Since the presidential election, the media has been in an uproar. News sites such as Huffington Post, Vice and CNN have all shared their opinions on our new president, Donald Trump, and his current policies. However, while the media is a major source of criticism toward the president, few have been as notably critical as “Saturday Night Live,” which has parodied his less-than-eloquent responses. However, while our president and his cabinet may be unusual and his policies may be unorthodox and disagreeable to dissidents, “Saturday Night Live” has taken it to a point of offense, not just for those who support the presidency, but also for those who may be impacted by their off-key jokes on racism, sexism and anti-Semitism.
For example, in their episode which aired on April 15, right before Easter, SNL poked fun at Press Secretary Sean Spicer, whose careless statement on the Holocaust earlier that week on April 11 enraged viewers. In the skit, actress Melissa McCarthy played Spicer and was addressing the audience in a pretend news conference while dressed as the Easter Bunny. While there were plenty of satirical comments toward both Spicer and Trump that got viewers giggling, there were also several jokes, most notably McCarthy calling internment camps “concentration clubs,” that definitely crossed a line. Although her impersonation was meant to point out the incompetence of the press secretary and not the religious significance of the Holocaust or the cultural significance of names in Arab countries, the jokes dragged on and became lost among the jumble of political statements they were trying to make as well.
Fighting fire with fire may not be the best answer to SNL’s worries about the state of our government. While satire is supposed to be provocative and is meant to instigate change and conversation, SNL is overloading viewers with visual satirization, political satirization and social satirization. Having someone as comedic as McCarthy play Spicer and making fun of his awkward apology is enough — there’s no need to add on Holocaust joke after Holocaust joke just to get people’s attention. Satire, by definition, walks a thin line between distasteful and genius. When SNL began to focus more on getting a reaction from its audience with edgy comments and exaggerations than focusing on pointing out already relevant irony within the government, it became distasteful.
When did satire get so out of hand? Instead of witty, humorous jokes about Trump’s hair or a statement about his defunding of the Environmental Protection Agency, we’re slandering our government and saying those who support the actions of our leaders are ignorant. Satire and outright slander are very different, a fact many seem to forget. Unlike Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde, who used their wit and lighthearted humor to point out societal and governmental flaws, SNL writers have stooped to the level of those they are trying to call out, and pandering to their viewers with sexist, racist, anti-Semitic jokes misses the mark. Instead of bringing attention to idiocy or injustice, they only condone the use of slurs and insults by their audience.
This weekend, as you’re looking for something fun to watch to distract you from your finals, don’t turn on SNL. If you’re looking for a laugh, turn your attention to humor that isn’t hurtful, such as reruns of “Friends” or even “Parks and Recreation.” Entertainment shouldn’t be used to break down others, whether you agree with them or not.