Free Press and Craft: Like Mainstream Only Funnier

Rachel Smolkin recently published an article in American Journalism Review about how Jon Stewart has changed the way we view the news. For the love of all things academic, read the whole article here.
What on earth does this have to do with craft? A whole lot. Despite our major crush on Stewart himself, we have to admit his Daily Show changes nightly news nightly not simply because it is funnier. Smolkin, as part of the mission of AJR, questions the import and influence of "silly riffing" on a nightly news program, because the "real" news of late has frequently turned out to be fake or at least doctored. Insert Jayson Blair joke here.
The discussion she has is an important one and one we crafters should be having on the import of our own so-called revolution. The Daily Show presents us with just another nightly new show--only funnier and more pointed. Similarly, crafters present the world with just another source of, um, well items for consumption. The Daily Show succeeds because it allows whimsy and irony into and arena where both qualities are usually frowned upon.
Whimsy and irony have come to the front of this most recent craft movement. Maybe because what we're making is not being made out of necessity. Sure there is a crafty itch in many of us that cannot be scratched with anything but a knitting needle, but Marimello doesn't make warshrags because we can't more easily get them somewhere else.
Craft these days can mean trying to find a greener solution, by turning one man's trash into another man's treasure for instance. But a growing part of the craft movement holds more stock in turning one man's treasure into another man's trash. We're not talking trash like that slaved over, but gawdafwful holiday sweater gift trash, we're talking Stephanie Syjuco's crocheted Chanel bags and knitpro on microrevolt. It's cute and sassy to take back from the Man this way, and hey, it's cheaper than couture too!
Like Jon Stewart's newscast, personal opinion is an essential part of the product. And only by the existence of a more traditional opposite are his comedy and subversive crafting possible. But Stewart doesn't have to turn around a hug Katie Couric or give her the finger either way. As crafters our subversion must carefully consider its history and tradition. So run over there and hug grandma for us. And be sure to wear the sweater.

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