A Letter to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert

Dear Jon and Stephen,

This is a letter to request that you not come as your characters to your upcoming rally/march.

After the embarrassment on Capitol Hill last week (Stephen, we are not amused, you looked like an idiot), I thought I would let you know just how important this is to your fans and supporters.

The people whose idea this was (ahem, Reddit) weren’t trying to be funny (ok, a little bit) when they suggested Colbert hold a Rally to Restore Truthiness – it was a serious suggestion made by semi-serious people.

Glenn Beck and those like him have hijacked this country. Congress is running amok while the White House staff is allegedly (don’t get me started on Woodward) too busy fighting with each other to attempt governing. And MSNBC has become almost as bad at “opinion journalism masquerading as news” as FOX is. What is a sane person to do?

Well, we watch your shows on Hulu in the morning as we drink coffee and bitch at each other. Then you announced you were hosting this event.

Most of the people I know felt that ours, the largest group of Americans, the ones who simply don’t understand what’s going on anymore or why, had finally found someone to lead us. Someone who made sense, and whom we respect and admire.

No one thinks of you as “just comedians” anymore. And regardless of whether you’re ready for the responsibility (you’ve got it, like it or not), you have become the unofficial spokespeople for an entire generation that’s getting screwed by the system. We’ve been screaming about it in protest, but no one hears.

Don’t come to the rally and disappoint us.

We want to hear what you have to say – really and truly – what your opinions are, without the bindings of a 22-minute program in search of ratings, ads and laughs.

Laughter is great, yeah. But it’s not everything, and it doesn’t help keep Christine O’Donnell from having a serious chance at becoming a legislator (WTF).

We are serious about fixing this country. And we hope you are too. You have the momentum and influence to seriously affect change. The choice is yours.

See you Oct. 30!


Alex Pearlman,
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Alex Pearlman I love the John Adams miniseries, the Disney version of Peter Pan, and 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.' My heroes include Aaron Sorkin, Audrey Hepburn, Gloria Steinem, Woody Allen and Allen Ginsberg. I don't like the two-party system, I do like crossword puzzles. I like red wine, I don't like fascists. I like big ideas, I don't like apathy. I like Wikileaks, I don't like censorship. I believe journalism needs a full-blown revolution to survive. Also, I'm the Editor in Chief of The Next Great Generation. Twitter: @lexikon1

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17 Responses to “A Letter to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert”

  1. Tom Miesen

    I try not to get into politics too much for exactly this reason: If you want to be heard, your ideas have to be batshit crazy/extreme (on either side). It has turned the country into a super-polarized mess, and the moderates are suffering for it. The only political news I do follow is The Daily show/Colbert because they seem to be the only sane people that are able to rise over the noise.

    Our generation trusts satire. We want authenticity, and satire seems to be the only authentic political commentary left. You’re right; whether or not they want to accept the responsibility, they are the political voice of our generation. I hope they understand this, because the sane people need a voice.

    Besides, at the end of the day, who is the bigger clown: The guy on Fox crying about America/spewing hatred or the guy on Comedy Central making fun of him?

  2. reeegan

    Who is this ‘we’ you’re referring to when you say “we are not amused” regarding the capitol hill appearance? I thought it was brilliant. Filled with so many dimensions, some of which exposed us to who Stephen really is… even a touch of religious grounded belief. Much like Mark Twain and his infamous appearance in front of congress, these men are not meant to be our “leaders” and to put those types of expectations upon them will only lead to disappointment. Their task is much more important, one that helps us actually vet through the ever dwindling numbers of people who are capable to lead. Putting these men on the same plane as your O’Donnell’s and Boehner’s by making them the ‘leaders’ of ‘our movement’ makes them fallible and ultimately limits the power of their message, we must protect them from that.

    On another note, its unsettling how quickly you’ve seemed to move on from our President.

    • Alex Pearlman

      Hi Reeegan, thanks for your comment. I wasn’t trying to say that Stewart and Colbert should be anywhere near compared to the O’Donnells and Boehner’s who are politicians – these two don’t run for office. There is no one, really, that I can think of that they can even be compared to.

      They are thought leaders, more than political leaders, which is how I think you’re interpreting this. I don’t want them to lead a political party. They are leaders in the quest for a return to a rational, sensible, sane national debate on the issues that matter, as opposed to the completely irrational national debate regarding the President’s birth certificate, for example. And they should continue doing exactly what they’re doing – I’m just asking for a slight departure on Oct. 30.

      Meanwhile, the President, who is, yes, the leader of the Democratic party, the U.S. armed forces, and a dwindling number of Americans, plays politics, panders to the right, caves on his ideals and allows himself to be sandbagged by a hostile GOP instead of keeping the promises he made to the people who elected him.

      And I’m sorry, but appearing in Congress was enough to call attention to the migrant workers issue. Just being there accomplished that. He didn’t need to be ridiculous. Call me old fashioned, but I think he should have reined himself in (at least a little) and shown some respect – even if some Congresspeople don’t.

      • reeegan

        Happy to join in the convo!

        I disagree he was being ridiculous. If you have the time, go do some digging on Mark Twain, if you haven’t already, they’re dead on replicas of his type of satire. He was extremely important during an excruciatingly difficult time, very similar to what we have now.

        Also, I’m curious about this notion of returning to a time of rational debate. When might you mean?

        • Alex Pearlman

          I agree with you about Mark Twain, the difference being, Twain was ever-so-eloquent: “[An author] goes on publishing the book and as many of his confederates as choose to go into the conspiracy do so, and they rear families in affluence. And they continue the enjoyment of those ill-gotten gains generation after generation forever, for they never die.

          Compared to: “I don’t want a tomato picked by a Mexican. I want it picked by an American, then sliced by a Guatemalan, and served by a Venezuelan in a spa, where a Chilean gives me a Brazilian.” Ridiculous. (Not that I didn’t laugh. I did.)

          And I’ve been watching a lot of the John Adams miniseries, so I believe my notion of the time of rational debate is slightly fictionalized, but even if it never happened and we can’t “return to it” per se, it would be nice to fight for.

  3. Scott Templeman

    I would vote for Stephen Colbert in a heart beat, and there is a reason the Democrats in SC pulled technicalities to keep him off the ballot, many others would too. Despite his on TV persona and relentless sarcasm the man is brilliant. He’s an intellectual who was raised with a strong respect for critical thinking– critical thinking is an aspect severely lacking in our nation’s politics. Another aspect that shines through is that he is a true patriot, who loves his country. I’ll take relentless sarcasm over the boatload of bullshit you get from the mainstream any day. And if guys like Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert can digest and present the bullshit in a way such that people on both sides of the issues will pay attention and actually think, then I am all for it. Colbert’s a classy intelligent guy, and I’d be shocked if he didn’t ultimately hold political office

    • SC

      Do you know Stephen Colbert’s political positions? Not what you *think* they are, not what his so-called satire *implies* they may be, but the real Stephen Colbert: the public doesn’t know really much at all of what he thinks and believes. Colbert’s professional act is planned that way, and those who watch him fills in their own blanks on what the “real” Stephen Colbert is like.

      Your vote in a heartbeat for Colbert would be a vote for an image, not a real man. You assume is that’s he’s different than his character without any real knowledge of how he’s different, or what the differences are. You have no idea if you’d agree with his real, personal viewpoints and opinions. But a deliberately obscured satirist persona is good enough for political office?

      This kind of thinking is not much different than the type of unquestioning acceptance and faith the Tea Party or other groups hold in its leaders, the very type of sentiment Colbert fans like to jeer and find foolish. I believe the Rally4Sanity is a protest of exactly this kind of thinking.

      • Angela

        There was actually a very good profile of Colbert in Rolling Stone a while ago (we’re talking probably a year back) regarding that very thing — that his character’s views and beliefs aren’t necessarily his own, but that he’s very quiet when it comes to giving us the differences. I believe it was this issue: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/8818/52652 If you can find it, it’s a great read.

      • Tom Miesen

        Isn’t every vote a vote for an “image,” not a real person? They’re all actors…Colbert is just open about it.

  4. Dan V

    I also do not agree with your position on him being an idiot in front of Congress. It drew attention to an issue that no one was talking about.

    In addition, I take issue with the notion that “We’ve been screaming about it in protest, but no one hears.” When? Where? Blog posts and status updates are one thing, but I don’t remember any instances of large scale activism in our generation for any issue. It seems that facebook privacy settings draw a more organized uproar than any important political issues.

    • Alex Pearlman

      There are a couple big issues our generation has gotten strongly behind, and launched full-scale activist campaigns – for the legalization of gay marriage and gay rights and the legalization of marijuana.

      Next on the list of issues close to the heart of this generation is education. But you’re right, to my knowledge there hasn’t been a big push for education reform.

  5. Quasi Dad

    Alex, great post, only one tiny flaw. the hope and excitement for the rally/march is not limited to your generation. My old fart friends and peers are also excited. I missed whatever silliness last week caused you to pen this, but the rest of it is perfect.


  6. kathy

    Like so many in the media, you are making a comment based on your perceptions and know nothing of the background. Colbert (in character) accepted the challenge by the United Farm Worker’s to “Take Our Jobs,” and participated in a two part segment where he was a day laborer. During that time he met with Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California to discuss migrant worker issues.

    I’m not sure why she would invite him to testify, but she certainly brought exposure to the issue because of Colbert’s testimony. Now you want him to not come in character because “We are serious about fixing this country. And we hope you are too. You have the momentum and influence to seriously affect change.”

    His momentum is there because people think the Democrats and Republicans are out of touch. If you are waiting for Colbert or Stewart to stir people to your side, you are desperate. This is nothing more than a fun rally meant to “take it down a notch.” If you are serious about changing this country, then quit trying to find salvation in people and get out of our cubicle and do it yourself. What are YOU doing to change the world?

    • Alex Pearlman

      Hi Kathy, thanks for reading and for your comment. But, you’re a little off-base here. Of course I am aware of the background of Colbert’s testimony and why he was asked to appear before Congress – it was precisely because he has the star power to bring attention to the issue. And I’m really glad he did. I grew up in California and I know how totally screwed up the migrant worker situation is.

      My point is that I want him to bring attention to issues such as that one – and he (and Jon Stewart) can, precisely because of the star he is. I just would prefer that he do it as himself, Stephen Colbert the person, not Stephen Colbert the character. And the parts of his testimony that were heartfelt and in earnest were, sadly, overshadowed by the clownish antics.

      And yes, I’m desperate. Aren’t you? Don’t you think the Dems and GOP are out of touch and that the system is utterly broken? If you don’t, I’d be shocked. I don’t want people on my side. I want the people who have a voice of reason and are already equipped to use it to do so. And I want people who are apathetic to get out and use their voices too.

      You know what I’m doing on Oct. 30? What I did a couple weeks ago? A couple months ago? I got out and did something. And I will continue to work for a better America. My cubicle is boring – I leave it as often as possible. What are you doing?


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