The Colbert Report — October 6th, 2011 Response   Leave a comment

On his October 6th, 2011 edition of The Colbert Report, Colbert addresses Sarah Palin’s decision to not run for President, and then criticizes her decision to make the decision public through a press release on Mark Levin’s radio show, the caveat being that Palin is on the phone line with Levin for a follow up interview seconds after the statement is made. Colbert specifically satirizes this by calling on an intern to release a statement about Colbert’s feelings on Palin’s decision not to run for President, while Colbert sits feet away and even jokes that he didn’t have time to read the statement himself because he “needed to spend the time with his family”; a statement frequently characteristic of politicians who resign in the middle of their term, much like Sarah Palin did. In this regard, Colbert highlights the absurdity of Palin’s method of making her decision public, and takes subtle blows to her character.
He goes on to elaborate that Sarah Palin’s PAC has been raising money and specifically asked donors for money to gauge her support to run for President. Further, he addresses that she has 1.4 million dollars left, and he rhetorically asks, “What is she supposed to do, spend that money on herself?” Before getting an answer from someone off-screen, and stating “She can? Well then she should.” Once again emphasizing the absurdity of the PAC system Colbert has addressed in the past months through the building of his own PAC.

Colbert then segues to discuss Karl Rove’s PAC and his “apology” after satirically characterizing Rove’s PACs as “money laundering” schemes. Clips are shown of Colbert and his lawyer discussing the perks of a 501(c)(4) and Colbert jokes, “What’s the difference between [this] and money laundering?” This statement is an example of the “ironic incongruity” Jones alludes to: Colbert breaks the inner workings of a 501(c)(4) down to its core elements, only to point out the similarities of these core elements to money laundering, in order to stress the shadiness behind FEC campaign laws.
Similarly, Colbert’s character is quick to note though that he is not talking about “Rove’s shadow unaccountable organizations, but [Colbert’s] identical shadowy unaccountable organizations.” This illustrates technique that Jones discusses: where Colbert frequently aligns himself with a Conservative figure, and then makes a joke to make both of them look bad. Additionally, one of the techniques Colbert uses is negative characterization of Rove by portraying him and his organizations as almost non-human and “evil” with statements like, “Nation, I have hurt Karl Rove, and legends say you need an elvish blade to do that,” as well as a “visual approximation” of Rove’s lawyer as the evil eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings. Moreover, Colbert likens Rove to a ham loaf, and even turns “Ham Rove” into a character on the show. Colbert explicitly uses Ham Rove for his character to “apologize” to, but implicitly uses it to poke fun at Karl Rove.

Jones is really right about the idea of faux play here. Colbert’s adoption of a right-wing television pundit gives audiences a chance to step back and view the whole picture. What he does is not entirely “fake” as some of the strategies and viewpoints he hold are very “real” for many of these pundits heard on talk radio or on Fox News. In other words, what Colbert does is provides an insight into right-wing talk shows stripped to its foundations. The patriotic imagery, the fear mongering, the partisan stubbornness—all of these exist (albeit, to a lesser degree) in political talk shows. Colbert is absurd—but that is the point, he is trying to point out the absurdity that not just lies in his show, but the shows he parodies as well.

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Posted October 17, 2011 by tylerdaelemans in Uncategorized

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