Guilt Saturday Night Live-style

–Richard E. Vatz

Saturday Night Live (SNL) historically has been pro-liberal and pro-Democratic in its humor –albeit with shots at both sides — but has from time to time indicated an effort to reverse one-sidedness. When, earlier this year, the show heavy-handedly supported Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama and simultaneously implied that the media were in Barack Obama’s pocket, SNL followed up with some not-completely-positive satires of Hillary, albeit still lovingly.

SNL has — along with other shows involving political humor — been consistently one-sided in favor of the Barack Obama-Joe Biden ticket over the John McCain-Sarah Palin ticket

Last night either liberal guilt or fears of losing part of their audience took over, and some even-handed satire actually emerged – with one crushing embarrassing moment. The show satirized Joe Biden’s diarrhea-of-the-mouth disease. (If I believed in classic psychological syndromes, I might say Joe Biden’s unconscious self-loathing and guilt over stealing the Vice Presidential nomination from Hillary Clinton causes him to undermine through rhetorical overkill his presidential ticket. But I digress.) The opening skit referenced his ill-timed warning regarding the certainty that Sen. Obama’s election would inescapably cause an American military crisis. The same skit reminded viewers – as MSM hardly ever does — of Sen. Obama’s referring to frightened Americans and their clinging to “guns and religion.”

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A later skit depicted an overly confident Sen. Obama playing it safe in a variety hour, “palling around” with the odious and previously SNL-unsatirized Rev. Jeremiah Wright and unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers. There had been one or two very fleeting references in past shows to Ayers.

Let’s not exculpate SNL just yet, however. The harder satire against Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin continued virtually unabated in the “Weekend Update” segment which included some soft shots at both tickets, with much more telling rips at the McCain-Palin ticket with a particularly gratuitous and offensive reference to the latter’s “pregnant daughter.”

Significantly, SNL had a segment within “Update” wherein they satirized robocalls, and in an incongruously quasi-serious moment had anchor Seth Meyers intoning that the relationship between Sen. Obama and Bill Ayers constituted only Sen. Obama’s “just [having] served on an education board” with Mr. Ayers.

One nice note about SNL: they had a touching, short and tasteful tribute last night to colleague Amy Poehler, who had just given birth to a baby boy. No expiation of guilt necessary there.

Prof. Vatz teaches Political Communication and Rhetoric at Towson University

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