Archive for Stephen Colbert

It’s All About Context

Posted in current events, pop culture with tags , , , on September 27, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Watching “Morning Joe” this morning on MSNBC, I was once again disappointed with television pundits.

It wasn’t even a major thing. I know every 24-hour news network is going to have some sort of bias to keep viewers, and in order to keep that bias, some context needs to be removed. But when the story is boiled down to sound bites and over-simplification, that’s when it gets extremely disappointing.

The segment of “Morning Joe” in question was when they were discussing Stephen Colbert’s testimony in front of Congress. They did the usual stripping of context, playing only the parts of Colbert’s testimony where he mentions that he would rather have his tomatoes “picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan, and served by a Venezuelan, in a spa, where a Chilean gives me a Brazillian.” And then the discussion stemmed from what is definitely the most unimportant part of Colbert’s testimony.

But what became frustrating was when Mika Brzezinski referenced, and was offended by, her over-simplified back story: Colbert was testifying about a segment that he taped for his Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report.”

Yes, he did immigrant labor work for a segment on his show, but it wasn’t originally meant to be a segment. It was originally Colbert fulfilling his promise to work a day as a migrant worker as part of the UFW’s “Take Our Jobs” campaign, which asks all Americans to spend a day working as a migrant laborer. It is a brilliant idea, since the prevailing mantra among people against illegal immigration is that immigrants are taking jobs away from true Americans. If this was the case, the UFW says, then all unemployed Americans should be jumping at the chance to “take back their jobs” from the illegal immigrants.

And jump they did. The program started this summer, and to date, only 16 people have taken the offer. Not so much of a jump as it is a hop, possibly a skip.

Colbert’s testimony was meant to offer a perspective of what it is to be a migrant worker, the harsh working conditions, the extremely low pay, and the idea that you have absolutely no rights, and may very well work this job for the rest of your life, never really having made a living. And members of Congress were “surprised” that a comedian who riffs on politics for a living would dare to make a mockery of the Grand and Glorious Congress.

But the whole Colbert thing is just a small part of a bigger picture of context. With election season in full swing, political ads are saturating the air waves, especially here in Iowa. Ads put out by Republican and Tea Party committees are urging people to go out and vote to “take back America” from the evil President Obama. One ad states that Obama’s “experimental policies” have failed, because 15 million people are unemployed, the economy is still rough, and thousands of houses will be foreclosed on by the end of the day.

Never mind that the decline started in the Bush administration. Never mind that the rich in Congress, regardless of party, consistently look out for their own best interest, all but ignoring Middle America. It’s easy to look at a small chunk of something out of context and make a big deal about it, but if the “big deal” is blatantly wrong, then the whole idea of informing people with the news is no longer relevant.

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A Retarded Double Standard

Posted in current events, politics with tags , , , , , on February 10, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Many times something comes up in the news that seems almost comical in a sense. Usually they aren’t pointed out unless you’re watching the Daily Show or the Colbert Report, but sometimes they simply just play out in perfect timing, and you wonder if it was scripted or just a wild dream you were having.

Such an event played out between Sarah Palin, Rahm Emanuel, and Rush Limbaugh over the weekend, and all of it over the dreaded “R-word”. In a closed-door meeting, Rahm Emanuel was all hyped up over dissident Democrats as “F—ing retarded.” Granted, even behind closed doors, that sort of language isn’t acceptable, and Emanuel rightly apologized for the comment.

Sarah Palin later chimed in on her blogs, claiming that Emanuel committed “a slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities,” and called for his immediate dismissal from his position as White House Chief of Staff. While I’ve never agreed with anything Sarah Palin ever did during her Vice Presidential run, I have to admit that she makes a great point. I agree that it was wildly inappropriate for Emanuel to toss such a word around, and while I wouldn’t call for his immediate dismissal, I feel that some sort of repercussion should be felt, such as a fine or something similar.

I’m kind of surprised I agreed with Palin on something. It actually feels sort of good. Why don’t I do it more often?

Later, Rush Limbaugh, famous for being a “giant blowhard,” went on his own rant about what Emanuel said, saying, “Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards.” He went on to say, “I think their big news is he’s out there calling Obama’s number one supporters f’ing retards. So now there’s going to be a meeting. There’s going to be a retard summit at the White House. Much like the beer summit between Obama and Gates and that cop in Cambridge.”

“Retard summit”? Oh, Rush, I hope you’re ready to feel the wrath of Sarah Palin, ’cause here it comes!

…. where is it? Where is the unholy wrath of Sarah Palin? Where are the calls for Rush Limbaugh to be fired? To have a hefty fine slapped on him?

There is nothing. This is probably why I don’t agree with Sarah Palin.

While she did make a blanket statement of “crude and demeaning name calling at the expense of others is disrespectful,” by not specifically addressing Limbaugh like she addressed Emanuel, she’s is showing her true colors: Republicans occasionally have slips of the tongue, and Democrats are retarded.

This isn’t the first time Palin has said something ridiculous: on the campaign trail, she claimed that being in close proximity to Russia is foreign policy experience (I don’t have the direct quote, so that’s all I’ll say on the matter); in a recent interview, she said that the only way Obama can guaranteed re-election is to declare war on Iran. So much wrong with most of these statements.

I’m not a fan of improper use of words, just as much as I’m not a fan of political correctness. I’m not a fan of double standards, either. And overall, this sort of political bogusness is the worst of all. It’s unacceptable for anyone to toss out the word “retard” so loosely, but it’s even more of an abomination to hold a double standard based on politics.

But, that sort of rant will be saved for another day. For now, I leave you with the wise words of Stephen Colbert. Enjoy.