Instead, the first thing a visitor would notice and absorb is the video presentation, hosted by Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert. Think of all the archival television material they could use to showcase Bob Hope entertaining the troops, and remembering all the stars who generously donated their time to bringing the home front to the war front, especially at Christmas time. But the Library of Congress displays its boredom with Hope in the interests of a broader topic. But while they broadened the subject, the exhibit didn't have the slightest whisper of interest in who's been entertaining the troops in the last few decades, and honoring them.
Instead we get Colbert, in his usual self-absorbed shtick, showing clips of himself joking with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton: "Why are you undressing me with your eyes now?"
The library's bureaucrats found room for a section touting "Government Support for the Arts," and how "federal support for the arts remained unrealized until the twentieth century," with the founding of the National Endowment for the Arts. There was no space for debating the wisdom or the controversies of that agency.
But there was space for debating Bob Hope. A letter is on display written by feminists who claim they want to stage their own U.S.O. show, since Hope was an incorrigible sexist. "Since this is a counter-U.S.O. show, we think that the script should have none of the sexist scenes in it that Bob Hope specials have, dancing girls or any portrayal of Women (sic) being inferior to men (which they aren't)," the feminists declare.
Political correctness seems to overwhelm the supposed exhibit topic of "American comedians commenting on the political scene in satires that have entertained and rattled the political establishment." In the video, Colbert proclaims Hollywood movies "draw the nation's attention to matters of urgent importance," with scenes shown from the union-glorifying film "Norma Rae" and the movie "Milk," Sean Penn's portrayal of a slain gay San Francisco city councilman.
Under the title "Causes and Controversies," exhibit highlights include video footage of Jane Fonda visiting North Vietnam, the polar opposite of Bob Hope. There's an exhibit on "A Climate of Fear," how "the entertainment industries suffered greatly" from McCarthyism.
This isn't about comedians or satire at all.
In this exhibit in our nation's capital, Bob Hope deserves better than to be treated as a mere introductory point to shoehorn in every other political controversy of the last century. An unabashed Republican, Hope bent backward to keep politics out of his performances when entertaining troops or doing anything as an "ambassador" of the United States. It's why he was beloved by people in both parties. If people wanted today to find a role model for national unity and civility, they could no better than that.
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