The best way to be heard, remembered or considered, may be by making someone laugh. The mainstream media and politics are two concepts that seem to hate each other in today’s society. Both sides are passionate and both sides have power. However, the mainstream media recently needed to strategically consider how to use such power to get their point across. In my opinion, Saturday Night Live is the most successful, satirical form of freedom of speech; especially in the face of drastic change in leadership.
For those die-hard SNL fans, you know why the show has been considered genius lately. But for those that haven’t spent their Saturday evenings watching late night comedy, Melissa McCarthy delivered a controversial, yet hilarious impersonation of the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer. She was so committed to the character that the audience didn’t even realize how was performing the skit under all of the hair and makeup.
With such a vocal president, some sort of social media-related response was bound to happen from President Trump. His biggest issue with the skit wasn’t necessarily the out-right humor directed to negatively impact the employees of the White House and their reputations, but that Sean Spicer was played by a woman. In numerous reports and interviews, done directly with President Trump, his obsessions with presentation have come to light…
“’Presentation is very important because you’re representing America not only on the national stage but also the international stage, depending on the position,’ said Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller.”
SNL has been heavily criticized since taking on the newest administration. Alec Baldwin took the spotlight of SNL during the election as well, his character- Donald Trump. Just prior to Baldwin’s commitment to the character, Trump hosted an episode of SNL himself and proceeded to aggressively promote the show in attempts to increase views and improve his persona during the election. But as soon as the joke turned on him, he publicly despised the show. He and his supporters claim that the show is one sided.
To Trump’s dismay, SNL has always aimed to make fun of Presidents and political figures, though. Executive Producer Lorne Michaels has always claimed that the show doesn’t lean right or left, rather is takes what the public is talking about and turns that in to satire. If the public is talking about Sean Spicer’s actions, then SNL will run with that.
In response to President Trump and his supporters’ negative reactions to recent skits, standup comedian, Nikki Glaser commented on the power of comedy in an interview with the Washington Post…
“I was just so excited to hear he was upset about it, because it feels like comedy is a weapon that we can use against them, that they don’t have.”
What she’s arguing for, here, is that Freedom of Speech isn’t something that can be taken away. It will have its battles and sometimes it will be drowned out by political figures. But comedy is a way of bringing people together, providing a sense of reality to situations, and providing a more open forum for political freedom of speech.
Speaking of a reality check, President Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, aren’t the only politicians that have been appreciatively roasted by SNL. Here are a few of the best impersonations of political figures, according to Buzzfeed:
- Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, who are SNL partners in crime and best friends, collaborated to impersonate Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, after the 2012 election.
- Dan Aykroyd impersonated Richard Nixon in the late 70s, 10 different times; the skits
covered a wide variety of topics- all very successful.
- Will Ferrell took on a George W. Bush impersonation in the early 2000s, where he talked about important world issues such as global warming and Frisbee golf with Condoleeza Rice.
Nothing can quite compare to this year’s content though. After all, SNL is having their most successful year, ratings wise, in the last 22 years.
Long story, short: SNL is a powerful piece of freedom of speech. While it’s potentially a public relations professional’s worst nightmare, these political SNL skits deserve great respect and credit. They are informing the public, providing entertainment and encouraging viewers to not give up when they have strong opinions about something; it’s all in the delivery. So next time you’re watching TV on a Saturday night, consider switching over to SNL, you’ll feel informed and maybe get a little laugh out of it.