Sundae Monday's in the Crossfire
I've been spending the last week reacquainting myself with the music of Frank Zappa. His sense of humor is incredible, as is his skill in composing music. However, the first entry under "Frank Zappa" over at YouTube is not a performance, or a music video of any sort. It is an episode of Crossfire from 1986, and it's amazing to look at it in contrast with a more modern version. First is Zappa in '86, then comes Jon Stewart in 2004.
The first glaring difference is the production designs. The '86 version, with its sparse set and black background, forces the viewer to deal with the speakers and what they have to say. It is more confrontational, while the 2004 version adds colors and a sleek design that could easily distract.
I think the key here is the studio audience, or lack thereof. Frank Zappa wasn't playing to a crowd, while Jon Stewart barely did anything else. The popularization of the news has led to a decline in quality, as can be clearly seen in the comparison. It's almost enough to make one wish Robert Novak was still talking about the issues. Almost.