Title

"Racism is Solved!” A Fake Conservative’s Guide to Social Justice

Class Year

2014

Access Type

Archival Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Media Studies Program

First Advisor

Tarik Elseewi

Second Advisor

Colleen Cohen

Abstract

Under the cloak of a character who is as ignorant as he is conservative, Stephen Colbert delivers snaps-worthy “truthiness”-insights that often shine a light to mainstream systemic forms of oppression by embodying their very nature. In my thesis, I acknowledge efforts made by Stephen Colbert to deconstruct mainstream political news media in a way that highlights its oppressive and often propagandistic qualities. I argue that satire, compared to other forms of entertainment, is unique in that it allows for astute social commentary through comedy, appealing to a wide range of audiences from those who are interested in being entertained, to those looking for a space of catharsis in an otherwise problematic stream of news and entertainment. I focus on the way in which The Colbert Report addresses topics of race, gender, and sexuality through his satirical portrayal of real life examples of bigotry, and what this means for the state of political news media. My research includes social psychological studies that investigate the effects of political satire on its consumers, as well as criticisms of the show and Stephen Colbert’s specific comedic methods. I ultimately argue that The Colbert Report‘s method of interweaving social critique and humor is a powerful tool in corralling public engagement in political dialogue for the sustenance of America’s egalitarian democracy, whether the satirist aims to incite social change or provide an artistic outlet for criticisms.

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