Live From New York...It's the Same Old Propaganda!
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Studio 8H in New York City's Rockefeller Center is not only the two-floor sound stage from which Saturday Night Live airs, but has also long been one of the most important stages for mainstream American political satire and comedic commentary over the past three decades. Whereas during its thirty-four year tenure, from Chevy Chase's prat-falling Gerald Ford to Tina Fey's brilliant impersonation of bimbo huntress Sarah Palin, SNL has successfully lampooned many American politicians, the show has long steered clear of challenging government propaganda or party-line talking points. Dubious ideologies of American imperialism and exceptionalism are not only often ignored but, at times, are even reinforced by the show's writers, producing jokes that can easily be seen as, at best, ignorant and misinformed, and at worst, downright dogmatic and racist.
SNL's reinforcement of American political propaganda has never been more pronounced, offensive or unapologetic than under the helm of Seth Meyers, who succeeded Fey as the show's head writer in 2006. Meyers clearly has a hard-on for Barack Obama (he donated $4000 to his campaign) and revitalized the show's waning popularity by exposing the embarrassing absurdity of the Illinois Senator's political opponents. More recently, Meyers has shown that the new President's Congressional adversaries should face defenestration due to their dissent over his economic policies, at the devious bidding of Obama's henchman Rahm Emanuel (a suggestion that I too subscribe to, as long as Rahm is then also thrown through a closed window, followed soon thereafter by the President himself).
What is clear is that real issues are never fair game with Meyers in charge, and each politics-related sketch seems to serve the purpose of revealing his own tired political perspective: Republicans are stupid and wrong, Democrats are well-intentioned, if at times silly, but the United States is always right and just. Regardless of this blinkered viewpoint, this format is often harmless and usually humorous.
Sometimes, however, the results are a bit more sinister.
"The Iranian government this week has demanded an apology from Hollywood saying the films 300 and The Wrestler were insulting to Iranians. Well how 'bout this Iran: you apologize for the hostage crisis, pursuing nuclear weapons, high gas prices, financing Hamas, denying the Holocaust, and setting fire to a Danish Embassy because of a couple cartoons, and then you'll get your apology for The Wrestler."This little laugh-line got the biggest cheer and loudest applause of the evening from the audience and Meyers appeared to be pretty pleased with himself afterwards. But hey, it's an entertainment show that is supposed to make people laugh, right? So what's the big deal?
"Christian and Muslim Britons joined forces yesterday to tell city officials to stop taking the Christianity out of Christmas, warning them that this simply fuels a backlash against Muslims. Also fueling a backlash against Muslims: terrorism."And then, only two months later, on January 20, 2007, repeated the punchline with a different set-up:
"Muslim groups are concerned that the new season of 24, which features Muslim terrorists setting off a nuclear explosive near Los Angeles will foster hate against them and create a climate of Islamophobia. Also creating a climate of Islamophobia: terrorism."It's clear that Meyers' own bigotry remains unabated and undeterred in this glorious post-racial American reconstruction era of Barack Obama.