Last night on “The Colbert Report”

Normally I don’t watch Stephen Colbert’s show after The Daily Show. Not because it isn’t a good show, but sometimes Stephen’s Bill O’Reilly-meets-a-three-ringed-circus act wears on me. It’s exhausting. Plus the show isn’t so much an infotainment show (like “The Daily Show”), but a character driven show, and the character who drives it is annoying. But since Colbert’s been without his writers I’ve actually enjoyed the show more. It’s hard to be a manufactured nutbag for 22 minutes when you have to come up with everything yourself. So now he’s just a half-ass instead of a whole ass. But, because of the heart in last night’s show, it was especially good.

I’d read about Colbert and his father in, of all things, Parade Magazine. It was nice to know something about the guy who used to be the other funny reporter on “The Daily Show.” It was also nice that he shared that slice of Civil Rights history. There are so many stories out of the Civil Rights movement that it’s impossible to know them all. This medical aid strike in Charleston, SC was one I wasn’t familiar with. My mother remembered it. Hell, she was able to go word-for-word with Abernathy on his “perish as fools” speech (which, BTW, did ring familiar to me, as I think it was a notable quip).

The most amazing thing though was seeing a young (and skinny) Andy Young encouraging the workers and the blacks in Charleston to boycott white businesses to show solidarity. Young may irritate me from time to time, but you have to give the guy credit for his body of work as a Civil Rights Activist. Someone had to risk getting killed for the plight of disenfranchised and oppressed people. I’m glad he did what he did. Young was also on the Colbert Report last night and they had a half joking, half serious conversation about worker’s rights and Colbert’s father.

Then, very strangely, they sang one of my favorite Negro Spirituals in honor of the striking writers in Hollywood.

So while I loved this episode of Colbert (even the earlier half discussing the irrelevance of IQ tests), I couldn’t help but notice and not be surprised that the bulk of the pictures of the striking writers of his show were slightly chubby, hairy, 30-something-year-old white dudes. There was one white women in there. But the rest, white dudes. I wasn’t surprised because for all the legend about “Hollywood Liberals” this and progressive that, Hollywood is a town owned, run by and employed with nothing but white men. Especially in the Writer’s Guild of America which is as white as an Augusta, Georgia golf club.

I don’t know how many stories I’ve read about the frustrations of black writers to get hired on ANY show, let alone a show that’s “perceived” as a white show (see “Friends” and “Seinfield” for most heinous examples). And I love how the producers do the “if we could find qualified blacks we’d hire them” garbage. I didn’t believe that bull crap when my editors told me that as a journalist. I don’t believe that crap either about Hollywood. How can a black writer get any “clout” and rep without getting on a show? It’s like a Chinese finger trap in there. You can’t get hired because you don’t have experience, you can’t get experience because you can’t get hired. And then you end up some where in the Hollywood ghetto of BET and the CW’s of the world and even if you prove yourself (see Mara Brock Akil of “Girlfriends” or Yvette Lee Bowser of “Half & Half” and “Living Single”) they still look askance.

It’s amazing that Shonda Rhimes ever got “Grey’s Anatomy” on the air.

4 thoughts on “Last night on “The Colbert Report”

  1. I really enjoyed that Colbert show as well. It does seem a bit more genuine without the writers. Great off-the-cuff humor with real humanity. And I think that ought to be the point of having two individuals, Young and Colbert, discussing issues involving groups. When people are grouped, as in calling the writers a bunch of white guys, it defeats any mutual purpose. Young talked about how both sides just need to feel treated like human beings with respect, not as a representative of a group with common characteristics. Then people feel recognized as people. Then they can talk and discuss mutual problems harming multiple individuals. It’s only on that level that progress is really truly made, not as group vs. group which leads to common distrust and the belief on both sides that the other doesn’t see them as real people.Peace.

  2. I see your point d.elden. As for the “white dudes” quip, I was generalizing and being crass, as I’m prone to being on the blog. But as a creative writer and a journalist it was often frustrating to routinely be the only black person there. I could see how someone, also African American or Asian or Hispanic, would have a hard time dealing with the disconnect that often exists. I don’t necessarily think whites in Hollywood have a lack of minority writers because they’re racist. It’s more about how the vast majority of white people don’t even think about minority people. They can live and work only nominally encountering non-whites, while for most minorities who want to be successful or earn a decent living we have to learn how to work and understand them.And while I’m willing to openly and honestly deal with my white co-workers questions about race, it can be an exasperating, even insulting experience for other minorities. Heck, sometimes it is for me.My point is, everyone benefits from diversity. People become people as opposed to crass, gross generalizations. So basically, I agree with you.

  3. Thanks for agreeing with me! I still think it’s odd though to have a thought like “the whites in Hollywood have a lack of minorities” at all, whatever the perceived reason. It seems to me that mindset is already self-defeating. I know it is frustrating to be aware of the current spread of employees in Hollywood generally, but even characterizing the situation that way belies a little feeling of “us vs. them”, maybe reinforcing the divide rather than creating connections. People become people when individuals treat individuals like people, not a flattened member of a group.Anyway, thanks for responding to my comment! The online world can feel like a big void sometimes, but when something comes back, its nice to make connections.Peace.

  4. well, after Andy Young’s comment about “it’s not time” for Barack Obama to run for presidency. For me, that one comment discounted everything that he said he worked for. It’s fitting he’d be on Colbert’s show.

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