|This may have been stated before
||[Oct. 31st, 2007|10:05 am]
I am really beginning to think that we are not all "in" on Stephen Colbert's big joke. I think we are the joke.|
More specifically, I think that us thinking we're all in on the joke is the joke.
Levels, you see.
I first began to think this a couple of hours ago when I watched a recording of Colbert being interviewed on "Meet the Press". In that interview, the anchor asked Colbert about a statement an old friend of his (Colbert's) had made. This statement basically said that Colbert was very interested in mass psychology and wanted to start a cult when he was younger. No doubt said jokingly by a younger version of Colbert, it still prompted me to think.
The greatest wish for anyone departing information to others in an effort to change their mind is that those who receive the information immediately and without question believe what they are told and act accordingly. Some people are likely to do just this. Most, however, will at least briefly consider the statement and either accept or deny from there.
The way Colbert imparts information, especially on his television show, leaves us with no doubt that the information is actually false. Usually Colbert makes a stand for something so improbable and unlikely to be true, and conveys it in such a way that makes us doubt its authenticity to boot, that we can't help but immediately recognize this and believe the other. Our brains are stimulated just enough to allow us to believe that we have thought about the statement and disables any internal alarms that might fire if we suddenly believe something without consideration. Furthermore, Colbert's stance is often so ridiculous that it makes us laugh. Furthermore from that, we know that Stephen actually knows his position is laughable, and that means we're both in on the joke together. We feel a connection with Colbert because of that, which makes us even more likely to believe what we say.
In the end, it doesn't really matter what Colbert says, as long as it's presented in that specific way of his, we are far more likely to believe exactly what he wants us to believe, all the while silently applauding ourselves for being clever enough to catch the joke.
Cults work much the same way; not that I believe Colbert is really leading a cult. No one in a cult really thinks they're in a cult; if they did, they wouldn't be in the cult! They would believe they had thought about the position and believe that what the leader was saying is correct. Furthermore, there is an emotional response as well. Whether it be imagined "holy" bliss, fear of damnation or otherwise, or just self satisfaction - all cults rely on emotions.
The "Colbert Nation" as it were has much the same set up. There is a "leader" - Colbert. There is the belief of the adhearants that they have considered the position. Furthermore, there is an emotional response - laughter. There's also a feeling that we "get it" - a feeling that we believe may be limited to a certain subset (intellectuals, youth - just whatever subset we feel ourself to be a part of) and that others may not "get it". Again, the feeling of inclusion is far greater motivator to belief than any amount of facts.
And so I think Colbert operates on this level - a level slightly higher than we believe he operates on. Manipulating his audience by forcing them to think - but only just enough to come to the conclusion he wants them to come to.