Why Hasan Minhaj Is Renting Out DVDs of His Patriot Act’ Season Finale

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The final episode of the comedian’s third season on Netflix is all about internet equality. But those affected by the issue can’t easily stream Netflix—so Minhaj got in touch with the company’s somehow-still-functioning DVD rental service.

physical copies of this episode
—though you’ll have to subscribe to Netflix’s DVD service to access it.
Regardless of the manner in which you watch, the episode, aptly titled “Why Your Internet Sucks,” is a handy reminder of why shows like
Patriot Act
have become so popular. It’s both amusing and informative, thorough but concise. Some of the realities Minhaj uncovers must be seen to be believed—like a Coachella, California, initiative that allows students to access Wi-Fi in parked buses around the area so that they can complete their homework. (“That was really shocking and sad and disheartening,” Minhaj said.) Even more confounding, however, are the portions that cover the government and telecom giants’ fight against small, underserved cities that have begun to set up their own networks, known as “municipal broadband.”
“That to me was the most alarming piece of information,” Minhaj said. “Because when it comes to infrastructure, America has generally sided with the good of the public over large corporations.” As the episode points out, Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act in 1936, which solved a similar issue with electricity. In this case, however, it seems the scales have tipped in favor of corporate giants, especially thanks to FCC chairman and former Verizon associate general counsel
Ajit Pai.
Still, some areas have been able to fight back—like Chattanooga, Tennessee, which managed to create its own internet despite two lawsuits. That in turn forced Comcast to compete by offering better broadband, after the corporate giant had batted away years of complaints.

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Minhaj said that those local battles—and the victories many small towns were able to secure for their residents—are what he views as the ultimate takeaway of the episode. “It all of a sudden forced the hand of Comcast,” he said. “Overnight they were magically able to provide their fastest service and their best service. And to me that is a testament to conviction and persistence over apathy.”
Late-night and talk show hosts have increasingly seen their jobs come to include an advocacy component. Years after leaving
The Daily Show,
is still fighting Congress on the 9/11 first responders bill.
Jimmy Kimmel
took up the fight on health care, while
John Oliver
lobbied for net neutrality so hard that his viewers crashed the FCC site on two occasions.
The reason for this shift is obvious: As Minhaj noted, “Things are definitely more politically charged right now.” Many of the shows that take up these sorts of causes are also host-driven programs—and several are led by former Stewart correspondents who presumably
learned a thing or two
by watching him. While not every host is political, Minhaj has embraced the opportunity to use his international platform to speak on issues like censorship in China or protests in Sudan. “Those are things that I think the world should be talking about, and Americans should be talking about,” Minhaj said. “Because if you haven’t been watching the news, we’re all interconnected.… That’s the way I approach it. To me that matters. If I have 25 minutes of your time, I want it to mean something.”
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