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Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions... who?
June 30, 2011 1:01 PM   Subscribe

The Federal Election Commission has given satirist Stephen Colbert the green light to form the "Colbert SuperPAC." Colbert, via his PAC, can now therefore accept unlimited contributions for whatever candidates and causes he wishes.
posted by aught (99 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
like finding a dollar bill in a huge mound of shit.
posted by Shit Parade at 1:07 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


like finding a dollar bill in a huge mound of shit.
posted by Shit Parade at 1:07 PM on June 30 [+] [!]


I guess you would know?
posted by Think_Long at 1:11 PM on June 30, 2011 [29 favorites]


I wonder how much Viacom gets kicked back, under the table.
posted by griphus at 1:12 PM on June 30, 2011


It is my sincere hope that he abuses this in the most gratuitous and hilarious fashion possible, to illustrate how having this kind of undocumented power in the hands of an unscrupulous group is a really bad thing, and that maybe we should rethink the entire endeavor.
posted by quin at 1:14 PM on June 30, 2011 [87 favorites]


All fun and games so far, I just wonder when and how he'll spend the money. Will he spend it on lulz? Will he support causes that "Stephen Colbert" supports, or just Stephen Colbert supports? Will he make highly embarrassing, but nominally supportive Right Wing ads? I have no trouble imaging he'll have $1MM donated to the PAC basically overnight.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:14 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I hope he uses it to purchase airtime for Santorum.
posted by Theta States at 1:16 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


I hope he buys every commercial slot for a given high ratings show, something like Dancing With The Stars. Then lets hilarity ensue.
posted by JauntyFedora at 1:18 PM on June 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


Whatever he does, it's going to be less harmful to the country than what real PACs are doing.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:19 PM on June 30, 2011 [35 favorites]


Oh God. Imagine that correspondents dinner speech but refreshed and played out every ten minutes during a commercial break.

Fringies gonna cringe.
posted by Slackermagee at 1:20 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I hope he uses it to purchase airtime for Santorum.

"This eppisode of Glee, brought to you by Santorum."
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:20 PM on June 30, 2011 [15 favorites]


I just hope he uses his powers for good, not evil.
posted by tommasz at 1:22 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is my sincere hope that he abuses this in the most gratuitous and hilarious fashion possible, to illustrate how having this kind of undocumented power in the hands of an unscrupulous group is a really bad thing, and that maybe we should rethink the entire endeavor.

I hope he plows it into some right-wing whackos campaign for President, someone who will drag down the Right.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:23 PM on June 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


I hope the money is used for single-issue ads about candidates and their position regarding Wrist Awareness.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:24 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


My God, we're truly living in a nightmare world of...free speech.
posted by The Tensor at 1:27 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Colbert SuperPAC: We put the "paign" in "Campaign."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:30 PM on June 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


It is my sincere hope that he abuses this in the most gratuitous and hilarious fashion possible, to illustrate how having this kind of undocumented power in the hands of an unscrupulous group is a really bad thing, and that maybe we should rethink the entire endeavor.

It's doubtful Congress will get the point.

I'm thinking back to 2002, when a patent lawsuit threatened to turn off all Blackberry service and thus cripple the Federal government. You'd think that Congress would take this as a sign that patent reform was needed. No, the government's solution was to put in a special injunction so that their own Blackberries would be unaffected.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:30 PM on June 30, 2011 [36 favorites]


I hope he uses it to advertise heavily for Jimmy McMillan's campaign for the republican nomination for president.
posted by mullingitover at 1:30 PM on June 30, 2011


I hope he uses it to support sane, thoughtful, effective candidates in both parties and we end up with two differing, but supportable, candidates in 2012.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:32 PM on June 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


2bucksplus: I have no trouble imaging he'll have $1MM donated to the PAC basically overnight.

What is $1MM? Multi-Million? Mini-Million? MechaMillion?


The 10th Regiment of Foot: "This eppisode of Glee, brought to you by Santorum."

Whispered at the end of the ad: Google Santorum


The Tensor: My God, we're truly living in a nightmare world of...free speech.

Free does not mean what I think you think it means.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:33 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Recent congressional attempts at election reform have been a joke. Now that a comedian's taking over, we have a chance for real change.
posted by grounded at 1:33 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


Ironmouth: I hope he plows it into some right-wing whackos campaign for President, someone who will drag down the Right.

This is really sad, but for some reason, that phrase made me think of Angry Birds, especially the little yellow guys, going really fast and destroying a lot of wooden pieces. Here's my nerd card, please take it away from me.

posted by filthy light thief at 1:34 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Recent congressional attempts at election reform have been a joke. Now that a comedian's taking over, we have a chance for real change.

First Al Franken quits being funny and gets elected to the Senate, now this!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:35 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]



Ron Johnson (R-WI) had his company give him an interest free 10 million dollar loan to cover the cost of his campaign against Russ Feingold.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:37 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I understanding this correctly? From the third link it sounds like the PAC's ads can only be aired during Colbert's own show, on Comedy Central - wouldn't that limit their impact? Preaching to the choir, as it were?
posted by amy lecteur at 1:38 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Angry Birds is widely considered to be the finest available simulation of the modern United States presidential election cycle.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:38 PM on June 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


This episode of Gleet, brought to you by Santorum. (FTFY)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:39 PM on June 30, 2011


What is $1MM? Multi-Million? Mini-Million? MechaMillion?

Million. I've seen it used in the financial sector, but not outside (yet).
posted by vidur at 1:42 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


This episode of Gleet, brought to you by Santorum. (FTFY)

I was too zealous in my delivery.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:42 PM on June 30, 2011


Am I understanding this correctly? From the third link it sounds like the PAC's ads can only be aired during Colbert's own show, on Comedy Central - wouldn't that limit their impact? Preaching to the choir, as it were?

I think that is only for Viacom-funded adds. The SuperPAC could pay a third party to create ads for other timeslots and stations ?
posted by Pendragon at 1:52 PM on June 30, 2011


Considering how the big Rally To Restore Fear And/Or Sanity last fall played out, I am guessing that whatever he does will be nowhere near any of the above suggestions. It would be fantastic to see someone really fuck with the system, but it's not going to happen.
posted by briank at 1:57 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ron Johnson (R-WI) had his company give him an interest free 10 million dollars loan to cover the cost of his campaign against Russ Feingold.

Tweren't no loan, he isn't paying it back.
posted by Challahtronix at 2:00 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think that is only for Viacom-funded adds. The SuperPAC could pay a third party to create ads for other timeslots and stations ?

Ah. I knew the potential for hijinks was in there somewhere.
posted by amy lecteur at 2:01 PM on June 30, 2011


"What is $1MM? Multi-Million? Mini-Million? MechaMillion?"

Thousand thousand AKA million.
posted by MikeMc at 2:01 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Speech is free. So long as you have the money to pay for it.
posted by Captain Ligntning at 2:02 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Considering how the big Rally To Restore Fear And/Or Sanity last fall played out, I am guessing that whatever he does will be nowhere near any of the above suggestions."

Can you expand on that? I never heard anything about how that played out.
posted by bleep at 2:02 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is to be read, "One dollar. Mm!"
posted by Wolfdog at 2:03 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm a fan of Colbert, but I can't quite swallow hearing him being described solely as a "satirist".
posted by fairmettle at 2:03 PM on June 30, 2011


No, the government's solution was to put in a special injunction so that their own Blackberries would be unaffected.

So the take-away is: When someone tells you we need to give more money and power to government, you should listen to them!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:03 PM on June 30, 2011


I never heard anything about how that played out.

Exactly.
posted by muddgirl at 2:04 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


My God, we're truly living in a nightmare world of...free speech.

Free in an Orwellian manner of doublespeaking, sure.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:04 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


If this weren't funny it would be funny.
posted by scruss at 2:05 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if his conservative fans* will give too.

*I thought they didn't exist, but I know of at least one person who doesn't realize it's a parody and not Comedy Central providing post-Daily Show equal time.
posted by drezdn at 2:05 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


I just hope he uses his powers for good, not evil.

I would settle for moderate naughtiness.
posted by Skeptic at 2:07 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just hope he uses his powers for good, not evil.

I would settle for moderate naughtiness.


Chaotic neutral FTW.
posted by muddgirl at 2:11 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Isn't MM two thousand? No one does algebra with Roman numerals; adjacent Roman numerals have never been understood to be multiplied.
posted by lumensimus at 2:12 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Tensor: "My God, we're truly living in a nightmare world of...free speech."

Exactly.
posted by mullingitover at 2:12 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ron Johnson (R-WI) had his company give him an interest free 10 million dollars loan to cover the cost of his campaign against Russ Feingold.

Tweren't no loan, he isn't paying it back.


They're calling it deferred compensation. That's waaaay different than a kickback, innit? /sarcasm

Steal a little and they throw you in jail
Steal a lot and they make you king ....
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:15 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Supreme Court may declare that Stephen Colbert is a person, with rights, just like any corporation.
posted by Cranberry at 2:23 PM on June 30, 2011 [30 favorites]


I was really worried because NPR this morning said special interest groups were hoping the SuperPAC passed so they could do similar things in a not-funny way. I don't know if this is the case of not, but hopefully Colbert knows that he's opening up here.

That, and I've never found Steven Colbert (or Jon Stewart, actually) to be funny. More like town criers stating the obvious.

Oh well.
posted by Fister Roboto at 2:24 PM on June 30, 2011


He should spend the money on a blimp.
posted by octothorpe at 2:27 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh dear god yes! A Santorum commercial done by a comedian impersonating who "accidentally" vindicates spreadingsantorum.com. LOL
posted by jeffburdges at 2:30 PM on June 30, 2011


A blimp? A blimp!

Imagine.. the mainstream media is mesmerized as the image of the Colber Super Pac blimp is shown to tens of millions of Americans throughout the day (and throughout the month). Wolf Blizter, stunned and as if in a trance, repeats the words "Amazing, Amazing".

As GPS co-ordinates stream to the website a map shows the Colbert Super Pac blimp's location in real time. The local Television stations broadcast its every move. The curious flock together and make a trip to see history in the making. Emails with pictures are sent, then forwarded, then forwarded again. Youtube videos go viral and reach tens of millions of views. Stephen Colbert becomes the first presidential satirist in history to have his very own blimp. The PR stunt generates millions upon millions of dollars worth in free publicity, and captures the imagination of America.

Wait, it's been done.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:36 PM on June 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I hope he buys every commercial slot for a given high ratings show, something like Dancing With The Stars. Then lets hilarity ensue.

You know, to expand on this, I don't think this is a bad idea at all. Buy every commercial slot for a few high-ranking shows and air ... puppies frolicking in a basket. No narration, no music, no text. Just puppies.

Campaign season is a terrible, money-driven locomotive of stupid for a variety of reasons, but the inundations of commercial spots are a big part of the problem. Force Republcans and Democrats out of this means of campaigning, and I wonder what sort of ideas would unfold. The aforementioned blimps? Skywriting? How about a bake sale? Everyone loves cupcakes.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:42 PM on June 30, 2011 [7 favorites]



I hope he plows it into some right-wing whackos campaign for President, someone who will drag down the Right.

Um..... would that not be any one of the announced right wingers seeking the nomination?
posted by notreally at 2:46 PM on June 30, 2011


...the common people—rather than caring about their freedom—are only interested in “bread and circuses" These words were spoken by someone who knows a thing or two about the decline of an Empire.

If Colbert and Stewart actually gave a shit they would spend day after day pounding a single issue home until it was resolved - like Stewart did on the 9/11 responders bill. He got that passed because he wouldn't let it go. Day after day I see these two show make jokes about subjects that literally bring me to tears - then it's on to the next circus. If they cared they'd put their careers on the line and focus on these issues until people took notice and started clamoring for change.
posted by any major dude at 2:49 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


we're truly living in a nightmare world of...free speech

FreeSpeech®, now just four easy payments of $1995. Available at a Freedom University McLearning MegaMart® near you. FreeSpeech® is compulsary in all 32 True States®, and the Alaskan Emirates®. May cause Personality Sclerosis, Fear Fatique, and Tunnel Vision. Continuous Flag Saluting* may be a sign of a serious medical condition requiring a substantial downpayment. If you find yourself saluting the flag* for more than four hours, please see a court appointed loan specialist, immediately. FreeSpeech®: You have the right to remain... American®!

*not a euphemism
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:51 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I never heard anything about how that played out.

Exactly.


It went like this: for weeks and weeks liberals slobbered all over themselves about the hurt that Stewart and Colbert were going to bring to the righties. They showed up with funny signs and everything, and then Stewart got up on stage and equivocated about the whole damn thing for almost fifteen minutes. No take-downs, no liberal stemwinder to rally the troops into much-desired action, just a "can't we all play nice?" speech. It was the political rally equivalent of Ralphie decoding Little Orphan Annie's secret message, only to find it was a crummy commercial.

So, like that.
posted by briank at 2:52 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: No narration, no music, no text. Just puppies.

ducks
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:53 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was the political rally equivalent of Ralphie decoding Little Orphan Annie's secret message, only to find it was a crummy commercial.

So, like that.


They aren't activists fighting for any one issue.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:54 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge: "

A blimp? A blimp!
Wait, it's been done.
"

I didn't know that Conan had one, I was thinking of this one.
posted by octothorpe at 2:55 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was billed as an anti-rally. Then people whined when it wasn't a rally. Which just goes to prove that The Right doesn't hold a monopoly on illiteracy.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:56 PM on June 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


It went like this: for weeks and weeks liberals slobbered all over themselves about the hurt that Stewart and Colbert were going to bring to the righties.

Hey, whoah, watch where you're swinging that strawman.
posted by muddgirl at 3:01 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking I'll give at least a little bit (say $10) in hopes that they do something if not downright subversive, than at least weird.
posted by drezdn at 3:03 PM on June 30, 2011


What is $1MM? Multi-Million? Mini-Million? MechaMillion?

Pinball tells me that K = 1,000, M = 1,000,000 and B = 1,000,000,000.

Colbert is basically doing it for the lulz, but inside that particular man suit is a really smart mouse. He has an amazing gift for saying one thing and implying the opposite.

About the only thing we can say for sure at this point is it's going to be hilarious.
posted by JHarris at 3:03 PM on June 30, 2011


Pinball tells me that K = 1,000, M = 1,000,000 and B = 1,000,000,000.

K and M are based on scientific units - K=kilo, M=mega. B is probably just made up from "Billion".

However, the M in "1MM" comes from roman numerals, where M=1,000. The most common modern usage of this is British Thermal Units (BTUs). 1 thousand BTUs is an MBTU. One million BTUs is generally written as 1 MMBTU, meaing "one thousand thousand BTU's.

Yes, that's a nonstandard usage of Roman numerals. There's nothing we can do about it now.
posted by muddgirl at 3:09 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


It went like this: for weeks and weeks liberals slobbered all over themselves about the hurt that Stewart and Colbert were going to bring to the righties. They showed up with funny signs and everything, and then Stewart got up on stage and equivocated about the whole damn thing for almost fifteen minutes yt . No take-downs, no liberal stemwinder to rally the troops into much-desired action, just a "can't we all play nice?" speech.
Over on Reddit the general attitude was that the Rally was about everyone being nice to eachother and no one no one being mean or whatever.

The weird thing was the people who insistence that marijuana legalization activists stay away, even though Stewart held up a "Legalize Pot" sign on the show while talking about the rally. They insisted that the segment was really about the signs that Stewart didn't want at the rally.

The ability of people to see their own feelings reflected in others is pretty amazing. Of course it didn't help that Stewart was pretty vague about his actual views
posted by delmoi at 3:14 PM on June 30, 2011


They aren't activists fighting for any one issue.

Indeed. So fantasize all you want about what Colbert might do, but don't be surprised when it's not much.
posted by briank at 3:16 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if I'm missing something, because this seems to me like a horrendous precedent.

Why wouldn't the 'THEY Are Laughing At Us, But WE Are Laughing Back' Satirical Extravaganza Brought to You by Friends of Glenn Beck be the next thing in line?
posted by darth_tedious at 3:33 PM on June 30, 2011


Which would be different than the world we lived in before this ruling existed (in which Fox News has helped Sarah Palin raise money for her PAC now); the only precedent I see being set here is that the side I agree with is doing something that the side I disagree with is already doing. But maybe I'm not thinking about this right.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:41 PM on June 30, 2011


I wonder if I'm missing something, because this seems to me like a horrendous precedent.

Well yeah, the ideal goal would have been rejection so the Fox News folks would not be able to continue doing the same thing Colbert was asking to do.

Any political action that comes from this will likely be targeted at making the point that Colbert should have lost.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:42 PM on June 30, 2011


Fox was already assuming the 'precedent' was true. Colbert getting this doesn't set a precedent, it just lets him take advantage of the precedent that was there, since Viacom's lawyers weren't were nervous about it.
posted by delmoi at 3:44 PM on June 30, 2011


It is my sincere hope that he abuses this in the most gratuitous and hilarious fashion possible, to illustrate how having this kind of undocumented power in the hands of an unscrupulous group is a really bad thing, and that maybe we should rethink the entire endeavor.

This! If he fails to do this very thing the exercise will be all for naught. I have a sneaking suspicion that illustrating the madness of Citizens United is what was intended the entire time.
posted by secondtolastresort at 3:45 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


any major dude: If Colbert and Stewart actually gave a shit they would spend day after day pounding a single issue home until it was resolved - like Stewart did on the 9/11 responders bill. He got that passed because he wouldn't let it go. Day after day I see these two show make jokes about subjects that literally bring me to tears - then it's on to the next circus. If they cared they'd put their careers on the line and focus on these issues until people took notice and started clamoring for change.

The problem is that there a ridiculous number of issues they could take a stand on, and if they turned their shows into bully pulpits, they wouldn't be the same shows. Part of the reason for their followings is because of what the shows are now - the jester who speaks the truth, often through thinly veiled jokes. If the jester started lobbying for one cause, he'd become an advocate, and that wouldn't be the same, even if the advocate was pushing their case with humor.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:47 PM on June 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


>to illustrate how having this kind of undocumented power in the hands of an unscrupulous group is a really bad thing

>maybe we should rethink the entire endeavor.

Unfortunately, the first in no way leads to the second.

In fact, given the "And now watch THIS" style of the GOP's antics, I'd be surprised if this doesn't lead to Fox pushing things further, now that the Radical Leftist Activists at Comedy Central have chosen to Interfere in the Political Process.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:50 PM on June 30, 2011


Given the unwillingness of the FEC to do its job and enforce election laws, I was pleasantly surprised to see its decisions in both Stephen Colbert’s and Majority PAC's advisory opinion requests. It would be great if the FEC could extend this interest in enforcement to include cases that are less blatant in their disregard of the law. Unfortunately, the FEC's worthlessness is all too likely to continue being abused by corporate interests that use the money that you and I spend at the grocery store, the hardware store, and at the gas pump to anonymously advance their own political agenda.

- Former Senator Russ Feingold

posted by j03 at 4:03 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


If they cared they'd put their careers on the line and focus on these issues until people took notice and started clamoring for change.

To change the channel, maybe. No, by focusing on the stupidity and semantic nonsense of FOX News, they get to keep doing what they do, and we stay entertained and docile. It's a synergistic win-win for everyone.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:05 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


But the commission voted, by a five to one margin, that those advertisements could not be run outside of Colbert's show, opting for the most narrow interpretation of the media exemption out of three drafts presented to commission members.

The decision is the closest campaign finance reform advocates could have come to a win. Reform advocates had worried that Colbert's request, apparently made in an effort to spotlight unregulated money flowing to so-called Super PACs, could have instead widened loopholes those PACs were already exploiting.


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43593458/ns/politics/
posted by j03 at 4:10 PM on June 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


So Colbert can use money anybody else gives to his SuperPAC to run spots elsewhere, but they also have to pay Viacom/Comedy Central for any production costs. CC must be loving the opportunity for somebody else to pay to promote one of its shows.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:27 PM on June 30, 2011


Marketplace of Ideas: ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:27 PM on June 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


this seems to me like a horrendous precedent

No, Bush was a horrendous precedent. This is just comedy run amok. Amok comedy time, if you will.

*chases Bill O'Reilly around the firepit with a fake sword made out of money*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:32 PM on June 30, 2011


BEGIN AD:

SLOW FADE between ugly, scowling faces of various SUPREME COURT JUDGES

NARRATOR: YOUR tax dollars pay for the lawyers who sit on the SUPREME COURT. However, these LAWYERS want to prevent YOU from seeing what goes on in YOUR COURT. The court YOU'RE PAYING FOR.

CLOSE UPS of handshakes, grins, suitcases full of money, justices entering rooms with doors closing behind them.

NARRATOR: What do these "JUSTICES" have to HIDE from the AMERICAN PEOPLE? Why don't they want you to see JUSTICE IN ACTION? Do we really want a SECRET SOCIETY for our SUPREME COURT?

FADE from image of robed SUPREME COURT JUSTICES to robed, hooded KLU KLUX KLAN.

Narrator: Help shine a light on our Judicial System. Support 24/7 video monitoring of all Supreme Court Justices.
posted by benzenedream at 4:51 PM on June 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


You know, I'm envisioning waaay more than simply the Colbert SuperPAC here. This might represent a fundamental new tool for the disillusioned who wish to take a stand against our broken system. Instead, we all spend our campaign contributions making the candidates look like ridiculous dip shits.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:13 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief wrote:

The problem is that there a ridiculous number of issues they could take a stand on, and if they turned their shows into bully pulpits, they wouldn't be the same shows. Part of the reason for their followings is because of what the shows are now - the jester who speaks the truth, often through thinly veiled jokes. If the jester started lobbying for one cause, he'd become an advocate, and that wouldn't be the same, even if the advocate was pushing their case with humor.

I'm pretty sure that when your last line of defense against oligarchy is a comedian all is virtually lost but it seems to me that they could easily choose a major complex issue - let's say corporate personhood - and use it as a theme to base their comedy around until they break through the veneer to expose the hypocrisy. Are you telling me such talented comedy writers couldn't keep us all rapt and entertained while exploring all the various nuances of the issue for weeks? Louis CK took the most hackneyed comedy device in history and made it funny on a reason episode. It can be done, and more importantly, it must be done.
posted by any major dude at 6:13 PM on June 30, 2011


"Metafilter: No narration, no music, no text. Just puppies ponies".

FTFY
posted by MikeMc at 7:04 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Narrator: Help shine a light on our Judicial System. Support 24/7 video monitoring of all Supreme Court Justices.

Um. I'd support this wholeheartedly. The judicial branch needs to operate with far more transparency than it currently does. Then, people might give a damn about confirmation hearings.
posted by schmod at 7:31 PM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


No take-downs, no liberal stemwinder to rally the troops into much-desired action, just a "can't we all play nice?" speech. It was the political rally equivalent of Ralphie decoding Little Orphan Annie's secret message, only to find it was a crummy commercial.

To be fair, you also got to see Ozzie Osbourne interrupt Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens).
posted by schmod at 7:32 PM on June 30, 2011


any major dude, corporate personhood is literally centuries old, going back to 1819 and 1886. I think that's a big battle. Sure it could be pulled way back, as corporate personhood has evolved over the years, but it's still a huge topic to tackle. Anyway, I still think they best work as news variety shows, emphasis on the variety.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:58 PM on June 30, 2011


I think both shows have been shit since Ben Karlin left. Now they hire nothing but blue bloods who have no interest in changing a thing satisfying themselves with pin prick wounds when they should be using a rapier.
posted by any major dude at 8:29 PM on June 30, 2011


the M in "1MM" comes from roman numerals

WTH?! Ok, great, you have a classical education.

But Roman fucking notation? You already have the fucking imperial measurements (and the British million/billion thing).

Is SI/Système international d'unites anti-Illuminati or something?

Ok, fine. I guess it's marginally easier to wright than 1x10^6 (or 1x106).
posted by porpoise at 10:50 PM on June 30, 2011


Are you telling me such talented comedy writers couldn't keep us all rapt and entertained while exploring all the various nuances of the issue for weeks

I'd say that's about correct, yes. Both TDS and CR are effectively variety shows. They do short bits on distinct topics, and that's part of the appeal. It's what the audience expects. Part of why the shows work is that, if you don't like the topic at one particular moment — if it hits too close to home or you don't understand it or you just think it's boring — you wait about thirty seconds.

Twenty minutes of jokes about corporate personhood would be about nineteen and a half minutes too many for a whole lot of viewers, and I can't imagine anyone at Comedy Central, the hosts included, would risk it.

Sometimes topics get funnier by repetition (e.g. "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead") so it might be possible for a topic to get worked in that way—and occasionally both shows do this—but neither show would survive being used as a bully pulpit to beat propaganda into viewers. The only viewers slow enough to not realize when they're being force-fed somebody else's politics are already watching Fox News.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:06 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Colbert and Stewart actually gave a shit they would spend day after day pounding a single issue home until it was resolved - like Stewart did on the 9/11 responders bill.

If they did that very often, no one would watch. It worked because it was outside the norm. If you want strident single topic righteous indignation and what that gets you, try Air America or Glenn Beck
posted by DigDoug at 4:18 AM on July 1, 2011


good, they could use a serious cull in their viewership. I am absolutely disgusted at the idol worship encouraged from the studio audience and am even more disgusted by what these sycophants actually laugh at. I just feel like an entire generation of Daily Show watchers are so disconnected from the savagery of modern corporate politics that they only gauge political scandals by their comedic potential. Someone here at metafilter coined an appropriate phrase for this phenomenon: "finger worship", we need to get the focus back on subject being pointed at.
posted by any major dude at 9:13 AM on July 1, 2011


Umm, why don't you go start your own show and let us keep the comedy show we like?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:24 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can understand, to an extent, the accusation that Jon Stewart often hedges his bets; going political on a particular issue and then, when getting called out to step it up or provide solutions, plays the "I'm Just A Comedian" card. This accusation would hold more water if Stewart and Colbert were primarily political activists. They're not, though; they're comedians. Hence comedy comes first. This is why they don't bang on one subject, over and over again. Remember when Yakov Smirnoff was hilarious at first with those "I come from backwards country I am so starry-eyed and simple and gosh I love America", and then like, three weeks later everyone was sick of him? Same principle. You have to know when to move on to new material.

Asking why Stewart and Colbert don't act more like political activists is like asking why Obama's jokes aren't funnier.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:55 AM on July 1, 2011


Why aren't Obama's jokes funnier?
posted by flabdablet at 10:46 AM on July 1, 2011


Why aren't Obama's jokesTiming funnier?
posted by drezdn at 11:15 AM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why aren't Obama's jokes funnier?

Harvard maybe? I dunno. Those high octane academics can be a little clumsy with joke-telling.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:51 AM on July 1, 2011


Comedians are allowed to have opinions on politics. It is valid to point at something wrong and laugh at it, even if you can't tell how to fix it. And in fact, Stewart often can tell how to fix it, because it's not rocket science. If you want to solve the budget problem then stop waging expensive wars overseas and raise taxes. Pointing this out is an essential step towards building the national will towards making these problems solvable, rather than keeping us rooted in this eternal quagmire of purpose that prolongs every damn problem we have.

If you want strident single topic righteous indignation and what that gets you, try Air America or Glenn Beck.

Unfortunately we can't yet strikethrough everything on FOX News other than Beck.
posted by JHarris at 6:03 PM on July 2, 2011


corporate personhood is literally centuries old, going back to 1819 and 1886. I think that's a big battle. Sure it could be pulled way back, as corporate personhood has evolved over the years, but it's still a huge topic to tackle.

The basic idea of corporate personhood is mostly non-controversial, it's the tortured logic used to extend rights to corporations that's got people rankled.

The Supreme Court is a body of nine people who vote in different ways in different cases, and even Scalia does the right thing sometimes. How are you supposed to get angry at that?

But in this case they clearly showed how partisan hackery has infiltrated the court. That is memorable, that has legs. That is an issue that people can rally against.
posted by JHarris at 6:12 PM on July 2, 2011


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