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The Death & Rebirth Of Political Meta-Satire As Quantum Comedy

Topics: Editorial & Opinion | 2 CommentsBy admin | September 25, 2010

Figures like Stephen Colbert, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin have introduced an uncertainty principle in current politics that makes it hard to distinguish a wave of sentiment from an actual political particle.

The confusion almost makes one
nostalgic for the campy satire of
Pat Paulsen’s
presidential campaigns

Recently I was going to write about the laws in Brazil that prohibit satirical political candidates during election time, criticizing such laws for denying free speech, which many of us would view as a cornerstone of modern democracy. I mean, sure. This can lead to odd results, like porn star Ciccolina being elected to parliament in Italy, but as we long ago pointed out, it’s hard to tell a prostitute from a politician in the first place. But a confluence of recent events has caused me to rethink things a bit. It started when I received an e-mail from a reader referencing my attempt at meta-satire of the Stephen Colbert/Jon Stewart events sheduled to take place in DC at the end of October. The reader – an obvious teabagger – actually said “I’m happy to see that someone in the mainstream media is calling out these socialist Obamanation jokesters for what they are doing, which is obviously ramming there [sic] liberal agenda down America’s throat right before the elections“. Never mind how much it hurt my feelings when they called Dissociated Press “mainstream”, what really was worrying was the fact that they were regurgitating satirist/comedian Glenn Beck’s humorous spin on political commentator Stephen Colbert’s rally in Washington. Oh. Wait. I think I reversed something there. This inability to distinguish the comedians from the commentators and the candidates wasn’t helped any by Colbert’s recent appearance at a congressional hearing. Although you could reasonably argue that Colbert was wasting taxpayer money somehow, or blew a great opportunity to use his clout to make progress on an important issue, I think he did something even more reckless: he not only highlighted how easily the public can be confused and misled, he exposed how easily a politician can be confused and misled. And in the process exposed the American public to something they should NEVER be allowed to see, i.e., the arcane and out-of-touch legislative process in action. It was hard to decide which was more surreal – Colbert’s presence, or the committee’s response. You’ve taken us into dangerous territory Mr. Colbert, the world of “quantum comedy”, in which the frame of observation can completely determine whether an individual is a comedian or a politician. Which now has me thinking that maybe the Brazilians had it right all along. Leave the comedy to the politicians, Mr. Colbert. They do just fine on their own.

In his opening statement to the congressional committee Colbert said “I don’t want a tomato picked by a Mexican. I want it picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan and served by a Venezuelan in a spa where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian.”

Here are TWO Brazilians for you, Stephen. These are a couple of the candidates recently campaigning in Brazil

Like many candidates, Pat Paulsen often spoke from both sides of his mouth:

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  1. Posted by The Best Of 2010 | dissociatedpress.com on 12.30.10 9:23 pm

    [...] media and politics became confusingly intertwined in The Death & Rebirth Of Political Meta-Satire As Quantum Comedy, largely thanks to the weird convergence of time traveling nazi Stephen Colbert and the dry drunk, [...]

  2. Posted by The Only Thing Worse Than Julian Assange As A Houseguest… | dissociatedpress.com on 03.22.11 7:43 pm

    [...] initial reaction was similar to mine, I think we’ve been had. We’ve talked before about The Death & Rebirth Of Political Meta-Satire As Quantum Comedy, and even tried our not-so-subtle hand at it with Why Is There A Nascar Track At The Oklahoma City [...]