Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More on Colbert

Many of you already know that I believe the Washington Post is missing out on an important story - what I be sayin'.

Well, it turns out that they are listening to what I say, stealing it, and publishing it without even a measly tip of the hat.

I'm the one that talks about the significance of Colbert's Facebook group! Here and here. From like last week, y'all!

Yesterday, the Washington Post's political blog, The Trail, "broke" a story about Colbert's Facebook group. Jerks!

Actually, there were some interesting nuggets in Dan Balz's post:

"At a political level, comparing Mr. Obama and Mr. Colbert is patently unfair. To join Mr. Obama's group ... requires an explicit statement of political beliefs. Joining Mr. Cobert's group signals that you're a fan of his hilarious TV personality. Of course, there's nothing wrong with this -- but to comapre Obama and Colbert is truly to compare apples and oranges," Fred Stutzman, a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, blogged Monday on TechPresident, the hub of online presidential campaigning.

Added George Washington University's Michael Cornfield, who teaches about political strategy and message development: "Colbert is entertainment and entertainment always outrates politics. People want to be entertained. That's all this means."

Mr. Balz does an admirable job questioning their logic by citing how Facebook has become increasingly political through the causes application and candidate profile pages. To that, I would also add the already demonstrated mobilization results of certain cause-oriented groups, such as those which were so influential in driving the Jena 6 mobilization.

I am of the position that Fred Stutzman and Michael Cornfield (who teaches about political strategy and message development) suck at having opinions about the significance of Colbert's immense levels of support. They suck real bad.

A more reasoned position on the Colbert phenomenon comes from Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, h/t: Attytood:

But the Colbert candidacy becomes a distraction only if the press allows it to. And the sad fact is the press already has allowed it to, because the press literally drives itself to distraction on the campaign trail. That's not an unfortunate side effect of the process. That's the goal... (emphasis his)

...That's because the press has decided to cover presidential candidates as celebrities, as personalities. This media phenomenon became enshrined during the 2000 contest, when the press announced that presidential campaigns were no longer about how candidates might function as presidents; what they might actually do as commander in chief. Instead, campaigns were about personalities -- which candidate was fun to be around and which one was authentic...

...Why else would NBC's venerable Meet the Press invite Colbert on for an awkward 15-minute interview? (And why else would anchorman Brian Williams be hosting Saturday Night Live on November 3?)

Well, Mr. Boehlert has an excellent point here about Colbert's candidacy. It is a joke about something deathly serious. (Not the Iraq War, the potential for WWIII, a sagging economy, an castrated and incompetent federal bureaucracy, a healthcare crisis, a free-falling education system, etc.) It's a joke about how terrible the media is. Infotainment is the word of the day.

But it's not just that. It's not just about the media being a self-serving travesty. It's not just about the media wanting to be famous.

It's about politicians wanting to be famous too. Our politicians compete with those media pundits as to who can self-aggrandize more. John McCain and Al Gore have also hosted Saturday Night Live to boost their profiles. So have Rudy Giuliani, Jesse Jackson, Ralph Nader, and Al Sharpton. Just thought I'd point that out. Stephen Colbert is not just a media spoof. He spoofs the whole ridiculous system that we call democracy. Call it democratainment. Or polititainment. To quote Stephen Colbert, "I have a copyright on those."

Joining Mr. Cobert's group signals that you're a fan of his hilarious TV personality.

Colbert is entertainment and entertainment always outrates politics. People want to be entertained. That's all this means.


Y'all are absolutely asleep on the man!

Have you seen his show? Did you see him at the press corps dinner? This man is not a slap-stick laugh-fest, he's not Will Ferrell. They have different appeals. Stephen Colbert makes people think.

People rely on him as a news source and end up more informed than those that watch actual news.

We're laughing because we're in on the joke while the media and politicians are the ones being made to look like fools. They've been treating us like idiots for so long, Colbert is reversing the dynamic. When Colbert wins delegates in South Carolina, they can smirk all they want about how dumb and uninformed and disengaged the voters are. He'll be at the Republican and Democratic Conventions this summer.

1 comment:

The long, long road home,New Orleans said...

I agree with your thoughts. a vote for Colbert is more a statement than entertainment. Its a statement that the public is tired of the election game as it is currently played.

Throughout Colberts canidacy eI in fact have learned much about the canidacy process. Who knew it cost 35,000 to become a republican canidate?