I watched about five minutes of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert the other night. That was as much as I could take before Colbert’s political monologue drove me in search of something kinder, gentler. Something like, say, the Tonight Show with host Jimmy Fallon, who’s mostly eschewed the kind of political skewering that has become Colbert’s comedic bread and butter.
Now, you might think that there would be plenty of other folks out there like me who are as weary of the politicizing of everything, all the time, as I am. But, in fact, you’d be wrong—at least when it comes to late-night TV. It turns out that the more political Colbert gets, the more people are tuning in to hear what he has to say.
The New York Times reports that since the presidential election last year, Colbert’s audience has grown by 23% while Fallon’s has dropped by 26%. Meanwhile, over on ABC, viewership for Jimmy Kimmel Live! has grown by a more modest 4% this season.
Earlier this year, Fallon talked about his approach to late-night comedy, saying of his avoidance of politics, “It’s just not what I do. I think it would be weird for me to start doing it now. I don’t really even care that much about politics—I gotta be honest. I love pop culture more than I love politics.” That nice-guy approach, it seems, isn’t connecting with the late-night crowd.
Meanwhile, two entertainment icons who until this morning had spots on many fans’ “nice guys” lists have now been swept into the career-shattering winds of the so-called “pervnado” of sexual-abuse allegations: Today Show host Matt Lauer and A Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor, both of whom were fired today by their longtime employers (NBC and Minnesota Public Radio, respectively) after accusations of abuse and/or inappropriate behavior.
Writing for The Atlantic, Megan Garber said of Lauer’s abrupt and shocking dismissal, “Lauer’s co-hosts were left to do, on live TV, the work that so many of their fellow colleagues, in places across America, have been doing, over the past two months: Processing, out loud. Grieving, in public. Being shocked at a man who held himself as paragon revealed to be anything but.”
Christian youth culture expert Walt Mueller blogged about Lauer, writing, “Today’s story is not one that should teach us about Matt Lauer. Why? Because in so many ways Matt Lauer is each one of us. Because of that, this is an opportunity to learn even more about ourselves and to teach our kids the increasingly-forgotten skill of doing the same.”
Meanwhile, actress and singer Selena Gomez seems to be doing some processing herself. She spoke at the 2017 Hillsong Conference, reading a letter she’d written to herself about her own spiritual journey. Among other things, she said, “Selena, you are enough! Not because you’ve tried hard, not because you have loved hard or put on your best face. Not because you have been given a large platform and not because others tell you ‘you are enough.’ You are enough because you are a child of God who has been pursued from the very beginning. You are enough because His grace has saved you and covered you.”
Also speaking out recently was Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, who doesn’t understand why everyone makes such a big deal about the sex and nudity on that popular show. She told Harper’s BAZAAR, “I’m starting to get really annoyed about this stuff now because people say, ‘Oh, yeah, all the porn sites went down when Game of Thrones came back on.’ I’m like, The Handmaid’s Tale? … That is all sex and nudity. There are so many shows centered around this very true fact that people reproduce.”
Elsewhere in the news this week, concerns about the influence of smartphones continue to proliferate in some surprisingly diverse ways. A new study by researchers at Purdue University titled “Death by Pokémon GO” suggests that drivers who’ve crashed while playing the game are responsible for billions of dollars of property damage and hundreds of deaths. Researchers also believe that the growing incidence of self-injury among middle school girls may be correlated with smartphone usage.
And the Wait Until 8th movement—which strongly encourages parents not to let their middle schoolers get smartphones before they’re in 8th grade—is garnering publicity in multiple news outlets lately as well.
Finally this week, Grammy nominations were announced. More than a few publications have commented on hip-hop’s domination of the music world’s highest honor and the lack of any white males being nominated for the coveted Album of the Year category for the first time since 1999. Instead, Jay-Z, Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and Lorde will compete for that honor.