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March 31, 2014

Saturday Night Live Pimps Obamacare in Unfunny Sketch

Many on the right are claiming this sketch "makes fun" of Obama.*

There's an odd thing on the right, where they repeatedly claim that what are objectively pro-Obama sketches and claim that they're goofing on Obama or "ripping" on him.

The below sketch, written in the patented recent SNL style (by which I mean it's not funny and relies almost entirely on minor references to minor celebrities for mere "oh I know who that is" recognition reactions than actual humor value), is pro-Obama and pro-Obamacare from start to finish.

Obama is depicted as a reluctant pitchman for Obamacare. He doesn't want to embarrass himself by doing these social media stunts to advertise for Obamacare. He has more dignity (and less ego) than that.

He's only drawn into these schemes by third parties, who, in this sketch, are the butt of the joke. Here, that third party is the WH's social media outreach guru, depicted as a nerdy freak.

Whenever Obama objects to her schemes, his advisor reminds him of all the people who desperately need health insurance, whom Obama has sworn to help. And then Obama goes through with the advert.

Almost all of SNL's Obama sketches are like this now -- and by "like this" I mean "not funny." And they're specifically unfunny because they're written as relentless pieces of boosterism and apologism for Obama.

* Maybe this is semantic. When I read "makes fun of Obama," I take it to mean that Obama is the target of the jokes, that he's being attacked.

All the SNL Obama sketches do (for the past several years) is put Obama into a situation in which funny things are happening around him (well, in theory, funny things are happening around him). But this isn't "making fun of" him. At most, this is... I don't know what you'd call it. Dealing with him "irreverently," I suppose, as Life of Brian handled the Jesus story without actually making Jesus the target of jokes.

It's a standard comedy trope that when you have silly crap happening, you need someone playing "The Only Sane Man in the Room" to react to it. The audience sees its own reaction in The Only Sane Man, and winds up identifying with The Only Sane Man.

These sorts of sketches -- making Obama the put-upon Only Sane Man -- are not making fun of him. At worst for Obama, they're merely goofing on the things that a thoughtful, dignified, brilliant man must do to Get Poor People Insured.

I don't know if this frequent mischaracterization of SNL's many pro-Obama sketches as somehow "anti-Obama" is a play for viral links (in hopes that the right will link the posts celebrating the alleged sketch that "rips on" Obama), or if people on the right are so desperate to have SNL's validation that they're seeing things that just aren't present in the sketches.

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posted by Ace at 03:30 PM

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