Satire’s Influence on Politics, Media, and Society
Satire is regarded as an effective way to understand society and reveal its values. Satire can have a good effect when it comes to politics, but there can be some bad as well. Satire establishes it can be necessary for an excellent society to hold those in power publicly accountable. It is a vital picture of our freedom to conflict, know who our best satirists are, and listen to what they have to say carefully. Stephen Colbert brings his signature satire and Comedy to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is the #1 late-night show.
Political Accountability Through Satire
Colbert talks with a diverse guest about what is new and relevant in the world of politics. The incongruity theory suggests that humor arises when things that do not usually go together replace logic and familiarity. Whether or not we agree with Colbert’s politics, his influence is a cue of the critical function of satire in public discourse.
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Stephen Colbert’s comic voices have influenced the outlines of modern American media and politics in astonishing ways. Comedy programs like The Daily Show and Comedy Central, appearances on CNN’s Crossfire, Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor, and even at college commencement ceremonies, their dialogs have permeated local and national arenas. Stephen Colbert’s speech at the 2006 White House Correspondent’s Dinner was viewed over 2.7 million times within its first two days on YouTube and was the number one downloaded item on iTunes.The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has a critical positive impact on political participation among the American people, and Comedy plays a big part in politics.
Unmasking Societal Issues and Hypocrisies
Stephen Colbert uses parodic polyglossia in much the same way, but with some slight differences, on his nightly television show, The Colbert Report. On a popular segment of the show called The Word, he split the television screen into two and compared his vocal comic persona on the left side of the screen against written statements on the right. Colbert reports: ‘You know folks, when I look back to the months leading up to our invasion of Iraq, one thing is clear…it seemed inevitable, thanks in no small part to the news media’s crack reporting’ (the words ‘On Crack’ then appear to the right of Colbert; Colbert, 2007a). Colbert uses Comedy to bring humor to a serious matter; people use laughter as a disguise. Colbert appropriates the form of CNN-style newsmaking (e.g., the use of scrolling sentences across the bottom of the screen), comparing two voices (in this case, the oral against the written) to chastise the mainstream media for its complicity in the government’s deliberations leading up to the Iraq war.
His likeability and charm have always characterized Colbert’s satire, but he has undoubtedly still been capable of really sharp moments–especially when he blasted then-President George W. Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondents Association Dinner. He was feet away from the President, and Colbert delivered a cutting speech insulting the President’s policies. He wanted Bush to pay no attention to his drooping approval rating, and reality has a well-known liberal bias. Whether we agree with Colbert’s politics, his influence is a reminder of the critical function of satire in public discourse. Colbert makes a mockery of something that needed to be mocked and helps shed light on a genuine enemy of free democracy. It helps to bring the political issues to light but uses humor to do it peacefully.
Colbert performs other characters to create multivoiced insights about American media and politics. Colbert plays several different characters in a segment where he visits Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Over the campus loudspeaker, Colbert broadcasts, ‘Students, this is your founder, John F. Kennedy; please report to the auditorium immediately’ (Colbert, 2006a). With a voice-over, Colbert then narrates to his television audience, ‘Time for Politics 101 with Professor Doctor Stephen T. Colbert.’ Colbert saw standing in front of the Kennedy school’s entire student body, wearing a red bowtie and tweed jacket.
Satire’s Influence on Political Participation
Russell Peterson describes the use of late-night TV show hosts’ satire when talking about politics and what people are genuinely laughing about the issues. ‘Losing Our Religion’ by Russell L. Peterson shows his view on how he feels about the political system itself losing its religion as that people do not care anymore about what they say or morals. Peterson believed that Christianity had done two things: it has developed the most explicit doctrine of good versus evil, and it has developed the most explicit and articulated doctrine of logos. Peterson states that he strives to live as if God exists when asking him about his religion. Peterson explains how, though democracy is a good idea, it does not work because that is why we find these comedians so funny; they are speaking the truth.
Peterson believes that more people listen to comedians because they say the same thing news anchors do but in a more humorous way. Peterson believes that people know that they should be more interested and involved in current events and not what people are wearing but their views on religion and politics. People shy away from talking about politics in general and religion. Politics and religion are something that people hate to talk about because they know no matter how worked up one gets, there is not much to be done about it in this democratic nation in which we live. They forced us to choose between two bad candidates, and whichever one is not the worst will win.
Politics, as well as religion, have changed so much over the years. People are starting to pay more attention to what is new in Hollywood rather than who is controlling our nation. People are no longer watching the news because it is not entertaining. Why watch something boring when we can watch something humorous and learn the same information regardless? No matter the source, the information is going to be twisted, and Americans know that. Peterson points out that the late-night hosts do not just pick fun at the political candidates and the decisions they make, but they make fun of democracy itself and declare that it is all just a sham. In a country where we are proud to call ourselves run by the people, it is hard to believe that people are not running the country at all.
Satire is known as an effective way to understand our society, and it reveals the values of society. We can focus on the real issues at hand but in a more fun way. Colbert’s influence is a reminder of the critical function of satire in public discourse. People are willing to laugh, and that is power. Satire can vary in its quality, but the best satire has a definite point to make. It is not merely destructive but constructive. Peterson believes that more people listen to comedians because they say the same thing news anchors do, but more humorously, he and Colbert have the same style and agree with their style.
The term humor refers to a quality of action, speech, or writing that excites amusement. Humor takes up specific topics and actions and focuses on certain social issues. Incongruity is an astonishing relationship between two things thought to be disparate, a difference between what one expects and what one gets, and a lack of consistency and harmony. Incongruity fits here well; it allows for the possibility that by placing two disparate ideas in conversation, new aspects of both come to light, and humor can be used to provoke thought.
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