Stewart & Colbert: Fake News, Real Impact

Coming on every weekday back to back, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Report are the media darlings of the “Fake News” genre. However, with an ever-growing fanbase, and polls showing these kind of results; the influence that these shows have are anything but.

For the uninformed, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show is a spoof of your local nightly news, anchorman included. There are “correspondents” and “experts” who’s sole job is to usually give over the top (and very funny) opinions. The Colbert Report is more a parody of the character-driven news shows such as Bill O’Reilly and Anderson Cooper. If you do somehow miss the over 20 times these shows are aired by Comedy Central weekly, their respective websites contain full episodes.

Anyone who watches these shows will tell you that calling them “fake” is pretty close to slander. While these are indeed satires, the stories themselves are taken straight from the headlines. The comedy lies in exposing politicians for the hypocrites they usually are and showing how bad “real news” is in handling a lot of stories. In fact, both Daily and Colbert report the stories that most real news outlets wouldn’t go near. For example, when Stephen Colbert interviewed Congressman Lynne Westmoreland, who wants to display the Ten Commandments in every court. Colbert asked the Congressman to name all 10 and he couldn’t. Or when Stewart showed pundits scolding Hilary Clinton for “playing the gender card” and then turning around to do the same when it came to Sarah Palin. These clips not only fulfill their entertainment requirements, but they also make clear just how inept the “real news” can be at times.

The influence of these shows can be seen by their guestlists: the Clintons, Barack Obama, John McCain, and numerous foreign and national politicians. Read those names over, it’s a veritable who’s who of global politics. Add to that CNN, which is as real as “real news” gets, airs “The Daily Show-Global Edition” every weekend. This only shows that major players in news and politics know that there’s a large enough percentage of the population that they must draw in that see these shows as the be-all end-all of news info.

But don’t mourn for “real news”; while it is becoming increasingly obvious that shows like Stewart’s and Colbert’s are not such a bad place to get your news from, the fact remains that one must “real news” to be in on the joke.

November 26, 2008 at 8:28 pm Leave a comment

Turn off your radio, pop in a mixtape: how the mixtape has saved rap music

As hip-hop has increasingly become a wasteland of pushed back album dates, shelved but talented artists, and popularity via the amount of radio spins, there’s been one thing that has whetted the appetites of fans hungry for the real thing: the mixtape.

The mixtape (or now, mix CD) has been around since the early 90s. However, the format back then – and currently still – was to get a compilation of unreleased songs by different artists. This format has changed, and the change has almost single-handedly saved hip-hop music.

Starting in 2002-2003, the mixtape moved from a compilation of many artists to a medium for a single artist to push his own unreleased music. Not only did this benefit the artist, it was a greater benefit to the fan. The artist not only could keep his buzz going in the streets if his album was pushed back (which happens often), or give his fans new material to listen to between albums; it also gave the artist the freedom to do whatever he wanted. A rapper could now say what he wanted, pick any beat he wanted (without the constraints of sample-clearing), and make any type of song he wanted. The results not only lead to the launching of the careers of 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, and T.I.; some artists have survived (and have their fan base) only because of the mixtapes they release. Joe Budden, who was stuck on Def Jam for 5 years with an album that was never released, has accumulated a huge following due to his highly acclaimed Mood Muzik series. The Clipse, a rap duo from Virginia, had a gold-selling first album – Lord Willing – and then fell through the cracks due to a label merger. Their We Got It 4 Cheap mixtape series kept their fans satisfied until the finally released their sophomore album in 2006.

Knowing they have artistic freedom has inspired artists to put out some of their best work, and the fans have reaped the rewards by being able to listen to good music on their terms. Even Jay-Z, who constantly goes multi-platinum, put out a mixtape – S. Carter Collection, a MUST have – in which he rhymes over classic and well-known beats. The mixtape shows Jay-Z in rare form, having fun putting witty lines and metaphors over out of place beats like “Bump, Bump, Bump” from B2K:

 

 It shows that rappers, no matter the popularity, want to be artists, want to create without the red tape of the recording industry.

Record labels have willingly turned a blind-eye to mixtapes for years, knowing fully the value of their free publicity. However, the RIAA (a trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry) has begun a crackdown on mixtapes. This must be stopped. The day the mixtape dies will be a sad day in music PERIOD, not just hip-hop. I, for one, refuse to go back to the days of only having radio singles and a few underground songs on late night mix-shows to hold me over between albums. The RIAA must follow the lead of the labels they represent and realize that the mixtape is a necessary evil, don’t take the “art” from the artists.

P.S. For those out of the loop, get your hands on (or download) on these CLASSIC mixtapes:

Jay-Z: S. Carter Collection

Joe Budden: Mood Muzik 3

Clpse: We Got It 4 Cheap Vol.2

Beanie Sigel: Public Enemy #1

Lil Wayne: Dedication and Dedication 2

Most mixtapes can be downloaded at www.datpiff.com

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September 24, 2008 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

Fasten your seatbelts, The Shield is speeding toward it’s end

                 An impending Mexican-Armenian gang war, two exasperated wives joining forces, and a usually quiet character going towards a dark path.  These are a few of the many major plot lines as The Shield begins its final season.

                 Last we left Vic Mackey and the gang…it was well over a year ago, summer 2007 to be exact. While this makes it a little difficult to remember the intricacies of different plots from the last season, the writers make sure to make the storylines open enough to jog your memory.

               Season 7 begins with its foot on the gas; we see Vic frenemy Shane Vendrell coming home from a long day of double-dealing with the Armenians to see his wife tied-up and his toddler son crying.  Immediately, Vic and Ronnie burst in rough up Shane.  This event leads to: Vic learning of the hit on his family, Vic and Ronnie finding said hitman, Ronnie shooting said hitman twice in the chest.  This is the first time we see Ronnie kill in cold blood and he’s obviously affected, is this the beginning of a downward spiral? Stay tuned.

             As episode 1 ends, the story arcs for the season are laid out. Vic lies to an influential Mexican while Shane lies to the Armenian he’s been working with, which will lead to a violent clash between the two groups. Dani (Vic’s most recent baby mama) is attacked on the job and is visibly shook up. Det. Billings is exposed as a fraud and has to drop his lawsuit, the Billings-Dutch team is back.  Vic and Aceveda continue to work in concert against Pezuela.  All in all, it looks like the final season of The Shield is going to be all adrenaline…let’s sit back and enjoy.

September 11, 2008 at 12:54 pm Leave a comment


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