Colbert UFW Testimony
Colbert is hilarious as always. Yet, while I’d usually be one of the first to commend his efforts, I’m going to go out on a limb (this phrase never made sense to me, shouldn’t it be a plank?) and say that Colbert’s parodic persona didn’t serve this forum nor the issue at hand that well. The main problem with Colbert’s testimony is that he forgot to use satire in a forum where it was sorely needed. In other words, he forgot to speak truth/s to power. Consequently, Jon Stewart’s more straight-laced, “righteous indignation” would have been a far better choice for the UFW’s campaign. Funny, yes. Satirical, no. It’s the difference between a Jay Leno monologue and the kind of brilliance we saw from Colbert a few years ago at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner speech. Who are the targets in this testimony? In the WHCD speech Colbert focused with an observant precision upon a yay-saying cohort of political and media personalities desperately needing critiqued. In this congressional testimony the targets are all over the place. Take a look at the reactions by the Members of Congress themselves—do they appear all that threatened? Colbert fawns before one Member of Congress at one point and finishes by emphasizing how much of an “honor” it is to be there etc. Don’t get me wrong, a simple, light-hearted laugh at some of these issues can definitely serve an important function, and I certainly don’t think satire needs to be used all the time–but I can’t help but think that outside the orienting walls of his studio, Colbert missed an opportunity for the kind of disorienting, stinging critique for which he’s capable.