Political and religious satire are two shining examples of our right to freedom of speech in this country.
Political satire is one that has existed for a long time in this country. Saturday Night Live has taken the lead since it first hit the air in 1975.
Chevy Chase was a clumsy Gerald Ford, Dan Aykroyd played Jimmy Carter as someone who knew how to handle an acid trip, Phil Hartman was a diabolical Ronald Reagan, Dana Carvey’s George H.W. Bush might be the most popular, Hartman and Darrell Hammond both played Bill Clinton in their own way, Will Ferrell made up words portraying George W. Bush and Fred Armisen and Jay Pharoah did Barack Obama.
With Donald Trump, who was impersonated decades before he became President, has been done by Hammond mostly and a short time by Taran Killam before departing the show.
As debates between him and Hillary Clinton began in the fall of 2016, SNL recruited a heavy-hitter to do Trump: Alec Baldwin, who has been a guest host a record 17 times.
From the start, Baldwin nailed Trump. At times, it feels too easy because Trump gives him so much material almost weekly.
When Trump won, it probably came as a surprise, requiring Baldwin to stick close to New York City when SNL is doing a show that week.
Most, if not all, of the Presidents in office since SNL premiered have taken the high road when reacting to impressions of them. George H.W. Bush invited Carvey to the White House and Hammond stood side-by-side by Clinton while dressed like him. He’s never been President, but Newt Gingrich had Chris Farley visit the Capitol and do an impression of him when he was Speaker of the House.
For Trump, who has hosted SNL a few times, doesn’t like it at all. For a man who likes to insult political opponents and anyone who dares to disagree with him, he had a meltdown after Baldwin re-created his announcement where he declared a national emergency to get money for his border wall.
Trump loves using Twitter to rile up his supporters and cause a distraction.
I’ve learned to ignore the tweets, but this one has almost caused a strain on my eyes from rolling too hard. Maybe Trump has an ax to grind with Baldwin (most conservatives do). A lot of people found the cold open funny, while others will express their outrage by sharing it on Facebook and parrot his words.
What exactly did Trump want SNL to do? There might be some variety hour on state television in North Korea where Kim Jong Un is showered with praise, but SNL is not there to kiss up to him or any politician. They’re tasked with taking the events of the week and making them funny in what is a scary world at times.
Maybe the President should stop making it so easy for the writers.
Also this week, I saw this petition regarding TBS’s new mini-series Miracle Workers.
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), a Catholic group, organized a petition to take the show off the air due to Steve Buscemi’s portrayal of God.
Here’s the first episode in full.
If you haven’t watched it yet (SPOIILERS AHEAD), Miracle Workers shows heaven as a corporation and Buscemi’s God as the man in charge.
The show opens with God watching all the terrible things happening on Earth on multiple TVs and is clearly distraught by what he’s watching. A stock car driver is shown thanking him for his success and shortly later, which lifts his spirit, but the news anchor announces the driver died in a fiery crash soon after, depressing Buscemi’s God even more as he tries to find a solution to all of Earth’s problems. His solution is to blow up the Earth and start a new project (a restaurant).
Daniel Radcliffe and Geraldine Viswanathan work in the department of prayers, mainly helping people find their keys and gloves while sending tougher prayers to the man upstairs. They agree to take on two tough prayers with the same goal: bring two young people who like each other together and kiss in two weeks time to stop God’s plan.
What I find humorous is this idea they know exactly what God, a man nobody has ever seen or met, is like. I know he was kind of mean in the Old Testament, so maybe Buscemi is channeling that era when God sent a flood to destroy the Earth?
We can portray God, Jesus and other biblical figures in a way where we might poke fun at them, but the writers of shows, movies and musicals don’t risk being killed like others worldwide do when it comes to showing the prophet Muhammad. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone took a big risk doing it on their show and Comedy Central censored parts of it out of fear.
South Park has had multiple episodes with Jesus. One shows him using steroids, while another shows him killing Bill Donahue of the Catholic League, who overtakes the Vatican in an Easter episode.
So many other shows have used God and Jesus for humor and satire.
It would appear The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property won’t take the time to truly understand the meaning behind something like Buscemi’s God character. TFP is just jumping to conclusions, which backfires in most situations.
Joan Osbourne’s “One of Us” asked the question “what if God was one us?”. Miracle Workers kind of does this. For the religious, God is in charge of everything going on in the universe. With the way things have been going lately, you may have an understanding of why Buscemi’s God is the way he is.
It’s also a workplace comedy, so it’s not made to be taken too seriously. The Office didn’t show the true American workplace. It showed one we’d like to work at. Miracle Workers gives us a drearier, and yes, exaggerated view of the corporate world and uses heaven as the background.
Perhaps TFP should focus on more important issues. The Oakland, California diocese is the latest to release the names of priests, deacons and others accused of sexual abuse. That’s on top of several other diocese reports across the country that have come out.
Whether it’s Donald Trump or groups like TFP that are so easily triggered by impression of them or some character in a book, it shows that some can’t find humor and meaning in a way someone or something is interpreted.
Gerald Ford didn’t fall down every three steps, George W. Bush can read and his father would laugh at Dana Carvey’s nasally-sounding impression of him.
We need a reason to laugh at politics and religion. Too many times, both don’t make the world a better place. Both have caused bloodshed and war in the history of mankind.
I was told a long time ago to laugh at myself more. I’m glad I learned to, or else I would be a miserable as Trump and the TFP.
Also, “NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!”