Posts Tagged ‘civic activists’

“What’s real?  What’s not?  That’s what I do in my act, test how other people deal with reality.”  — Andy Kaufman

There’s a war going on outside no (wo)man is safe from. 

No, I don’t mean the “War on Terror” or our country’s entanglement in Afghanistan.  Nor am I referring to the Republican Party’s “War on Women” advertised on CNN, or the President’s purported covert “War on Religion” ginned up by FOX News. 

The battle I speak of poses more of a threat than the one between ‘real’ America, and, I suppose, ‘fake’ America residing between the ears of VP candidate-turned-‘Today Show’-host Sarah Palin, but thankfully requires far less funding than the installation of a Romney family car elevator. 

This war takes place weekdays in living rooms all across the country, inciting both fear and division, laughter and indifference; but the bounty isn’t land, freedom or treasure, but what one man has coined as: “truthiness.” 

In one corner, sits leviathan heavyweights CNN, FOX News, NBC and ABC News; and, in the other, hailing from Comedy Central, satire powerhouses Jon Stewart and Stephen T. Colbert.  Yes, in the information age, where knowledge probably yields more power than it ever has, it appears we left the most important battle to a bunch of comedians.   

Long eclipsing their closest contemporaries at SNL, so-called ‘fake’ news hosts, Stewart and Colbert, nightly pummel those pusillanimous pussyfooter politicians and pundits of all political stripes, Agnew once bellowed about.  Ask them their political leanings and many will assume Democratic, but the two largely operate above the fray due to their seamless dual roles: part pundit, part parody, or in other words, Bill O’Reilly meets Ron Burgundy.  This duality, has left many in mass media and beyond, wondering are they comedians or civic activists?  And, better yet, is the joke on the networks or us?

For six years, the tag team of Stewart/Colbert has sought to “Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive” in our political discourse by blurring the lines of satire and reality.  Colbert, alone, has testified before Congress, created a Super PAC and held a political rally on the Washington Mall.  Masterfully, the two entertainers have inserted themselves into the vein of the mainstream, creating a political looking-glass for us to better examine our own political culture and beliefs by examining theirs. 

Though many question if they are diluting the very “seriousness” of our politics, it is undeniable that they are engaging a segment of the population that would be turned off to politics otherwise.  Their comedic format has allowed for a more in depth and unhinged approach to discussing issues that the networks have long abandoned.  Wonder why there are no viable third parties?  Why watch a panel moderated by Anderson or Hannity when you could watch a dramatization of a third party being formed through a Stewart/Colbert party filing in your home state?  In my opinion, they are the animated, more mature, modern day version of Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill.”  And, as far as the joke, if in fact it is on us, then fortunately for us don’t we usually remember the best ones?  


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