What is the point, John Oliver?

Every Sunday night I settle in to watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. It’s funny and it’s smart and the amount of time and research his staff devotes to these topics is really impressive.


However, I’m not sure what to do with my feelings at the end.

*He explains that the Miss America pageant isn’t really giving away all that scholarship money they claim. (Annoying, but not unexpected.)

*He explains that our drone policies in the middle east will come back to bite us in the future. (Scary, but I’ll probably be dead by then.)

*He explains that a little known law, Civil Forfeiture, allows local police officers to confiscate cash from law-abiding citizens who’ve broken no laws (Infuriating.)

*And this week he explained how many of the translators in Iraq and Afghanistan who risked their lives (as well as the lives of their families) to help our troops and are in imminent danger, are not being allowed to move to America. Even though we promised. (Now my head is about to explode.)

The problem is, he just lays out the facts with great righteous indignation¬†and then says goodnight. I can’t sleep, I’m disturbed for days, but most of all, I’m helpless to do anything.

Am I missing something here? Is it just an exercise in futility? Is he just trying to ruin my week? Is anyone in power watching? I’m not sure I can do this if there’s no possibility of righting these wrongs.

– Jen


2 Responses to “What is the point, John Oliver?”

  • Derek Says:

    I’ve been power watching his show and I think his point is more of the old-school journalistic MO: Find things that should piss you off and maybe people will eventually start demanding change (or, at the very least, the organizations he’s calling out shape up on their own due to the negative press they are FINALLY getting).

    Problem is, it takes a while to get that ball rolling. I feel like between Stewart, Colbert, and Oliver, that kind of post-newspaper journalism is gaining momentum. Its just sad it has to come from comedians and not the media.

  • Greg Says:

    Vote. Write your congressperson. If you feel strongly enough about, protest.

    They are the only tools we have. Hopefully if enough people try to exercise them something can happen. The only way to make that happen is to make people feel unsettled, unhappy, and uncomfortable.

    To act in conscience, first conscience must be raised. That is what he is doing.

    The way you feel is exactly what he wants. If there are 20 million people who can’t live with something, it might stop. Ignoring it or walking away because you can’t do anything only ensures that it will never change.