If you don’t watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, you really should. It is a masterpiece of intellectual evidence-based satire. But, more importantly, it does a job. For moral good.
John Oliver is really more of an activist for social and political good, and his comedy shoes are really just thinly disguised documentaries.
John Oliver and his team, routinely pick issues that are really important and need exposing, whether it be the healthcare system, bail, coal, the IRS, marijuana, elected judges, FIFA, gerrymandering, school segregation, vaccines, and a whole host of other subjects not normally the source of comedy programmes.
Comedy has morphed, and Oliver is at the forefront of this change.
These subjects are now becoming exposed and put on TV for all to see in a way that is not only enjoyable (when the subjects can be very dry), but they are packed with digestible information. He gets people to do things, whether it be donating money or something as seemingly pointless as tweeting. The thing is, massive torrents of tweets directed at particular people does have an effect. The public can pressure people into action, or changing courses of action. In fact, his success in tackling certain issues is now known as “The John Oliver Effect”. Some of the success and influence of the show can be read here.
The nature of his shows, the remit he has been given (and the freedom allowed by his bosses at HBO), and the wide range of subjects he deals with means that, with his audience and shareability of his videos, John Oliver is arguably the most important player in the world of political, social and economic activism. He at least highlights issues for the wider public so that they can then be funnelled into the right channels or organisations for dealing with that particular issue.
I really do think John Oliver is now carrying the torch for such activism, highlighting the many scenarios of corporate, institutional or governmental malpractice. Quite often, even, it is not malpractice that is highlighted, but the way the system is constructed that allows for such dubious or nefarious activity.
It is why I have often said (given lobbying, gerrymandering and suchlike) that America is the most corrupt nation in the world; it’s just that the corruption is so often legal.
Here is his piece on vaccines: