Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Steven Colbert - A Brave Comic Wit

Steven Colbert is probably a comic genius. He is also demonstrably fearless. His show is one of the few I watch now on TV, actually.
Steven was surrounded by an unfriendly group of very power powerful people - some of THE most powerful people in the country, or the world, even. Yet he had the unmitigated nerve to stand up at the White House Press Correspondents Association dinner and attack President Bush and the media leaders relentlessly through the use of his trademark deeply sarcastic wit. He pretends to be a staunch supporter of the president and the extreme religious right, and by supporting it shows exactly how flawed it is. In excruciatingly precise detail. It really was brilliant. And well done. And brave. I enjoyed it, and I think it may make some people stop and think a little about their position. I hope!

Below are just a few of the points he made during his speech.

"I am surrounded by the Liberal media. Except you, Fox News. You present both sides of the story. The president's side AND the vice president's side."

"If anybody needs anything at their tables, speak slowly and clearly into your table numbers and somebody from the N.S.A. will be right over with a cocktail."

"When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday - no matter what happened Tuesday."

"So don't pay attention to the approval ratings that say 68% of Americans disapprove of the job this man is doing. I ask you this, does that not also logically mean that 68% approve of the job he's not doing? Think about it. I haven't."

"Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias."

"So, Mr. President, please, pay no attention to the people that say the glass is half full. 32% means the glass -- it's important to set up your jokes properly, sir. Sir, pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half empty, because 32% means it's 2/3 empty. There's still some liquid in that glass is my point, but I wouldn't drink it. The last third is usually backwash."

"Everybody asks for personnel changes. So the White House has personnel changes. Then you write, "Oh, they're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!"

"I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message: that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound -- with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world."

"Though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be you Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior."

"I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq."

"But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they're super-depressing. And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished."

"Over the last five years you people were so good -- over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew."

"Let's review the rules. Here's how it works. The president makes decisions, he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know--fiction."

"Jesse Jackson is here, the Reverend. Haven't heard from the Reverend in a little while. I had him on the show. Very interesting and challenging interview. You can ask him anything, but he's going to say what he wants, at the pace that he wants. It's like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, by the way, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is."

Colbert was relentless. At the end of the speech/performance, the president and first lady gave him a terse nod, without smiling, and walked off. It was very brave for Colbert to stand up to the powers that be like that. Most people would be afraid of the consequences of speaking out against such a regime, but apparently not him.
We all saw what happened to the Dixie Chicks when they spoke out against President Bush. They said they were embarrassed that President Bush was from Texas. They were pulled off the air, and their CD's were burned and destroyed. They were banned by all the Clear Channel radio stations across the country. That was 1200 stations for their genre. So they've had to make their living playing outside the country for the last few years since then. Effectively exiled.

I do hope there are no serious ramifications for him. Even though the Dixie Chicks are an example that speaks against it to a degree, I'd like to think we are not corrupt to that point, and that people can speak their mind without political retribution. In fact, I think there was something about that written up in our constitution somewhere, wasn't there? A "First Amendment" or something along those lines?
Oh, I don't know anymore - so many things have changed in the last few years.


At 9/12/2006 4:05 PM, Anonymous igor said...


does this


seem reasonable to you?

At 9/12/2006 6:23 PM, Blogger Val Serrie said...

Hmmm. Well, he does have some points that I would agree with and some that I cannot agree with.

I also do not particularly like country music. I prefer rock music. But within rock, there are many different types. He, from his strong religious viewpoint, seems to see all rock as being like Blink 182, or Something.
But he should listen to some progressive rock bands such as Pink Floyd, Yes, Spock's Beard, Dream Theater, Frank Zappa, or Jazz Rock Fusion bands such as Al DiMeola, etc. He will find excellent musicianship and brain/mind stimulation with any of these.
He seems to lump country music and rock music in together, which I think is a mistake.
He seems to have a strong Christian agenda and preference. But says that all rock music is the devil's music and evil just because of the sound of it regardless of the words. I think that's just attitude speaking there - not considered opinion based upon fact and observation.

At 9/12/2006 7:27 PM, Anonymous igor said...

Is he correct in saying that Bing Crosby voice/singing was on a par with professional singers, like, opera, etc ?

and then Sinatra was more mediocre than Crosby, Elvis more than Sinatra, Beatles more than Elvis, etc .... to Madonna and American Idol ? Is it true ?

as for his agenda, frankly, I ignored that....

but I was intrigued by his theory that americans reject authority not only in government, but also in culture, and (he says) that's the reason for the gaga over AmIdol - and total ignorance of Mozart & Co.... that americans reject authority in music (like Mozart) and go with what they can do themselves (like country or AmIdol)...

do you think it's a valid line of thinking, per your experience ?

he says
This helps explain why Americans are so stupid. Listening to the repetition of three chords does not exercise the mind after the fashion of Mozart .... One learns only by accepting a suitable authority. If one rejects authority in favor of one's own impulses, one cannot learn.


At 9/13/2006 8:02 PM, Blogger Val Serrie said...

Well, I can't agree with most of those things.
How can anyone say that Bing Crosby's singing is on par with operetic singers?
That's like saying an Orange is about on par with grapes. What the hell does that even mean?
He seems to have very strict measurements of the quality and value of musical performers, so that he can measure them so precisely agsainst each other. Where does this come from? What is the criteria for comparison? Is it the number of notes per second? The number of chord changes per section? The choice of minor chords vs major chords? The choice of specific musical theory techniques like retrograde motion? A slow vs a fast tremolo in the voice? What?
Does he have some secret scoring mechanism for scoring the absolute , objective value of art?
Can he also measure the enjoyment value of a moment? or of a vacation?
Can he measure a kiss? A kind word from someone you really respect?

Yes Americans do reject authority. But that misses the point. They praise and value individuality and ingenuity, and uniqueness. Each wants to be a rebel and strike out on his own.
American culture favors the misunderstood rejected person, who has hidden values beyond the norm. This is a mythological archetype that appeals to the American psyche.


At 9/13/2006 8:33 PM, Anonymous igor said...

Thanx, Val !


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