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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Point-Counterpoint: A Colbert nation

By Jessica Fawson and Christina Coloroso

Fawson and Coloroso: In an era in which scant mainstream media outlets can be trusted to provide insightful reporting, our generation has embraced a different style of news-fake news-as embodied by the comedic geniuses Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

And while the endless laughs and poignant commentary always make for a good time, recent antics may indicate that all this power may have gone to somebody’s head.

The nightly not-so-news we have come to love and trust may prove harmful to our generation if “The Colbert Report” continues to exploit our devotion in the interests of its own fame.

Coloroso: Example No. 1:

Somewhere in Hungary, there is a river named the Danube. The Hungarian government decided to hold an online vote for citizens to determine the name of a major bridge currently under construction on that river. Early leaders of the bridge-namesake contest included Nicholas Zrinyi, who defended Hungary from the Turks in the 15th century, and Chuck Norris.

Upon hearing of the contest, Colbert openly called for all members of the “Colbert Nation” to log onto the Hungarian site and vote to have the bridge named after him. He won with an astounding 53 percent of the overall tally, totaling 17,231,725 votes, which is six million more votes than the Hungarian population.

Fearing foul play, the Hungarian government held a second round of voting, and Colbert won that contest, too, with 25 percent of the vote, eking past second-place candidate Jon Stewart.

Despite not meeting two primary requirements of the contest, like being fluent in Hungarian and being dead, the bridge will be named the “Stephen Colbert Hid” upon completion in 2008.

Fawson: Honest to goodness, who wouldn’t like a bridge named after him or her? I understand the importance of history, but let’s not forget that before Colbert ever said to go vote for his name, Chuck Norris was a leading contender. If the bridge can be named after Chuck Norris, it can certainly be named after Stephen Colbert.

This antic hurt absolutely no one and merely shows that he has a loyal fan base that is very often online and willing to help Colbert with his pranks. They gathered a lot of votes, which just goes to show that people have a lot of time on their hands.

The government of Hungary could have taken over and just named the bridge, but when it opened the naming to the Internet, it allowed any one to take part. The fact that this particular bridge in Hungary is named after Stephen Colbert will undoubtly lead it to become a tourist attraction.

Coloroso: Example No. 2:

Saginaw Michigan’s OHL hockey team, the Spirit, has an eagle for a mascot. Fresh from the Hungarian bridge victory, Colbert then began to encourage fans to write to the hockey team via its Web site and demand the Saginaw mascot be renamed after him. The mascot was promptly renamed, “Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle.”

Fawson: What my counterpart has failed to mention is that since the re-naming of the mascot, this hockey team has played much better and now has a winning streak. The team never had to change its name, but it decided to and should be allowed to do whatever it wants. The team had some pressure from the thousands of emails it received practically overnight, but it was still the team’s choice. Let’s not forget-it is winning now!

Coloroso: Example No. 3

Stephen Colbert is no fan of the “Internets,” especially Wikipedia. In a prior segment, he urged viewers to use the Wikipedia site to create a reality they would enjoy living in themselves. An example was changing the page on elephants to indicate that the number of African Elephants has tripled in the past few years. The site was so overwhelmed with users calling themselves “Stephen Colbert” that the users were all blocked, and the page is now locked and unable to be edited indefinitely.

Fawson: This is not the first time that non-factual information has been put on the Internet. It was more organized than usual, but I think this just highlights the problems that the Internet and Wikipedia have-one being that anyone can write anything and have people believe that it’s fact. Wikipedia was able to lock the site and-this is a continuing problem with the site-it has locked other sites before. It didn’t hurt anyone, though.

Coloroso: The point is this: Yes, it’s a comedy show, but to deny the influence of Colbert and buddy John Stewart on our generation, especially when it comes to our political impressions, is na’ve. These recent stunts illustrate that the audience is strongly controlled by the content of these shows and their hosts. That demands a high level of responsibility and awareness, not smart-ass-ery. Few people were actually harmed by these antics, but it is not too difficult to imagine a scenario in which Colbert might call for all fans to vote for him as president in 2008, and how many of us would listen then? What we love about the show is Colbert’s ability to point out the stupidity of some of our leaders, to hold them accountable and to ask them the questions no one else will. But if we are held in such blind obedience to the content of the show, its message slips past us.

Fawson: Stephen Colbert is an amazingly funny and random comedian. His show, which takes place in a world all of its own, is merely a social commentary on the bi-partisan nature of the United States, and I thoroughly enjoy it. His antics, while causing the hair on my counterpart’s neck to stand up, are nothing more than a little bit of fun and should be treated as such. We should care more about agendas of those who actually hurt others rather than spending our days worrying about harmless comedians. Granted, Colbert has a large fan base, but it is online and participates with him because of the humorous nature of his antics.

Colbert loves freedom-he loves America, and I see nothing wrong with his antics thus far because they don’t hurt anyone. Colbert has power because he is not serious, because he is making fun of the establishment. Should he ever want to be a part of that establishment by running for office, this loyal fan base would re-evaluate its support. We should not limit Colbert’s ability to say whatever he would like to say. We, in the land of the free, are not in the business of censorship.

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