By Mel Carriere
Driving home from the post office in the afternoon I try to get a sampling of what is going on in the news by listening to KFI 640 coming out of Los Angeles. I'll be the first to admit that we here in San Diego are just the poor country cousins of the mighty megalopolis up the coast, and we like it that way. Unfortunately, the quality of our drive time radio is not quite up to par with what they have to offer up in tinsel-town, which is why I listen to KFI in spite of the station's notable list to the right.
Of course, news being produced by a corporate radio station these days doesn't really mean news at all in the classic, old school sense. Outside of sound bite snippets about who killed who and which politician took bribes this week, the "news" mostly consists of discussions about popular culture, meaning which megastars had a "secret" sex tape hijacked this week, and what topics are trending on You Tube and Twitter. Want real news about world events or even domestic politics? Don't yawn and plug up your ears or you'll miss it.
Some of these snippets about popular culture are interesting nonetheless, and I have to confess my curiosity was piqued this afternoon by a report about Stephen Colbert, currently the outrageously offbeat and hilarious host of the "Colbert Report." Stephen Colbert is taking over for David Letterman on his CBS Late Show in May.
For some incomprehensible reason, the discussion about Colbert's upcoming move to CBS I was following this afternoon did not center around whether he has the comedic talent to supplant Letterman, but instead was concerned with what his politics are and what this means. Democrats fret and rend their garments wondering if Stephen is liberal enough to fill Dave's legendary two left shoes, whereas Conservatives raise their hands in the right side of the peanut gallery, pump their fists and shout "There, you see! He makes jokes about Democrats sometimes, so he can't be that bad!" as if this is absolute proof of Colbert's affinity with the right side of the spectrum.
Why are Colbert's politics important at all? Can't we just the watch the show and laugh, even though he sometimes makes us chuckle at ourselves and our pet philosophies? Does partisanship really have to extend to the living room? Can't we just go home and chill in front of the TV without adjusting the blue tint or the red tint to conform to whatever particular dogma we subscribe to this week?
Some people are so intertwined with their political canons of faith that they can't seem to find an identity for themselves outside of whatever the doctrinal purity police of their party declare to be orthodox. If the Tea Party suddenly avers Colbert is no good those tea baggers might still secretly watch him, but they'll make sure they close the drapes so no one will find out. Or if the leadership of the Marxist book club says Stephen is a reactionary pawn for the capitalist oppressors you can bet a few reds will still tune in but say it was just for research purposes - "you gotta know your enemy," even as they are laughing their proletariat beer right out through their noses.
Why does everything and everyone need a label these days? Why does everything and everybody need to be quantified and categorized into some fail-safe index card system where nothing and no one, including comedians, slips through the cracks?
Comedy should be the great equalizer. Lefties and Righties alike laugh at the same jokes. Whether you voted for Romney or Obama in 2012, when you watch the Hangover you get a good belly laugh. There is no shame in this. We shouldn't have to rush to change the channel if Sarah Palin or Harry Reid suddenly walk into the room. The freedom to laugh is part of freedom of speech. Let Colbert be Colbert, I say. Stop fretting about what his politics are and let's just this once laugh together, for crying out loud.
Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Colbert#mediaviewer/File:Michelle_Obama_on_The_Colbert_Report.jpg