A 2009 study found that people tend to interpret ambiguous political satire according to their own views and self-image. This has enormous implications for satirical programs mocking democratic behavior, produced by media conglomerates that support Internet censorship. (The following is an essay that I was not able to place with a magazine, but still wanted to share with the world. Feel free to re-post on your blog or website, in accordance with the Creative Commons license. Just give me credit and link back here.)
“The revolutionaries of any decade will become the reactionaries of the next decade, if they do not change their nervous system, because the world around them is changing. He or she who stands still in a moving, racing, accelerating age, moves backwards relatively speaking.” – Robert Anton Wilson, Prometheus Rising (1)
On Thursday, December 1, 2011, Stephen Colbert addressed the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill currently under consideration in U.S. Congress, on his late-night political satire program The Colbert Report (pronounced “Cole-bare Ree-pore”). Fight for the Future, a group coordinating the push against SOPA and Protect-IP (a similar bill being considered; the “IP” stands for “intellectual property”), says that such a bill would allow the government to shut down websites for any copyright infringement, while making it a felony to stream copyrighted content without permission. (2) According to PCWorld, the government could also restrict access to foreign sites with the help of Internet service providers (ISPs), or block advertising and payment services from working with the sites. (3) The result, as anyone with a cursory understanding of the issue can predict, would be a drastic reduction our free speech rights and possible damage to the DNS system upon which the Internet depends.
Some critics of the proposed bills regard this Colbert episode as important national coverage. After all, if SOPA passes, it would possibly be the worst change at the federal level – by which I mean, bringing the worst consequences for our democracy, our culture, and our individual lives – since the 2010 Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited corporate and union spending in political campaigns under the guise of “free speech.” (4) What those critics do not realize is that a large portion of Colbert’s audience probably missed the point about the proposed intellectual property bills.
A 2009 study from Ohio State University evaluated the way that political beliefs affect a viewer’s perception of both humor and the host’s intentions in The Colbert Report. The peer-reviewed journal article by LaMarre, et al, called “The Irony of Satire: Political Ideology and the Motivation to See What You Want to See in The Colbert Report,” says that “conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements.” (5) However, according to the authors, self-identified “conservatives” and “liberals” (measured on a seven-point range) both found Colbert equally funny.
This would come as a devastating surprise to many of Colbert’s viewers. Since his show’s launch in late 2005, when he split from his role in The Daily Show (which itself is known as a “fake news program,” hosted by comedian Jon Stewart), Colbert has built a devoted audience by supposedly pretending to be a “right-wing” or “conservative” news pundit. Such viewers see The Colbert Report as a satire program, and therefore a contribution to “progressive,” “liberal,” or “left-wing” political movements. That’s because satire involves “wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly” (6) – so a satire program about a “conservative” news pundit would inherently be produced with the intention of denouncing “conservative” views, not promoting them.
Satire has long been viewed as an important part of free expression in all societies that aspire or claim to be democratic. It’s a sneaky way of pointing out the absurdities and hypocrisies in any culture that thinks of itself as more advanced or accomplished than it really is. As the study authors point out, “governments and institutions have banned political satire on the grounds that it challenges and pushes the status quo.” (7) Of course, this isn’t just a matter of bipartisan (or bipolar) politics. Another historical purpose of satire has been to fight the consolidation and abuse of power. Thus, we live in a very strange time, when some of the most powerful media conglomerates in the world produce some of the most-watched satirical content.
In present-day America, one can easily find satire created in the highest echelons of the entertainment industry. In addition to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Comedy Central also produces the long-running animated show South Park, created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone in 1997. And midway through the last decade, the network had a huge hit with Chappelle’s Show, starring comedian Dave Chappelle. Furthermore, feature films have offered a consistent supply of sharp satire, often gaining international distribution due to the style’s popularity. Recent examples include 2004’s Team America: World Police (created by the same duo responsible for South Park), and the major film spin-offs of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Da Ali G Show, 2006’s Borat and 2009’s Brüno (both directed by Larry Charles).
What sets The Colbert Report apart from some other satire is Stephen Colbert’s “deadpan” delivery, which the study authors distinguish from Jon Stewart’s presentation style on The Daily Show. A previous study found that Stewart “interjects commentary during segments, moves in and out of character, and even laughs at himself. …Stewart aids viewer interpretation by offering himself as an unambiguous source and providing external cues. In contrast…Colbert’s deadpan satire and commitment to character do not provide viewers with the external cues or source recognition that Stewart offers.” (8) This problem stems from the fact that satire is essentially a form of irony, a type of humor in which someone does not always say what one actually means.
Because deadpan satire has such ambiguous intentions and is usually presented as entertainment, it allows viewers to interpret the content based on their own political views – what the study authors call “biased information processing.” “Thus, with biased processing individuals actually see and hear different information depending on whether that information will help or hinder their personal goals and needs. Stated differently, biased processing goes beyond perceptions of whether the entertainment was realistic, or whether the media treated one side more fairly than the other…to an underlying cognitive process in which the information is interpreted, encoded, stored, and retrieved in a manner that most benefits that individual.” (9) (In my Reality Sandwich essay “Doublethink and the Mental Construction of Reality,” an excerpt from my upcoming debut book, I explore self-deception in quite a similar way.)
The results of the 2009 study suggest that ambiguous satire might actually reinforce someone’s preexisting political views, because the satire’s meaning can be evaluated so subjectively. In short, the satirist appears to be on the same side as the viewer, whichever side that is. Because of this either/or conundrum, the net effect is political polarization of the audience, which has been known since the late 1970s “to have negative consequences for our democracy,” according to LaMarre, et al. (10) But even in the 1930s, Alfred Korzybski warned (with his system of general semantics) that our either/or thought patterns disconnect us from the empirical universe and produce “un-sanity” in the world.
Knowing all this, it’s frightening to think that Colbert is more the rule of satire than the exception. What I mean is that few satirists or satirical programs break character or provide other interpretive hints the way Stewart does on The Daily Show. LaMarre, et al, cite another study from 1974 that performed a similar assessment of the television sitcom All in the Family, a show that featured a bigoted, under-educated patriarch named Archie Bunker. “It is noteworthy that the producer of All in the Family, Norman Lear, regarded the show as an effective weapon against bigotry and racism. Lear reasoned that audiences would see that Archie Bunker had convoluted logic and his counterpart, liberal son-in-law Mike, was the one who made sense. Instead, the show may have been perceived by audiences as condoning and even encouraging prejudice.” (11) Clearly the American public did not renounce Bunker, since, according to Wikipedia, TV Guide singled him out as “the greatest television character of all time.” (12)
As a child of the 1980s, I had no personal exposure to All in the Family – but based on this description (and some quick catch-up on YouTube), Bunker sounds like a template for the character Eric Cartman of the program South Park. Cartman, as the other child characters unanimously refer to him, consistently harps about “gays,” “tree-hugging hippies,” “minorities,” and other groups and cultural categories commonly considered “liberal” or “left-wing” (as Cartman might say, part of the “liberal establishment”). Similarly, he refers to his friend Kyle as a “stupid Jew,” denigrates his friend Kenny for being “poor,” and calls everyone around him “fags” and “homos.” Since South Park debuted in the fall of 1997, when I was 14 years old and just starting high school, I assumed that Cartman was a parody of close-minded people – which I would now describe as homophobes, xenophobes, “reactionaries,” “fascists,” and “arch-capitalists.” Now I’m not so sure.
The timeliest example of Cartman’s antics came in the season 15 episode entitled “1%,” which first aired on November 2, 2011. In the show, Cartman’s obesity brings down the whole school’s average fitness, resulting in a rigorous work-out program for all students – despite the fact that Cartman is the only one with a weight problem. (13) It starts as a subtle parody of the “99 percent” meme, which holds that the “one percent” of people in possession of society’s wealth – and, therefore, society’s power – has been solely responsible for the current economic recession, widespread environmental crisis, and gradual decreases in civil liberties, among other troubles. The episode’s premise, while harmless enough, soon leads to Cartman claiming that he’s being wrongfully persecuted because, as he says, “people voted for Obama, so now that everything sucks they have to blame me!” He calls the other students “the 99 percent” who are “occupying the cafeteria” (a reference to the international Occupy Movement), and argues that they “think it’s wrong to be pissed off at a black president, so you’re all just pissed off at me!” Cartman later seeks refuge with Token Black, the only African American kid on the show, because, in Cartman’s words, “in this day and age, black people are just impervious to being fucked with,” and “are somehow incapable of doing anything wrong.” Meanwhile the “99 percent” is portrayed as a psychopathic mob bent on vengeance.
In a 2006 interview with Reason Magazine, South Park creators Stone and Parker confirmed that they “hate” both “conservatives” and “liberals” (they first made a similar statement in 2001, implying that they have less hate for “conservatives” ), and agreed that the term “libertarian” fits their worldview. (15) In explanation, Stone said he doesn’t want anyone to “control my life” or “tell me what I should do.” And according to Parker, South Park “is saying that there is a middle ground, that most of us actually live in this middle ground, and that all you extremists are the ones who have the microphones because you’re the most interesting to listen to, but actually this group isn’t evil, that group isn’t evil, and there’s something to be worked out here.” In other words, Stone and Parker seem to believe solidly in the current dominant system of bipartisan politics. And they both certainly consider South Park an important contender in the ongoing fight for free speech, in light of the controversies caused when poking fun at sensitive groups, religious or otherwise.
Apparently neither Stone nor Parker have considered the potential negative repercussions of the kind of speech they use in South Park, wrongfully assuming that their work could, at worst, offend people. Cartman does seem to be a mostly satirical character – but it’s not uncommon for deadpan satire to mirror actual “conservative” pundits and politicians. For instance, plenty of real-life, self-identifying “right-wingers” would agree with Cartman’s (horribly ill-informed) claim that Obama could have, in his short time as President, significantly reduced the quality of life in the U.S. LaMarre, et al, note in their 2009 study that, while interviewing CNN’s Anderson Cooper on October 28, 2007, Stephen Colbert attacked global warming in similar terms used by “reactionary” radio host Rush Limbaugh. And the Colbert Report clip used in the study features Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! supporting her 2006 book Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back. In the short interview, Goodman discredits the effectiveness of embedding journalists with marines during foreign combat, particularly during the War in Iraq. The researchers discovered that, after watching the clip, “individual attitudes regarding embedded journalists were fully mediated by perceptions of Colbert’s opinion regarding embedded journalists.” (16) In other words, viewers were measurably influenced by what they perceived to be the views of the authority figure.
Dave Chappelle stands as a lone example of a satirist intuiting the broader effects that his brazen comedy could have on our culture. After two incredibly successful seasons of Chappelle’s Show in 2003 and 2004, Chappelle rejected his $50 million deal with Comedy Central and – just before the launch of season three in mid-2005 – disappeared to South Africa. TIME Magazine interviewed him to find out why he fled, and to clarify rumors that he had a drug problem or had suffered a mental breakdown (both rumors were false). “The crux of his crisis seems to boil down to his almost obsessive need to ‘check my intentions.’ He uses the phrase a few times during the interview and explains that it means really making sure that he’s doing what he’s doing for the right reasons.” (17) Then, in a 2006 interview with Anderson Cooper, Chappelle elaborated by revealing that he had reacted to someone on set while filming season three of his show. When performing a skit in blackface make-up, Chappelle cringed at the way a Caucasian person near him was laughing. “The way he laughed, it made me feel like this guy’s laughing for the wrong reasons. […] It stirred something up in me emotionally that I was like, I don’t want to subject anyone else to.” (18) The incident gave Chappelle the feeling that at least some of his satirical methods were, in his words, “socially irresponsible.”
Of course, Chappelle’s Show season one had already broken the all-time record of DVD sales for a TV show, beating out The Simpsons season one by moving over 2 million units before the end of 2004. (19) Many considered Chappelle’s Show to be an important soapbox for discussing difficult cross-cultural issues in a humorous way, especially when the show took on racism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry and inequality. Chappelle started off the program’s first season with a sketch about a blind “white supremacist” who doesn’t know he’s actually “black,” and that daring take on our culture’s sensitive topics set the tone for the whole series.
But even by season two, Chappelle was expressing concerns about the fall-out from his satirical comedy. In episode two of that season, he announced to the crowd, “Last season we started the series off with this sketch about a black white supremacist. Very controversial. Yes, very—it sparked this whole controversy about the appropriateness of the ‘n-word,’ the dreaded ‘n-word.’ And, you know—and then when I would travel, people would come up to me, like—white people would come up to me, like, [in a Southern voice] ‘Man, that sketch you did about them niggers, that was hila—’ [Chappelle recoils] ‘Take it easy! I was joking around!’ I started to realize that these sketches, in the wrong hands, are dangerous.” (20) He followed up in episode three: “…remember, whenever we do these racial commentaries, it’s always about the subtleties. We’re all part of the same human family. Our differences are just cultural.” (21) This was a rare case of a satirist providing interpretive clues for the audience, as LaMarre, et al, pointed out about Jon Stewart (a long-time friend of Chappelle’s).
That brings us back to Stephen Colbert’s coverage of SOPA on 12/1/2011, which seems much more ambiguous having learned about the LaMarre study. Colbert begins by quoting from news stories on the subject. With a straight face and an authoritative tone, he says, “The FBI reports that U.S. businesses lose [$200 to $250 billion] to counterfeiting on an annual basis.” (22) After a pause, he continues in a lighter tone: “And that is a shocking number, especially when you consider that the FBI admits it has no record of source data or methodology for generating the estimate, and that it cannot be corroborated.” This second line is what makes it satire, because it points to the “folly” of the proposed legislation. In other words, neither the copyright holders nor the government have a sure way to demonstrate that U.S. businesses are actually losing that amount of money due to copyright infringement (including “counterfeiting”). But because of Colbert’s “deadpan” style and advanced vocabulary, it’s not difficult to imagine that self-identifying “conservatives” simply didn’t notice, comprehend, or remember that sentence. That’s the basis of “biased information processing,” after all. LaMarre, et al, also say that understanding deadpan satire requires a high level of cognitive functioning, which is less prevalent during the passive consumption of entertainment. (23)
Colbert proceeds with some jokes about peer-to-peer file sharing that would likely be funny to both “liberals” and “conservatives” – only to finish on a note that sounds unambiguously “conservative.” He says, “Sadly piracy is just one of those crimes that everyone commits, like jaywalking or setting your ex-girlfriend’s couch on fire. But thankfully – thankfully Congress is finally taking action with the Stop Online Piracy Act. The bill, which is supported by all the big media companies, grants rights-holders the unfettered power to effectively kill websites.” Next comes another joke. Colbert says, “At last, we will bring swift and sure justice to hardened criminals on YouTube,” and then the viewer sees a home video clip of three girls dancing to a pop song. This last part may have been intended to criticize the aspect of SOPA that would make it a felony to “perform” copyrighted songs on the web without permission (normally it would be protected as a “fair use”). But with our newfound ability to transcend the satirical perspective, we can deduce that many viewers left under the impression that such social media activity actually is morally reprehensible – especially since Colbert ends by saying that such “offenders” would go to jail!
In another segment from the same episode, Colbert interviews two guests – one who approves of SOPA, and one who opposes it. (24) Colbert gives the “liberal” a harder time, but generally both sides get to state their viewpoint in a calm, civil manner. However, once the program is over, Colbert has still labeled critics of SOPA – regardless of whether they actually participate in copyright infringement – as thieves, criminals, pirates, etc. The underlying implication is that they are anti-American, anti-social, ungrateful of the consumer/capitalist economic system backed by the U.S. armed forces, a heretic, a lunatic, etc. And thanks to the LaMarre study, we have scientific evidence that self-identifying “conservatives” and people who don’t understand satire probably felt convinced by Colbert that SOPA and/or Protect-IP should pass! (For more on why copyright law is already broken, please see my RS essay “CC-BY: A Step into the Belated Future”)
But we’ve passed over an essential point. Colbert says that SOPA “is supported by all the big media companies.” He doesn’t say which companies, but Viacom – the owner of Comedy Central and, therefore, The Colbert Report – is one of them; so are the other major media conglomerates included in what’s called the “Big Six.” Ordered from least to most profitable, they are CBS Corporation ($13 billion profit in 2009), Viacom ($13.6 billion), Time Warner ($25.8 billion), News Corporation ($30.4 billion), The Walt Disney Company ($36.1 billion), and General Electric ($157 billion). (25) All six (along with 353 other companies and trade groups) signed a September 22 letter to U.S. Congress calling for “rogue sites legislation” – basically what Protect-IP or SOPA would be (NBCUniversal is on the list as a subsidiary of General Electric). (26) That means that The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, South Park, Chappelle’s Show (via syndication, rentals, and DVD sales), etc., are indirectly supporting potential bills like SOPA and Protect-IP. A program like The Daily Show is less to blame because it’s less ambiguous and less open to “biased information processing.” But it’s still part of Viacom, and Viacom supports this legislation that would make so much of the social media activity that has enriched our culture in unprecedented ways so much more illegal.
Notably, Stone and Parker of South Park actually approve of people downloading their content without paying. In the Reason Magazine interview, Matt Stone responded to a question about intellectual property by saying, “We’re always in favor of people downloading. Always.” (27) And Parker said, “We worked really hard making the show, and the reason you do it is because you want people to see it.” In line with those statements, people can stream full episodes of South Park for free on the website South Park Studios (though the site is still associated with Viacom). But unfortunately, the duo doesn’t have much to offer our troubled democratic process. When we synthesize these different elements, we find that Stone and Parker have – ironically, through the effect of their content – become the very extremists that they warn against! “It’s really what Team America is as well: taking an extremist on this side and an extremist on that side,” said Parker. “Michael Moore being an extremist is just as bad, you know, as Donald Rumsfeld. It’s like they’re the same person. It takes a fourth-grade kid to go, ‘You both remind me of each other.’”
The problem there is that only a fourth-grade kid would think Moore and Rumsfeld are equivalent, either as ideological individuals or as representations of different political parties. (If Stone and Parker ever made that argument about politicians or news pundits, or wrote it into their show, they might have a legitimate point.) In short, Stone and Parker seem anchored in the very mentality that they are often assumed to be lampooning – personified by Eric Cartman, and even sometimes Stan and Kyle (the more “rational” or “moderate” ones). Stone and Parker also appear to be projecting themselves into other authority figures in the show, like the news reporters in the “1%” episode who mock the “occupation” of a restaurant that might be causing people to becoming obese (remember, it’s a parody). I would argue that the Occupy Movement is a legitimate international outcry for full-functioning democracy, to provide basic life necessities and civil liberties for all human beings on Earth – but all the creators can South Park can do is point and giggle.
It’s telling that one of their favorite targets, Mr. Michael Moore, is actively involved with the Occupy Movement around the country. Whatever your opinion of his films, Moore is working to produce the most constructive possible outcome from what started as a totally spontaneous civic uproar. The “1%” South Park episode depicts protestors as clueless sheep. On the contrary, the majority of Occupy demonstrators have, all along, had an intimate knowledge of their primary purpose: to petition the U.S. government for grievances over the private acquisition of gargantuan sums of public money during and after the Crash of 2008, and to bring to justice those responsible.
On November 22, Moore published an article under the title “Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here?” that contains a clear and concise mission statement for the movement, and states “10 Things We Want.” One applies very specifically to our discussion: “Require corporations with more than 10,000 employees to restructure their board of directors so that 50% of its members are elected by the company’s workers. We can never have a real democracy as long as most people have no say in what happens at the place they spend most of their time: their job.” (28) As you might have guessed, every single one of the “Big Six” media conglomerates employs more than 10,000 people. (29) They range from Viacom with 10,900 employees, to General Electric with 287,000 employees (as of 2010 or 2011, in the different cases). If, for instance, Viacom’s employees elected half of its board of directors, programs that in effect encourage bigotry and harm our democratic process due to ambiguous political satire might not stay on the air very long.
I should emphasize that this is not a moral or ethical condemnation of South Park, but a socio-political and existential one. I don’t think their kind of speech should be outlawed, but we may have reached a point when such divisive media should be socially rejected. There’s even a valid argument that Viacom is unfairly influencing the American political process with ambiguous satire (though for now it’s legally protected, thanks to the 2010 Supreme Court decision) – an argument that wouldn’t exist if mere individuals distributed such content.
I’d like to close with a few other suggestions:
– Avoid using irony, sarcasm, or deadpan satire – or provide clarification (interpretive clues) after you do. The point is to say what you mean as often as possible. That means working to make your communication as clear as possible and to avoid miscommunications. After all, “free speech” only matters if we’re using it in a way that improves our democracy and the quality of all life. (Side note: seek out ways to pay creative workers directly if you support their methods, without going through “middle men” like the companies, as law professor and activist Lawrence Lessig has recommended.)
– Refuse to self-identify with political terms. The dominant bipartisan system has failed us and must be dismantled. Calling yourself a “liberal” or “conservative” allows others to define you based on their idea of what those terms mean. Try to look at every situation as unique and deserving of its own independent decision-making process. This would be in line with Korzybski’s general semantics.
– Occupy the media conglomerates! People are already protesting in plenty of ways besides just congregating in front of financial institutions. Let these media companies know that they are driving us to political extremes and harming our democratic process. Also let them know that you will not be consuming (i.e., watching or buying) their products if they continue to support legislation such as SOPA or Protect-IP, since those would make felons out of millions of otherwise innocent people. Tell them that we’re ready to grow up!
- Visit AmericanCensorship.org and follow instructions on how to fight bills like SOPA and Protect-IP!
The Reason Magazine interviewers mention that Barbra Streisand criticized South Park in its very first season, “not for showing her as a [Godzilla-like] monster but for promoting cynicism among children.” I was one of those cynical kids raised by ironists and political satirists. I’m trying to break out of this programmed mentality that says we cannot change the world or make it a better place to live. Each one of us has a responsibility to use our expressive abilities in ways will create a healthier democracy and a happier world.
Actually, the late comedian Bill Hicks embodied this transition from ambiguous political satire and cynicism to a clear statement on the reality of conscious human evolution. He would often start off very ambiguous, combining all shades of sarcasm, irony, and political satire when discussing the polarizing subjects that have dominated political discourse over the last three decades (Hicks died in 1994). But by the end of every performance, Hicks made his true philosophy unmistakably clear (and it was surprisingly similar, in my opinion, to Moore’s proposal for the Occupy Movement). That is, Hicks ensured that his overall expression was unambiguous. He said what he meant!
For the present era, at least, we might want to consider doing the same.
# # #
Nick Meador made the image at SP-Studio (used with permission) and customized it with text.
1. Wilson, Robert Anton. Prometheus Rising. p. 214.
2. American Censorship Day. Accessed on 12/4/2011. http://americancensorship.org/
3. Gross, Grant. “The US Stop Online Privacy Act: A Primer.” PCWorld Business Center. 11/16/2011. Accessed on 12/4/2011. http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/244011/the_us_stop_online_piracy_act_a_primer.html
4. Tedford, Deborah. “Supreme Court Rips Up Campaign Finance Laws.” NPR. 1/21/2010. Accessed on 12/8/2011. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122805666
5. LaMarre, Heather L., Kristen D. Landreville, and Michael A. Beam. “The Irony of Satire: Political Ideology and the Motivation to See What You Want to See in The Colbert Report.” International Journal of Press/Politics. Vol 14. No 2. April 2009. pp. 212-231. Accessed on 11/28/2011. http://www.democracynow.org/resources/63/263/The_Irony_of_Satire.pdf
6. “Satire.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Accessed on 12/3/2011. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/satire
7. LaMarre, et al. Ibid. p. 228.
8. LaMarre, et al. Ibid. p. 216.
9. LaMarre, et al. Ibid. p. 215.
10. LaMarre, et al. Ibid. pp. 225-227. Italics are mine.
11. LaMarre, et al. Ibid. p. 228.
12. “Archie Bunker.” Wikipedia. Accessed on 12/5/2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archie_Bunker
13. “South Park: 1%” South Park Studios. Written and directed by Trey Parker. 11/2/2011. Accessed on 12/5/2011. http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s15e12-one-percent. Also, see Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%25_%28South_Park%29
14. “South Park Republican.” Wikipedia. Accessed on 11/28/2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Park_Republican
15. Gillespie, Nick, and Jesse Walker. “South Park Libertarians.” Reason Magazine. December 2006. Accessed on 11/28/2011. http://reason.com/archives/2006/12/05/south-park-libertarians
16. LaMarre, et al. Ibid. pp. 225-226.
17. Farley, Christopher John. “On The Beach With Dave Chappelle.” TIME Magazine. 5/15/2005. Accessed on 1/22/2011. http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1061415,00.html
18. “Dave Chappelle on 360 Tonight.” Inside Cable News. 7/7/2006. Accessed on 1/22/2011. http://insidecable.blogsome.com/2006/07/07/dave-chappelle-on-360-tonight
19. Lambert, David. “Chappelle’s Show - S1 DVD Passes The Simpsons As #1 All-Time TV-DVD; Celebrates by Announcing Season 2!” TVShowsOnDVD.com. 10/19/2004. Accessed on 12/6/2011. http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Chappelles/2338
20. Chappelle, Dave. “Episode 14. 2-2.” Chappelle’s Show. Comedy Central. 1/28/2004. Italics reflect his verbal emphasis.
21. Chappelle, Dave. “Episode 15. 2-3.” Chappelle’s Show. Comedy Central. 2/4/2004. Italics reflect his verbal emphasis.
22. “Stop Online Piracy Act.” The Colbert Report. Comedy Central. 12/1/2011. Accessed on 12/6/2011. http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/403465/december-01-2011/stop-online-piracy-act
23. LaMarre, et al. Ibid. p. 217.
24. “Stop Online Piracy Act – Danny Goldberg & Jonathan Zittrain.” The Colbert Report. Comedy Central. 12/1/2011. Accessed on 12/6/2011. Italics reflect his verbal emphasis. http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/403466/december-01-2011/stop-online-piracy-act—danny-goldberg—jonathan-zittrain
25. “Media cross-ownership in the United States.” Wikipedia. Accessed on 12/6/2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_cross-ownership_in_the_United_States
26. “U.S. Chamber Joins Broadening Coalition in Support for Rogue Sites Legislation.” Global Intellectual Property Center. 9/22/2011. Accessed on 12/7/2011. http://theglobalipcenter.com/pressreleases/us-chamber-joins-broadening-coalition-support-rogue-sites-legislation. See the actual letter here: http://www.theglobalipcenter.com/sites/default/files/pressreleases/letter-359.pdf
27. Gillespie and Walker. Ibid.
28. Moore, Michael. “Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here?” 11/22/2011. Accessed on 12/6/2011. http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/where-does-occupy-wall-street-go-here
29. Wikipedia. Accessed on 12/6/2011. Follow the links to the “Big Six” companies on this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_cross-ownership_in_the_United_States