Thursday, September 29, 2016

Will Saturday Night Destroy Trump?

For over 40 years Saturday Night Live ("SNL") has delivered blistering political satire and at times has helped to underscore negative aspects of candidates and to get across prevailing character flaws the mainstream media is too spineless to attack.  This past year has been no different.  Yet, in the wake of Monday's presidential debate and Donald Trump's disastrous performance, some are conjecturing that SNL may be particularly brutal on Trump - and deservedly so in my opinion.  A piece in Politico looks at the process underway at SNL in the lead up to Saturday's show.  Here are highlights:
Monday night was live from Hofstra. Saturday night is live from New York.
While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton argue over who won Monday night’s debate, inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the winner in the all-important satirical showdown is still being scripted.
That’s where the cast and crew of “Saturday Night Live” gathered Monday night to watch the debate. And it’s where they’re still sketching out portrayals that will shape how Americans see their presidential candidates.
SNL, which timed the launch of its 42nd season for the weekend after the first Clinton-Trump clash, made one big reveal Wednesday: Actor Alec Baldwin will debut as Trump. But heading into Saturday, the biggest drama is how Baldwin and SNL will parody the GOP nominee: Will they mock his sniffles? His hair? His orange hue? His gesticulations? His supposed microphone malfunction? Or do they cast him in more ominous terms: as a racist hate-monger? Some comedians are pressing for the latter. Dean Obeidallah, who worked on the production staff of SNL for eight years and now has a radio show on SiriusXM, said late-night comedians “have a moral obligation” to highlight the darker elements of Trump’s candidacy. “Donald Trump is not a normal candidate. This is not Mitt Romney, not John McCain. This is a man who has trafficked in racism, sexism and bigotry,” Obeidallah said.
“Maybe it’s going to take comedians to do the job that cable news has relinquished for so much of the campaign.”
Samantha Bee took some of her comedy colleagues and network executives to task for coddling Trump and inviting him on their programs. “I guess because ratings matter more than brown people,” Bee exclaimed. “Sure, he’s making life palpably dangerous for Muslims and immigrants, but, hey, he’s good at entertainment!”
Last season, one faux pro-Trump SNL ad featured stirring testimonials from what at first appeared to be everyday Americans who ended up as a Nazi, a woman ironing a Ku Klux Klan hood, and a white supremacist. 
Historically, SNL’s political satire has penetrated the national consciousness. It was Will Ferrell as George W. Bush who coined “strategery,” not Bush himself. And it was Tina Fey as Sarah Palin who claimed, “I can see Russia from my house,” not Palin. The skewering tradition dates all the way back to Chevy Chase’s 1976 portrayal of President Gerald Ford as a klutz, and Jon Lovitz’s disbelief, as Michael Dukakis in 1988, that “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy.” In 2000, Al Gore’s own advisers made him watch Darrell Hammond’s stilted, stiff, sighing impersonation of his debate performances to show Gore how poorly he was coming off to others.
Lorne Michaels, the creator and executive producer of SNL, told Parade this week that “fundamentally we’re non-partisan,“ but there are growing pressures inside the satire world to wage a comedic war on Trump in the election’s final weeks.
Spokespeople for SNL did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
Debates have long been fertile ground for SNL and the Baldwin-McKinnon teaser suggested that’s how Saturday’s episode will open. As it happens, there will be a debate, including the vice presidential one next week, before each of SNL’s first four episodes this season.
The campaigns, if not the candidates themselves, will be watching on Saturday.
Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director, hasn’t thought much about it yet even though she said, “‘Saturday Night Live’ will certainly matter from now until the election a great deal.”  “It’s among the things I can’t control,” Palmieri said with a hearty laugh. “‘Saturday Night Live’ — among the things I can’t control.”

Again, I hope SNL brutalizes Trump.  The husband and I will be at a wedding at The Greenbrier on Saturday, but we will be sure to tune into SNL afterwards.  

No comments: