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Soft News Programming: A Pentadic Analysis of Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report

February 4, 2013 Comments off

Soft News Programming: A Pentadic Analysis of Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report (PDF)

Source: Texas Tech University (David N. Braz; Thesis in Communications Studies)

Colbert’s parodic performance has set him out apart from other soft news formats in that he never breaks character. This allows Colbert to take his parody to the extreme on any view or subject and to either side of the political spectrum. This unique position Colbert has attained opens a discursive door for him to lead his audience through those other entertainers cannot access simply by the virtue of his extreme positions. This is highlighted by Colbert’s ability to provide a substantial amount of information on the districts he covers with BKAD. He utilizes jokes and irony to inform his audience about cultural practices, historical events, economic conditions and diversity of the districts. To not use this position of influence to encourage positive change is a lost resource for the improvement of democracy.

The very attribute that helps Colbert achieve this position is the attribute that prevents him from walking through that discursive door with the audience. If Colbert were to break his character, then he would no longer be separating himself from the rest of the soft news programs and would be relegated to equal status amongst them. This in turn would reduce the appeal of Colbert’s humor and parody to his audience. The decision to maintain his character at all costs has provided him with the voice to draw attention to all the political positions, tactics, and social perceptions that he wishes the audience to reject. Without a specific alternative for the audience to grasp onto, they are likely to return to these very ideas Colbert tries to have them reject.

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