Last week, a friend and I attended The Rally to Restore Sanity (as Amanda did; sorry we didn't connect), which - all jokes aside - was a wonderful, empowering, hopeful event. Lots (and lots and LOTS) of people coming together to show their support for sanity (what an idea!) AND have a good time! Of course, as could be expected, many pundits and the mainstream media didn't know what to make of it all. A gigantic event, on the national mall, hosted by two wicked smart satirists, that mixed seriousness with silliness, self-depreciating humor with intelligent reflection, inspiration with peanut-buttered bees...why, why, that doesn't fit in any box! Exactly!
Americans don't fit any one box. This is why marketers (and political strategists) have such a difficult time with that whole "American people" thing. (Same as "marketing to women.")
Here's one thing I can say for sure about the rally - Stewart knows marketing. HE knew that if he made it sound like positive fun, people would come out. And that's what he did, and, man, did we.
IMO, one of the biggest problems is that our "leaders" don't have a sense of humor*. If we can laugh together, that's a start to better communication. I'm not saying any of us should be chuckling over the war dead or the deficit, but...not everything needs to be a deep dark serious, world-ending catastrophe. Run! Hide! Be AFRAID! If the other guy wins, it'll be the end! If the legislation gets passed, it'll be the END OF THE WORLD! As Stewart noted in his closing remarks, "If we amplify everything, we hear nothing."
The rally gave me hope for the entire human race, not just the "American people." Another thing that gave me silly, grin-inducing hope was how many people (of all ages and both sexes) were crammed and jammed into the Julia Child's Kitchen exhibit at the Smithsonian. All united by our love of butter! But, seriously - if this many different people revere a woman who was all about livin,' lovin', comfort and joy - there really is hope for all of us. As long as we remember to laugh - at ourselves and together.
* A sense of humor is pretty much required in order to have a sense of perspective.