Tuesday, November 24, 2009

SNL and Obama

I'm far too old to stay up and watch Saturday Night Live these days--so Youtube and Hulu help me stay up on what's going on in NBC's venerable old Saturday night fixture.

This season has been a good one--Mr. Obama's Presidency is giving the writers plenty to chew on. This opening from last Saturday's show is pretty funny--though from the 3:35 mark on, it is hilarious.

Oh--and before you (you know who YOU are) go and start getting all "CW's inconsistent, CW's inconsistent" on me for praising SNL for its sendups of Obama--while being quite critical of them for their sendups of Sarah Palin--there is a difference here, one that clarifies the distinction. You see, I don't know who plays Obama in these skits, I don't have any idea what his political affiliation is, and I don't know whether or not he actually supports President Obama. He is parodying a public figure in a spirit of comedy, and it is funny. What Tina Fey did was to give voice to her own political desires by carrying out a relentless public campaign that she made no bones about when not in character. That's the difference.


ghost of Halloween Past said...

Hmmm, but you nailed it when you said "CW's inconsistent, CW's inconsistent." :)

What does it matter if we went to school with Fey and know her motivations or political leanings and don't know which way Fred Armisen threw his vote? What does it matter if one actor has a film career and is more well known than another? An actor doesn't have to adore the character she's playing to to nail it. Nor does having a political difference with a character make it wrong to take on an acting role. I think she did such a good job of it, though, that you may be confusing the the two -- Palin and Fey -- it's Palin who is on the relentless public campaign.

SNL has 'skewered' -- although 'gently poked at' is more like it -- Obama with the same intensity it went after Palin and McCain. I recall CNN getting its dander up and fact-checking Armisen's skit a month or two ago (as Palin would say: 'opposition research').

But honestly, in both cases it's pretty tame stuff.

I think the SNL skit with Armisen doing Obama is pretty funny. I thought Fey's Palin characterization was brilliant. But I don't think either is doing a parody of Obama or Palin: they are both pretty much just doing impersonations.

Chevy Chase doing Ford, now, that was parody. Al Gore doing Al Gore: that's parody.

If you want satire with some bite, take a look at Stephen Colbert's review of 'Going Rogue' or pretty much anything from Glenn Beck.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

DING, DING, DING---we have a winner! You who were not named predictably took the bait!

1. I did not go to school with Tina Fey--you did. Remember--your "Round 2?" at UVA :)
2. Fred Armisen doesn't spend his off show time doing interviews in which he publicly expresses his opposition to President Obama. If you can find some of that, please link to it.
3. Tina Fey did a marvelous job of parodying Sarah Palin--had she simply done that and then not treated us to her own political views and her own stated desire to do what she could to keep Palin out of the White House--I would have laughed along with the rest.
4. CNN's fact checking was ridiculous. It appears we agree on that.

Thanks for your input, as always!

Tom de Plume said...

Let's not forget the Thursday night special editions of SNL during the campaign that allowed those who may have been partying or sleeping for the original airing to catch up on the propaganda. That they went after Obama with the same intensity as the McCain/Palin pieces is nonsense.

ghost of Halloween Past said...

Yes, I know. I'm just trying to be there for you when you need a liberal punching bag.

But your points 2&3 are exactly what I'm arguing against: what does it matter what an actor's individual beliefs are -- you don't like her politics so you object to her taking a role or you disparage the work based not on the acting but on her politics? That's dangerously close to a Waldorf Statement-like approach.

What next, you'll be trashing this gem just because the artist has a history? Putin joins hip-hop Battle for Respect.

TdP, I think your intensity meter needs a recalibration, but to be fair, I think what you are taking into account is the extra-SNL reach of those few toothless but humorous Palin skits vs. the lack of reach achieved by a multitude of far more cutting Obama skits we've seen.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Yes GHP---I get EXACTLY what you're arguing against--it isn't that I don't understand it, I just don't agree with it. I'd like to think I am consistent enough to think that it would be equally disquieting for me to know that Fred Armisen was an ardent McCain voter/Obama opponent. This is a personal preference--I'd rather my satirists be quiet about their personal political preferences. Just like I prefer my musicians to be quiet about their political preferences. So what does it matter? I don't know. But it does.

Mudge said...

Now isn't that just great? So you're telling me I have to choose between realizing my dream of being a comedic singing actor or continuing to express my political ideals here on CW. Well, Hollywood, you're just going to have to carry on without Ol' Mudge. My heart lies with The CW. The BLOG that is.

SM said...

Tina Fey was open about thinking Sarah Palin was a loon and that's...bad? My guess is you'd be just fine with Dennis Miller doing a "parody" then going on O'Reilly to talk about the politics behind his parody.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Well then, SM, I guess we'll just have to disagree. You can speculate on how I'd feel, but I'd have to wonder what you base that on.

I've really narrowed this down in my own mind to a question of intent. If I knew Fred Armisen was trying to torpedo Barack Obama's political fortunes IN ADDITION to wishing to entertain, I'd like to think I'd view that with disapproval. But you apparently know otherwise, so I suppose I ought to just trust you to judge my thoughts. Thanks for coming along just in time to save me from myself.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

...and SM...you demonstrate how LITTLE you can actually know about me by mentioning O'Reilly. I despise his show, and anyone who reads this blog would know that. How bout we promise from here on out not to make generalizations about each other, huh?

SM said...

...so if someone does something with a purpose, i.e. an intent to make a serious comment/effect on the world ("torpedo" a career) that's bad...but if someone does something with no purpose other than to fill space that's good? regardless of how you feel about o'reilly my point is that having ideas and purposes for one's actions seems worthwhile. and couldn't you as easily say that a bland, toothless parody amounts to a kind of support? the idea of a political satirist who keeps quiet about politics is an oxymoron. an apolitical political satirist? is that what we desire? another way of looking at it is that fey was willing to talk about the character and discuss their process (such as when she admitted some reservations about at least one of the jokes) which is open and interesting. whatever...

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