Political Commentary: Is It Effective?

Whether you know it or not, politics heavily affect your life regardless of your age, religion, or personal beliefs. It can be frustrating at times when decisions are made that affect your life that are out of your control, people have developed coping methods and ways to express their opinions to others; political satire is one of these methods. It breaks down the confusing policies and complications in government and makes it easier for citizens to understand, while making light of crazy situations through comedy.

Last Week Tonight is an example of one show that does exceptionally well in this area. In increments of 30 minute-long episodes, John Oliver discusses politics on his late n ight talk show, which has exploded since its premiere on April 27, 2014.

Last Week Tonight just returned on Feb. 12 with its fourth season, with much catching up to do. As most of us know, there has been an extremely high amount of discussion in the news lately covering the policies President Donald Trump plans to implement/remove, along with other complications in government. To help us understand the madness, Oliver broke down some of these highly important topics.

The show has a specific structure to it. First, it discusses a few minutes of important news topics, followed by a brief intermission of a compilation of comedic clips, which transfers to the main story of the night.

Three episodes have aired so far in the fourth season of the show. In the first episode, Oliver first discussed the inauguration of President Trump. He reviewed an assortment of things that have happened so far in the Trump Administration. “It has come to the point where the most terrifying sound is your phone buzzing with a news alert,” Oliver said as the crowd laughed, probably because many of us may find that joke sadly true.

The main topic for the first episode is usually something specific, such as a certain law passed, bills beings proposed, and so much more. However, in the first episode the main topic was “the concept of reality itself, because of ‘this guy,’” Oliver said as he pointed to a picture of President Trump, which I personally found interesting.

“Now since taking office, around 412 years ago, Trump has made it clear that reality is not important to him. Think about it, he has exaggerated the size of his inauguration crowd; he said the election was marred by mass voter fraud with no real proof of that; he also falsely claimed that compared to Muslims, it was ‘almost impossible’ for Christian refugees from Syria to get into the U.S. He even lied about the weather during his inauguration,” Oliver said.

Oliver listed all of these facts as articles from sources such as PolitiFact, USA Today, and The New York Times. Because all of the statements made come straight from credible news outlets, it certainly adds credibility to the show, however it does not have traditional news vibes. Several jokes were made while at traditional news stations, it is a serious atmosphere. This constitutes the question, are these types of political commentary shows legitimate? Is this ‘fake news’ designed to look real, but is actually just a joke? Or is it helpful to society in truly understanding what is happening in the world around them?

“I think it’s effective,” said junior political science student Jessica Warwick. “So many people think the news is boring, but politics are so important. If comedy is what helps them watch it, then that’s good,” continued Warwick.

“It helps me understand what’s going on,” said senior marketing student, Cassie Stiansen. “It breaks down policies in a way that makes news more entertaining and memorable.”

“I like shows like this, but only if they show both sides of the political spectrum,” said sophomore communication student, Gina Priore. “I don’t think it’s fair when there is a bias.”

Personally, I think these shows do help people understand politics better than regular news, myself included. It’s easy to overlook things on regular news channels because it’s easy to associate these channels with political biases that could affect news portrayal; it also has a harder language to understand. With shows like Last Week Tonight, it brings in an audience that may not like watching hard news and makes it a comedy, while also educating people on what’s happening around them.

Last Week Tonight is on HBO on Sundays at 11 p.m.

image taken from inquisitr.com