Tag Archives: Amy Poehler

False equivalence, even in ‘comedy,’ isn’t funny; it is dangerous

Bernie Sanders Reacts to Larry David's 'Saturday Night Live' Impersonation

Larry David admittedly does a pretty good Bernie Sanders impersonation, especially vocally, but I, for one, find corporately sponsored take-downs of Sanders to be chilling because there is a dark agenda of corporate self-preservation behind them. (By “self” I don’t mean to imply that corporations are people. They most certainly are not…)

It’s easy to laugh when a politician whom you despise is spoofed on “Saturday Night Live” or elsewhere. This was the case for me with parodies of Sarah Palin (Tina Fey won an Emmy for that portrayal) and yes, of Billary Clinton (both Amy Poehler and Kate McKinnon have done a pretty good job of portraying Her Highness).

It’s a little more difficult when the politician who’s being lampooned is your favorite, such as, in my case, Bernie Sanders.

Don’t get me wrong; Larry David overall did a great job as Bernie Sanders on last night’s “SNL.” He has Bernie’s voice down pat, and it’s OK, I suppose, for David or anyone else to portray Bernie as a bit of a crank, a curmudgeon (as David did). Long live free speech. (Did you detect my enthusiasm there?)

It’s that, of course, NBC is a mega-corporation, and so of course pro-corporate bias is going to seep even into a “comedy” show like “SNL.”

Larry David’s Bernie Sanders’ opening statement in “SNL’s” mock Democratic Party presidential debate of last night, for instance, includes: “We’re doomed! We need a revolution! Millions of people on the streets! And we’ve got to do something! And we’ve got to do it now!” He then pauses for a moment and then, waving his hand dismissively, declares: “Nah!”

David’s Bernie also declares, in his closing statement, that he’ll end up being Billary’s running mate, which is right in line with the corporate punditry’s “conventional wisdom” that Bernie can’t win. (He can, actually, but, of course, the corporatocrats and the corporate whores who love them will do what they can to ensure that Bernie doesn’t.)

Um, yeah, I don’t know. It’s important for us not to take everything too seriously, or at least to be able to laugh now and then, but the danger, it seems to me, of spoofing Bernie Sanders like this is that it’s meant to negate pretty much his entire message — which is awfully convenient, of course, not only for a corporation like NBC but for the entire elite establishment that benefits from the status quo, which hinges on corporations continuing to drain the life blood of working-class Americans and even destroying the planet itself in the process of profiteering obscenely.

It’s not really funny shit, and to laugh at it as though it were — Hey, if “SNL” is spoofing it, how serious can it be? — serves to enable us to continue to ignore it at our own collective peril.

Not that Bernie Sanders was the only one lampooned last night; the first words spoken by Kate McKinnon’s Billary Clinton in “SNL’s” mock Democratic debate are: “Oh, hello. Thank you for having me. I think you’re really going to like the Hillary Clinton that my team and I have created for this debate.” Ouch. (Because it’s so true.)

But while Billary Clinton indeed keeps rebranding herself like a human weather vane spinning around in a tornado (just very recently she went from being a proud “moderate” to being a “progressive”), Bernie Sanders isn’t a Chicken Little. The problems that he repeatedly talks about — such as climate change and insane income disparity — are severe and persistent, and it’s not difficult to foresee the future if we wave them all off like a joke, like Larry David’s Bernie Sanders does.

Another problem with spoofing presidential candidates and politicians in general is that there so often is the concern of the writers to give the appearance that everyone is being spoofed equally and that all sides of any political debate are presented as being equal. (This is meant to accomplish at least a few things, such as to avoid allegations of bias [probably especially by right-wing nut jobs] and to keep the money flowing [money might not keep on flowing if you have stepped on some toes].)

But that blatantly false equivalence so widely communicated within the corporately owned and controlled media, probably especially in the “news” media, inevitably infects our general discourse to the point that many if not most Americans cannot effectively and accurately analyze politics and politicians. They cannot discriminate between truth and bullshit and they often even (often enthusiastically) support politicians whose political practices harm them while only helping those who already are filthy rich.

The “tea-party” dipshits, whose darling right now apparently is billionaire Donald Trump, are experts at this, experts at being chickens supporting Colonel Sanders (who is not to be confused with Bernie Sanders).

How stupid is it to vote against your own best interests?

But millions of Americans do it every election, such as even with their blind support of Billary Clinton. (Well, Wall Street supports Billary, as it does Jeb! Bush, the Wall Street weasels’ top two beneficiaries, so their support of corporate whores like Clinton and Bush certainly makes selfish and greedy political sense for them, but the vast majority of us voters aren’t Wall Street weasels who will benefit directly from another Bush or Clinton presidency.)

Equal spoofing is bullshit because everything isn’t equal. To assert that it is is its own form of nihilism that, only in our own minds, lets us off of the hook of our duty, as the citizens and denizens of this nation, to ensure that our descendants, that all of the other species of life and the planet itself don’t continue to suffer degradation (or even extinction) in the future because of our selfishness, laziness and greediness in the present.

It’s not just “SNL”; take also 2004’s “Team America: World Police,” for instance. In that movie, which overall is pretty funny (with some truly hilarious scenes) and was a pretty good response to the hyper-jingoism that followed 9/11, the “South Park” creators make leftists from Hollywood (including Alec Baldwin [who played Jim Webb in “SNL’s” mock debate last night], Matt Damon, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon) and, of course, left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore, into villains, apparently only or primarily for the purpose of not being accused of taking a political side, of being an equal-opportunity offender.*

But, again, not all political sides are equal. Sarah Palin, for instance, is not the equivalent of even Billary Clinton, and Billary Clinton, while she calls herself a “Democrat” and even “a progressive” (“a progressive who likes to get things done”!), is not the equivalent of Bernie Sanders.

In a nation whose denizens can barely analyze political matters and politicians as it is (if they haven’t already given up the effort entirely for sports, celebrity gossip, consumerism and/or other forms of entertainment and/or distraction) — and who consequently, again, thus routinely actually vote against their own best interests (when/if they vote at all) — this false-equivalence-as-comedy shit just isn’t very fucking funny.

*It’s perfectly OK to take down limousine liberals, who by definition don’t walk their own talk, but that doesn’t seem to have been the “South Park” creators’ main intent with “Team America.”

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Fey is AP’s ‘Entertainer of the Year’

In this Sept. 27, 2008, image released by NBC, Tina Fey portrays ...

Associated Press photo

Tina Fey, left, spoofs Repugnican Sarah Palin-Quayle on “Saturday Night Live” in late September. (Amy Poehler, right, plays Katie Couric.) Fey’s frighteningly funny, accurate portrayal of Palin-Quayle as a bumbling, ignorant beauty pageant queen who would be just a heartbeat away from the presidency — “I can see Russia from my house!” probably is Fey’s most memorable line as Palin-Quayle — probably was more effective against the McInsane-Palin-Quayle ticket than any television ad that Team Obama could have aired. 

We could use some good news right about now: The Associated Press named Tina Fey as its “Entertainer of the Year.” Reports the AP:

NEW YORK – Tina Fey is the entertainer of the year? You betcha.

Fey was voted The Associated Press’ Entertainer of the Year, an annual honor chosen by newspaper editors and broadcast producers across the country.

Fey was selected by AP members as the performer who had the greatest impact on culture and entertainment in 2008.

The 38-year-old comedian bested runner-up Robert Downey Jr., whose comeback was capped with the blockbuster smash “Iron Man,” and the third-place vote-getter, Heath Ledger, who posthumously wowed audiences as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

But it was Fey who most impressed voters largely with her indelible impression of Gov. Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live.” Her cameos on her old show (where she had been a head writer until 2006) helped drive the show to record ratings and eventually drew an appearance from Palin herself.

“Tina Fey is such an obvious choice,” said Sharon Eberson, entertainment editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “She gave us funny when we really needed it and, in a year when women in politics were making huge strides, Fey stood out in the world of entertainment.”

“She simultaneously entertained us with her wit and put a mirror up to the nation during the election and made us think about what was going on,” said Scott Shive, assistant features editor at the Lexington Herald-Leader. “She is the epitome of the smart kid coming out on top for once.”

As soon as Palin was chosen as Sen. John McCain‘s running mate, conjecture mounted that the similar-looking Fey would have to return to “SNL” to play her.

In an interview earlier this fall, Fey recalled watching early TV coverage of Palin: “That was the first time I thought, ‘Well, I kinda do look like her. I’d better really listen to how this lady talks.'”

Fey debuted the impression on the “SNL” season premiere and a sensation quickly followed. She made four more pre-election appearances as Palin on the late-night satire. [Actually, I count at least six appearances by Fey as Palin-Quayle on “SNL.”]

“From the winks to the nods to the accent, she nailed it,” said Marc Bona, assistant entertainment editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland. “And she did so at a time when it seemed the whole country was tuned in — both to the presidential race as well as ‘Saturday Night Live.'”

Last year’s AP Entertainer of the Year also went to a comedian whose satire blended in with politics: Stephen Colbert.

Yup, after Repugnican John Fossil Fool McCain picked Palin-Quayle as his running mate — my guess is that his choice of her as his running mate cost him at least 2 to 3 percent of the vote, maybe as much as 5 percent — my immediate impression was that he’d picked a Tina Fey lookalike, and I was going to post a picture of Fey and Palin-Quayle side by side, but I never got around to doing that.

So I wasn’t surprised, shortly thereafter, to see Fey’s first impersonation of Palin-Quayle on “SNL.” Probably Fey’s first appearance as Palin-Quayle is the funniest; it’s never quite as good as the first time… (All of Fey’s appearances as Palin-Quayle are here.)

A shout out to Amy Poehler, too, for having done a pretty good job as an increasingly bitter power-mongering Billary Cunton — er, Hillary Clinton. (Check out this one of Poehler doing Billary as the newly named secretary of state if you haven’t.)

Poeher’s Billary was overshadowed by Fey’s Palin-Quayle, but not only did Fey seem to be more like Sarah Palin-Quayle than even Sarah Palin-Quayle is like Sarah Palin-Quayle, but again, I think that Fey’s serial impersonations of Palin-Quayle helped Barack Obama and Joe Biden win the White House. That’s a great mixture of mainstream entertainment and politics, so I’m happy that Fey has been named the AP’s “Entertainer of the Year.”

Heath Ledger did a fantastic job as the Joker in “The Dark Night” — he made the movie worth seeing — and his death was a loss, but how do you compare Ledger’s performance as the Joker to Fey’s as Palin-Quayle? Downey Jr. was good in “Iron Man,” but I wouldn’t have put him at No. 2 on my list.

Anyway, I see that Fey is on the cover of the January 2009 issue of Vanity Fair:

In this image released by Vanity Fair, an image of actress and ...

The article on Fey is here. I’ll have to read it today.

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