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John Oliver won’t be your therapist: How he torpedoed the reassuring tropes of fake news - Salon

Stashed in: Wealth!, Sticking it to The Man!, Crime!, That's racist!, @iamjohnoliver, Rich people get richer.

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Education over entertainment for the win:

As much as Oliver has been praised for his radical decision to cover stories about people other than Americans — the election in India, Uganda’s state-sponsored homophobia, Singapore’s gambling problem — the most striking aspect of his editorial vision has been his willingness to turn his gaze away from our shiny temples of wealth and power.

Instead, he’s offered viewers a long, thoughtful disquisition on income inequality, an impassioned deconstruction of the death penalty and, more recently, a cri de coeur about the prison industry, which ran nearly 18 minutes. That’s almost as long as an entire “Daily Show.”

Not only did Oliver point out that America has more prisoners than any other country – nearly 1 percent of the population — he explained the historical reasons for this, the racism inherent in our criminal justice system, and the profound corruptions of privatization. He sprinkled jokes throughout this epic rant, most of which landed. (A clean-cut Brit who favors boxy suits and skinny ties, Oliver exudes the goofy charm of a substitute teacher, which often masks the subversion of a first-class wit.)

But the crucial innovation of his show is that it dares to privilege education over entertainment. And as a viewer, therefore, I’m in a different headspace when I watch “Last Week Tonight.” I’m not constantly waiting to have my outrage lanced with a joke. I find myself more compelled by the ways in which Oliver serves as a cultural narrator rather than a court jester.

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