Bozell Column: Colbert Shreds Sunday School
Christmas is coming, which means it’s time for Comedy Central to begin besmirching the holiday. This year’s first salvo is “A Colbert Christmas,” hosted by the clueless-ultraconservative buffoon persona played by Stephen Colbert. Colbert is so busy manufacturing his O’Reillyesque right-wing jerk that it’s impossible to tell where the real man and the cartoon diverge. His adoring entourage in the secular press tries to smooth over his satires of Christianity by insisting he’s a Sunday school-teaching Catholic family man. Colbert told the Associated Press that he thinks his Christmas special is “sincerely strange, but strangely sincere.”
Why do men like this say such insincere things when promoting their shows? That claim of sincerity vanishes within the first 30 seconds, when Colbert proclaims in his white cardigan and red turtleneck that he’s so excited for his Christmas special he’s "sporting a Yule log" and gets out a baseball bat and promises to provide a "freshly hobbled Tiny Tim." I’m guessing that slogan is also ruined by the scene where he tongue-kisses a bear under the mistletoe.
The real agenda emerges when Colbert’s Christmas-cabin set is visited by country singer Toby Keith. There’s a war on Christmas, Keith proclaims, and liberals are going to be dead when it’s over. He sings "Separate church and state, that’s what some lawyer said / I say we separate him from his head." Keith also sings, "You can call me un-Christian, but that’s not true. Buddy, I’ve got a present for you." Then, the audience sees a house exploding, and Santa and two little kids laughing at the violence implied. After another verse, in which church-state separation is "what some liberal said," the "present" is getting shot by Keith, who then jokes "Hope it’s the right size." He sings about Santa dropping bombs: "Saint Toby’s got one, too, for the ACLU." The footage turns to mushroom clouds.
The lyrics (written by "Daily Show" executive producer David Javerbaum) are not what you would call subtle (or intelligent) about those bullying Christians. The song jokes that idiotic Colbert-clone conservatives think Santa Claus and Uncle Sam are one and the same, "so boys, take aim." Perhaps this joking about slaying the unbelievers might warm the hearts of those who equate Christians with blood-thirsty Muslim radicals. I’m sure Rosie O’Donnell gives it two thumbs up.
Some might think the Keith routine mocks self-proclaimed culture warriors more than the Christmas story itself. But next, Willie Nelson appears as a marijuana-smoking fourth wise man in Colbert’s table-top Nativity set. "Right now, I’m so high, you’re hallucinating," says the special-effects-shrunken country star.
Nelson sings a "Little Dealer Boy" carol, touting the spiritual benefits of marijuana smoking, complete with lines like "Good will to men lies in this bong." The "wonder weed" of marijuana flowering looks like "that special star above." Nelson sings: "The wise men started tokin’ and yea, the bud was kind / It was salvation they were smoking, and his forgiveness blew their mind." Colbert sings along, joking "I’m gonna tell your savior."
Let’s hope Stephen the Sunday school teacher doesn’t try showing this DVD at church. But as usual with satirists, he is cynical and hypocritical. Colbert proclaimed a while back on "60 Minutes" that he never lets his children watch his shows, because they don’t get his irony. He just makes them so that everyone else’s children are instructed to laugh along.
Some of the satire is more subtle or implied. John Legend sings about the necessity of nutmeg in his eggnog with salacious soul lyrics urging his woman to "lick the nutmeg off my ladle." When he leaves Colbert’s cabin, he insists he’s "gonna go find a Meg so I can nut it." On reflection, there’s not much subtlety on that end note.
The pop singer Feist appears as an angel and pokes fun at prayer, claiming prayers are answered by the next available heavenly operator in the order they were offered. As she wears a headset, she sings: "Please be patient, an angel will be with Thee shortly," and "please continue to hold" for an "authorized prayer technician."
As the show ends, Colbert and the singer Elvis Costello sing a half-earnest song about believing in the Christmas spirit, which includes this line about much worse things to believe in: "Believe in the judgment, believe in Jihad / Believe in a thousand variations on a dark and spiteful God."
Once again, Comedy Central merges together Christianity and Islam like they were two different brands of poison. If Colbert doesn’t believe that God judges people when they die, why is he teaching children at church? What has he been teaching? Certainly not the passages about judgment all over the Bible. More to the point: What Catholic parish in its right mind would allow this man to teach religion to its children?