Calling All Charlotte Law Students:
Help choose CSL’s Official Bloggers for the Democratic National Convention from our four finalists, Andrew Cheek, Lachelle Pulliam, Curtis Thomas, and Jenny Alber.
Their topic: Is politics a laughing matter? The Impact of Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and their ilk on politics and election related discourse.
So peruse their entries and consider each one carefully before casting your vote. The winners will be CSL’s official bloggers for the Democratic National Convention. We hope to obtain press credentials for both our student bloggers. The winners will also receive a cash prize of $150. Students will select one winner via their votes on the blog, so be sure to vote for your favorite entry! The second winner will be selected by Professors Matthews, Walker, Hill, Cabagnot and Clarke.
And now for the entries, in no particular order…
Jenny Alber – Is politics a laughing matter? The Impact of Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and their ilk on politics and election related discourse.
Is politics a laughing matter? Does a bear poop in the woods? Is the Pope Catholic? The answer to all three is an astounding yes! I have a difficult time while looking at our current political system and trying to keep a straight face. I can only imagine what the founding fathers would think if they were around today.
When I envision Thomas Jefferson at a Town Hall, where he is delivering an impassioned speech about the importance of Democracy and Freedom I have great difficulty relating it with Howard Deans famous “Yaahhh” speech. When I do compare, I can’t help but say, really? This is our political system? What’s comes next? Will we be exposed to Tommy Jefferson sitting in a lazy boy recliner in Monticello watching The Colbert Report?
I realize the days of Huey Long, FDR, and John F. Kennedy are long gone, as is the respect level that they brought naturally to American politics both on a local and national level. I admit that makes me a little sad.
I appreciate the insights, opinions, and “in your face” stances that the men of the late night politics circuit bring to the table; however have we gone too far? I fear that the American people will begin to react to candidates in the way that the “Dog Pound” from the Aresenio Hall show did to good comments…bent arms-fist pumping with a rousing chorus of “woof, woof, woof”.
They say politics as much as anything in our world is a cyclical process, then maybe our process will return to a serious, non-comedic, actual-issue based system that we had back in the day. Just please leave the fashions back there! However, we can’t ignore the changes that have happened in our world. We are in the age of supercomputers, social media, world citizenship, and late night political commentaries and THESE are awesome!
But with this increased exposure, I think a generation of Americans is losing touch with the importance of the political process and why they should vote. We must not forget that as a nation, just recently some of our citizens were not allowed to vote simply because of their skin color or gender. We owe it to those who fought and died for the privilege of voting to keep engaged in the political system.
So, can we keep politics serious and humorous at the same time? I think we can, and I think the Colberts and Stewarts do serve as a touch stone to keep the process in line with the times and practicality of the 21st century while preventing any of us from taking ourselves to seriously.
So is politics a laughing matter? Well, my only response is to quote the Dean man…”Yaaaahhhhh”.
Curtis A. Thomas – Funny or Die Trying (And the Joke is On?)
“What’s real? What’s not? That’s what I do in my act, test how other people deal with reality.” — Andy Kaufman
There’s a war going on outside no (wo)man is safe from.
No, I don’t mean the “War on Terror” or our country’s entanglement in Afghanistan. Nor am I referring to the Republican Party’s “War on Women” perpetrated by CNN, or the President’s purported covert “War on Religion” ginned up by FOX News.
The battle I speak of poses more of a threat than the one between ‘real’ America, and, I suppose, ‘fake’ America residing between the ears of VP candidate-turned-‘Today’ Show-host Sarah Palin, but thankfully requires far less funding than the installation of a Romney family car elevator.
This war takes place weekdays in living rooms all across the country, inciting both fear and division, laughter and indifference; but the bounty isn’t land, freedom or treasure, but what one man has coined as: “truthiness.”
In one corner, sits leviathan heavyweights CNN, FOX News, NBC and ABC News; and, in the other, hailing from Comedy Central, satire powerhouses Jon Stewart and Stephen T. Colbert. Yes, in the information age, where knowledge probably yields more power than it ever has, it appears we left the most important battle to a bunch of comedians.
Long eclipsing their closest contemporaries at SNL, so-called ‘fake’ news hosts, Stewart and Colbert, nightly pummel those pusillanimous pussyfooter politicians and pundits of all political stripes, Agnew once bellowed about. Ask them their political leanings and many will assume Democratic, but the two largely operate above the fray due to their seamless dual roles: part pundit, part parody, or in other words, Bill O’Reilly meets Ron Burgundy. This two-ness, has left many in mass media and beyond, wondering are they comedians or civic activists? And, better yet, is the joke on the networks or us?
For six years, the tag team of Stewart/Colbert has sought to “Restore Sanity and/or Keep Fear Alive” in our political discourse by blurring the lines of satire and reality. Colbert, alone, has testified before Congress, created a Super PAC and held a political rally on the Washington Mall. Masterfully, the two entertainers have inserted themselves into the vein of the mainstream, creating a political looking-glass for us to better examine our own political culture and beliefs by examining theirs.
Though many question if they are diluting the very “seriousness” of our politics, it is undeniable that they are engaging a segment of the population that would be turned off to politics otherwise. Their comedic format has allowed for a more in depth and unhinged approach to discussing issues that the networks have long abandoned. Wonder why there are no viable third parties? Why watch a panel moderated by Anderson or Hannity when you could watch a dramatization of a third party being formed through a Stewart/Colbert party filing in your home state? In my opinion, they are the animated, more mature, modern day version of Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill.” And, in the end, if in fact the joke is on us, then fortunately for us don’t we usually remember the best ones?
Andrew Cheek – Politics is a laughing matter.
Politics is a laughing matter. However, Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, and the like are not to blame for the humor in the political spear especially this political season. It was just a few months ago a Republican candidate forgot three simple agencies that were a platform to his election campaign, during a nationally televised debate “oops”. Another couldn’t tell the difference between Libya and Syria. The same candidate even openly admitted he did not need to master the every detail of foreign policy and stated, “I’m ready for the ‘gotcha’ questions and they’re already starting to come. And when they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I’m going to say, you know, I don’t know. Do you know?” True the comedic news reporters had a field day with these two incidents but shouldn’t they? In 2008 nearly 23 million young Americans voted between the ages of 18-29. In a 2004 poll by the Pew Research Center, 21 percent of people ages 18 to 29 cited Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” as places where they regularly learned about presidential campaign news. Although some in society may find that alarming, it just further more speaks to the way in which our politicians conduct themselves.
Without these satirical comedians some of the individuals voting would not have a clue about the candidates. For instance Saturday Night Live in the 2008 election made satirical comments about the entire candidate field. Jon Stewart constantly takes jabs at the political process and the partisan lines the politicians take. Jon Stewart made just as many jokes about Anthony Wiener as he did about Herman Cain or Rick Perry. These late night comedians help shed light on a serious issue and that’s the political process. Without these shows many would never care about the political process or even take time to vote.
True theses shows are geared toward younger audiences generally but that is the greater percentage of individuals that tend not to vote. In 2008 according to Forbes Magazine only 51% of all eligible voters from the ages of 18-29 chose to vote. Compare this to the national percentage of 64% of the total population voting in 2008. With approximately 46 million individuals from 18-29 that leaves roughly 23 million voters in that demographic not voting on Election Day.
These satirical shows are funny, but the shows use humor to show people who the candidates truly are. People need to know if a candidate believes they can see Russia from Alaska where at the closest point Alaska is 80 miles from Russia, or if another brags about being from the same town as a serial killer. Who are these people running for office? Yes politics is a laughing matter not because of the comedians, but because of the politicians. The comedians should not be blasted but they should be praised for the work that they do in spreading the word about the politicians running for office.
Lachelle Pulliam – What impact do Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and their ilk have on politics?
Politics can be a dry subject to discuss if you’re not a political enthusiast. While some people could care less about politics and election related discourse, others are engaged and rely on the media for their political news. For those who are interested in the current political climate, receiving the information with a comedic persuasion is an added bonus.
Jon and Stephen Who?
Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report are actors whose “news” shows are featured on the cable TV network Comedy Central. The shows are known for their entertaining twists on mainstream political/government issues-political satire. In fact, the shows are well known, so much so that Colbert’s show is a spin-off from his work on Stewart’s show.
The truth is that these gentlemen and their ilk are quite influential and instrumental in conveying political messages to the public. For many young people, The Daily Show and/or The Colbert Report are the main sources for their political “news”. They understand the inherent slant in politics so the comedic nature is appropriate. Although the shows seem to make fun of the issues, they’re raising awareness at the same time. Where one might not normally consider the issues, Stewart and Colbert provide a platform from which a discussion can begin.
The Daily Show will film in Charlotte the week of the Democratic National Convention. I don’t know the exact time tickets became available but I heard they were going rather quickly. I have no doubt others were excited about getting tickets, because I sure was. On April 2nd, after receiving an email from Professor Matthews notifying students that tickets were available, I accessed the website as quickly as I could. I was so eager to get tickets that I didn’t think to scroll through the calendar to select the September taping date. So, guess who secured tickets for the April 4th show in New York? Yes, I did.
I asked 30 first year CSL students, “How much of an impact do Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart have on politics-a lot, some or none? The students overwhelming agreed that the men have an impact on politics but they slightly disagree on the degree.
In a Nutshell
Politics is a laughing matter. Despite the seriousness of the underlying issues, many people resort to Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and their ilk for their perspectives on and delivery of national and global matters. These gentlemen definitely have a profound impact on politics and election related discourse. After all, Stephen Colbert has his own Super PAC which he transferred to Jon Stewart while he ran for President of the United States. Enough said.
And now we’ve reached the point where you cast your vote. You can only vote once. The poll will close at 5 pm on Friday, April 20 and the winner will be announced the following week.
Thanks to all of you for your participation!