Saturday, November 20, 2010

What's the biggest story out of the Rally? Maybe that your mom attended, too

I attended the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. I was not pleased with the media coverage of the event (that I saw/read). It didn’t capture the spirit at all, what it really felt like to be there. The rally was a genial affair, generally fun, full of good spirit and intent. What surprised me the most, though, was the age factor. And I was not the only one. I didn’t expect to see kids, because, well, I didn’t expect to see parents. Or at least lots of them.

But then again, I fell under the trap of thinking that the rally was pretty much for us twenty- and thirtysomethings. As a professor of mine put it, “It’s being billed as the rally for your generation,” which seemed excessive to me, but ok. And so I was puzzled that none of the guests really fit into our demographic. Singers from the ‘70s? Tony Bennett? (Hell, one of my friends made a joke about him appearing, to prove he’d be too old for the crowd, and then he did.) Acts I’ve never heard? When the hippest performers are Kid Rock and John Legend, you know you need to readjust your perceptions.

So was that the big story of the rally? Did the media miss it? I didn’t think the rally would influence the election (c’mon, no one who attended was going to vote for the tea partiers anyway, and they won), and the rally was held in Washington, DC, too far away for Prop 19. And Stewart’s big speech was about the media anyway.

As Kelli Marshall of the University of Toledo asserts, it’s time for everyone to wakeup and realize that these shows, for all their leftist leanings, actually have fan bases that aren’t young:

But as the world now knows, Millennials are clearly not the only demographic that watches, embraces, and relishes in the smart satire of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Of course, those of us who’ve researched the two programs have been aware of this for years. For instance, we knew that in 2006, the average age of viewers was 35, their average income was $67,000, and they were 78% more likely than the average adult to have four or more years of college education. What’s more, we now know that the shows’ viewing age is steadily rising, for according to Nielsen ratings and a Forbes report, the median age of Stewart’s viewers is currently 41.4, and Colbert’s has risen from 33 to 38. I can only imagine that as the hosts and their audiences age, the figures will continue to increase. But so what? If the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear is any indication of what that future will look like, why that’s not bad at all.
Something I have to tell the diehard eightysomething grandma I know.