Stephen Colbert is an American comedian, writer, producer, actor and television host who gained fame as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s news satire programs The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. He currently hosts the Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS.
Colbert is known for his over-the-top conservative pundit character that he portrayed on The Colbert Report. This character was meant to satirize actual cable news pundits such as Bill O’Reilly. However, over the years, Colbert has garnered a fair share of critics and detractors. Here are some of the main reasons why some people dislike or even hate Stephen Colbert:
Reasons Why People Dislike Stephen Colbert
His Brand of Humor is Not Universally Appealing
Stephen Colbert’s comedy tends to be very deadpan, ironic and dry. He relies heavily on satire, parody and sarcasm to make his points. This cerebral brand of humor does not appeal to everyone’s taste. Some find it elitist, smug or condescending. His over-the-top pundit character can come across as arrogant and self-aggrandizing to those not familiar with satire.
Perceived Liberal Bias
Colbert’s personal politics skew liberal and some of his satire has a decidedly left-leaning slant. This has led conservative viewers to accuse Colbert of having a liberal bias. They feel Colbert reserves his sharpest satire for conservative politicians and policies while going softer on liberal ones.
Style Change After Moving to The Late Show
Fans of The Colbert Report grew accustomed to Stephen’s buffoonish faux conservative pundit character. So when he switched to hosting the more traditional late night talk show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he dropped the character. This change of style did not sit well with some of his long-time fans who missed his previous persona’s brand of satire.
Making Light of Serious Issues
Colbert’s critics argue that he often makes jokes about serious political, social and cultural issues just to get a laugh. They feel this diminishes the seriousness of these issues. For example, his satirical take on the Washington Redskins naming controversy was seen by some as insensitive and a form of verbal blackface.
Some detractors believe Colbert’s satire mocks and berates those he disagrees with in a divisive manner. His fiery monologues against President Trump and Republicans appeal to his liberal base but further alienate conservatives. This just adds to the highly polarized political climate.
Critics on both sides of the political aisle have accused Colbert of having an elitist, Ivy League attitude. Some dislike the fact that his show caters to urban intellectuals rather than Middle America. His bookish, cultured persona strikes some as smug and pretentious.
Counter Arguments in Favor of Stephen Colbert
However, there are also good counter arguments in favor of Stephen Colbert’s brand of humor:
Using Satire to Speak Truth to Power
Colbert uses satire to cleverly criticize those in power – politicians, media figures, business leaders. His exaggerated persona mocks the ego, hypocrisy and doublespeak of certain public figures. Smart satire can cut through issues and reveal uncomfortable truths.
Not Meant to be Taken Literally
Colbert’s wild persona and statements are meant to be taken figuratively, not literally. Viewers should view his humor through the lens of satire and irony rather than take his words at face value. Unfortunately, some miss the nuance.
While seen as liberal, Colbert does aim his satire across the political spectrum. He has mocked left-leaning politicians like Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang. He even testified in character before a Democratic-led House committee in 2010.
Behind the jokes, Colbert’s material often provides wry social commentary on topical issues like campaign finance, gun control and political polarization. Humor allows people to engage with difficult subjects in an accessible, thoughtful way.
Not Everyone Gets Satire
Satire is an acquired taste that appeals mainly to the politically aware and media literate. Those unfamiliar with satire may miss the underlying message and take jokes literally. That is more a failure of the audience rather than the comedian per se.
Key Factors Why Stephen Colbert is So Divisive
Several key factors help explain why Stephen Colbert evokes such strong reactions from both admirers and critics:
His Faux Conservative Persona
Colbert’s exaggerated caricature of a narcissistic, dogmatic conservative pundit struck a nerve with some on the right. While intended as satire, some felt it promoted ugly stereotypes about conservatives.
Rise of Polarized Politics
Colbert rose to fame in an era of increasing political tribalism. His pointed satire fed into perceptions of a widening cultural divide between liberal coastal elites and heartland conservatives.
Spread of Satire Beyond Comedy Circles
Satire once circulated among niche comedy and political circles. But in the internet age, Colbert’s viral satirical takes reached wider, more mixed audiences, confusing those unfamiliar with the genre.
People’s Diverse Sense of Humors
Humor is highly subjective. The style, tone and content of satire appeal to some personalities while rubbing others the wrong way. Colbert’s cerebral irony may delight some but alienate others.
Blurring of Comedy and News
Cable news and late night comedy have increasingly blurred into infotainment and political satire. This has led some to feel Colbert promotes his partisan views under the guise of comedy.
Prominence in Politically Divided Times
Colbert rose to the top rank of late night hosts just as the nation elected one of his favorite satirical targets – Donald Trump. This amplified perceptions of him as a liberal partisan during an intensely polarized era.
In the end, whether you love him or hate him, Stephen Colbert’s sharp satire and exaggerated persona have made him one of the most recognizable and divisive comedic voices in America. His fans see him speaking truth to power through smart, ironic humor. His critics view him as an elitist, liberal propagandist adding to the nation’s partisan rancor.
Yet he continues to successfully walk that fine line between comedy and social commentary. His ability to attract loyal fans on one end and harsh skeptics on the other demonstrates his talent for creating compelling comedic content – even if it rubs some people the wrong way. Colbert’s unique brand of satire may not be for everyone, but it has undeniably left an impact on the modern media landscape.
Table – Reasons People Dislike/Like Stephen Colbert
| Reasons People Dislike Stephen Colbert | Counter Arguments in Favor of Stephen Colbert | |-|-|-|
| Brand of humor not universally appealing | Using satire to speak truth to power | | Perceived liberal bias | Not meant to be taken literally |
| Style change after The Late Show | Bipartisan targets | | Making light of serious issues | Social commentary | | Promotes divisiveness | Not everyone gets satire |
Why do some conservatives dislike Stephen Colbert?
Some conservatives feel Colbert reserves his sharpest satire exclusively for conservative figures while going easier on liberals. His faux conservative pundit persona promotes ugly stereotypes in their view. They see his humor as smug, elitist and divisive.
Why did some fans dislike his switch to The Late Show?
Long-time fans of The Colbert Report were used to his buffoonish fake pundit character. So they disliked when he dropped the character and adopted a more genuine style for the mainstream late show audience.
What issues do critics have with his brand of humor?
Critics feel his ironic, deadpan satire comes across as arrogant, pretentious and condescending. They also argue he makes light of serious issues just to get laughs from his liberal base.
Why do some find Colbert elitist?
Detractors on both sides see Colbert as an elitist pandering to urban intellectuals with his bookish references. His educated Northeastern persona strikes some as smug and pretentious.
How does Colbert’s rise coincide with political polarization?
Colbert gained fame in an era of increasing partisanship. His pointed satire plays into perceptions of a widening cultural gap between liberal elites and conservatives.