry response and I don't see John or LWT as angry.  Chiding, perhaps, but not angry.

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I finally got around to watching this one. I've been to that Afghan restaurant; it's really good. There are a couple of quotes from the owner here:

"It was funny," he said. "But they must have paid their researchers very well to find those negative comments."

Yelp has a "sort by rating" feature, you know.

 

Was there a "Q word"? I didn't catch it if so, but they were going by fast.

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If anyone's familiar with Slacktivist's "Left Behind" series, there's another blogger doing a similar takedown of Atlas Shrugged: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/series/atlas-shrugged/

 

Oh, and the Fountainhead movie is unintentionally hilarious. I livesporked it: Gary Cooper just cannot give a speech about being proud to be a heartless bastard. Rand was a consultant on the movie, she would not let them cut a single word out of his speech at the trial.

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Oh, and the Fountainhead movie is unintentionally hilarious. I livesporked it: Gary Cooper just cannot give a speech about being proud to be a heartless bastard. Rand was a consultant on the movie, she would not let them cut a single word out of his speech at the trial.

I remember watching it when I was a young 'un and thinking it could've been so much better if Rand wasn't on-set every day of the shoot.  

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