Friday, March 14, 2014

SNL: Train Wreck Party

Full Disclaimer: It should go without saying that I am not involved with any activist groups, nor am I to be considered an official supporter of any such activist groups. I support individuals, not ideologues. I'm not crusading on anyone's behalf here, and I'm not personally offended by any of the subject matter, except for maybe how damned un-funny it is for a comedy show, nor am I suggesting what you should or shouldn't be offended by.

I haven't watched Saturday Night Live in years. When I was younger, I'd catch re-runs periodically, and there was some good stuff from time to time. A lot of top-notch comedians (even ones that I can't stand, but recognize have broad appeal to audiences) have come out of that institution throughout the decades that it's been on the air. Some of my favorite films owe their existence to SNL. There'd be no Ghostbusters, no Blues Brothers, no Animal House, no Mean Girls.

I've long heard the refrain that SNL, that old grey mare, just ain't what she used to be, but as I don't watch a lot of broadcast television these days, I had no real exposure. I just nodded my head, figured it was the usual sort of quality dip any show that runs for-fucking-ever gets, and went on with my day. Then someone forwarded me the "Jewelry Party" skit. This is dismal. It's available on Hulu, if you *really* want to go watch it, but be warned: It's some painful cringe.

Ostensibly, the point of this sketch seems to be to set up a strawman of a Men's Rights Advocate, and then tear him down. I say strawman, and I really do mean strawman, because one of the 'prouder points' to this character was that he had personally shut down two Planned Parenthood clinics. I thought to myself, "self, that sounds pretty high-profile." So I went looking. Literally the only correlation I can find between Men's Rights and Planned Parenthood on the internet is articles describing how dismal and off-the-mark this sketch is. What I did find was some interesting info on how some of the MRA crowd is interested in expanding birth control options for men, and how the Planned Parenthood site pretty much sums up the current options as "condoms, snip, or don't put it in."

What I'm more interested in, though, is the method in which this sketch went about attacking the strawman. The tools used were ones that social justice warriors often attack people (and each other) over. One character is practically in spray-painted brown-face and shouting in such an over-the-top fake Venezuealan accent that *I'm* offended on behalf of Venezuelans. Even If Lena Dunham (this being her anticipated episode apparently) hadn't been hit by the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hash-tag before, she definitely will be now. The women are portrayed as shallow, materialistic, and catty; shaming the man in the sketch for being a virgin (is this the opposite of 'slut-shaming?') and not having 'big muscles'(body-shaming?)

Given that I'm not looking for an excuse to get upset, I'm sure I've missed a few things, but the point stands that whoever was writing this sketch (as of now, I still can't find an answer on that) had an agenda, and an enormous Legendary Axe of Frost Smiting to grind, and used a hell of a lot of questionable tactics to do so. But more importantly, and the bigger problem that a lot of respectable websites and pundits with far more journalistic integrity than myself are commenting on is that this is damned un-funny. It's dull, forced cringe. This isn't the hysterical laughter that Tina Fey or Belushi would create, it's nervous, awkward laughter.

To paraphrase a better man than I, allow me to direct a statement to whoever it was that wrote that sketch. You've tried ignoring them. You've tried laughing at them. Now you've shown a light on your enemy, and you'll be forced to fight them. Next time, just try to write something funny, or you'll just be considered a nail in SNL's long-overdue coffin.

This shit makes me miss MADTV.

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