Saturday Night Live’s “Obama problem”

I almost went to bed without watching it, but I decided to catch SNL last night to see what they would do with their usual political sketch at the start, but the writer’s must have went on strike again because it was like watching reruns.

I’m not going repeat why Fred Armisen’s Obama bugs me on a multitude of levels. But this sketch was just flat out lazy writing.

I get it, SNL. Obama is hard to make fun of, but your logic seems to be fatally flawed. You take the most natural and charming of politicians and turn him into a robotic parrot a la Al Gore circa 2000? And sure, sometimes the press can be a huge dick to Hillary but I don’t recall a racially tinged bomb the size of Farrakhan being lobbed at her during that latest debate they spoofed. Tim Russert didn’t exactly lick Obama to death with the tongues of kittens. To be forced to account for the anti-semite from the Million Man March who’s been out of the limelight for nearly two decades is pretty jack assy.

I’d like Timmy to account for when he decided “Meet the Press” was about him playing gotcha for 45 minutes. But let’s put that aside and deal with the fact that SNL has turn into the comedic version of FOX News were you are so obviously in the tank for one candidate and one candidate alone. I realize I shouldn’t expect parity from my political comedy, but I also expect some funny. SNL has delivered on nada. My favorite satirical show, “The Daily Show,” has found ways to poke fun at both Hillary and Obama. Granted, they don’t have some pale dude in “Obama-face,” but they manage to get along fine.

I’m aware that pre-strike, SNL did skits joking about the press already picking Hillary as the nominee. But these skits weren’t very good either. A matter of fact the only skit with Hillary in it that got to the core of the Clintons’ White House lust was an opener where Hillary discusses her inevitability to the point that it’s absurd with her talking about her reelection in 2012 and the possible repealing of the federal law that only allows presidents to have two terms.

It was the one and only time Amy Poehler’s Hillary was funny, because I don’t care what anyone thinks, Poehler’s Hillary Clinton is almost as bad as Armisen’s Obama, and Armisen’s Obama is abysmal.

I get it SNL writers. You think Hillary’s getting a raw deal by the press. But her last name is Clinton? Did we expect anything less than 24-hour-Clinton-Watch? When she was succeeding the media stared on in wonderment, proclaiming that no one would be able to stop her. Then Obama cold-cocked the Clinton’s in Iowa and later South Carolina and the media obsessed over where Clinton went wrong.

The press chatter about Obama too, but they don’t go into as much depth and tend to just write him off with, “he’s an inspiring black guy who gives good speeches who’s winning the black vote. He’s from Illinois and he hasn’t been in the senate very long and his minster is some kind of black radical. Isn’t that weird? And by the way, did you notice that Obama is black? No? Because I totally didn’t notice because I’m the mainstream media and I don’t see color except when Farrakhan is involved.”

Other than that, the press has been all Hillary all the time. She sniffles once and it’s news. She complains about bias and it’s a headline in 50 point type. She’s a media vacuum, she sucks the air and all the common sense out of any room she enters. It’s amazing any candidate, Democratic or Republican, gets any airtime at all. Thank God Bill Clinton rescinded to the shadows otherwise all we’d be hearing is about “BubbaWatch 2008!” What kind of barbecue is he eating? Did he just fart? Someone record that fart, we need to get it to Wolf Blizter to run at the top of the hour of the Situation Room!

But back to you, Saturday Night Live, Amy Poehler and Fred Armisen, Seth Myers and Lorne Michaels.

You have a problem. An Obama problem.

That dude isn’t going away. Accept it. So you need to either start turning Darrell Hammond into John McCain or come up with some better material for Armisen’s craptacular Obama. And that cartoon? This “Saturday TV Funhouse” you most recently ran called “The Obama Files?” That was totally not funny. I realize some white people see Jesse n’ Al as racial agitators and attention whores. Heck, a lot of black people have some of the same. But the whole premise was just unseemly and the way Jackson and Sharpton were presented was, quite frankly, racist. The cartoon seemed to tangentially suggest that to win the White House Obama is going to have to distance himself from the black community, our race being the albatross around his neck.

The cartoon would have been funnier if Jesse n’ Al were aware of their toxicity (which in real life they are) and were covertly working with black people yet allowing Obama to still be all things to everyone irregardless of race. But I suppose that would play too heavily to the fears some whites have about a black candidate, that he’s secretly colluding with “extremists” and is going to get up in there, literally, paint the White House black and start deducting half of their paychecks for reparations, a la that Dave Chappelle skit.

So seriously, SNL, you’re going to have to start stepping up your game. I know you’ve been kind of phoning it in for years now and have ceded a good portion of the political comedy ground to the Jon Stewarts and Stephen Colberts of the world, but you’re the granddaddy show so I think it’s time you elevated your game.

Is it really THAT hard to make fun of Obama in a way that’s based on his actually personality, not a bunch of facial ticks and stuttering? Because last time I checked he’s pretty charismatic and does, in fact, smile. A lot. If anything they would have been better playing him as Mr. Too Smooth Can Do No Wrong guy. That’s what was missing in both sketches they’ve done so far. You’d think the media fawning was a fabrication. That they’re responding that way for no particular reason at all.

COME ON! The guy’s a nerd who’s been turned into a motivational speaker/folk hero. He’s Hurricane Carter but without the prison time and Bob Dylan is warbling about hope. Is it that hard? Personality, people! He has a personality! Is Armisten that limited that he can only do two Obama facial expressions then have him appear to be, in fact, a moron? That doesn’t make sense. No one thinks Obama is a moron. George W., now that’s a guy people think is a moron. Hillary’s a megalomaniacal Margaret Thatcher-esque technocrat who wants to dominate the world, Barack Obama is the unflappable, cooler than cool young guy with all the brains but little experience. Follow the meme, people! The meme leads to the funny!

Of course, SNL might not actually care about making Obama funny because they think they can covertly save Hillary’s campaign through moldy n’ trite comedy sketches that make Obama appear the opposite of how he actually is.

MmmKay … Let’s see how that goes. Pray he doesn’t become president, Lorne Michaels. You may never have a funny episode again.

8 thoughts on “Saturday Night Live’s “Obama problem”

  1. Lorna Michaels and others in the mainstream are more of a “gerontocracy” than anything else. That’s what hits me hardest when I read coverage and criticism of Obama. The old just don’t get it and Clinton’s suppporters are bewildered that lo, twenty years on, they are old.It’s not like Obama is a teenager but the late end boomers reeeeally don’t grasp that there is a huge difference down at this end of the spectrum when it comes to such things as the internet, music, fashion, food, culture. You know when you read some piece in the NYT about how boomers in their sixties talk about enjoying their middle age? Yyyah, it’s that “60 is the new 40” thing.I’m middle aged, IMO, and haven’t been amused enough by SNL to tune in regularly in years, then again I like to be in bed by that time so … oh god, I might be old now. I better go and switch my allegiance to Meemaw Hillary while there’s still time.(thank you for your fun coverage of fashion, btw)

  2. Torrance: I believe in Lena Horne’s day they called it “light Egyptian” pancake. She lost a role to a white actress over a “colored” part and had to play a lounge singer while they tried to brown up a white woman just enough.I just feel their take on Obama is stale. I could forgive the light brown face if Arimsen was doing a good Obama. But his Obama is O-horrible.And where is Maya Rudolph? Did she finally leave the show and not tell anyone because her, Kenan, Darrell and Andy are the only reasons I still watch the show.Lolo: Lorne seems particularly out of touch. I think he largely depends on his writers to keep the show relevant and the writers have gotten so insular and inbred they have a tough time keeping up with the hipper, trendier competition. Boomers are sometimes problematic in the sense that the see themselves as this iconic, never grow old, generation that fought the system then joined the system and now they are the system, but they don’t want to admit it.They’ve become those they once hated.Like I tried to explain to my parents some of the reasons why young people were interested in this campaign. My mother seems to think it’s solely about Obama and the surrounding hype. I tried to remind her that just six years ago Sept. 11th happened and kids who were prepubescents and in high school watched people die on television. And then we went to war. And the blogs and news on the internet became more influential. So young people have been paying attention Sept. 11th. They just finally got old enough to vote and mobilize. A terrorist attack and two wars will get your damn attention. And I’m glad you like the fashion coverage. I love talking about clothes.

  3. I fell for Obama when I was watching the 2004 Democrat Convention on TV. I was in the Kucinich camp then – (unfortunatly cool charisma is not a Kucinch trait) so I rallied half-heartedly behind Kerry who had that same, ‘I’m the establishment choice so you have no choice but to vote for me’thing that Hillary has.. and look what it got us! Freaking 4 more years of Satan ie Bush. All the democrats at that 2004 convention were giving the same old tired speeches (with the possible exception of Sharpton). I thought Pelosie might have something to say but she was like just another piece of stiff cardbord. When Obama spoke I sat up and said “oh my god who is that!” He was saying what I had been longing to hear! I don’t care if he is purple! Anyway, I’m white and old enough to have supported McGovern and watched SNL when John Belushi was playing a bumblebee and was really funny. It is scary to even hope that a candidate I love might have a chance. (dare I mention Bobby Kennedy) It is scary to hope because we’ve seen our hopes dashed to bits so many times then here comes this rightious man pumping hope back into our heartsAND he has a wife who is not only a dynamo herself BUT a very classy dresser!Buddhists for Obama aka Peggy Sue

  4. yes!SNL is a cocoon of coddled lazy media centric people who are pandering to their audience…the complacent, comfortable and corny.and that cartoon was coded to speak to all the people who are still terrified that al and jesse are going to sneak into their houses at night and steal their children.maybe that will be hillary’s next ad.

  5. Tallulah: She’s already stealing her talking points from Tina Fey, why not pilfer an SNL cartoon for a “scary Civil Rights Negro” ad.Jesse n’ Al can only dream of being a fifth as powerful as white folks think they are.

  6. I needed some where to vent after the Geraldine Ferraro statement and the weak repudiation of that statement. I’m really trying…it’s tough for me to stay civil. I just think America is a racist country to its core. Obama never played the race card and then “others” play the race card. You can’t win with the “folks”…you’re either too black or not black enough. I’m fed up! There are some sickos in this country.

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