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Why the Jon Stewart Rally is my generation's Woodstock

We don't go to rallies.

Drag races? Men in heels.

Once we were in a protest, but only because we had to walk through it to get to a Lady Gaga concert.

Sign petitions? Please. March for a cause? Only if by "march" you mean "walk in a determined fashion" and by "cause" you mean "to buy that new frozen yogurt that is so popular these days."

Call us Generation I. I for irony, iPhones, and the Internet. I for instant gratification. I for idiosyncratic, inventive, impertinent. We're all these things.

Recently, Charles Murray accused us of being a "New Elite." This might be overstating our case a bit. What binds us is not a common experience or similar eugenetic stock, as he claims. It's our mindset -- a staunch and unstinting refusal to take anything seriously.

It's not that we don't believe some things are serious. We'll make It Gets Better videos or perform comedy for jazz relief, or whatever the occasion is. But sum up our lives in a phrase? The Importance Of Never Being Too Earnest.

We know what happens to people who take themselves seriously. They become bent and broken with care and develop arterial plaques. Sometimes they're elected to political office. "In America, any boy may become president," Adlai Stevenson once noted. "And I suppose it's just one of the risks he takes." We don't like the sound of that.

Forget the 1950s, which we picture as an entire era of people in conservative sweater-sets earnestly pushing towards the front of the class. These days, the whole class wants to sit in the back row and lob spitballs. Our icons are the class clowns, not the overachievers in near the blackboard. Raise our hands? Make a statement? Please. What is this, a Norman Rockwell painting?

After someone discovered the mystical secret of doing things ironically, we felt a great weight lift from our shoulders. Now, we dwell in thickets of inverted commas. Commit to fashions, opinions, favorite beverages? Why bother, when you can take someone to prom ironically as a commentary on beauty, or move to Tibet and spend three years living ironically in a monastery?

Want us to come to a rally? Better make it a "rally." Want us to testify before Congress? Can we do it in character?

Someone more cynical than I might say that our salient characteristic can be reduced to an overwhelming desire to avoid looking silly. But there's more to it than that.

As a millennial, my greatest fear is that someday I might accidentally say something that offends someone. I am so aware of this that the only group I feel safe writing vaguely offensive generalizations about is illiterate people. If you are reading this aloud to an illiterate friend, please, stop two sentences ago! I'm sorry! Read them this instead: Illiterate people are the salt of the earth! Most of my best friends are illiterate! I voted for an illiterate write-in candidate!

That's the one unforgivable sin in our book. Affairs? Addictions? We'll cope. But say something earnestly racist, homophobic, or misogynistic, and just watch everyone's affection evaporate. "I'm just quoting Mel Gibson," you scream. But it's too late.

But throw quotations around it, and everyone heaves a sigh of relief.

That's why comedy -- specifically, satire -- has risen to the top of the food chain.

Sure, we'll watch the news, read the newspaper or the Huffington Post. But millennials reserve idolization for the Onion, the Colbert Report, the Daily Show. We give comics the kind of adulation prior generations reserved for their musicians. We respect Lady Gaga. But millennials travel hundreds of miles to touch the hem of Jon Stewart's robe.

That's why the whole demographic is showing up for the Stewart/Colbert rally. More than 200,000 have already RSVP'ed on Facebook. That's almost as many as have registered to vote! And I'm not sure there's much overlap. The rally exists in a parallel universe in which millennials are politically active. Have you ever heard a millennial say, "Ah, I'm not voting this year." Sure. But have you ever heard one say, "That Jon Stewart guy is not funny at all"? Never! The earth might explode!

Woodstock didn't define a generation because everyone showed up (some people had to run for political office in subsequent years) or because the people who did were a perfectly representative sample. It defined a generation because, for a few days, it bottled its peculiar zeitgeist -- passion for music, free love, an aggressive hatred for bras, hallucinatory experimentation. That's what the Stewart rally does for us.

Millennials are Generation I, for whom life exists so we can put as many things as possible in quotes. And this "rally" is the closest millennials will ever get to a love-in. It's a "like-in." Millennials going to get together and wear properly supportive bras, which they will not burn, and carry reasonable signs! It's the ultimate anti-protest. It's a Facebook group in the flesh.

And it's millennials' Woodstock. Or, rather, "Woodstock."

But there's a nervous frisson of truthiness behind all this. "Give a man a mask, and he'll tell you the truth," Oscar Wilde once wrote. But what's behind the mask?

A recent article in the Style section quoted a media professor who said of Stewart, "He's a progressive, but his bias is towards reasonableness." When it comes to opinions, that's about as far as any of us can go. One step farther, and someone might call us angrily from Sweden! We're clinging to our satire as we've heard some people cling to their guns and religion.

But the problem is that great ages of satire are seldom great ages of, well, anything else. As Ogden Nash once asked: "How can anyone accomplish anything immortal/When they realize they look pretty funny doing it and have to stop to chortle?" So far, we haven't quite figured that out.

Maybe, at the rally, Stewart will explain! I'll be there covering it. And you'll be there too. Ironically, of course.

By Alexandra Petri  | October 26, 2010; 4:34 PM ET
Categories:  Petri, Reality? Television  | Tags:  Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, irony, millennials, rally  
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Petri's apparent belief that her generation invented irony is certainly ironic, but not very Swift.

Posted by: laboo | October 28, 2010 6:32 AM | Report abuse

This must mean the 'I generation' are the offspring of the 'me generation'.

Posted by: HondoHomers | October 28, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Of course a Millennial would claim that their generation is what IT's all about. :-) That's what dominant generations and their cohorts do (the dom generations being today's Boomers and Millennials; the recessive gens being today's GenX and Silent/gparents and Homeland/babes).

What *I* see -- as a GenXer -- is *my* generation's leadership. Jon Stewart is an exquisite example of GenX leadership through his style, cynicism, honor and pragmatic, if humorous, approach to Society, politics and culture.

I see a GenXer breaking the stagnation of prior generations' stranglehold on the public conversation. I see a GenXer saying "no more" to the red-state-blue-stateness of the US. I see a GenXer allowing us to laugh while it hurts.

Millennials (and dominant generations) have a tendency to take the energies created by others and claim the glory of the result. I exalt you, dear Millennials. Yours is a generation that can smile with bright eyes and belief in your individual and collective ability to make "the world" awesome again. Go for it. I don't want to stand it your way.

But, really, "your" "rally"?

Make room for others at the table, and you may find others find room for you, too.

Posted by: jessiex | October 28, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Well, Petri might be glib, trivializing, and narcissistic, but it's a lot more likely that she defines herself rather than a generation. One would hope she'd be both more self-aware and more aware of others her age, but I suppose that's asking too much. Please don't give her a regular spot on the Op-Ed page.

Posted by: rufb | October 28, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Speaking as an increasingly senior citizen, I thoroughly enjoy Alexandra's columns/blogs, but please allow me to speak up for the 50's and 60's generations, who are most definitely not blasé! Believe me, the gray-haired will be at the Rally in droves. I am 71, my husband is 79, my neighbor is 65, and we are going! Lots of us are going. Thank you Jon and Stephen for stepping up to the plate and providing the too often silent, but not ironic, majority an opportunity to support our country in a public, sane, and fearless way.

Posted by: alstudio | October 28, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

geez, John Stewart's about my age, thus his generation - whatever it is - must be mine, but we "redLitYogi Generation" types observe all of this with a quiet and knowing satisfaction...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | October 29, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I identify with alstudio's remarks. As for Alexandra's description of the demographic, the only person I'm aware of who fits it well is Tucker Carlson, and I'm pretty sure he's not a fan. See: . That's Carlson embellishing the "D" in Stewart's Q.E.D. of him, and his profession, in 2004.

I don't know what to expect out of participating in the rally. I do feel that I owe Stewart and Colbert a debt, and this is a payment on it. Alexandra, you stated "...the problem is that great ages of satire are seldom great ages of, well, anything else." That's probably true - a culture where news has to find Comedy Central as a conveyance, is in trouble. Given the polls in the midterm election, it's about to get much worse.

Posted by: stefanoaz | October 29, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Contra the media professor in the Style Section, I don't see Stewart as a classic liberal. I seem to recall Stewart saying somewhere that he supported McCain in 2000.

As far as the "irony" bit goes, I seem to remember a story a few years ago in the Post about some supposedly brilliant Yale student who had written a thesis decrying irony and cynicism. He was called the voice of his generation. I remember when Kurt Cobain was branded as the voice of a generation. There is no single voice in this country that speaks for any one generation.

What's a little different here is that the movement to get this rally in place was started on Facebook -- and yes, it did involve a kind of petition drive.

Posted by: JPRS | October 30, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

They getting naked, in the Reflecting Pool?

Posted by: theaz | October 30, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Wow, this was tough to get through and i'm a 20-something liberal. Some parts quite frankly were gag-inducing.

I'm sure you're a nice person, but this is one of the more self serving things i've read in awhile.

Our generations Woodstock? You are kidding right?

Posted by: enstage | October 30, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

It's nice for you that you have this much time to think about yourself and your generation. As for me, I can't believe I devoted three minutes to skimming such drivel. Sheesh...the narcissism never stops.

Posted by: KatieAtl | October 30, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Petri dish is so confused! What a big mess of a "movement" (believers in nothing but themselves). Sounds like the tea party, ey? Or more to the point, the Demoblican party (same with Republikrat party). Everyone have a latte and sit back with your ipod and enjoy the b.s. show. That way you'll be there doing nothing for the elections and I'll be going door to door for asking people to vote tea party.

Posted by: shred11 | October 30, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse

in 5 yrs, when this pig grows up,this cow will remember that this stunt was not funny, it was corrupt.

Posted by: carlbatey | October 30, 2010 2:02 AM | Report abuse


Right a concert and comedy show on the National Mall = corrupt (?????)

Even if this was a political event -- and in this case it's a bit of a stretch -- the right to assemble on a public site like the National Mall is clearly Constitutionally protected. Yet this is "corrupt"?


Unlike the Beck "I Have a Scheme" speech, to Colbert and Stewart's credit, they aren't taking funds from a veterans to finance their event. Their employer is footing the bill. All of the money that they've raised through charities has gone directly to the charities (e.g. Donors Choose). They aren't using $1 million of donations from a veterans charity to pay for speakers, lighting, and costs associated with putting on the event.

Posted by: JPRS | October 30, 2010 3:14 AM | Report abuse

Puleeze... get over yourself. You describe a bunch of unmotivated, self-absorbed wimps who are living life on the sidelines. We need a new "Age of Reason". Stewart and Colbert are the contemporary versions of Thomas Paine.

Posted by: skyguy2 | October 30, 2010 3:56 AM | Report abuse

The other "I"'s are self-important, lazy, self-aggrandizing, me-firsters who are so spoiled that we are heading down a sewer hole.

Posted by: KDSmallJr | October 30, 2010 4:52 AM | Report abuse

So here's a playful and smartly ironic piece from a writer who is obviously very articulate, and passionately engaged with the world we live in, followed a litany of bad-tempered comments that only serves to illustrate what a bunch of humorless, joyless old farts is presuming to speak for the generations before Petri's. Just look at yourselves: what venom you are able to spout when a writer says things you don't immediately understand, and whom you have already determined in advance should see the world exactly as you do. I'm with Petri.

Posted by: Dulieu | October 30, 2010 6:25 AM | Report abuse

The devolution will be televised.

Posted by: FarnazMansouri2 | October 30, 2010 6:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm afraid that your generation's outlook on life has allowed people such as Sarah Palin to rise to the top of the political heap-all fluff and no substance.

If this is the best we can do, we really are in trouble.

Posted by: jayjay10 | October 30, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

irony is not properly meant to protect oneself from looking foolish. irony is the recognition that we are all a bit foolish at times. leading a life to avoid looking foolish is cowardly. at some point you have to actually take the chance to care about something other than your self image.

Posted by: butlerguy | October 30, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Geeez and I thought reading Eugene's garbage was painful.

If this drool represents your generation than we are all in serious trouble. As often is the case with WaPo Op eds I suspect this is just the delusional thinking of an ideologue that bypasses reality when putting pen to paper.

I have faith that there are young people out there who see the serious issues that face this country today as more than simply fodder for their favorite comic. I'm thankful those are the sort of folks that will fill positions of leadership in the future while you’re popping X and sniffing daisies.

Now go grab yourself a Starbucks and ponder your new career because I can assure you it isn't in the pontification of generational identity profession.

Posted by: woolfeeeee | October 30, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: njoebott | October 30, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Like all liberal journalists, the writer mistakes the 20% of Americans who identify as liberal as "us".

To liberal journalists living in a tiny little bubble, the concept of others not sharing their poltical views is a challenge.

Posted by: bobmoses | October 30, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse

I agree w/ a previous poster. How is this the "i rally" when John S. is from the Gen X generation? Every generation delusionally basks in its own supposed uniqueness.

Posted by: Canton55 | October 30, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I will be there to support the irony of my kids.

Posted by: johng1 | October 30, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Have fun standing around all day at the Bootlickers Rally.

Posted by: edbyronadams | October 30, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Why do Americans always have to "label" and pigeonhole an event? It's not "your" generations' anything. Go, enjoy, laugh but don't waste your time trying to figure out what it is. I'm going merely to enjoy the day.

Posted by: mitlen | October 30, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

G'morning Folks,

Up early in LA with my WaPo OpEd landing page and so here we go . . .

Neither waxing "nostalgic" as a GenXer (HS'83, BA/BS '88, MA '90) and certainly not poetic (it is 5:11am), but wished to express appreciation for author's efforts to speak "her" truth, thanks for all the ranging shades (red/blue/green/gray) of reasonable, respectful and engaging response (4therecord, read up through skyguy2, I believe -- TPaine, nice!) and echo sentiments (no sediments here!) of hopeful realism and modest optimism for a delightful, ironic and uplifting "Tour de Farce" that we can all get behind (and in front of) with good humor, good wine (love to see a "tracking/polling" of "The Drinks That Defined the R2RS/F" -- as in "gray" Dean Martinis meeting "pink velvet" Gagas) and good company -- eclectically, ironically blended, of course!

Rally On Friends! CAM

Posted by: OH2NE2LA | October 30, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe, at the rally, Stewart will explain! I'll be there covering it. And you'll be there too."

Ummm....No, I won't be there!

Obama and the Comedy Central crowd - no thanks.

Posted by: thinker16 | October 30, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I think the "I" generation -- or whatever they call themselves -- will be surprised at how many Baby Boomers are attending this rally. It IS political. It's no accident that it was planned right after Beck's Hypocrites United Pray-a-thon, or whatever that was. This is in response to that nonsense. I know a whole lot of people in theri 50's and 60's who will be attending today!

Posted by: HoosierConsumer | October 30, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Interesting. Thoughtful, not "thoughtful."

Agree with mitlen. No need to label or pigeonhole the event. Jon Stewart is loved by a lot of us old "woodstock generation" types, too.

Posted by: martymar123 | October 30, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Stewart is pushing fifty. If you're serious about this being "your Woodstock" maybe you should think about getting a pied piper of your own generation. And the name "Woodstock" is taken. "Laughingstock" is probably open for the taking though.

Posted by: politbureau | October 30, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I'm not laughing anymore. We have VERY serious problems and NEITHER party seems to have any interest in dealing realistically with a changing world.

I don't blame Stewart or Colbert for it but I just don't think this is funny any more. Illegal immigration, for example, is a terrible problem: people are being exploited, people are betraying the Republic for their own profit, our economy is being harmed and sovereignty undermined. This problem has been allowed to spiral completely out of control by a government that has made NO serious effort under EITHER party to control it. And then, just to make sure that we know how little respect they for us, our "leaders" decide to have their own personal comedy show on the Hill and on the public's dime.

It's insult to injury. Let's see who's injured in a few days!

Posted by: andrew23boyle | October 30, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

You are not describing your generation; you are just describing the leftists in your generation. Not even the real liberal firebrands either, just the timid conformists who are liberals mostly because they think they are supposed to be.

Posted by: screwjob22 | October 30, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

As the generation between Gen X and the Millennial, let me just say you are both useless, and your music sucks.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 30, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

ah the establishment protesting the establishment..

Wait did i say that right.. Looks wrong... but this group is the establishment and are protesting their ability to remain the establishment?

Posted by: robinhood2 | October 30, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

the only generation that matters are the ducks at the mall who live in the pool,,always going under and sticking their rears up

Posted by: gonville1 | October 30, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Stewart, at 47, was too young for Woodstock and is almost too old for his 18-49 demographic.

Posted by: blasmaic | October 30, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Once again the WAPO shows itself to be silly trite and irrelevant.

A spoiled child tries to put some kind of meaning in her pampered life and the WAPO prints it as if it is real commentary. As
a matter of fact, considering that they print people like Eugene Robinson and Richard Cohen then maybe this little kid does have a home on the editorial page.

Stewart is not funny either.

Posted by: wj03412000 | October 30, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Matching clown shoes.

Posted by: carlbatey | October 30, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Hey your generation does not own Jon Stewart, young lady!
Nice piece of writing though - even if I don't buy a word of it.
The world we have left you really is best seen as a joke. You either have to laugh or cry. Laughing is better for you.

Posted by: Jihm | October 30, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

All these serious comments from people upset over Petri's column proves her point. Do any one of you unhappy campers have a sense of humor or even understand the meaning of irony? The article is a tongue-in-cheek piece about, among other things, people who take themselves too seriously. And here you are...taking yourself too seriously. Lighten up, miserable lunkheads!

Posted by: jaynashvil | October 30, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Better to laugh than to cry. Younger people do not have to cry because their number is not coming up for the draft and they don't have frinds, relatives who died, were wounded or who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with scrambled brains or who have committed suicide!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | October 30, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

ha ha, all the squares posting their snipes. leaving now for a fun time

Posted by: johng1 | October 30, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Better to laugh than to cry. Younger people do not have to cry because their number is not coming up for the draft and they don't have frinds, relatives who died, were wounded or who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with scrambled brains or who have committed suicide!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | October 30, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

It was really hard to get through this! With all the exclamation points! And, there were too many questions posed? And unaswered? But, luckily there is satire!Or maybe it's not enough?

Posted by: freedomgirl1 | October 30, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Why do people feel the need to categorize everything? Who cares if it's "I" or "X" ...? It's pretty pathetic. I doubt you could compare today's event to Woodstock. Come on. Get off facebook and get real!

Posted by: eunicedelrosario | October 30, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

in 5 yrs, when this pig grows up,this cow will remember that this stunt was not funny, it was corrupt.

Posted by: carlbatey | October 30, 2010 2:02

Also in five years, when you grow up, your post will still look like it was written by an angry, right wing idiot.

Posted by: geo030865 | October 30, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Irony in these times is a luxury of people like you who don't have to worry about serving in Afghanistan, surviving on Social Security, or coping with substandard public schools.

You are precious and non-threatening to the status quo. That's why you have a job at the Washington Post.

Posted by: ContrarianPundit | October 30, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Stewart is a middle-aged man nearly old enough to join AARP and you kids think you are some sort hipsters for visiting Stewart's performance art? Pathetic. The performers at Woodstock were the same age as the audience. Stewart is old enough to be your father.

Posted by: screwjob22 | October 30, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

This is a rally to mock other rallies and has no purpose.

Posted by: Shastamagic | October 30, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

It has nothing to do with any "generation".
It's all about ideology, and this writer summed up one side pretty well.
Progressives (leaders and voters) are proud to be superficial, stupid, underachievers whose only concerns in life are winning the adoration of other stupid underachievers, and demonizing those who aren't superficial, stupid underachievers.
(Usually by calling them racists, sexists, bigots, or most cases with a comment that is bigoted)

This maybe the first piece I've ever read that actually sort of admits it

Posted by: MrMeaner | October 30, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Like, hey, dude, lots of folks showed up at Woodstock...all stoned out of their minds. Is that like, you know, what you're saying about the Two Stooges Rally...all ten people who showed up are out of their minds?

Posted by: Jerzy | October 30, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Judging by your picture Petri, I would say we are around the same age. I totally disagree with you and really hope that your impression of our generation isn't what the older generations think of us. If this is how you perceive our generation, what is the next generation going to be like?

Posted by: Jsuf | October 30, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

So, what you are saying is that you don't give a $^*!? Millennials are too worried about what others think to express an opinion about anything. Wow, what a cynical way to avoid offending anyone. No wonder I can't have a conversation of substance with someone under 30. This may also explain the rise in bullying and recent suicides; millennials don't support one another and stand up for what is right. In my opinion, that's completely opposite to what Stewart embodies. He, for one, is NOT a millennial, and he definitely stands up for things and has opinions. He doesn't give a $^*! about offending people. We need more of that, not what you are espousing and seem proud of. It's a shame, really.

Posted by: realdeal3 | October 30, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

So, what you are saying is that you don't give a $^*!? Millennials are too worried about what others think to express an opinion about anything. Wow, what a cynical way to avoid offending anyone. No wonder I can't have a conversation of substance with someone under 30. This may also explain the rise in bullying and recent suicides; millennials don't support one another and stand up for what is right. In my opinion, that's completely opposite to what Stewart embodies. He, for one, is NOT a millennial, and he definitely stands up for things and has opinions. He doesn't give a $^*! about offending people. We need more of that, not what you are espousing and seem proud of. It's a shame, really.

Posted by: realdeal3 | October 30, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

the rally is so ironic!

irony is the best!

irony rules!

yay irony!

Posted by: fred1000120031 | October 30, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, yeah, yeah....?

Posted by: deepthroat21 | October 30, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me that everyone in this forum is still asleep. WAKE UP! There is no left and there is no right paradigm. You people allow yourselves to continue getting sucked into this false reality. You actually think that flip flopping to another party will save the day? Use some COMMON SENSE. Accepting MILLIONS of dollars from corporate for your campaign makes you a slave to THEM, not the people. You people are the very reason this country is the way it is, because you keep supporting the system that oppresses you. WAKE UP! You people need to take your blinders off and look beyond the party system at the people behind the scenes. You are so far off center that it is disturbing, particularly when you are in your 60's and haven't learned a damn thing.

Posted by: emerson24 | October 30, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

The New Elites are meritocrats, not Spicolis. It is intelligence and ability that garner the new elite status.

Keep fighting "the man" with a laid back attitude and political jokes. I'll sleep well remembering that the bums lost the first time around, and history has an amazing track record of repetition.

And by the way, the real irony is the misuse of the word by a writing professional.

Posted by: dollarsign | October 30, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Pretty stupid article. No irony intended or quotations needed.

Posted by: toreador | October 30, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm a fan of the Daily Show and I think this rally is a good thing, but yeah... this article never should have been written. I think the writer will look back on it in a few years and cringe as often the readers.

(A very poorly used Importance of Being Earnest reference too. Part of the whole point of the play is that the title is ironic.)

Posted by: amoffett1 | October 30, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Jon, don't read this. (Stephan, you can.)

Really, I've never seen narcissism rationalized so earnestly.

Posted by: pmcgann | October 30, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure one can claim that's what's wrong with our generation. I think we are making changes, just not in the traditional way.

With the technology and access to information we have, we can make profound changes from behind the scenes. We can bring people with us rather than scare them into submission.

Some of us "class clowns" who enjoy irony ARE the ones at the front of the class at the blackboard, earning good grades and creating positive change through positive actions.

We are redefining what it is to be an activist, and we don't feel the need to cram our beliefs down someones throat and make creating positive change something that has to be a contest of who can make the most noise. In fact, those people are usually the least effective, arguably.

I also think that this rally is a reaction to something equally as ridiculous, notably the Glen Beck rally. I perceive that movement to be something that is seeking to homogenize Americans into being Christian, conservative, and republican.

The whole point of this country is every person has the right to be an individual, we don't have to conform to any one perspective.

The tea party movement is full of people who are just now getting up off their couches and engaging in politics. This movement is the same. Rather than chastise an entire generation for not being a bra burning 60's activist, I think it's better to help guide that energy to create positive change and exorcise their rights in productive ways.

I don't agree that apathy is something only our generation is experiencing. I think what we are seeing is a rebellion against the extremists on both sides of the political spectrum.

It may be clumsy and misguided at first because people in the middle arent used to using their voices to create change. I commend them for taking the first step in participating more fully in democracy, and I hope to help those who want to be active in democracy find productive ways to create the changes they want to see in America.

Posted by: ShannonMorgan1 | October 30, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

This column perfectly encapsulates how childish Stewart and Colbert's rally is. March to Restore Apathy and Youthful Stupidity indeed.

Posted by: camcgee97 | October 30, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Lily white democrat liberalism on parade.....

They'll have lots of whine with their cheese when they awaken Wednesday morning to a GOP House and Senate

Posted by: georgedixon1 | October 30, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I enjoy both John Stewart and Steve Colbert, but they shoot their darts under the guise of humor. They are both deadly serious, and I am sure that they would expect all of us who admire them to go out and VOTE!

Abstaining from voting is not staking out a position, it is abdicating your power to make a differsnce. If you wake up one morning and find yourself in a dictatorship, you would have only yourself to blame if you left the election to the likes of Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Ms. O'Donnel ad nauseum. These people may seem like freaks, but they agree on one thing -- corporations are good, the bigger the better, and any alleviation by government of the misery of the poor is unacceptable. Some of them even want to change the Constitution to remove civil liberties such as freedom of speech. If they succeed, we wouldn't be able to write comments any more, and your column could be deemed "too frivolous" by the government. This has happened in other places, and it could happen here.

You may be sitting pretty now, but if so, you are incredibly lucky.


Posted by: vonfleck | October 30, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

And the fun will continue tomorrow night as Obama welcomes these crazy trick-or-treaters to The White House:

Posted by: satireguy | October 30, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

And the fun continues tomorrow night as Obama welcomes these crazy trick-or-treaters to The White House:

Posted by: satireguy | October 30, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: demtse | October 30, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

looks like erection city in the 60s. every radical freak,the remments of woodstock gather listen to fools that have no idea what the problems are,but they have the,laugh and party. muslim scum and the rest of this countries enemies love this display of nuts that are no threat to them.

Posted by: pofinpa | October 30, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

The bit about your greatest fear being accidentally saying something that will offend someone someday? That might be the most negative side effect of what our generation lives with day in and out. Maybe that's why we can rally around Stewart and Colbert. They're not under the microscope. Not to say that people today feel the need to hold anything back in the odd virtual spaces on the interwebs. However, that type of conversation has to be left at the door when you cross over to public office or mainstream media. It's no wonder some are jaded with the idea of getting involved in politics. Your positions on the issues and possible solutions? Sidelined by those party pics on your Facebook page from 2008. How long are we (all generations are in this thing together, by the way) going to settle for that?

Posted by: sputnik21 | October 30, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I think a lot of the older readers are missing the point the author is making when she calls the rally her own generation's Woodstock.

Petri's generation, which I'm a member of, grew up with Jon. He's been a constant in my life since I was twelve. We claim Jon as our own because he has always been there, seeming reasonable, always giving us relief from the frustrating world we saw as teens and young adults. When we realized that our parents and grandparents failed to make the world a perfect place with their politics, we turned the Daily Show on and middle-aged Jon helped us laugh through our disillusionment.

My Boomer mom went with her friends and I'm sure they were there for the spirit of the event, but they remember a time when you could turn on the TV and there was no Jon Stewart. I don't.

Posted by: Kate87 | October 30, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

You seem to be conflating satire & irony, two very different things. And confusing laughter with indifference, also two very different things.

Then there's the matter of Gen X v. Gen I. The former was also accused of/credited with "inventing" irony—wrongly, as others have pointed out. Countless generations before that were also undoubtedly likewise pegged.

As opinions go, this one seems rather uninformed. Hence pointless. Hence boring.

Posted by: tatamagouche | October 30, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Dear Ms. Petri,

I enjoyed this show immensely but I knew Woodstock and this was no Woodstock. Itt belittles the baby boomers and the millenials.

I'd suggest that that the "I" generation's Woodstock is performed daily on Facebook where one can choose to do their own thing - that was the essence of Woodstock.

all the best,

Posted by: MCMarathoner1 | October 30, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I have four children in their twenties. Two are pursuing careers as public health doctors, one is presently a nurse at a hospital on the Navaho Nation and the fourth is a senior in college hoping to go to the peace corp when he finishes college.
They too are part of your generation, they pay close attention to politics and how it impacts those on the margains. I don't see them as a minority in their generations and that gives me hope for the future.

Posted by: tlusk58 | October 30, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Sanity at last ( and real patriotism )! This old Viet Nam Vet is totally sick of the Fox News agitators, Tea Party lemmings, and the Limbaugh Ditto Dummies.

Great to see true, well-meaning Americans on the Mall today...............

An Independent

Posted by: aeaustin | October 30, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Was The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear March a Success?

Posted by: PreparedAmerica | October 30, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

talkin' bout my ggggggeneration...


Posted by: Gooddogs | October 30, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

PERFECT..My Kids Woodstock..


Class of 1969 Richard Montgomery HS

WE went to Woodstock..


Posted by: vettesport | October 30, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

It's perfectly true that The Rally To Keep Washed-Up Comedians Alive is my generation's Woodstock, just not true in the way the author thinks it is.

Posted by: dongs | October 30, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

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