Posted tagged ‘Stephen Colbert’

Colbert Link (Congressional Testimony Re Undocumented Migrant Farmworkers)

September 28, 2010

For those interested in my last (sincere but kind of goofy) post re  yard work and Stephen Colbert’s recent testimony in Congress, here’s the link to Colbert’s (sincere but kind of goofy) opening statement.

The Line Between Satire and Sneer–UFO’s and Palin, Tea Partyers and Obama

February 16, 2010

Tea Pot and UFOs

I freely confess that I’m not a Family Guy kind of gal.  I just don’t care for crass.

Even my beloved Robert Pattinson has really turned me off lately with his gross and negative remarks concerning female private parts.   (Better watch out for your constituency, Rob.  You haven’t exactly shown yourself to be Laurence Olivier, after all.)

Because of my dislike of crudity, I haven’t watched the Family Guy clip of the Down’s Syndrome character whose mother is the Governor of Alaska.  I  just wish it hadn’t been aired.   Mainly because I personally think it is wrong and offensive to make jokes at the expense of little children with disabilities.

Secondly (and I’m sorry if I’m being crass here myself), it feeds Palin’s mantle of media martyrdom, consequently diminishing the impact of jokes and criticism justifiably aimed at instances of her hypocrisy and untruth  (that is, meaningful satire.)

How to distinguish between mindless stupid crass jokes and meaningful satire?  I feel a little bit like Stephen Colbert here, who recently tried to use Palin’s calculus for acceptable uses of the word “retard”, distinguishing between what Palin called Rush Limbaugh’s acceptable use of the word as “satire”, and Rahm Emanuel’s unacceptable use (to characterize certain Democrats) .

(Yes, even as I write that, I’m conscious that I’m jumping onto the whole “making fun of Sarah Palin” boat.)

But here’s one of the problems with jumping on to that boat.  There are a lot of frustrated, fearful, angry people in this country who feel that Palin speaks to and for them.

Some of these people, the Tea Partyers, are relatively easy to mock.  They tend not to be “hip”;   they sometimes seem ignorant; some of their views (seccession!) seem pretty outlandish.

I especially cannot understand these people’s take on Obama.  (Some of them view him not only as  a non-U.S. citizen, but terrorist witch doctor).   The people who espouse such views  seem to me like the kind of people who believe in UFOs.  (Particularly UFOs sent into space by the Federal Government.)

But these people are not truly crazy;  they drive cars, hold jobs, pay taxes (reluctantly), raise children, take care of the elderly, work.    But they feel that they/we are in terrible trouble, and they act like people both steaming mad and desperately seeking a cure.  (They make me think of those books that advocate eating nothing but garlic or watermelon.)    The cure they want is to go back to a past that never actually was; to a simplicity that never was.

Making stupid jokes at their expense, sneering at them (and at Palin), is not a good way to quell fears,  ease resentments.

While Obama can be professorial, he is also extremely good at explaining complicated issues in simple, but not reductive, ways.    He needs to use that skill more to remind Americans of how the country arrived at this economic downturn, of why the banking system was saved, of how the Republicans in Congress (and in the White House) both contributed to the current crisis and are now blocking its repair.   He needs to keep it simple, make it direct.

And while hypocrisy may deserve satire, Obama (and his supporters) should avoid the side of the sneer.

Grammys – Live Blogging, Robotic Performers

January 31, 2010

The second time today that I was happy to close my eyes during a musical performance  (see prior post “Eyes Wide Shut”) has been the Grammys!  I have to confess to never before seeing the Grammy awards.  They were turned on in my apartment to see Stephen Colbert, who appeared all too briefly.

Since then, Jennifer Lopez has appeared in a dress empaneled with packing material, Beyonce has impersonated an angry robot, Fergy has been involved with even angrier robots, and tonsils have borne heavy impact.  Dancers have shown a great deal of  self-righteousness and a lot of breast and thigh.  Pink started off in a cut-up beach robe, and ended up in a be-ribboned body suit hanging from the ceiling in.  What was perhaps most amazing about her singing was that she could do it at all while sideways suspended under a sprinkler system.

Popular culture, amazing!  Is it really popular?!

Zac Brown Group won best new artist, and so far have also been the best just regular nice guys.

Oh wait!  Colbert just won one.  I take it all back.

Celebrity News

November 29, 2009

Addiction has long plagued man (and woman).  (Even, as was shown at the Central Park Zoo a few years ago, polar bear.)   There are the standard traps—alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, and, if you are a polar bear, your 9 by 12 artificial arctic pool.   But addiction is not only a by-product of human nature, it’s also a creature of its time.  As a result, there are always new and interesting practices that people can get taken over by—crystal meth, online shopping, computer gaming, non-stop twittering or facebook checking (non-stop “stat” checking if you are a blogger), texting while driving, the 24 hour news cycle.  Even worse than an addiction to the 24-hour news is an addiction to the 24-hour celebrity news cycle;  worse than that, is the intense craving for celebrity status itself–the obsession with achieving fame.

Some addictions are obviously more damaging than others.  I, for example, view an addiction to either (a) Robert Pattinson, or (b) the Twilight books, as relatively benign.  They may be damaging to one’s reputation as a serious and/or thoughtful person, but they  are a relatively cheap indulgence, don’t truly harm others (except, perhaps, a thoroughly bemused spouse), and can even be satisfied in chocolate.  (See e.g. new Twilight assortments with foil wrapped and embedded portraits! )

Both Twilight and Pattinson also have the absolutely most healthy quality an addiction can have, which is that they get pretty boring pretty quickly.  (No offense, Rob; it’s not you so much as the dialogue.)

The addiction to the pursuit of celebrity status is a little more troubling.   Recent examples include Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple who crashed last week’s White House State Dinner, and Richard Heene, the father of the “Balloon Boy,”–all people apparently addicted to the pursuit of their fifteen minutes.

What’s more worrisome to me, however, is the Salahish, I mean salacious, pursuit of celebrity by people who once played serious and dignified roles in our culture.   I particularly mean people in the news business, who seem, increasingly, to want also to be people “in the news.”

In the early years of televised news, there was a dignity to the newscaster–Walter Cronkite, Frank McGee, David Brinkly, were TV personalities, but soberly somber.   We all know how this has changed in more recent years.   The reasons are obvious and not new—advertisers want ratings, outrageous and/or boorish commentators, perky blonde reporters, and “news” which is really entertainment (i.e. reality shows, sports, sensational crime shows) apparently achieve them.   Recently, however, the “celebritization” of newspeople on TV has not only become more intense, it has also spread to other sections of the press, which, due to commercial pressures and online versions, have  become increasingly TV-like.  For example, the New York Times now posts photos and videos, and advertises blogs and tweets, of its op-ed writers.  To some degree, this is useful;  you can better understand the overall stance of a commentator, and, if you like, you can read a lot more of them, but sometimes, well, you end up wanting to read a whole lot less.

Politicians increasingly crave “celebrity-style” status as well.  (Yes, Sarah Palin.)  As Colbert has demonstrated through his “Colbert bumps,” it’s better, election-wise, to be known, even if slightly ridiculed.  (Ideally, if apearing on Colbert,  it’s better to be known, and if ridiculed, also good humored.)

I guess people want circuses, even when bread is in short supply.