End of The Age of Irony - NBC New York

End of The Age of Irony

Jon and Stephen's time is done



    End of The Age of Irony
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    Yeah, they do crack themselves up.

    Barack Obama may not kill political satire -- but the circumstances in which he's governing just might. The thought comes to mind after two recent events arising out of the Comedy Central (pardon the pun, considering the topic) orbit.

    Two weeks ago was the big Jon "Daily Show" Stewart-Jim "Mad Money" Cramer showdown -- which turned into a Stewart walkover of Cramer. This week came the news that "Stephen Colbert Report" viewers managed to get their hero's show the most votes (in a write-in campaign) to name a new section of the International Space Station.

    Stewart and Colbert were somewhat endearing when they used their art to make pointed comments about the political landscape, media coverage -- and blowhard media types themselves. The problem is that, arguably, they are becoming that which they used to parody.

    Colbert, meanwhile, with his 1.1 million Facebook membership that he manages to "turn on" for pet projects -- like the NASA naming -- is looking less like Bill O'Reilly and other Fox talking heads and is now starting to resemble someone else: Howard Stern.

    No, Colbert is not going to have a "Liberal Lesbian Dial-A-Date" feature on his show anytime soon.

    But the NASA stunt is typical of the old days of Stern when supporters would call into, say, Larry King, then begin to ask a seemingly serious question, before tossing in a reference to a Stern "regular."

    Yes, NASA has bowed to popular culture and democratic will in the past: The very first space shuttle (though not the first to actually launch into space) was named Enterprise because of a vociferous write-in campaign by fans of the original Star Trek series.

    Indeed, one of the agency-suggested names in the online-poll is Serenity -- after the Joss Whedon film based on the short-lived sci-fi space opera "Firefly."  (NASA astronaut Steve Swanson took a DVD of the film -- and original "Firefly" series -- on the shuttle Atlantis' 2007 trip to the space station.)

    But, those connections to pop culture are within the spirit of what NASA was born to celebrate -- space exploration.  The Colbert types -- like their Stern counterparts -- are interested in only one thing: promoting their hero's  ego. That Colbert (either the "real" actor or the "truthy" character of the same name) just sanctions this suggests that he now believes his own hype. Stewart's "serious" attack on Cramer is evidence of the same thing.

    The era of "fake news" and "truthiness" has about reached its exhausted, entropic, end-point. 

    Time for something else. 

    Robert A. George is a New York writer.  He blogs at Ragged Thots