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TFH on the Colbert Report

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simonsays
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Even given the sneering quality of most of Colbert's political humor, that was pretty amusing. I liked the nursery rhyme :) . It was interesting that quite a few people in the audience understood enough about Objectivism to laugh at the jokes. Free publicity, I suppose.

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It actually saddens me. I used to think that people just weren't familiar with Objectivism. Now I know its explicit rejection.

I wouldn't draw too much from a segment on the Colbert Report. Sure, there are people who reject Objectivism outright. But most have only a basic or superficial understanding if at all, and the audience is there to laugh at jokes. I doubt that more than a few are laughing because they've gained a deep understanding of the philosophy and have chosen to reject it. Cheer up, Meta.

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Even given the sneering quality of most of Colbert's political humor, that was pretty amusing. I liked the nursery rhyme :) . It was interesting that quite a few people in the audience understood enough about Objectivism to laugh at the jokes. Free publicity, I suppose.

They just have a laugh track and besides people always laugh when they feel they're supposed to. It wasn't free publicity because they were misrepresenting Objectivism. Things are only funny if they're true.

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It looks to me like Colbert (or his writer?) just took complex ideas out of context. It sounds like Colbert (or his writer?) read The Fountainhead, understood it on a concrete level, didn't integrate the ideas, and decided to use it to play off of Rand's popular image to humorous effect. The irony is that, to someone who actually integrated the ideas in the novel, it's much less humorous than he (or his writer?) intended. Particularly, that whole thing about sharing "reward[ing] the weak" is a pretty common misunderstanding of Objectivism. I've noticed The Fountainhead on Colbert's set bookshelf in the past, but I've never bothered to waste any time thinking about him. I've just never found him all that entertaining.

-Q

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Hey can someone post the link to THE FORUM, they are trying to find the file on this thread:

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?s...ic=5633&hl=

I can't be bothered to sign up just to post a link.

With regards to the clip I think it was hilarious! I mean, even a fully integrated Objectivist could make fun of Objectivism, right? It was funny because sleeping is automatic and they were saying it was in the childs rational self interest to sleep. Also the tone of voice made it funny. And the "I'm Howard Roark!" was funny because it mocks people who take Objectivism too far and want to become and architect and dye their hair orange (someone actually did this if I'm not mistaken?).

Of course those guys disagree with Objectivism and are trying to mock the whole thing, but all of the things they mocked are plausible possible mistakes.

eg the sleeping not being automatic but being under ones free will (a fallacy made if you take free will too far)

eg the not sharing joke = an oist not being benevolent because they think its altruism. Perhaps a common mistake?

eg The Oist sleepover party joke = in 50 years time when Oism is more popular, some parents indoctrinate their child with Objectivist philosophy like fundamental Christians do now, rather than waiting until the child is old enough to understand philosophy. Another plausible mistake.

Therefore it was funny because they took Objectivism, exagerated it but kept it almost plausible, and made fun of the exageration. This is what good comedy does in my opinion. Whether or not they realised themselves that this is what they had done is another matter, but their intentions change not the fact that it was an exagerated version of Objectivism they were making fun of, and therefore it was funny.

Edited by simonsays
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I didn't find that funny at all, primarily because of the object of the humor.

Does this mean that Ayn Rand can never be made fun of by an Objectivist without being immoral? Or is this just your personal opinion; that it was not funny but others could rationally and morally think it funny depending on their context?

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Does this mean that Ayn Rand can never be made fun of by an Objectivist without being immoral? Or is this just your personal opinion; that it was not funny but others could rationally and morally think it funny depending on their context?

From The Romantic Manifesto:

Observe that in the issue of [humor], modern intellectuals are using the term "humor" as an anti-concept, i.e. as a "package-deal" of two meanings, with the proper meaning serving to cover and to smuggle the improper one into people's minds. The purpose is to obliterate the distinction between "humor" and "mockery," particularly self-mockery -- and thus bring men to defile their own values and self-esteem, for fear of being accused of lacking "a sense of humor."

Remember that humor is not an unconditional virtue and depends on its object. One may laugh with a hero, but never at him...

Morally speaking, if the good is the object of humor then that is immoral and is not a matter of tastes. The important distinction here is between something being the subject of humor and the object of humor.

Edited by Inspector
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Finally watched it, and didn't find it funny. On the other hand, I'm surprised that the producers would assume the audience to be familiar with the material, so that references like "Objectivism", "Atlases", "Howard Roark", "rational self-interest" are spun into the lines for a general TV audience.

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Even though it was supposed to be mocking, it didn't come across that way, because a few of the messages were actually quite positive. "Go to sleep, it's in your rational self-interest". "Go to sleep my little Atlases". I mean, that's pretty positive stuff, even if a bit silly.

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It is unfortunate that Stephen Colbert, whom I otherwise find hilarious, insinuated that Objectivism teaches it is in one's rational self-interest to not voluntarily share a simple value, such as a delicious cookie, with cherished friends. The reference to the philosophy of Ayn Rand was obviously meant to be derisive as Stephen Colbert's character always mocks Republicans by pontificating comically exaggerated partisan ideology. Since he misrepresents everything, I am not so indignant over the brief misrepresentation of Objectivism itself. However, I am a little concerned that he has implicitly represented Ayn Rand's works as something that only goofy Republicans read.

Perhaps that one segment will dampen objectivist club enrollment across universities nationwide over the next four to six years. Will this be any worse than the shallow kid from Dirty Dancing whipping out a copy of The Fountainhead to justify abandoning a pregnant girlfriend? Time will tell.

Edited by DarkWaters
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Some people miss Colbert's satire and think that he is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. It's clear [edit: to me] that he isn't, but I'm not sure that people who watched the segment will take it [edit: as an attack on Objectivism or not].

Edited by FeatherFall
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It was funny and cute. I think that people afraid that this will discourage the spread of Ayn Rand works need to keep in mind two things:

1. The audience of Daily Show and the Colbert Report love the show but they don't focus on the send off scenes when Jon Stewart says hi to Stephen Colbert.

2. This skit was free advertising for Ayn Rand. Someone who did not get the references may be interested to go and actually read the novels. now.

However, I am a little concerned that he has implicitly represented Ayn Rand's works as something that only goofy Republicans read.

I would agree with that. I think the best way to explain it is that to most viewers of the Daily Show, that anything to the right of Michael Moore is all the same.

I personally find "Go to sleep, go to sleep, its in your rational self interest" to be very funny.

Edited by Strangelove
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...as if there were any doubts that he _isn't_ a conservative..... (After all, consider who mentored him and who he wrote for before he started _The Colbert Report_.)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070214/ap_on_...stephen_colbert

Truth be told, I think that _this_ is funnier than his show ever was.

Edited by tps_fan
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humor and comedy, and its role, purpose, and place in our lives, is something I am still grappling with in objectivism. To give you an immediate gut response, I was not a fan. I think the negative effects of throwing Ayn Rand among christen values, conservatism, pro-life, anti-gay right, and all the other things he makes a complete mockery of, will only increase ignorance as to what it truly is, polarize Ayn Rand, and as others have said, turn it into the object of the humor, not the subject of it. It undercuts the sacred seriousness of a philosophy which requires one to stop their immediate, instinctual, fearful laughing and approach it strongly, independent, face to face.

But whenever something like this happens to slander the name of Ayn Rand or objectivism, I tell myself that the people not willing to go out and research themselves, and that would allow themselves to be dissuaded from such a philosophy by snippets like this, don't deserve it in the first place and clearly aren't strong enough yet to understand or embrace it.

Edited by Robert L. Pothier
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I personally find "Go to sleep, go to sleep, its in your rational self interest" to be very funny.

Aside from my concern that now Objectivism is now temporarily conflated with pure Republican ideology, I think the skit would otherwise be funny in a different context. I would laugh if I knew that Stephen Colbert and the majority of his audience had a decent understanding of Objectivism. In this case, the joke would amount to "this is how some stupid Republican blowhard interprets Objectivism. haha." Unfortunately, given the aforementioned premise is probably not true, the joke amounts to "only a crazy Republican takes Ayn Rand this seriously. haha." Thus, the skit would be pretty funny in that unlikely context but unfortunately it is not so funny in its real context.

On a slightly unrelated note, I loved the following exchange on the Simpsons that bashed Communism:

The scene is a dialogue between a tap dance instructor, who resembles an adult Shirley Temple and Lisa. Lisa is in a tap dancing class that is preparing for an imminent performance infront of their class. The dancing instructor is explaining to Lisa how her clumsy feet have resulted in her receiving the role as the curtain puller.

Lisa: "Excuse me, why isn't my name in the program?"

Dance Instructor: "It is, silly. You've got the most important part of all." [flips through the pamphlet]

Lisa: "Curtain puller?!"

Dance Instructor: "No one can see the show if the curtain isn't open."

Lisa: "Bu-- My parents are counting on seeing me dance! And I've worked ever so hard."

Dance Instructor: "I'm sorry, Lisa, but giving everyone an equal part when they're clearly not equal is called what, again, class?"

Entire Class: "Communism!"

Dance Instructor: "That's right. And I didn't tap all those Morse code messages to the Allies 'til my shoes filled with blood to just roll out the welcome mat for the Reds."

Edited by DarkWaters
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Always engaging, always entertaining, by and large The Colbert Report presents ideas better suited for the Dark Ages as if they were the cutting-edge of intellectual dialog meant to guide an age dominated by ideas. Mr. Colbert's preferred means of doing this is by embodying an idea and bringing it to it's absurd conclusion. His style of humor is usually at such a high level of wit and delivery that the content can be overlooked and still be entertaining - but not this time.

The central theme of this skit is that Objectivism is so absurd, so dogmatic a philosophy that only the impressionable, undiscriminating mind of a child would be able to absorb it and that only a deranged, power-lusting adult would purvey it.

If there is any silver lining to such an ugly display of liberal cynicism, it's that despite his best effort, this time Mr. Colbert just wasn't funny. This is a testament to the strength of the philosophy - which, ironically, is exactly why I found this segment so offensive.

- Grant

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... I tell myself that the people not willing to go out and research themselves, and that would allow themselves to be dissuaded from such a philosophy by snippets like this, don't deserve it in the first place and clearly aren't strong enough yet to understand or embrace it. (emphasis mine)
Practically, people cannot pick up and read everything that's available out there. So, they do not know what a philosophy such as this has to offer without reading it, and yet they have to make some type of judgement whether it is worth checking it out.

Clearly, the best type of publicity is that which is true and clear, say something the ARI might do. What, however, is the impact of negative publicity?

Publicity takes people from ignorance to awareness, and from awareness on to interest. That translates into reading or not reading Ayn Rand. After that, publicity has a smaller role. In getting people to read Ayn Rand, they need to be aware of Rand's books, and they need to be interested enough to pick one up.

When it comes to awareness, negative publicity is better than complete silence.

The problem with negative publicity is that it could stop some people who are aware of Rand from becoming more interested in picking up her books. On the other hand, it could get other people more interested. It depends on the specific message of the negative publicity.

For instance, suppose some negative portrayal has the message "Rand is like Rush Limbaugh". That message could make some people lose interest, while it might pique the interest of someone else. One person might say "I like some of what Rush says, but I don't get the religion bit; let me see if Rand is different... after all I've heard that she was atheist"; another might say "oh, I didn't realize she was just another conservative... I won't bother reading her".

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The central theme of this skit is that Objectivism is so absurd, so dogmatic a philosophy that only the impressionable, undiscriminating mind of a child would be able to absorb it and that only a deranged, power-lusting adult would purvey it.

What I noted is that the ideas came across a benevolent despite what Colbert said. The one exception was the remark on sharing, which was probably a misconception on Colbert's part.

At the end of the day, keep in mind that the philosophy isn't shallow, nor dogmatic. People can say what they want about it, and what they say can be more a reflection of their values than anything they are assessing.

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