"What is worthy of satire is the misuse of religion for destructive or political gains. That's totally different from the Word, the blood, the body and the Christ."Satire is what Colbert does so well, and in the blowhard persona he adopts, he exposes the vanity, the shallowness, the bullying, and the hypocrisy of O'Reilly and his ilk. And one thing this group does is mis-use religion to advance their own agenda, most of which is not very compatible with Christianity. It is appropriate that a Catholic takes on this role, especially given the general ignorance in the media surrounding all things religious. Colbert knows what he is talking about!
Colbert's speech last May at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner took this up a notch. But exposing the truth through satire and irony was not popular with some people. The inimitable Rocco Palmo notes:
"Some people in this church really hate Stephen Colbert right now. Hate. Hate. Hate him. Why, you ask? Because he had the temerity to be candid before George Bush -who, so we're told, is the real head of the US church -- at the White House correspondents' dinner a few weeks back.Well, friends, some of you will be shocked to learn that Colbert is one of us. Really. (And that Bush isn't.) The Comedy Central host is said to be quite devout in his practice of the faith, kids in Catholic school, the whole shebang.And some of you are probably just losing your minds about that right about now."
But it wasn't just the Bush-adoring right that was not amused by Colbert's springtime antics. The media claimed he was rude, unfunny, and proceeded to ignore him. But, as James Wood in the New Republic pointed out, the point wasn't about being funny, it was about "being ironic, satirical, brutal". "Don't you get it?", he asks, "These issues are just too painful for humor." [the article entitled "MSM S&M", from the 5/22/06 issue, is hidden by a subscription wall.] Of course, the media did not like it when Colbert skewered them for their obsequiousness and cowardice in the dealings with the Bush administration. Colbert:
"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."(If you haven't already, read the entire transcript. Or better yet, watch the video clip. And then watch it again just looking at Bush's pissed-off look: how can somebody address the emperor in such manner?)
Yes, the media did not want to face up to how pathetic it has become. CNN has degenerated from global news to Nancy Grace. Fox News is part of the White House (Tony Snow's appointment made that official). And the main issue facing the world is not war in the Middle East or genocide in Darfur, but missing white girls and Angelina Jolie's baby. They completely missed the point that sarcasm and irony have been effective tools of the powerless since the days of Chaucer. I'll give the final word to James Wood-- he can say it better than I can:
"To anyone schooled in the Hogarthian brutalities of English journalism, U.S. newspapers have an astounding blandness and a sinister reverence for money, celebrity, and the simple authority of renown. Where is the daily political cartoon, or that hygienic invention of Grub Street, the Parliamentary sketch, in which you get to insult both sides of the aisle? What does it say of a newspaper that its most biting writers are those working in the style sections or reviewing films? It is no wonder that 54,000 people have written to thankyoustephencolbert.org: His routine was a good, savage op-ed piece. But not in the MSM."