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Photo: ‘The Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’/Netflix
Learning modern issues never seemed simple.
Hasan Minhaj announced the end of his Netflix show ‘Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj’. This is Hollywood Insider’s tribute to one of the best shows – we know Hasan will continue to do excellent work in every project he is a part of.
When we watch the news, it can often feel darkly comedic. We know that if we turn on national news, we’re going to see the latest political stunt analysed in detail to either laud or rebuke the actions. No matter what political affiliation you have, you laugh at the stunt, and you feel depressed about the way others feel about the issue. We actually learn little about issues, and more about how politicians stand. We think of news channels as having bias, either left leaning or right leaning. In reality, a new cycle is crafted to appeal to a demographic rather than an agenda. Television news has a bias towards viewership and advertisers. Viewers are, and have always been more interested in the politics that surround issues than the issues themselves. This is why we have things like abstinence only education, infrastructure for anti-vaxxers, and voter ID laws. These are easy topics to gain support for based on affiliation over fact. We struggle as a society to recognize that all television news is generally uninformative.
Yet, we laugh at those who get their information from comedy shows. We think comedians are playing off of analysis, we see them as fabricators who are purposefully misleading for the sake of a laugh. I think comedy news often combats this generalization. I think comedians and shows like Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj take information and research seriously, and use comedy as a means to spread it. Aside from maybe 60 Minutes, cable and other television have been unreliable to share in-depth news, with such a strong allegiance to viewership and advertisers. A show on Netflix like Patriot Act or on HBO like Last Week Tonight can shift their allegiance to not rely on advertisers and focus on the viewers who seek the content. Subscription comedy news, especially, is some of the most informative content around, with the greatest accessibility.
Comedy is an effective teaching tool that gives us a unique, emotional experience to associate with new information.
People are bored with raw information. Reading from a textbook sucks. When information feels dense, it blends together in our minds. A string of facts will bore us eventually. We need a way to structure facts and explanations. If we’re going to take in information, we’ll want a narrative built for us. Woodward and Bernstein’s All The President’s Men is a gripping tale because it takes strings of facts and names involved with an incident, and turns it into a scandal. The names fit into a story and a trail that leads to the top. Woodward and Bernstein’s book is an archetype for government corruption, and the story of how it came about. News and current events don’t come pre-loaded with a full narrative associated with them. The facts behind topics like abstinence only education don’t necessarily lead to big names like Richard Nixon, but they do have historical context. Little things that don’t tell an epic tale – but still need to be heard.
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Comedy steps in where narrative lacks. Comedy can connect ideas without having to weave a long tale of facts and figures. This is where Hasan Minhaj succeeds. He brings life to figures by letting us laugh at them. Minhaj delivers approachable information, and that’s the most important goal for the show. Jokes take a back seat for Netflix’s Patriot Act. The attitude seems to be “Let’s teach people on specific topics, and if they laugh along the way, that’s good too.” Patriot Act succeeds by fitting a well focused civics lesson into less than 30 minutes. It is, by far, the most approachable news show on television.
Watch ‘The Patriot with Hasan Minhaj’ for the lesson rather than the comedy.
Historically, comedy shows lose fellowships because some episodes don’t live up to the hype of others. John Oliver is often criticised for not living up to some of his earlier episodes on Last Week Tonight. We get comedy news mixed up sometimes, which can be a downfall to the genre. When comedy doesn’t hit us right, the information doesn’t necessarily lack, but we fall into the trap of believing the information does lack. We deprive ourselves of the approachable nature of comedy news by making excuses. Comedy news is biased because it takes things out of context just to be funny. Comedy news isn’t funny enough to be worth watching. Comedy news killed my baby.
Excuses lead us to subvert our attention to believe that mind numbing cable news does us good. It’s the “real news” in our head, and the comedy stuff is just entertainment. Remember that comedy shows strive to make news entertaining, rather than making entertainment into news. It should be respectable to regard comedy news as a main source of information, though, even John Oliver has conceded that his show is “comedy first, and comedy second.” Comedy news’ in-depth research accounts for the most recent and relevant facts on modern issues. It can save you hours of googling and head scratching to watch a civics lesson with some jokes added in. If we give comedy news the respect it deserves, maybe we’ll begin to understand news and information in a different way. Patriot Act strives for information dispersal in a way that no other show does. It makes issues feel as important as they are, and anyone should be proud to say they get their information from Hasan Minhaj. Thank you for helping us all Hasan.
Click here to read Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Black Lives Matter, in which he tackles more than just police reform, press freedom and more – click here.
An excerpt from the love letter: Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “Hollywood Insider fully supports the much-needed Black Lives Matter movement. We are actively, physically and digitally a part of this global movement. We will continue reporting on this major issue of police brutality and legal murders of Black people to hold the system accountable. We will continue reporting on this major issue with kindness and respect to all Black people, as each and every one of them are seen and heard. Just a reminder, that the Black Lives Matter movement is about more than just police brutality and extends into banking, housing, education, medical, infrastructure, etc. We have the space and time for all your stories. We believe in peaceful/non-violent protests and I would like to request the rest of media to focus on 95% of the protests that are peaceful and working effectively with positive changes happening daily. Media has a responsibility to better the world and Hollywood Insider will continue to do so.”
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Dan Considine is a writer for Hollywood Insider, writing features on cultural phenomena as well as a constructive review here and there. Dan believes that the media and the world at large go hand in hand, and he asserts that entertainment never exists in a vacuum. His writing reflects his beliefs, drawing inspiration from all corners of the entertainment biosphere. There is no subject too niche and no issue too hard to discuss if it can help society reflect and learn. Low and high culture all have a say in the everlasting conversation of humanity. Every little nugget of pop-culture has meaning, and Dan’s goal is to find it. Dan believes in strong, progressive change. Hollywood Insider is the perfect place for him to provide situational analysis and create a positive impact.