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ę The True Detective Finale and The Left's Inability to View Art As Anything Other Than an Ego-Flattering Political Affirmation | Main | Obama Is a Very Bad Man Open Thread Ľ
March 10, 2014

Lena Dunham on Saturday Night Live

I saw a bit of this, just because it was so heavily promoted and I figured I should watch it, just as part of my job.

Truth Revolt headlines an article that one sketch featured Dunham "poking fun at the biblical narrative." That's true in a minor way -- the Eden story was handled irreverently, surely -- but the main target of the sketch was not the Eden story, but rather Dunham's screen persona as a narcissistic neurotic. She was playing her "Hannah" role from Girls in the sketch, and reduced everything in the Garden of Eden to her own list of shallow preoccupations. When "Adam" says that she was made from his rib, she objects "That's so sexist!"

When "God" speaks to her at the end, she only wants to ask about whether her publishing deal is still on. Hannah is forever worrying about whether her book will be published.

And of course it poked fun at her reputation for appearing nude at the drop of a hat. I think one "critic" said of the movie, "A lot of nudity... even for Dunham."

(One thing I think Dunham's critics either miss or do not confess often enough is that while Hannah is a neurotic narcissist, Dunham is aware of that fact, and makes Hannah the butt of jokes. That is, there seems to be an unexpressed belief that Dunham endorses all of Hannah's selfish, shallow dopiness, when in fact the show's position is that she is deeply flawed and quite mockable. She's still the hero of the show, don't get me wrong; but George Costanza was often the hero of Seinfeld, without Jerry Seinfeld or Jason Alexander ever being charged with believing that Costanza was the sort of character that people should aspire to be.

That doesn't mean I'm a fan-- I don't watch this show (except inadvertently, or by osmosis, because it gets chattered about a bunch). But it's just wrong to assert that Dunham is championing Hannah as a heroic ideal. Quite the opposite -- Hannah is intended as a deeply flawed comedic loser-hero. I'd say a "female Charlie Brown," but good ol' Chuck was highly ethical and thoughtful, which Hannah, in the main, is not.)

I really don't think that the Eden story was the main target of humor, here. It was the incongruity of seeing pampered, narcissistic, neurotic Hannah in the Garden of Eden, and to some extent about Dunham herself. Irreverent about God and the Bible, sure, but much more about Hollywood's interpretation of Bible stories than about actual Bible stories.

I mean, it's not a funny sketch, certainly. It just references Dunham's most famous role and puts that character in a different context. Meh. But I don't think the target here was the Bible. And if someone is goofing on herself, I give them latitude to goof on other things along the way.

Of course, later in the show, they featured a sketch in which a "male rights activist" was shown to be a loser h8r without troubling themselves to add any actual comedy to the piece. At the end, his out-of-his-league girlfriend tells him to hit the road. Yay, comeuppance for mustache-twirling stereotypes and cult hate objects!

There are so many problems with this that I really donít want to take the time to parse them all. Suffice it to say that the creepy misogynist who opposes abortion just because he wants to keep women down is the left-wing P.C. equivalent of the equally bogus right-wing P.C. clichť that feminists are shrill, physically unattractive, and driven into their ideology by resentment at their failure to get men. Of course, in the case of every P.C. stereotype (whether itís the P.C. of the Left or the Right) there are some individuals who conform to that stereotype. There are some pro-life activists who are misogynists who resent womenís equality; there are some pro-choice feminists who are shrill and motivated by resentment against men. But as broad-brush generalizations, both of these are, in my experience spanning almost five decades now, false.

Most readers will at this point expect me to denounce the SNL sketch because it expresses a political opinion different from mine. Nope: Thatís totally fine with me. The day I canít laugh at a joke by Rush Limbaugh or Jon Stewart or P. J. OíRourke just because I donít happen to agree with the political point of the particular joke is the day I will have to give up and register myself as ďHumorless Person, Class A.Ē No, what really annoys me about that sketch is that I donít remember there being any jokes in it. I am, among other things, a feminist and a pro-lifer, and Iím okay with people telling jokes about feminists and pro-lifers. But when you have an attack on any group, and donít include any actual, you know, jokes, then what youíre left with is not a comedy sketch but merely an act of verbal aggression and ritual humiliation of the unpopular Other (in this case, the menís-rights anti-abortion guy). As such, it of course deserves my protection from censorship, because Iím a First Amendment absolutist; what it does not deserve is my respect.

I understand that creative people like injecting "messages" important to them into their work, but such a piece has to also stand on its non-"message" merits to be a success. In this piece, there was nothing more than The Message. Girls good, h8rs bad.*

I only watched three or four sketches, to be honest. It just wasn't funny. That's not really Dunham's fault -- the show is never funny, and has not even been intermittently funny for about five or six years now. The only thing I thought was mildly funny (though really in an end-of-the-show weakest-sketches-that-made-the-cut sort of way) was this easy sketch about Bad Rap from Goofy White People. Easy and dumb, and I feel like I've seen this before, but still, if I'm being honest, I kind of smiled.

The show's ratings were down.

I'm really not sure why anyone watches it anymore.

Mildly Funny: This clip isn't from this show, but a previous one hosted by Tina Fey. It goofs on Girls.

Yeah, that's about as good as SNL gets, and it only gets that good once every five episodes.

* I have to say I tuned out of this sketch because it was so lame but I suppose... I suppose it's possible their intent was, possibly, to mock the intolerance of people on the left? I didn't pick up on such a subtle reversal, but who knows, maybe it was just because I was too bored to pay attention.

digg this
posted by Ace at 01:17 PM

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