If there is one thing The Daily Show does better than anyone, it’s expose hypocrisy. This is helpful when teaching conflict theory. One of the central tenants of conflict theory (and hegemony more directly) is that those in power use their influence to cast their behaviors in the best light possible. These powerful actors similarly use the media to cast the least powerful in society in the worst possible light. (Note: I spoke about this last year, read that post here)
J. Stewart and the Daily Show gang’s coverage of the Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to abolish the teachers union’s ability to collectively bargain has been particularly on point. Stewart effectively juxtaposes the cable news media’s presentation of the “lazy, fat cat, undeserving teachers” making $50k a year to the “job creating Wall Street executive” making $250+ who deserve a continuation of the Bush tax break. Even more damming is the video of the same people saying one thing for the rich and the exact opposite for teachers. While Stewart’s brashness is not conducive to everyone’s teaching style, I find my students have a better understanding of conflict theory/hegemony after watching clips like this.
Here’s a bonus clip that shows how the media rejoice when big banks like J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sacs rake in the dough because the Fed is literally giving them the money to sell to the US government to pay back the TARP money we gave them. While students may need some help following this cycle, they are appalled to learn how the big banks receive this government handout.