I don't usually bother getting annoyed at the phrasing of things in news articles. Entertainment news is especially addlepated and mired in sexist dreck. I mainly register my protest by not applying my eyeballs to it, which denies them some tiny portion of the attention and ad revenue they need to live.

People have noticed that I am trying to distract myself by watching smart humans fuck around in front of a camera, however, and keep sending me links to things about Jon Stewart's final episode of The Daily Show. All of the US articles I've seen, and almost all of the Commonwealth ones, describe his reaction to Colbert's final thanks as "emotional". This is technically accurate, but suspiciously tactful from an industry based on publishing paparazzi photos of reality stars who are coked out of their minds, and police blotter items they dug up by seeing whose name Google can link to both "DUI" and "SAG".

Seriously. Dude's crying. Pretty hard, by the end. I cannot help but think that this would have been noted explicitly if he'd been a she. I ignore this stuff most of the time, on the theory that it says more about the thought process of the writer than anything else, but if I've noticed your stupid sexist biases, you are being seriously blatant.

Moreover, if they are doing it to spare egoes, they are trying to save someone who needs no saving. Stewart is known to do this when punched sufficiently hard in the feels. Possibly he is well-known for doing this, among cast and crew; he and Colbert both seem quite aware that it's going to happen, hence the rolly-desk chair chase. The tripwire for it doesn't appear to be embarrassment, but something more akin to overwhelming gratitude. It's moderately exasperating because the microphone picks up sniffles, it puts a temporary kibosh on his motormouth, and probably he gets attacked by the makeup lady afterwards for touch-ups. By the time they throw to commercial, he is not only crying openly, he's crying on someone, which I can assure you is 150% not a thing you do if you're mortified by the idea of bursting into tears in public, because it gets a lot of attention.

If it bothered him that much, he'd have figured out how not to do it sometime since September 2001. Or how to make sure it didn't get on the air. Colbert's crack about not working for him anymore notwithstanding, Stewart is still an executive producer on the show. There were plenty of ways to deliver that speech without getting him in the shot; it could have easily been pre-recorded and played in from VT. If nothing else, the chair Colbert was in happens to be facing Stewart's beloved Camera 3.

Stewart's audience at The Daily Show skews about a generation younger than he is, and has consistently since he started there. If you ask me, one of the reasons for that is that a lot of his views and actions are much more in line with Millennial social norms than with his own cohort. It's especially striking when it comes to things like normative gender behavior: On The Daily Show, the women are allowed to be awkward and weird, the men are allowed to have feelings other than anger, and Everyone is Bi without comment if it sells the joke. Character archetypes switch freely from male to female correspondents. Their "oblivious ditz" position, ordinarily a female role, was originally filled by Vance De Generes, and when he left it fell onto Stephen Colbert; Samantha Bee inherited Steve Carell's schtick of looking interviewees dead in the eye and making odd noises/faces at them as if this is perfectly normal, and daring them to react. This is particularly unusual in comedy, where women have difficulty breaking into the genre if their stage characters don't fit the stereotype of "neurotic self-obsessed lady terrified of being an old maid". It's baldly transgressive by traditionalist standards, but if you asked Millennials about it they're likely to look at you like you've just questioned why the women are allowed to wear pants and have opinions on camera.

There is a lot to bitch at my generation for, but this is a sea change that ought to make our parents and grandparents proud. They, as a group, pushed so hard for tolerance and civil rights that their (grand)children now have no intuitive grasp of why they had to fight. Sexism, racism, and other kinds of discrimination certainly aren't gone, but Millennials as a group have no idea why they were considered the natural order of things just a few decades ago. The practice is abhorrent, but the logic behind it strikes them as so bizarre it's not even wrong.

Whether they would be personally comfortable bursting into tears on camera or not, Stewart's audience, on the whole, would have no idea why this is a taboo thing to mention in the press. If you think open displays of emotion somehow make him weaker or less threatening as an opponent, you are in for a world of very brainy hurt. Much of what makes Stewart so viciously effective when he goes after people who, in his estimation, are Doing Things Wrong is actually this: He is personally affected by these things, and he is not afraid to show it. He does not have to hold back in the name of dignity.

If you writers are trying to help Stewart save face over this, you need to knock it off. You're doing him a disservice, and doing the same disservice second-hand to a lot of the people whose careers he jumpstarted -- their comedic styles diverge, but Stephen Colbert, Larry Wilmore, and John Oliver are all also like this, as is the new host Trevor Noah. (Their unexpected breakout star correspondent Jessica Williams is the other side of the coin, a woman who has a lot of feelings that include naked anger, and also gets to argue with logic.) It is a large part of what has given them not just an audience, but an activist audience that does things like show up for rallies by the tens of thousands and shovel money at causes they mention.

I'm going to stop ranting now because I have to go out in the rain and feed someone's cats, but suffice it to say that this annoys me very much, both as an academic working in social sciences, and as a human being who happens to be obviously female to even a casual inspection, but have a lot of "male" hobbies like video games and recreational mathematics.

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