--Richard E. Vatz
“Saturday Night Live” (SNL) presents itself as a comedy show with a significant amount of political satire. It is becoming instead a show for advancing a specific political agenda with a bit of general satire.
September 20’s SNL is yet another illustration of what happens when a comedy show views itself as having an important political goal which trumps the importance of being funny and clever – in this case, the goal of electing a particular presidential ticket, the Democratic ticket.
A less-than-funny skit by SNL standards began the evening, “mocking,” in the language of the liberal “Huffington Post,” John McCain for running false ads against Barack Obama and having no compunction in doing so.
Arianna Huffington’s blog also reveals that the idea for the heavy-handed sketch was that of Al Franken, now running for Senate in Minnesota and an ex-comedian and writer for the show. Franken is as partisan a Democrat as exists in show business and politics.
For several weeks straight on SNL all of the presidential barbs and satire have been against McCain with none – zero – against Obama.
SNL became Hillary Clinton’s unpaid aide earlier this year when SNL’s writers, producers, directors and cast decided that the media were blatantly opposed to her and treated her with more scrutiny and harsh inquisitive techniques that they did Barack Obama, and in fact were giving him a “free ride.” For weeks SNL’s satire hit those points harder and harder until much of the mainstream media came around and asked Sen. Obama some slightly tougher questions and treated the two more even-handedly.
In 2004 SNL had much more satire opposing President George W. Bush and favoring Sen. John Kerry than the reverse, but at least Seth Meyers did a clever, dead-on impression of Sen. Kerry and satirized his flip-flopping excellently.
The show is in danger of becoming more and more a partisan left-wing vehicle, supporting blatantly the Democratic presidential ticket and sacrificing cleverness and wit in the process.
One can only hope that Saturday Night Live reverses its present course and becomes a politically funny, mostly non-partisan, show again. In the meantime let’s at least ensure that the public becomes aware of what the show has become.
Professor Vatz teaches political rhetoric at Towson University
Sunday, September 21, 2008
--Richard E. Vatz