02 October 2010

Moronic Media Whoring

The Dumb Dora Award for
Moronic Media Whoring Goes to
Stephen Colbert


These days, it seems like issue advocacy is the new Comedy Central! Liberals like their politics served up with a generous side of snarky humor, the kind you get on websites like The Huffington Post and three-ring-circus style cable shows like "John Stewart", "Keith Olbermann" and "The Colbert Report." Not to imply that Conservative media doesn't get snarky, too, but at least when it addresses important issues, it does so seriously (Glenn Beck's histrionics notwithstanding). When Right Wing pundits rail against illegal immigrant encroachment on the job market, for example, they're not joking.

The same can't be said for comedian and Liberal talk show host Stephen Colbert, who recently appeared before the United States Congress. He was ostensibly there to offer relevant testimony on migrant laborers to a House subcommittee. Instead, he deliberately transformed the hearing chamber into his own personal comedy club. In a posting dated 24 September, associatedcontent.com columnist Mark Whittington elaborated on the incident:

For reasons that surpass understanding, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, Zoë Lofgren, invited Stephen Colbert to testify on immigration. Colbert is a late night comedian who plays a Liberal stereotype of a Conservative (i.e. ignorant and bigoted) who satirizes the news. He spent a day (in character) working as a migrant farm worker, so was deemed by Chairman Lofgren as an expert on immigration and farm work(???!!) . . . Colbert's presence at the hearings was supposed to raise public awareness of the subject (but) things could not have gone more wrong. While Colbert submitted serious written testimony, his oral testimony was anything but. According to ABC News: "This is America,' he told the panel. "I don't want a tomato picked by a Mexican," he said. "We do not want immigrants doing this labor." He tried to enter images from his colonoscopy into the Congressional Record during a riff on how Americans should eat less ruffage. Then Colbert recalled his day spent picking vegetables at an upstate New York farm earlier this summer. "I'll admit, I started my day with a pre-conceived notion of immigrant labor . . . I have to say, and I do mean this sincerely: Please don't make me do this again! It is really, really hard," Colbert said, pretending to choke up." Byron York of The Washington Examiner reported: "As the hearing went on, Colbert said things like, 'I was a corn-packer . . . corn-packer is a derogatory term for a Gay Iowan."

That's how most of his "testimony" was: Crass jokes told at the expense of non-White ethnic groups or Gay people, mixed with scatological humor and lots of faux-Conservative mugging. It was like "The Colbert Report" on tour! A comedian testifying before Congress isn't what was objectionable; it's that this ego-tripping comedian didn't have enough respect for the institution (or the issue he was supposedly there to shed light on) to leave his comedy routine backstage! In some ways, the serious part of his talk was even more offensive than the snarky part: Colbert parroted the elitist argument that native-born or naturalized Americans are too lazy to work at low-paid, backbreaking labor, but Latino immigrants are somehow perfectly suited to it! That's the kind of casually racist thinking that helped drive me away from Left Wing politics.

Predictably, Fox News pundits were livid with outrage. Also predictably, the Progressive community, including its LGBT faction, greeted Colbert's buffoonery with wild applause. Here's a sample of the overwhelming online support for him, taken from the comments section of Gay newsblog Towleroad:

I think Colbert was spot on! Congress isn't deserving of any type of treatment but mockery. In my book, Colbert is great.

We venerate people like Colbert and (John) Stewart because they draw attention to the need for common sense and accountability in our government.

He was flawless. To see the mindless ideologies be paraded about in front of the idiots who made them is priceless.

It's about time these pompus (sic) asses in Congress were knocked off their pedestals . . . well done! To the point and funny as Hell, by the way.

His testimony was successful in the same way his show is successful. He can get a point across very well to anyone with a brain, while mocking the other side mercilessly.

These space cadets even thought Colbert's crude cornholing reference was appropriate! No doubt about it, the left hemisphere of cyberspace gave him the equivalent of a standing ovation . . . but one Progressive who didn't applaud was Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers. He (wisely) asked Colbert to leave. Reportedly, he was overruled by orders from House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who had approved Colbert's appearance in advance. I fully expect Pelosi-hating Tea Baggers to go apesh*t over that revelation; oh, the fund-raising potential for Conservative candidates!

Mark Whittington did a good job summing up this farce and its likely impact:

Stephen Colbert did not understand what his role was. He was supposed to lend his celebrity to illustrate and comment on the serious issue of illegal immigration. Instead, he made the hearing, the issue, and the Congress big jokes for his own amusement. If people were mad at Congress before, their anger is going to be incandescent now. Maybe Colbert is not a fake Conservative at all, seeing as he has advanced the (Republican) cause by making the Liberal Democrat-run Congress look ridiculous.

Maybe Colbert misunderstood his role as a witness, but he sure didn't misunderstand the golden opportunity testifying before a House Subcommittee gave him. He saw how he could use the occasion as a vehicle for shameless self-promotion, and he went for it!

In my opinion, that's what a lot of Liberal activists do nowadays. They use controversial topics like illegal immigration, fear of Islam, hate speech, sexual abuse by clergy and DADT as an excuse to pontificate and posture and clown on camera; that's how they camouflage the fact that they lack expertise in these subjects! What's the issue du jour? Cable news outlets know they can always call on colorful personalities like Dan Savage, Arianna Huffington, Michael Musto, Michael Moore, Michael Eric Dyson or John Ridley. Whatever the uproar, these folks will have something entertaining (but seldom illuminating) to say about it.

The more I see their faces on my TV screen, the more I think none of them really care about finding workable solutions to problems. What they seem to care most about is pulling face time in the media, and that means putting out the kind of risible commentary Liberal partisans love.

This latest example of brazen media whoring, as well as the reaction to it, underscores how cynical our national dialogue has become. The Left Wing champions its celebrity spokesmen regardless of how credible they are, the Right Wing does the same thing, and our politics become ever more polarized. The two sides delight in scoring points off each other, but who wins in the long run? What justifies them poking fingers in each other's eyes like sandbox brats?  How do the American people benefit from this idiotic game of political one-upsmanship?

And how can they trust leadership that treats their concerns so frivolously? Nancy Pelosi and Zoë Lofgren should be ashamed of their part in this moronic stunt; so should every Congressman who laughed at Stephen Colbert's juvenile antics! Democrats may be tittering now, but I wonder if they'll find it half as funny when Republicans take over Congress and solicit Judiciary Committee testimony from, say, Ann Coulter?

If our Congressional representatives want to see the likes of Glenn Beck and Stephen Colbert doing their schtick, they can damn well tune into their cable TV shows like everybody else does! I don't send my representatives to Washington so they can set up committees for entertainment purposes! When I watch news coverage of House and Senate proceedings, I want to see Congressmen busy with serious legislative work, not guffawing at off-color jokes. Whether it's Elmo from "Sesame Street" (yes, a Muppet actually testified before Congress in 2002) or a partisan comedian pretending to offer expert witness testimony, such foolishness is a criminal waste of taxpayers' money.  I might add that it's a blatant misuse of government hearing rooms, too.  If John Conyers is the only elected official on Capitol Hill who knows it, I suspect he won't be for much longer.

Ordinarily, an incident like this would be beyond the scope of my Dumb Dora Awards; Stephen Colbert isn't a Gay activist (although I bet he'd answer in the affirmative if you asked whether or not he considers himself a Straight ally). What made me nominate him was his boorishness in foisting tacky Gay "humor" on our elected representatives. That little bit of heterosexist arrogance made his goofball ass fair game for me!

Next: The Dumb Dora Award for Modeling Sexual Racism