Our lazy embrace of Stewart and Colbert is a testament to our own impoverished comic standards. We have come to accept coy mockery as genuine subversion and snarky mimesis as originality. It would be more accurate to describe our golden age of political comedy as the peak output of a lucrative corporate plantation whose chief export is a cheap and powerful opiate for progressive angst and rage.
“You’ve said Bush is a war criminal,” Stewart replied. “Now that may be technically true. In my world, a war criminal is Pol Pot or the Nuremberg trials… . But I think that’s such an incendiary charge that when you put it into conversation as, well, technically he is, that may be right, but it feels like a conversation stopper, not a conversation starter.” This is the Stewart credo distilled: civility at any cost, even in the face of moral atrocity.
Bill Maher was one of the few prominent voices to call his comrades out. “If you’re going to have a rally where hundreds of thousands of people show up, you might as well go ahead and make it about something,” he said. He went on to point out the towering naïveté of their nonpartisan approach, with its bogus attempt to equate the insanity of left and right: “Martin Luther King spoke on that mall in the capital and he didn’t say, ‘Remember folks, those Southern sheriffs with the fire hoses and the German shepherds, they have a point too!’ No. He said, ‘I have a dream. They have a nightmare!’ … Liberals like the ones on that field must stand up and be counted and not pretend that we’re as mean or greedy or shortsighted or just plain batshit as they are, and if that’s too polarizing for you and you still want to reach across the aisle and hold hands and sing with someone on the right, try church.”
It’s an interesting article, albeit flawed in some parts. Like praising South Park even though it’s heavily guilty of the “maybe the answer is in the middle” bullshit. I’ve also heard that Colbert does take bigger risks and makes darker jabs then the article gives him credit for, but I haven’t watched his show much so I can’t be certain of that myself. But it raises a good point - people are often too hesitant to call out shitheads on the terrible things they do.