border="0" alt="" />Still shaking off the vestiges of a busy
birthday, although I didn't get to party a single minute. Instead, I
filed a sweet piece on target="blank">Aardman's upcoming CGI flick Flushed Away
for Wired and
then turned in with the Mrs. to check out the only news-oriented
programming worth watching, at least on television: href="http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/index.jhtml"
target="blank">The Daily Show and href="http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_colbert_report/index.jhtml"
target="blank">The Colbert Report.
As target="blank">Rachel Sklar observed, Colbert's embrace of the
InterNation (he calls it the "Internets") has propelled his show to
the top of the class in politics, entertainment and public service.
And after a daylong writing binge, watching him prank Hungary by
enlisting target="blank">Colbert Nation to vote online to name a Hungarian
bridge after, who else, himself -- well, that's how I like to relax.
The longshot punk, as today's MTV dunderheads call it, backfired
somewhat, as the millions of Colbert loyalists that voted outnumbered
the nation's actual population. Not bad for another online experiment,
and a harbinger of things to come. Colbert's roomful-of-mirrors
satire, whether on parade at the White House Correspondents Dinner or
Comedy Central itself, has taken the temperature of the real world
that MTV is too busy narcotizing to notice and the prognosis is
next-level narrative. With mad laughs.
Even Neil Young said Colbert's show is an American institution, and if
you don't know Young, you don't know rock. And Colbert does: He spent
a "Word" segment riffing on the nexus of Jay-Z, the United Nations and
spawn of hell, MTV -- who as you can tell I love to heckle more than
almost anyone. Excepting Bush, who Jon Stewart (another postmodern
sensei) actually decided to leave alone for once. Why? Bush is amazing
at deconstructing himself, which he did before the same press rabble
that Colbert had reduced to rubble during his infamous speech. With
who sitting beside him, trying to blink through forced cackles? You
see where I'm going with this.
Plus, Stewart unveiled a George and Laura Bush version of Annie
Leibowitz's infamous photo of a naked John Lennon curled up around a
clothed Yoko. You think that thing won't make the rounds on the
internet, changing virtual hands millions of times over? Colbert got
millions to vote to name a brudge after him, for Allah's sake. A
bridge in Hungary.
Whether in target="blank">Harvey Birdman, href="http://www.strangerswithcandymovie.com" target="blank">Strangers
With Candy, The Daily Show and now The Colbert Report, Stephen
Colbert has more than proven his mettle as America's sharpest,
smartest and, most importantly, BALLSIEST humorist. His rampant id --
wound tight with indignation, torn loose from reality -- has
counterposed Jon Stewart's sage superego to form a titanic power duo
that would have utterly destroyed the Wonder Twins. And their stupid
To say nothing of the human suckers squashed beneath their dense
knowledge of how to make something real -- say, a president
deteriorating before the eyes of a press horde -- seem so surreal that
one can only laugh at it now and freak out about it later. That's soma
you can't buy at the store.
So yes, context is everything. It always has been, although you won't
notice it by relying on media, which is going viral with unmoored
signifiers as we speak. That today's television news looks like talk
radio is on the lower end of the spectrum as far as cognitive
dissonance goes on our superhighway to hell. That visceral mallrat and
gamer horrorcore can be had on any corner, but visual, ocular or
otherwise visually associated evidence of our resource wars in
progress in Iraq, Afghanistan and satellites outward are impossible to
procure by regular means is simply maddening.
In my own small way, working into the night on my birthday rather than
caring for my poor pregant wife -- women of the world, I bow to your
endurance -- was my way of saying: "Here, United States. Take a small
portion of my check. Spend it on whatever you want. Nah, don't worry
about pictures, a progress report, a rationale. I've got enough
trouble. Like trying to earn more for you to spend on whatver you
want. Which is what again? Another war? Can I call you back?"
But I digress. Which is what Colbert and Stewart do best when they
venture off into the freestyler's matrix of late-night comedy, locked
in the "zone," as Colbert called it when he apologized to Hungary for
pranking its bridge-naming contest. No hard feelings. I harbor none,
and neither should you unless you do, in which case you probably did
something bad enough to warrant whatever gave them to you.
Circuliarity, in narrative, in media, in morality, is like that.
In sum, these men have given not just myself but all of us birthday
presents -- weeknightly if you will -- for years now. So I'm nodding
off a happy man with a new baby on the way, my very real righteous
political indignation stirred by an actor utilizing fake righteous
indignation to mock the country full of righteous indignation
manufactured in hopes of escaping the darker side of American economic
expansion and contraction. Does that about cover it?
If only the president sent me to bed this often with a smile of my
face. The slacker.