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.