Friday, July 13, 2007

I May be the Only Librarian Who Doesn't Like Stephen Colbert

Because of things like this:
Actually, I'd buy it first. And then I'd read it. No libraries, okay? Libraries are for cowards. No free rides. The book is for heroes, and the heroes are the people who buy the book. Don't lend the book.
To me, and maybe I'm over-reacting, this reads like the words of an irresponsible ass. Perhaps he's being sarcastic, or being ironic, or being something. I don't buy it. I don't find it funny. I have a hard time enjoying the commentary of someone who says things that directly attack my chosen way of life.

I came to the library field the long way around. I hadn't worked in libraries until I was almost done with my MLIS. For the first time in my life, I found a career I could be passionate about. A career that I actually cared about. And then someone with a big forum (Comedy Central, Entertainment Weekly) comes along and says bad things about my passion. Even if he's joking, his words can be used by others as justification for getting rid of library services. It's very irresponsible.

I've not blogged about him before because I didn't want to link to anything he's done, or give him any additional traffic (whether through positive or negative commentary).

And before people fill up the comments with "he's just kidding, calm down," would it be as funny if he said "black people can't be trusted"?


katie said...

from what i understand, (i don't watch the show) stephen colbert's show is all about him taking on a *persona* and saying a bunch of things he doesn't really mean. i think if you watched his show, it would be hard to find one single thing he said that wasn't ironic. so i don't think there is a danger of anyone using him as a reason to dismiss libraries-- anyone who cited him as a reason for doing anything would be ridiculed.

as to why it would be different if he said "black people," well there's the whole history of racism being a whole lot more problematic than any anti-librarian sentiment i can think of. i don't really think they're comparable situations.

John Klima said...

That's probably true, but we've all seen what people do with things taken out of context.

And of course, anything that I put in the last part of my post: black people, women, gay people, etc. that will get a reaction from someone has a history of oppression behind it. A history of oppression that librarians have never felt and most likely never will feel.

A week or so ago everyone freaked out that someone wanted to call new librarians 'hip,' but because Colbert is being ironic, it's supposed to be ok. I don't find it funny. And hiding behind the guise of irony doesn't make it ok to me.

I realize that I'm sounding fairly ridiculous taking this stand--such as it is--but I get really annoyed when the media talks about my profession because it's rarely talked about in a way that makes you feel like the person doing the reporting knows anything about the profession.

Not too long ago I was watching an episode of Dinner: Impossible, and they were at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in their fantastic cookery library at one point. The host of the show looked around and said something like 'how can we find what we need in here?' Just when I thought the CIA's librarian would step forward, nope, a student came out to help him use the OPAC.