The “Read Another Book” movement is a byproduct of the post-2016 tendency to conflate any political element with themes and characters from Harry Potter.
Donald Trump? Oh, you’d better believe he’s Voldemort. Elizabeth Warren? A total Hermione. And I don’t know who or what Dumbledore’s Army is, because I’m not a nerd (j/k, j/k, the howling klaxon of a nerd alert rings out whenever I go anywhere).
Of course, Harry Potter is far from the only pop culture lens through which people pedantically apply politics. Some of them are just a little more obnoxious than the others.
Let’s take a look at which pop culture touchstones late-night talk show hosts employed yesterday to discuss Super Tuesday, when 14 states cast their primary votes, from least to most embarrassing.
Stephen Colbert’s Tuesday night show wrapped up well before results from the polls came pouring in, but as he announced on-air: “It’s gonna take more than complete ignorance to keep me from talking about it.”
During his monologue, the host once again invoked his ongoing Mad Max motif: “Fury Road to the White House.” (This edition is entitled “Super Tuesday Senior Citizen Slamdown: It all Depends on tonight to Ensure victory 2020,” and as ever Fast Company respects the writers’ pun game.) The postapocalyptic hellworld of Mad Max: Fury Road is a depressingly accurate and funny frame in which to talk about the stakes of this election, and admirably more edgy than Colbert’s cringey “Don and the Giant Impeach” runner. Colbert’s Super Tuesday take is by far the least embarrassing.
Meanwhile, the staff at Jimmy Kimmel Live! apparently went through some kind of time warp before taping last night’s episode.
After a laudable bit commenting on California’s confusingly arranged ballot (seriously, what was up with that ballot?), Kimmel declares which pop culture figure he wrote in for the primary: Mr. T. If that fool-pitying punchline seems to not make much sense out of context, I assure you the full joke (at around 2:40) doesn’t clear things up any further. Although this Super Tuesday pop culture reference is mostly just baffling, it’s still embarrassing.
However, there was one late-night host who stood head and shoulders above the rest of the night in that department.
By the time Trevor Noah taped Tuesday night’s episode of The Daily Show, Joe Biden had already begun a winning streak that included Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. “Tonight is all about Joe Biden because black voters just put him over the top all across the South,” Noah says in the clip above. “Right now black people are embracing Biden so hard, I wouldn’t be surprised if he rolls up to his next debate speech just like ‘Wakanda for– you know the thing.'”
While Noah can and probably should make fun of Biden very recently forgetting a quote from the Declaration of Independence midway through saying it, that joke here is awkwardly jammed into a Black Panther riff. It would be generous to say that the joke here is on Joe Biden’s tactless pandering, but it sounds more like another way to associate actual black people with the fictional residents of Wakanda. Considering how recently we all lived through the recent “Harriet Tubman does the Wakanda Salute on a debit card” incident, the writers might have considered doing a second pass on the joke.
Leave it to the politicians themselves, though, to make even worse pop culture jokes a day after Super Tuesday.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) March 4, 2020