Tag Archives: SNL

Inmates take over asylum at small Oregon college

There is a course called Humanities 101 at Reed College, a small liberal arts institution in Portland. It is described in a Nov. 2 article in The Atlantic this way:

A required year-long course for freshmen, Hum 110 consists of lectures that everyone attends and small break-out classes “where students learn how to discuss, debate, and defend their readings.” It’s the heart of the academic experience at Reed, which ranks second for future Ph.D.s in the humanities and fourth in all subjects. (Reed famously shuns the U.S. News & World Report, as explained in a 2005 Atlantic article by a former Reed president.) As Professor Peter Steinberger details in a 2011 piece for Reed magazine, “What Hum 110 Is All About,” the course is intended to train students whose “primary goal” is “to engage in original, open-ended, critical inquiry.”

All well and good, right? This is what college is supposed to be about. Challenging assumptions and forcing students to learn critical reasoning skills so that they can not only defend that which they think they know, but learn also what they do not know, and how to debate these issues in a civil society — and to further and defend their future academic research, if any.

Except that is not how it is working out at Reed, as writer Chris Bodenner notes in that Atlantic article:

[In Humanties 101], a 39-year-old Saturday Night Live skit recently caused an uproar over cultural appropriation. In the classic Steve Martin skit, he performs a goofy song, “King Tut,” meant to satirize a Tutankhamun exhibit touring the U.S. and to criticize the commercialization of Egyptian culture. You could say that his critique is weak; that his humor is lame; that his dance moves are unintentionally offensive or downright racist. All of that, and more, was debated in a humanities course at Reed.

But many students found the video so egregious that they opposed its very presence in class. “That’s like somebody … making a song just littered with the n-word everywhere,” a member of Reedies Against Racism (RAR) told the student newspaper when asked about Martin’s performance. She told me more: The Egyptian garb of the backup dancers and singers–many of whom are African American–“is racist as well. The gold face of the saxophone dancer leaving its tomb is an exhibition of blackface.”

Such outrage has been increasingly common in the course, Humanities 110, over the past 13 months. On September 26, 2016, the newly formed RAR organized a boycott of all classes in response to a Facebook post from the actor Isaiah Washington, who urged “every single African American in the United States that was really fed up with being angry, sad and disgusted” over police shootings to stay home on Monday. Of the 25 demands issued by RAR that day, the largest section was devoted to reforming Humanities 110.

The article goes on to say:

Beginning on boycott day, RAR protested every single Hum lecture that school year. In-class protests are very rare on college campuses. During the nationwide upsurge of student activism tracing back to 2015, protesters have occupied administrative buildings, stormed into libraries, shut down visiting speakers in auditoriums, and walked out of classrooms–but they hardly ever disrupt the classroom itself. RAR has done so more than 60 times.

A Hum protest is visually striking: Up to several dozen RAR supporters position themselves alongside the professor and quietly hold signs reading “We demand space for students of color,” “We cannot be erased,” “Fuck Hum 110,” “Stop silencing black and brown voices; the rest of society is already standing on their necks,” and so on. The signs are often accompanied by photos of black Americans killed by police.

“Facebook conversations at Reed bring out the extreme aspects of political discourse on campus.”

One of the first Hum professors to request that RAR not occupy the classroom was Lucía Martínez Valdivia, who said her preexisting PTSD would make it difficult to face protesters. In an open letter, RAR offered sympathy to Martínez Valdivia but then accused her of being anti-black, discriminating against those with disabilities, and engaging in gaslighting–without specifying those charges. When someone asked for specifics, a RAR leader replied, “Asking for people to display their trauma so that you feel sufficiently satisfied is a form of violence.”

But another RAR member did offer a specific via Facebook: “The​ ​appropriation​ ​of​ ​AAVE [African American Vernacular English]​ ​on​ ​her​ ​shirt​ ​during​ ​lecture:​ ​‘Poetry​ ​is​ ​lit’ ​is​ ​a​ ​form​ ​of​ ​anti-blackness.”

Oh, brother. 

Liberals like to observe, with good reason, that education has failed American students, from public schools on through college. Any one of us knows people with a college degree who nearly lack the critical reasoning skills necessary to find their way to a cogent position in political arguments.

But it’s not just students at right-wing, religious universities who are asking to be shielded from the real world. Liberal students are asking the same at many institutions. 

Civic-mindedness and the public spirit in which we all share some common values are both dying slow deaths in American culture, not to mention the strangling of nuance. 

No wonder our body politic cannot agree enough to pursue even the most anodyne of common goals now being threatened by a takeover of the poltitical system by American oligarchs.

Put another way: if Steve Martin singing King Tut is enough to send today’s students in search of safe spaces, and create efforts to shut down an entire required freshman class, then even comedy and comedic satire are both on the same intolerant, know-nothing chopping block. 

McCarthy is Spicer’s doppelganger

The real Sean Spicer (left) and Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer.

The resemblance is uncanny.

Imagine if you were the first person to say to Melissa McCarthy, “Ya know. Sean Spicer actually looks like you. He even sounds like you.”

You might have noticed at the beginning of the SNL skit with McCarthy that much of the audience starts laughing from the beginning at how much McCarthy has taken on the annoying look and feel of Spicer. 

If Trump thought he could bully a bunch of New Yorkers into backing down he is learning how foolish that really is.

The biggest miscalculation that Trump and his minions may have made is to believe on some level that they don’t need all the networks and television show and actors and musicians and comedians who make up American pop culture.

They do.

Steve Bannon has spent too much time in the bubble that is Breitbart and the wacky online right-wing. He thinks he is more powerful than American pop culture.

He is not and never will be.

There are good reasons why so many totalitarian regimes are scared of American pop culture. For better or worse, it is everywhere. And once it turns against you, you have lost in ways from which you will likely never recover.

Meanwhile, Sean Spicer The Original is none too happy about all of this SNL fun at his expense in one of the most talked about skits in a very long time:

SNL had Melissa McCarthy on this weekend to lampoon tSean Spicer, though it would seem that the White House Press Secretary isn’t exactly enraptured by how the comedy show portrays the Trump Administration.

McCarthy depicted Spicer during the White House Press Briefings, and she attracted critical acclaim for replicating Spicer’s contentious engagements with the press corps. Extra asked Spicer for his thoughts on the sketch, and his reaction was that McCarthy “could dial back” with her impression and she “needs to slow down on the gum chewing; way too many pieces in there.”

Spicer eventually turned his attention to Alec Baldwin, who returned this weekend with his impression of Trump making phone calls to foreign world leaders. Trump has complained about SNL‘s mockery of him before, and Spicer more or less said he agrees with the president’s opinion.

“Alec has gone from funny to mean, and that’s unfortunate,” Spicer said. “SNL used to be really funny. There’s a streak of meanness now that they’ve crossed over to mean.”

Awwww. For all the insults conservatives love to lob toward progressives about “poor little snowflakes needing safe spaces,” it strikes me that conservatives — especially Trump himself — continue to be the hypersensitive ones.

But we knew that already.

(Note: OK. It’s Doppelganger not Doppleganger. Corrected. Thanks for pointing out my mistake.)

SNL does a brilliant presidential debate send-up

hillarydonalddebatesnl

Sometimes comedians paint in broad, garish strokes by playing a subject to its comical extremes.

But as SNL learned with its skits with Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin, sometimes playing things close to that which they actually are can be just as effective.

Witness the brilliant comic acting of Alec Baldwin with his not-far-off-the-mark turn with the bombastic narcissism of presidential candidate Donald Trump. It’s funny because you can imagine him saying all these things because that is just who he is: a self-involved undereducated buffoon.

Enjoy.

Well, that escalated quickly

Just when you think it’s another SNL skit which is not going anywhere….

SNL mocks America’s love affair with guns

SNL takes some well-deserved shots at America’s fascination with guns in the devastating way that only well-written comedy can do. Bonus appearance by Amy Schumer.

SNL guns gun control Saturday Night Live jefferly.com

 

The return of Xanax for gay summer weddings

Not new, but an appropriate repeat.

xanax for Gay summer weddings from MisterB on Vimeo.

Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!

Rampage3
A scene from the Rampage 3 trailer — which may be about as far as the angry filmmaker behind Rampage 1 & 2 might get with this one. Click on the screen cap to go to the trailer.

It used to be difficult to find anyone on the funny-or-not-funny fence about comedian Mike Meyer’s masterful rendition of Dieter, the host of the wacky German talk show Sprockets on old episodes of Saturday Night Live (SNL). Perhaps you had to have spent time around actual German hipsters to get the joke. Perhaps it wasn’t funny at all and I’m just weird.

Dieter would pop off with the oddest quotes in his witheringly judgmental monotone in abject nihilism.

Said Dieter of an artist he liked — as much as he could like anything:

“Why is it that the truly brilliant are doomed to a life of obscurity, surrounded by a sea of mediocrity, only to end up covered in sores in a pool of their own filth? Oh well, the beat goes on.”

Indeed it does.

I was reminded of Dieter this week when I discovered German film director Uwe Boll took to YouTube to decry the fact that his Kickstarter campaign to fund Rampage 3: No Mercy is going so badly with only a few days left to give.

He hates Kickstarter. He hates people who gave money. He hates people who didn’t give money. He hates Hollywood. He hates pretty much everyone.

Please donate. Ha!

After he rants on and on during a first YouTube posting — charmingly titled “fuck you all” — he comes back for a second drink at the deep well of bitterness.

Dieter would be proud.

And here is YouTube posting number two.

Stem in the box

StemInTheBox