Why SNL should continue to parody the Trump administration
“And live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” yells Melissa McCarthy as she flies off the screen on her podium in her Sean Spicer outfit. A new hit on SNL, Melissa McCarthy effortlessly mocks the performance of the White House Press Secretary. Why does it seem so effortless to successfully make fun of a high ranking politician? Politics can be pretty serious; over 300 million people’s lives depend on the actions of very few. What could these few high ranking, extremely important, professionals be doing week after week that makes the majority Americans laugh harder and harder?
Dating back to the beginning of the presidential campaign in 2016, Saturday Night Live has been covering the campaign trail and now the actual presidency. Using their unique cast members and special guests, they had their fun with people imitating a range of politicians, from Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton, Wolf Blitzer to Chris Christie, and of course, our current President, Donald Trump. Now that Trump has been elected president, SNL has taken this mockery to a whole new level.
Over the forty years of this late night NBC show, skits have been made about everything under the sun. Today, the show is purely known for its hilarious and edgy portrayal of American politics. Arguably going hand in hand with SNL’s focus on politics is the show’s spike in ratings. According to CNN Money, “SNL is averaging 7.4 million viewers an episode,” and after accounting for the people watching online within a week, “that number jumps to 10.6 million, the show’s biggest audience in 22 years.” Here and there over the last 40 years, politicians have had moments that are easy to make fun of, but no one has ever come close to the extremity of today’s Congress, and especially Trump and his cabinet.
SNL is benefiting a lot from today’s political carnival-like atmosphere. However, the question remains: how have we allowed our political system to devolve into a dysfunctional comedy of errors? This would be funny if it were only on late night television, but it is actually our country’s reality.
Saturday Night Live has reached an all new high, profiting off the rich materials with which our government is supplying them. But the staff and writers of SNL are not creating this content themselves; it comes straight from the disgusting, distasteful, and unintelligible tweets, speeches, interviews, writings, executive orders, proposed laws and everything else the Executive Branch spews from the safety of their privilege. Steve Bannon isn’t portrayed as the Grim Reaper by accident. Just by looking at his racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, homophobic, hateful, divisive track record, and it is easy to see that he is the human version of the Grim Reaper. The amount of lies ignorantly repeated from the mouth of our President is beyond my belief.
Hypocrisy makes for great comedy, and SNL never lacks good material here. Trump claims he will “drain the swamp,” when he really just clogged it more. Trump loves to brag about having “the best words,” but he actually has “the argument of a five year old,” as Anderson Cooper put it. Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s advisor, is putting herself on the front lines everyday for Trump. She, and her frazzled blonde hair, have had to cover up Trump’s mistakes, making illogical excuses and white lies for Trump. SNL would be foolish to not take advantage of what has been given to them.
In January, the President of the free world tweeted, “@NBCNews is bad but Saturday Night Live is the worst of NBC. Not funny, cast is terrible, always a complete hit job. Really bad television!” But is it really bad television, Mr. President, or does it simply offend you? In one specific episode, Melissa McCarthy portrayed Trump’s desire for everyone to be less politically correct. “We know she’s okay because she’s blonde!” yelled McCarthy, as Sean Spicer, explaining Trump’s new travel ban. McCarthy then whipped out a Moana doll, the new non-white, ethnic Disney character. Because of Moana’s clear difference in skin complexion compared to the Barbie doll, McCarthy said, “we’re gonna pat her down, and then we’re gonna read her emails, and if we don’t like the answers—which we won’t— BOOM! Guantanamo Bay!” That’s about the least politically correct way you could describe Trump’s travel ban, so I can’t imagine why Trump himself doesn’t like it.
NBC creative leadership, and SNL producers are by and large a liberal set; acting and the arts, in general, draw heavily from some of the more progressive social thinkers that our society has to offer. But that doesn’t make it invalid. NBC is not fake news, and SNL is not bad television. For forty years, SNL has been using the Office of the President as its comedy foil. From Nixon’s paranoia to Ford’s supposed clumsiness to Dana Carvey’s spot-on impersonation of Bush, SNL’s goal is to make people laugh, regardless of the person or the political party occupying the Oval Office. SNL’s only goal is to make light of current events, however dreadful they may be. Mr. Trump himself has hosted the show twice. Just because he is offended by a show, a newspaper, a news network, or even another country’s leader, it does not make them bad or wrong. It makes them American. SNL, NBC, and every other person in this country has the right to speak their mind and express their feelings in any way they like. It is not the president’s job to tweet and complain about other’s feelings towards him. It is the president’s job to protect the rights of the people of this country, whether they voted for him or not, whether they like him or not. SNL feels the need to expose American politics in a satirical way, hinting to the American public at what is really going on behind the towering white pillars of every important political establishment in Washington D.C. Honestly, Mr. Trump, I think you have more important things to worry about.
By Jared Freifield