Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Making SNL great again
Saturday Night Live is enjoying its best television ratings in more than two decades, thanks to their ongoing satirical look at the Trump administration. The latest addition is a caricature of Sean Spicer, by Melissa McCarthy, which is brutal. Needless to say, this isn't going down well with Emperor Trump, who continues to admonish the show every chance he gets.
He is apparently so angry over the Spicer sketch that he can't even summon up a tweet in response. Instead, we get some juicy insider info that Trump may dump Spicer over the sketch, as it makes him look weak. If that isn't bad enough, SNL is considering Rosie O'Donnell for the part of Steve Bannon, who to this point has been portrayed as the grim reaper. So, Herr Trump may not want to set a precedent with poor Sean, who took the caricature in stride at Monday's press conference.
It is hard to tell whether Trump really can't stand people making fun of him, or if he is the Rodney Dangerfield of Presidents? I suppose he does feel that his new role as President warrants more respect, but Trump had to know that this kind of satire came with the job. Maybe he is just trying to boost NBC's ratings? Whatever the case, it isn't going to stop now that SNL is seeing its ratings soar.
Across the board, comics are having a field day with all things Trump. Stephen Colbert took a shot at his Super Bowl interview, which drew a lot of fire for his unwillingness to criticize Vladimir Putin. The interview itself was quite comical, as Baba O'Reilly went way out on a limb to try to get Trump to embrace the conservative view that Putin is our arch-enemy. As far as Trump is concerned, we are all "killers."
SNL has become the alt-Trump channel, zeroing in on just about every aspect of his administration. However, one has to ask if they risk "normalizing" Trump? Tina Fey felt she had to walk away from her Sarah Palin caricature because it had become all consuming and actually gave Palin more credibility than she deserved. Trump, being the entertainer that he is, probably realizes this and is egging the show on.
From day one, Trump made it clear the only Americans he is interested in are the ones who voted for him. This endless ridicule only serves to strengthen his base of support. Our mirth is actually his gain, as he can say to his base, "look at these guys. They have no respect for me, ergo they have no respect for you."
Alas, this is true. It is hard to have much respect for an electorate that could vote for such a guy. The only problem is that these persons are not easily shamed. In fact, they wear the ridicule like a red badge of courage, as we saw with Hillary's "basket of deplorables" quote, which they took as their label.
What to do? Many of us need this humor to help ease the pain of his administration. It isn't even a month old and already it feels like he has undid everything over the past 8 years and beyond. Meanwhile, our former President is learning how to kite surf with Richard Branson. We can only wish we could be so chill, especially since most of us are having to endure an especially cold February.
Fortunately, our federal courts are proving they still uphold the Constitution, blocking his ill-advised travel ban. Trump plans to appeal the restraining order all the way to the Supreme Court, but he is not likely to get a fifth conservative judge anytime soon. Roberts and Kennedy aren't exactly sure votes anyway.
This is a welcome relief given a GOP Congress that is unwilling to challenge Trump, even when it comes to someone as hopelessly incompetent to administer her cabinet post as Betsy DeVos. She slid through the Senate 51-50, with VP Mike Pence breaking the deadlock, as only two Republicans chose to break ranks. I suppose the Republicans fear the wrath of Trump voters. Judges don't have such worries, but how long before he stacks the courts in his favor?
The satire would be even better if it went beyond the superficial ticks of this administration and began to explore the deeper underlying concerns of his administration, but I suppose that is too much to ask of SNL writers. We can always turn to Andy Borowitz.