Tender

Tender

Friday, March 2, 2012

A letter to Stephen Colbert

I diverge from my normal meandering to publish a letter to Stephen Colbert, which I might not publish if I thought he might actually read it, and would definitely not publish if I didn't think he might actually read it (going on my theme that none of this is possible, so really, anything is possible...) You can read it if you want. 

Dear Stephen Colbert,

Six months ago I discovered your show. I became such an immediate and ardent fan that I went back as far as I could find online and watched all of your shows, one after another, for the past year until I caught up. It’s an interesting perspective, like watching a flower bloom in fast-forward.

I’ve wanted to reach out for some time, but recognize I’m just a crank. Still, it’s hard to watch you and not say anything. When Christiane Amanpour implied that your work is not serious, for example, I saw an instant of eternal disappointment that people you respect STILL don’t understand how deadly serious you are with this work you do. I saw how the humans can still pierce your heart. Or maybe it was just the light on your glasses. In any case, I wished I could give you a hug.

So, William Shatner. At first, I thought he was just putting on the hostility. When he stood and stole your applause before the interview even started, I smiled at his showmanship. When he jockeyed for power within the first 20 seconds, and won, I thought, “oh, no.” You know where it went from there. He smelled blood in the water, and a guy like that is always on. He may have been putting it on, but he was also sending you a message.

It actually reminded me of how you lampooned Michael Moore awhile back. He clearly was not on his game, and you went for the kill. Granted, you brought him back soon after and gave him a better outlet, but still. The thing is, when that happened, I thought to myself, Michael Moore is tired. He is worn out being the only guy out there on the front lines yelling. 

It’s the same thing I’ve been wondering about you. Mr. Colbert, I have to ask, is your heart still in it? How long can you keep finding ways to show the world itself without seeing real change, and keep it fresh? I thought you were getting a bit tired around Christmas, and after. You took a little vacation and came back gunning – I actually cheered. Now, it’s back to book pushing and easy marks. I don’t deny there are bursts of genius in there, and I laugh every show. You are a charismatic showman. It’s just…

William Shatner. That guy is always on. That was his message, perhaps. You’ve maybe been coasting a little. Relying on your notes. Failing to build rapport pre-interview. Doing some prep on the book or the show, but not on the guest? Letting your people do more of the writing, maybe? I’m just guessing.

The thing is, William Shatner expected more from you. He reminded me of Yoda’s head-shaking irritation at a young, bull-headed Skywalker. This was supposed to be an interview with one of the best, Stephen Colbert, and it was just too easy for him to take control.

William Shatner is a man who exudes pride in all he does, from Beatles covers to Bran. I think he was telling you to get back on your game. Maybe he was saying: you should have been more prepared for William Shatner. He was questioning your work ethic.

He was giving you a gift, the way the Pride Leader tests his underlings with claws only half out, but out.

Stephen Colbert, you are a genius. You rock my world every day for 22 minutes and I admire you as my favourite pro player in the sport I like watching – the battle for the direction of the human species. Thank you for everything you bring, every day, for your creativity and passion, for using your influence to shine a light. I know you can make the most of the gift Mr. Shatner bestowed on you. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

All the best,
Cheryl


3 comments:

  1. I share your love for Stephen, but actually I had a different take on it. Shatner came out swinging, and Stephen tried his best to save the interview from turning nasty by praising him to the skies. (I've been watching since 2006 and there have been some awkward moments...Stephen saves his best aggression for politicians and partisan hacks.) In the end Shatner came out looking kinda douchey to me--it may be put-on douchey, but he did steal Stephen's usual role. But I guess everyone has their own interpretations of interviews.

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  2. MrsWhich (Cheryl)March 4, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    Thanks, Anonymous (?)- I love your interpretation. I hope most people see it that way, especially the sponsors!

    I found Shatner came off as a bit of a bully top dog with a sense of ironic humour, which I believe is precisely how he likes to come off. I didn't really appreciate Shatner making a game of it, but once he did, he set the tone and came off the way he wanted. Colbert had to follow and take the subservient role. There were a few moments when they almost hit a matched frequency, and could have had a fun interview in stride, but they ended up near misses. It was like they were energetically in friction before they even started.

    I completely agree that Shatner came off as a bit of a bully, but I don't think he minds that image much. Colbert came off as a bit of a supplicant, and I don't think that's how he likes to come off. I wish it hadn't been a game, but it was, and I felt Colbert lost.

    Still, I come back to your point of view and it has an appeal. It makes me like Colbert better for his humanness, and feel less judgey about the outcome. THANK YOU!

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  3. Update: A week's vacation does a month of good!

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