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Jon Stewart Misses Chance to End All Singlism As We Know It August 6, 2010

Posted by Onely in As If!, Food for Thought.
Tags: , , , ,

In the 05 August 2010 episode of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart broke my heart.  I’ll explain why at the end of this post. I’m not upset because he kind of called singles “loners with terrible hygiene”.  I’m not sure that statement is a bloggable offense. (Copious readers, check out the full episode here — the problematic part begins at the 5:30 mark — and let us know what you think.)  Daily Show correspondents  regularly use over-the-top, obviously untrue statements to make their opposite points, and in this case the point was to make fun of stupid Fox News commentators and greedy, homophobic employers–always a noble endeavor.

I do feel concern that because the larger joke was not about singles per se, the trashing of singles is more peripheral to the joke, and therefore less likely to appear blatantly ironic and more likely to reinforce negative stereotypes of singles. But I’ll let it slide because one, I love Jon Stewart, and two, there’s more context to the joke that makes the line less harsh. Here’s how the bit plays out:

Stewart reports that a San Francisco court overturned the ban on same sex marriage. We then see Neil Cavuto of Fox News whining that married gays will interpret this ruling “as if that they’ve got the green light for full benefits coverage” (um, well, yes) and that therefore employers–in the face of this onslaught of newly married gay employees with spouses in tow demanding to be treated like actual married people just because they’re actually married–will “need to examine their costs” and face financial and hiring difficulties as a result.

Here Stewart makes the face that you’re probably making now. He summarizes Cavuto’s position as follows: “A gay person with a spouse just costs more. That’s why we can’t do gay marriage!” Then he continues in his usual satirical strain:

Wouldn’t anyone with a spouse cost more? . . . Neil Cavuto is suggesting that we should only hire single people!

And that’s when I got all excited–“Yes, yes,” I thought,  “Here it comes! He’s is going to make a cutting and insightful joke about how this might not be a problem if we treated everyone equally regardless of marital status! And because everyone listens to Jon Stewart, his comment will end all singlism as we know it forever!” So imagine my disappointment when he continued, miming an employer meeting a prospective hire:

Well, your resume is weak you’re clearly unqualified, but you’re a loner with terrible hygiene, so welcome aboard!

The joke isn’t saying that singles are loners with terrible hygiene; it’s saying that loners with terrible hygiene are more likely to be single, and therefore more attractive to cheap employers who want to shell out future benefits. I use this fact as an excuse not to hate on my one-time fantasy future husband.

But I’m afraid I must chastise him for this: Stewart, long-time advocate for the underdog, had a chance to broadcast to millions of people the radical concept that maybe the allocation of marriage benefits is unfair and discriminatory to all unmarried people, not just gays. But he didn’t go there. Copious readers, tell me how you could sit around a table with a bunch of writers and compose that joke and *not* have that epiphany? Or have it, but not run with it on national television?

–Christina (sitting alone on Friday night wearing a frayed, sweaty yoga top with a hummous stain down the front)

Photo credit: Air Force Tech Sergeant Adam M. Stump


1. Rachel - August 7, 2010

About the “loner with terrible hygiene” comment – I don’t think this was meant to describe all singles. I understood this comment within the context (that everyone with a spouse will cost employers more) as the extreme case of what the religious wrong would have to go to if they’d wanted to keep their costs down. This imaginary person was also unqualified for the position…

BUT I completely agree with your overall argument: Stewart missed a big chance! Instead of pointing out the overall injustice of marital privilege he does his part to buy into a stereotype. If the people sitting around the room writing the script are all married or at least “in a committed relationship,” they actually might not have had that realization! That’s one reason we have such an uphill battle raising consciousness. But that’s also why all this Prop Hate hoopla is a great opportunity for us to point out marital privilege over and over again.

2. April - August 8, 2010

I was disappointed as well.

3. Lauri - August 9, 2010

marriage: even Jon Stewart can’t touch it.

Onely - August 9, 2010

Wahahahahahahaha! Excellent!

4. Emma - August 12, 2010

I was also disappointed. As the daughter of a single parent, I to was excited for “maybe the allocation of marriage benefits is unfair and discriminatory to all unmarried people, not just gays.” My mother actively chose to not marry and settle for a relationship that she was unhappy in and has lead a fulfilling life. She often comments on how the US doesn’t regard “us” as a “family” and discriminates against us accordingly. This was a golden opportunity for Stewart, thanks for pointing this out…I appreciate the sentiment.

Onely - August 13, 2010

Thanks for sharing, Emma. Your mom sounds very Onely. I wanted to start a thread on TDS forum (http://forums.thedailyshow.com/) to point out that Jon S missed this opportunity, but I for some reason can’t figure out how to start a thread. Maybe you have to be logged in or something. I might work on that later. Or you or any of our other Copious Readers could go to the site and start a thread!

5. Caroline - August 13, 2010

OR, maybe they only let married people blog on their website!!

6. Single and happy? Five single bloggers that make solo living fun | green LA girl - September 21, 2010

[…] the two women behind this blog, delve into everything single from popular culture (“Jon Stewart Misses Chance to End All Singlism As We Know It“) to their personal experiences (“Please Don’t Ask Me […]

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