Charlotte Law is pleased to announce that Charlotte School of Law students, Andrew Cheek and Curtis Thomas are the winners of the Civic Engagement Team blogging contest, a portion of which was hosted on our very own Charlotte Law Library blog. They were selected based upon four submissions each of them submitted over a 6 week period. Both Andrew and Curtis will be awarded $150 and will blog on an official CET blogging site during the DNC week (September 3-7).
Let’s revisit their final posts and offer them hearty congratulations.
Their topic: Is politics a laughing matter? The Impact of Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and their ilk on politics and election related discourse.
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.
Thank you to everyone in the community who cast their votes and congratulations to our winners -we look forward to hearing more from you in September!