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Jon Stewart: Stop Treating Gen Z As Though It's the Only Generation to Ever Experience Trauma

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 10, 2024 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 10, 2024 |


Here is an edited version of the text with improvements to clarity, grammar and spelling:

It’s great to have Jon Stewart back, although he wasn’t gone long for those who watched his Apple TV+ series and listened to the companion podcast. Stewart truly excelled on that podcast — he’s well-researched, intelligent, quick-witted, pushes back, takes no s—t, and makes it engaging for his audience. I was consistently surprised by how much I learned about topics I thought I already knew well, such as over-policing in America, inflation, and the Ohio train disaster. That’s why I’m excited to hear Stewart will also be starting a weekly companion podcast to The Daily Show, beginning in June.

“After much reflection, meditation, and prayer, I have decided to extend my work week to two days,” Stewart jokingly announced.

He’s still excellent on The Daily Show as well. His scorching Thursday appearance denounced the oversaturation of the Trump trial coverage, the right-wing backlash against the Boy Scouts name change, the situation in Gaza, and Trump’s attempt to shame Jews for voting for Biden.

“My apologies to you, Rabbi,” Stewart quipped. “Thank you so much for taking time off of your condom-less porn star hush money trial to deliver a shame lecture to Jews. I will reflect on your moral standing next Yom Kippur.”

However, Stewart is at his best these days in long-form interviews. He had a 22-minute conversation with Harvard pollster John Della Volpe, who has collected extensive data on Generation Z from various polls. I tuned in because I was curious about Della Volpe’s generalizations about Gen Z, but Stewart challenged them.

Della Volpe, for instance, argued that Gen Z is unique because “no generation since the Greatest Generation has dealt with more chaos, more trauma, more quickly than Gen Z. All of this was at their footsteps before the age of 25.”

“No, that’s completely not true,” Stewart countered. “When I was growing up, Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, John F. Kennedy was killed, Robert Kennedy was killed, the Vietnam War was on and then there was Watergate.”

“And then we put someone on the moon,” Della Volpe noted.

“But that didn’t negate all the other shit,” Stewart replied.

Della Volpe acknowledged that every generation faces trauma but contended, “This generation hasn’t seen America at our best… When was the last time your kids felt good about being American and about being connected to everybody?”

“This morning,” Stewart responded, before getting to the crux of his argument: “This is the kind of generalization that I think I take issue with. That idea that this generation has had challenges in a way that no one else has. That’s putting upon them a sense of victimhood that is not necessary and that can ultimately have them play into that identity. As opposed to, ‘Yeah man, your perspective is the worst the world has ever been. But I’m going to tell you something. The world is hard and it’s horrible sometimes and it spins out of control. All we can do every day is make the world look more like the world we want it to be.’ But to treat them as though they have faced some kind of condition that is so anathema to everything that all these other generations have faced doesn’t feel real to me.”

The full interview is worth watching, but this segment encapsulates Stewart’s core perspective on the topic. While acknowledging the real challenges faced by Gen Z, he pushes back on the notion that their generational experience is uniquely difficult in a way prior cohorts did not also encounter in their own times.