A cynical view of Stephen Colbert’s sunnyness


Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blinder, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us.Cynics always say no. But saying yes begins things. Saying yes is how things grow. Saying yes leads to knowledge. Yes is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say yes.

Stephen Colbert

Wow, who knew that America was beset by an epidemic of cynical youth? Young people are always accused of being way too idealistic. It’s funny because you’d think that cynicism would be the proper response in a country that has been led by George W. Bush for eight years because you know the word at its worst is what caused his party to nominate him twice. Cynicism isn’t some jaded act of rebellion it’s critical thought, which means when people stop lying and being selfish I’m all for it elimination. Someone string up those cynics who said there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

I’m pretty sure that Stephen Colbert graduated from Northwestern the same year that I did. I don’t watch his show, maybe I’m jealous that everything I never had the courage to try he went out and achieved. Stephen Colbert has like 1500 My Space Pages, one even has 8 different Stephen Colbert’s as his top My Space friends. So clearly, if personal self achievement is a pre-requisite for you, perhaps you should dismiss the following outright.

My Match.com profile is labeled “Hopelessly Romantic Cynic” and I’m a bit offended. You know not offended enough to sue or vote, it’s not like he called me the K word on national television or anything, but there’s plenty of people out there that have impacted the world far worse than us cynics.

There’s some stuff in that quote I can get behind. After all My Match.com profile describes me as more obsessed with John Lennon than Mark David Chapman, and Lennon did write “Yes is the answer and you know that for sure” in Mind Games, most recently warbled by Kevin Spacey, who was so impressed by his own performance that he filmed an homage to Bobby Darin, insisted on doing the singing himself, and then for some reason went out on tour to please, well himself, and the twelve people out there who would rather hear Mack the Knife and Beyond the Sea than Hound Dog and Jailhouse Rock.

So yeah there’s some nice stuff there, but really isn’t that just a hipper way for old people to tell the young people they don’t understand. Is he trying to inspire his collegiate fans or is he condescendingly repeating the same generational “When you’ve been on this earth as long as me” scolding everyone has been beat over the head with since the beginning of time.

Compare Stephen’s thoughts on youth to Bob Dylan’s as he accepts a free speech award in 1963.

I haven’t got any guitar, I can talk though. I want to thank you for the Tom Paine award on behalf of everybody that went down to Cuba. First of all because they’re all young and it’s took me a long time to get young and now I consider myself young. And I’m proud of it. I’m proud that I’m young. And I only wish that all you people who are sitting out here today or tonight weren’t here and I could see all kinds of faces with hair on their head – and everything like that, everything leading to youngness, celebrating the anniversary when we overthrew the House Un-American Activities just yesterday, – Because you people should be at the beach. You should be out there and you should be swimming and you should be just relaxing in the time you have to relax. It is not an old peoples’ world. It is not an old peoples’ world. It has nothing to do with old people. Old people when their hair grows out, they should go out. And I look down to see the people that are governing me and making my rules – and they haven’t got any hair on their head – I get very uptight about it.

About 30 seconds later Bob was booed off the dais by the very people who were honoring him after sharing perhaps way “too soon” how he sort of empathized with Lee Harvey Oswald. Now this was perhaps a questionable move by Bob, but perhaps the greatest illustration of American hypocrisy of all time. He was after all being given THE FREE SPEECH award.

Or as the sorely missed Joe Strummer once wrote “You have the right to free speech as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it.”

Colbert would probably trot out everyone’s favorite Mark Twain quote to prove his point.

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

This however would be an extremely cynical perversion of Twain’s beliefs. You know sort of like when Rush Limbaugh does his best to convince you that Martin Luther King died so we wouldn’t have affirmative action.

If you can find a bigger cynic than Samuel Clemens (the really pretentious way to refer to Mark Twain) in the history of America, I’ll gladly watch 500 straight hours of the Colbert Report without food or bathroom facilities.

Twain also said “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

Twain wasn’t a guy running around with “self-imposed blinders.” He wasn’t a guy who didn’t learn anything. Twain was a Romantic. He like Dylan was somebody who knew things and didn’t keep them to himself so as not to bring down all the positive people’s vibe. Cynics have the guts to say that there are things that they know to be true even before they are old enough to get a discount at the movies or on their morning coffee at McDonald’s.

Cynics aren’t afraid that the world “will hurt or disappoint us.” It already has repeatedly and continues to unabatedly and we continue to be stupid enough to think that maybe it doesn’t have to be this way. Cynics are the ones that do their best to point out how beautiful the world could be if all these over motivated wealth and power obsessed “old” people weren’t out there increasing the net misery in the world by invading each other’s countries, or killing each other because they disagree about the other’s version of God, despite the fact that both of them seemed in favor of that Thou Shalt not Kill statute. Old people are like Sumner Redstone and Rupert Murdoch, who apparently still don’t have enough money or power to do the world a favor and relax for a for seconds.

It’s true old people are the one’s that do the educating in this country. Because even the best school is basically a place where the current generation tells the incoming generation how they’ve finally solved all the strife and non-sense in the world.

Yeah, the Indians we basically eliminated them all. We’re not like that anymore.

Yeah, we enslaved Blacks. We’re not like that anymore.

We then continued to discriminate against Blacks. You know we wouldn’t let them drink out of the same water fountains as we did and yeah every once in a while we would lynch one or two.

We did have these camps where we put Japanese people. It was a scary time.  

Ok, we did put people on black lists when they sounded too much like communists.

Yeah, the city of Chicago and the FBI assassinated Fred Hampton in his sleep. We don’t really want to name a street after him, but we aren’t like that anymore.

Ok, we did murder innocent women and children, when we felt that they didn’t sympathize with the faction we supported because they shared our anti-Soviet views no matter how corrupt, insipid or evil they happened to be.

Oh, and don’t forget, America, greatest country of all time. Always has been, always will be.

Now how wise is it exactly to continuously fall for that same “We’re not as bad as our fathers were” line over and over again.

America is an unfulfilled promise written by hypocrites with a keen sense of propaganda and a bent sense of humor. At times it lurched forward and became a better more humane place and in almost every single circumstance it was because a young cynic came along and said not only “No,” but more importantly had the guts to say “No more!”

The cynics of the world have read enough history to know that in twenty years we’ll find out a mind numbing mountain of evil, short sighted, corrupt, and down right illegal things the old people in charge are currently guilty of perpetrating, because that’s what has happened every twenty years since our secular Gods dared King George to string them up, and we dare to risk bringing everyone down to point it out.

Go back and take a look at the last 250 or so years of American History, and see which side the cynics like Twain who didn’t understand racial intolerance were on, check out which side Bob Dylan was on when he wrote “Masters of War,” then take a look at which side the “Yes” men were on and tell me who really is wearing the “self imposed blinders.”

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