Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart censored in Britain

Watching The Daily Show (TDS) the other day I learned that their “praise” of British Parliament had been censored in Britain. And while Jon Stewart vented his beef with the Brits, I couldn’t help remembering my own beef with TDS.

Jon-Stewart-caricatureTDS covered the News of the World scandal and the few bits from a Parliament Question Period (the Q&A where the MPs get to grill the members of the government) concluding with the words “Britain is awesome!”. And indeed, you don’t have to be a former debater to appreciate the quality of the English political theatre, far superiour to the American political theater. Still, for all its triumphs, in Britain institutions of power (the House, the Royals) cannot be shown in a humorous context, which, predictably, has Jon foaming at his proverbial pie hole:

I understand not being allowed to poke fun today at the vestigial powerless anachronisms populated by the most recent incarnation of the centuries long genetic experiment known as English nobility. They are understandably and perhaps fatally thin-skinned having had over this many years their power diminished along with their ability to produce platelets, but the House of Commons?! Is the most basic expression of British democracy, is that too fragile to withstand a gentle parody, a good natured kick to the clotted creams? Or perhaps it’s not the Parliament you are protecting, but the people. Perhaps the delicate sensibilities of your gentle countrymen cannot bide the vulgar sendup of barbarian […] I’ve seen the shit you show on Channel 4 [..]

Truth be told, despite the embedded anachronisms that Jon mentions, British democratic institutions seem to work better than their American counterparts. Counter-intuitively, there is more social mobility in Britain than in the USA and the same holds true for political clans (families where most men hold public office such as the Kennedys and Bush).

My beef, however, is not with the Brits, but rather with Jon and his show. For a long time now, they’ve been heavily discriminating against Canadian viewers, who cannot embed or link directly to video clips on either Comedy Network (the equivalent of Comedy Central) as Americans can. This forces Jon’s show out of the Canadian public discourse. Sure, we can still link to Rick Mercer who does a pretty good job explaining how Parliament works, or how Canada works, but good luck trying to get anything done with the USA.

I hope Viacom & TDS will come to their senses and stop screwing with us. It’s aboot time!

Sources / More info: tcn, ctv, tds

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