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Jon Stewart Voted “Most Influential Male.” In Related News, This Country Is Going Down the Tubes

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Posted on October 28 2010 10:00 am
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The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart has won AskMen.com’s Top 49 Most Influential Men of 2010 Poll. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s the state of the country right now—but the good news is that the poll is basically a joke. It’s unscientific and was online. To give you an idea of how meaningless it is, here are the four people that followed Jon Stewart in ascending order: Kanye West, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

I have no idea how Kanye West even got on the list. I know of no guy who has ever said, “You know who I wanna be like? Kanye West.” But the stupidity of this poll shouldn’t be used to disguise the fact that Jon Stewart really is extremely influential. The level of devotion to him among the younger generation is unfathomable. He has the ability to create a caricature of a politician that is cemented into the brains of younger voters—and that’s not an effect to be underestimated. For example, Tina Fey so nailed her mockery of Sarah Palin that every time Palin spoke, it reminded you of her SNL skit. Many younger people who had no opinion of Palin suddenly found her to be a joke of a leader after Fey got done with her.

Why does Jon Stewart have such captivated audience? Here are a few reasons why.

First of all, it’s his personality. He’s very articulate and funny—but also likable and doesn’t come off arrogant, unlike Bill Maher. That’s the key. People trust him. Part of this is because he captures their cynicism. If he were a politician, he would be the outlet of people’s cynicism and grief—but because he’s a cynical comedian, he has the power to capture that cynicism and direct it as he wishes.

He is also against political correctness. The younger generation finds nothing funnier than shock humor—not because they are racist or prejudice, but because such humor is a way of mocking that bigotry. That’s why Chapelle’s Show was such a hit before Dave Chapelle went crazy and why South Park is so influential. An aversion to political correctness is a great way to win people’s trust nowadays if it is done comically.

I hear it often said that we should ignore people like Jon Stewart or the creators of South Park because everyone knows they are clowns. They’re making an error. I can’t count how many times apolitical or even semi-political friends of mine have suddenly found a desire to mock an event in the news after seeing it lampooned on Comedy Central.

Is Jon Stewart the most influential man of 2010? No, but if you dismiss Comedy Central’s influence, you do so at your own peril.

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