John Oliver and the importance of polite society

John Oliver is a rising figure who is sort of a self-proclaimed vigilante, running a weekly segment on HBO called Last Week Tonight. Link to the channel at the end of the post.

The main idea behind these segments is to pinpoint inconspicuous problems in the society and do the sort of research necessary to properly understand them. This is greatly beneficial to the general public as not many people have the time or willingness to do this sort of background digging.

The themes are mainly American, but there are a few important sections which aimed to outline the issues in Europe as well, for instance, the rather misguided Brexit and the rise of far-right nationalists in France. John Oliver and his team (I feel the need to mention the people working behind the scenes who make the whole show possible, kudos to them) want, in essence, to raise awareness about important problems our society faces.

They do it in a rather non-traditional way. There are not as many comparable sources and people/organisations who do the same sort of work. One example is, of course, bloggers and vloggers but those can target a markedly smaller reader/viewership than an HBO segment. Furthermore, Last Week Tonight is run by very intelligent professionals who actually know a great deal about the presented problems.

One of the unfortunate aspects of the show is the language used though. N.B.: I do absolutely hold the opinion that John Oliver is a great man and his cause is admirable, especially since he has to face the consequences such as litigation. The target audience is probably a rather educated, liberal sort, for instance, the sort of people who watch Game of Thrones, enjoy the experience and remember more than 6 characters altogether.

However, the language John Oliver uses is rather crude and it creates an odd contrast between the sophistication and in-depth comprehension of the given issues which he is trying to convey to the audience and the penile references who are, sorry to say, occasionally somewhat shoddy. His videos are full of improper and rude language, possibly in order to connect with people more. This use of swear words on television does make him stand out and brings something new to the segment. However, as of late the number of insults and sexual references has steadily increased.

Were his segments rid of this crass language, it might be possible to extend the target audience to important societies, such as schools. In high schools, the professors would be doomed to show their pupils these segments, especially the newest ones, since that would be a violation of the regular school code. That is a shame since young students could be one of the loudest groups who want a change in the society. It has often been the case in the past that revolutions and demonstrations were led and organised mostly by university students and were John Oliver more appropriate with his language to be shared with the younger generation, the problems he comments on might just become solvable much more easily.

John Oliver’s Youtube channel:


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