Sunday, September 26, 2010

Stephen Colbert, Comic Genius, Testifies Before Congress. Steny Hoyer, (D-Tight Assville), Doesn't Get It. No Surprise There.

There was a lot of hoopla the last couple days concerning the fact that Stephen Colbert, the comic genius who anchors "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central testified Friday before the House Judiciary committee's subcommittee on immigration.

Over the years, Colbert has brilliantly created a character that is a scathingly sarcastic, over the top portrayal of tone-deaf, extreme-right  news/talk show "pundits."  His character demonstrates sort on an insanely clueless illogical logic, and in his character's mind, there is no intellectual disconnect, because intellect plays almost no part in his forming his beliefs.

The Colbert character's beliefs are based on "Truthiness,"  which can be loosely defined as "speaking from the gut" rather than using one's brain.

His performance is one of the most on-target, deadpan serious, seriously funny things on television.

During the Bush years, Colbert was invited to speak at the 2006 White House Correspondent's Dinner.  Four years later, people are still talking about it.  I doubt he will ever be invited back, because not only was President Bush lampooned, so was (oh, the horror!) damned near everyone in the room... and most of the people in that room still take themselves very seriously.

So when California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) invited Colbert to speak at the subcommittee hearing, Colbert fans were pretty sure they were in for a treat.

While Colbert is a funny man, the invitation was not a joke.  Colbert's invitation came after he and Lofgren both took part in the United Farm Workers' "Take Our Jobs" campaign, which challenged all Americans to experience the hard menial work that immigrant farm workers do.  Lofgren apparently figured that having a celebrity like Colbert testify might generate public interest in the subject. She was correct.

Colbert appeared with United Farm Workers (UFW) President Arturo S. Rodriguez, and stayed in character as the clueless arch-conservative from his television show.  His testimony started off with "I certainly hope that my star power can bump this hearing all the way to C-SPAN 1." (The hearing aired on C-Span 3).
Here's a clip.

You can decide for yourself, but I don't think Colbert's testimony made light of the plight of immigrant farm workers... he instead lampooned himself,  the clueless "Truthiness" of Congress, and the inherently clueless "Truthiness" practiced by much of the American public.

This offended the sensibilities of some of the oh-so-proper Congress members present, some of whom actually DID get that they were the butt of much of his humor... and they take themselves very seriously. Too much so for THAT shenanigans!

Apparently, Colbert also offended the sensibilities of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who told Fox News Sunday that Colbert's appearance was "an embarrassment."

It should have been an embarrassment, Mr. Hoyer.  For YOU and most of Congress.

Colbert's testimony underscored the fact that the House Leadership in particular, and Congress in  general has done little to improve the plight of the immigrant farm worker, or to even address problems with illegal immigration at all.

When asked by Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) why he chose to testify, Colbert actually dropped "out of character"   for his answer:
"I like talking about people who don't have any power...I feel the need to speak for those who can't speak for themselves....We ask them to come and work, and then we ask them to leave again. They suffer, and have no rights."
Colbert also quoted Matthew 25:40:
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"
I think that about sums it up.


Grace said...

It's too bad that so many have focused on the propriety, or lack thereof, of Colbert's testifying and so few on the content & value of that testimony.

Wolfe Tone said...

Funny that no one had a problem when our "tickle me" friend Elmo made the trip from Sesame Street to DC, and appeared in character in 2006 to lobby to keep funding for music in children's education programs.

Post a Comment