They’re paid to make us laugh. But did they do it? Conan O’Brien and Stephen Colbert have both gone to their twitter accounts to talk about the BP oil spill. But this was nothing like Obama preparing an address for the nation. O’Brien and Colbert aren’t serious guys (except, I suspect, when getting serious about cotton candy eating competitions) so they didn’t go to their twitter’s to be serious. And would you expect them to?
O’Brien and Colbert are just two of the mainstream comics who’ve made jokes about the oil spill. Your gut reaction might be that it’s awful for them to do that. Maybe it is. And if you read our Hells Kitchen vs. Obama post (and comments) you know that I’m heartsick over the Louisiana Pelicans suffering like they are. But I’m very much not offended by what these two men tweeted. Let’s see if you are, shall we?
On June 16th, Colbert tweeted: “in honor of oil-soaked birds, ‘tweets’ are now ‘gurgles. http://bit.ly/cIhZNf” This was re-tweeted by over 100 people. And the re-tweeting of this message was a donation that Address the Mess offered to give to The Colbert Nation Gulf of America Fund. And the thing is, if he’d come out and said “Please help these birds. Click here” not only would people pass over that, but people would pass over that because it would seem like a robotic advertisement.
A few days later on June 29th, O’Brien tweeted, “The past 2 months I’ve been on tour and haven’t followed the news. What’s with all the photos of chocolate pelicans?”
This writer’s two cents is that O’Brien and Colbert addressed the situation in their own way, with jokes. When something is horrible, sometimes we make jokes because we don’t even know how to begin to deal with it.And there are psychological terms of these behaviors. At their worst, can we paint these two men as anything but guys who don’t know what to say, but know they need to start a conversation?
I don’t read any true malice in those two tweets. Instead, I believe it is their way of contributing to the conversation about this oil spill. And, looks at us? It’s got us talking about it. This horrible tragedy happened, but life doesn’t stop after there’s spilled milk, or spilled oil. Address it however you need to, but please don’t just ignore it and stop talking. The only person that helps is the CEO of BP.
So what do you think? Were either tweets in good taste, or do they leave a bad taste (like old lint from the pocket of your old cargo pants) in your mouth?