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Long Island City

Mike makes stuff. Mostly involving words, notes, thoughts, and images. Also a podcast. Enjoy. 

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A blog featuring Mike's Images & words. Occasionally sounds. 

Filtering by Tag: colbert report

Blame Comedy

Mike Blejer

Oh thank god, someone finally figured out who's responsible for the republican party's voting for Donald Trump: Jon Stewart! According to Jesse Bernstein of Tablet Magazine, Stewart and his smug liberal culture of mocking the dumbness of the GOP platform caused them to... become dumber? Is he some kind of Judo or Jedi master, destroying them by their own hand?

I mean look, I'm all for a fair apportioning of blame, but I'm really not following this guy's argument. Let's break it down:

  1. Jon Stewart exhibits "liberal smugness."
  2. Therefore he is ignorant (the author doesn't really explain how this conclusion is reached).
  3. Because Stewart's critiques called Fox News and co stupid, people didn't engage with the (stupid?) ideas presented by Fox News and Co.
  4. ???
  5. Therefore, Donald Trump.

Bernstein's claim that the Democratic party's share of the manual laborer vote is due to "intellectual elitism" isn't at all supported by the facts or any argument other than "it feels right." I think a far more worthwhile analysis here would look at the role of gerrymandering, money in politics, and the right's heavy reliance on social wedge issues like creationism, gay marriage, and abortion rights to drive their voters. The right endorsed trade deals and union busting while simultaneously failing to deliver on any of those social promises -- and this really highlights how the idea that Democrats insult the poor while Republicans honor them is just obviously absurd, which is what gets us the Donald Trump republican anti-establishment revolt.

It's also just obviously crazytown to blame Jon Stewart for the rise of Donald Trump, when the viewers of the Daily Show -- if they're as smug and elitist as this author claims they are -- almost certainly haven't taken part in any of the actual votes which selected Donald Trump.

My takeaway: This guy is putting the cart before the horse, by insisting that the ideas being put forward by the GOP and FOX News over the past 20 years have been by and large worthy of reasoned discourse and not ridicule. But this is obviously a false dichotomy, since the whole value of Stewart, Colbert, Bee, and Oliver's takedowns has been in their sharply honed razor edge of reason which they've used to cut apart the illogical arguments of the right, and it's telling that the video in the article is of a Bill Maher segment, i.e., a liberal who many liberals consider to be a smug blowhard.

Finally, at what point is it ok to call a Republican politician dumb? Was it not ok with Bush but now it's ok with Trump? Is it still not ok? Is it somehow Jon Stewart's fault that the intellectual republican party has trickled out of a slowly sinking ship since the 1950s? This article provides no actual insight into the mechanics or ethics of criticizing an opponent's views on their merits and ultimately just boils down to "hey that's mean." Well ok, sure I'll grant you that calling someone dumb is a little bit mean, but it's nowhere near as mean as denying rights to gays, women, minorities and oh yeah, quietly fucking over the poor while you promise them it's totally Jon Stewart's fault. And staying silent while someone tries to do all of that? That'd be pretty mean too. As the saying goes, "All it takes for meanness to succeed is for good cultural critics to be nice."

With Out Rage: 5 reasons why ‪#‎CancelColbert‬ is bad for Humanity

Mike Blejer

Stephen Colbert is under attack by a young woman named Suey Parks and a small army of twitter followers References are below for those of you who need to catch up, but in the mean time, here are five reasons why this ‪#‎CancelColbert‬ thing is bad for Humanity.

1. It distracts the conversation from discussing *actual* racist remarks, names and institutions (ahem, redskins, ahem).

2. It distracts the conversation from *actual* prejudiced comedy, of which there is paaaaa-lenty. Including lots of cases where "ironic racism" is used as a defense to excuse actual racism (this just ain't one of those times).

3. By crying wolf about satire that aims at exposing prejudice, in comedy or in society, it makes it easier to disregard cries of prejudice that are totally on point.

4. Colbert has enough renown that he will weather this easily. But if he weren't so famous and something like this happened, he would be tried in the media and likely found guilty. This kind of thing sends the message to thoughtful comedians that if they dare touch on sensitive subjects they will be crucified by people who claim to be liberal, but are actually profoundly conservative.

5. An argument could be made against Colbert's use of his character. I've heard the argument made before. By intelligent, rational friends. And we talked about it. But when people use alarmist attacks like this one to cut through the noise and get attention, they're sacrificing a meaningful teaching opportunity for the chance to be written about in the news. And that's just gross.

Maybe Suey Park is young enough or unsophisticated enough that she just doesn't get comedy, or maybe she does and is just shrewdly using this as an excuse to get her name out there by attacking a high profile celebrity. I don't know her, and I don't really care. It upsets me, as someone who cares about injustice, ignorance, and prejudice. It upsets me that there are a bunch of people who are going to use this woman's terribly chosen campaign as a cudgel to silence others (or even her in a better moment) when they bring real complaints to the public sphere.

So ‪#‎freecolbert‬ or whatever. But let's please talk to each other like adults, preferably in more than 140 character chunks.

If you haven't seen what this whole thing is based on, the relevant joke in context is from 8:26 to end of segment here:

The following hoopla is summarized here: