May 01, 2006

Why Colbert's Irony Was So Effective

Stephen Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner has garnered him huge applause in the blogosphere and also on C-Span where it was shown more than once. Those of us who have been angry with Bush for quite some time because of his arrogant and feckless corruption of our country were even more thrilled to see and know that he had no recourse but to sit there and watch his aspirations for greatness be destroyed by a master of irony. This will be his legacy:

I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound -- with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.

We who have been watching Stephen Colbert eviscerate politicians that have come on his show knew he was a gifted comedian. But it took Saturday's dinner to demonstrate how incredibly effective the art form Colbert has chosen is for exposing the Potemkin Regime Bush and his henchmen have created.

Rove and the right wing machine have no answer to the performance but to say "it bombed", "it wasn't funny", and to hope that by ignoring it, the caustic cleansing agent it has lobbed into their camp can be contained. Yet, the Republican spinmeisters are the masters of spin. They've been studying and deploying language and propaganda and myth-making for decades. Nevertheless, they have no answer for this performance. One of the letters in response to Michael Scherer's The Truthiness Hurts (Salon) gets to the nub of the problem:

Frontal attack vs. satire

I think this is a key point:

"White House spinmeisters are used to frontal assaults on their policies, which can be rebutted with a similar set of talking points. But there is no easy answer for the ironist."

To rebut a frontal assault requires no engagement with the arguments or facts or reality underlying the assault. Such a rebuttal can, in fact, be composed before the assault even begins, it's so disengaged from the content of the assault.

For a rebuttal to an ironic attack not to sound like a non-sequitur, however, requires that the rebutter first unpack for his/her audience the underlying points of the ironic attack. And at that point, you either have plausible answers or you don't, but you can't just ignore the questions and plow ahead with your own spin.

This is why irony is so dangerous - the person or institution you attack has only two options: face you and acknowledge your points or consciously concede defeat and retreat. There's no spinning option.

-- Gabriel Bereny

No wonder we are celebrating the art of Stephen Colbert. He has found an antidote to the lies and spin of the Right-Wing Noise Machine for those who are tired of the Bush lies. And just like the little boy who exposed the Emperor in his imaginary clothes, Colbert has pulled back the curtain on the little man and showed how naked he and his Party of Corruption are.

Have you thanked Stephen Colbert yet?

BTW: Susan has posted links to the whole show here.

Posted by Mary at May 1, 2006 10:53 PM | Entertainment | Technorati links |

"At the recent Washington Correspondents' Dinner, master comedian Stephen Colbert performed magnificently. With the rapier of wit and the mace of truth, he respectively skewered and censured the presidency of "dum'ass botch".

Talk about wonderful lagniappe! Mr Colbert made that nincompoop's lap dogs in our national conventional media run for cover with their tail between their legs. And that's not all our man accomplished.

Tucked away in his address to the dinner's flabbergasted attendees, like a ticking time bomb, there was an 'easter egg', which we had absolutely . . . here 'we' is a polite nod . . . NO right to expect. Like the Easter Bunny in a mischievous mood, Mr Colbert camouflaged a bon mot, so profound as to approach philosophical.

oh, before I reveal Mr Colbert's casual accomplishment, I should like to preface with a caveat. The appropriate interpretation of that remark requires sagacity an-- . . ."

oh, alright (!) already, I'll admit it. The above text is meant to serve as "bait" for the dear Reader's curiosity. Yes, I would like people to visit my blog. And why not?! The average visitor is bound to find one or two startling insights. What's more, it's a good bet that more than a few visitors will discover that I evoke with the written word thought, hitherto more, well, tantalizing than articulated.

.he who is known as sefton

. . . oh, yeah, I should add that the full title for that post is "rehabilitation of and by and for the right wing" . . . by the bye, depending on visitor's essentiality, one might be either heartened or dismayed by one, or two, of my easter eggs.

Posted by: A Alexander Stella at May 12, 2006 04:49 PM