Some folks feel as though Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, through their humor, are contributing, albeit unintentionally, toward the construction of the post-reality dystopian fantasy world that we now find ourselves living in. And, sometimes, I begrudgingly count myself among them. As much as I enjoy the work of both men, and appreciate the fact that their viewers are consistently proven to be more knowledgeable about world events than those who watch other “news” programs, I think there is a risk that both of their Comedy Central shows might ultimately serve the interests of the ruling class in America. By spinning outrage into comedy on a nightly basis, according to this school of thought, they’re essentially offering the younger people of America a snarky, advertising-laden alternative to taking to the streets. They’re giving people permission to laugh at a situation which, some folks feel, is well beyond the point of being humorous. Again, I love the guys, and I know that others are far more deserving of my self-righteous condemnation, but I think it’s probably true that neither Stewart nor Colbert, despite some promising forays into the world of direct action, like, a few years ago, when they brought their March to Keep Fear Alive to D.C., is likely to bring about any real change.
With that said, however, I do think that satire can get at things, in certain instances, that can’t otherwise be gotten at. Take, for instance, the political ad that was just released on Colbert’s behalf by the Super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow Tomorrow. For all of the articles out there purporting to demonstrate that these unregulated and largely anonymous Super PAC ads are bad for democracy, in that they can openly spread lies without fear of recourse, nothing gets to the heart of the matter like a 30 second spot running on the television sets of America suggesting that Mitt Romney is a serial killer. Here, for those of you who haven’t seen it, is the ad.
It should be noted that Colbert no longer runs Americans for a Better Tomorrow Tomorrow. When it was announced late last week that he was outpolling Huntsman in South Carolina, Colbert handed the reigns off to Jon Stewart, and announced that he’d be forming his own exploratory committee to look into the possibility of running for President. (We all knew that it was only a matter of time before the Republican party would break down that last wall of reality and begin letting in fictional characters. There was simply no where left for them to go after Cain, Perry, Santorum, Gingrich, Bauchmann and Trump.) Understanding that his role is to take one things farther than even the as-grabbing pizza mogul and the toupee-wearing reality star, Colbert was on television this morning, telling George Stephanopoulos that his exploratory committee is being led by, “someone who is good with explosives, a mountain climber and a brain in a jar.” You can see the interview here.
And, as for the ad, it happens to be true. If corporations are people, as both Romney and the Supreme Court have maintained, and if Mitt Romney, as a principal at Bain Capital, liquidated several companies, then, yes, he’s guilty of having ruthlessly killed people.
The following clip, about Colbert’s appearance on This Week, comes courtesy of The Raw Story.
…“I have nothing to do with that ad,” Colbert told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Sunday, mocking U.S. campaign laws. “I have no control over that ad. If anything in that ad is inaccurate, if he did not say corporations are people, if he did not make his money cutting up corporate people — I am not calling anyone a serial killer. I can’t tell Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow what to do. It’s not my Super PAC.”
“If that’s not accurate, I hope they take it down,” he added. “I don’t know if Mitt Romney is a serial killer. That’s a question he’s going to have to answer. … I do not want any untrue ads on the air that could in any way be traced back to me.”
Responding to a Facebook question asking if the 2012 presidential election should be determined by who could raise the most money, Colbert declared that “money equals speech.”
“So you agree with the Supreme Court?” Stephanopoulos asked, referring to the so-called Citizens United decision which found that the government could not limit political spending by corporations.
“On almost everything,” Colbert agreed. “Money equals speech. Therefore the more money you have, the more you can speak. That just stands to reason. If corporations are people, corporation should be able to speak. That’s why I believe in Super PACs.”…
I wonder what the people of South Carolina seeing this anti-Romney ad, with absolutely no context what-so-ever, must be thinking.
[note: The Super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow Tomorrow, got a new name when it was handed off to Stewart. It is now called The Definitely Not Coordinated With Stephen Colbert Super PAC. It's also worth noting that Super PACs are spending twice as much as the campaigns are themselves in this primary cycle.]
update: Here’s video of Colbert on This week.