“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” – First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
Saturday Night Live is more important now than ever, if only to show our leaders that they may be allowed to have a big ego, but may not be allowed to have a fragile one. It also gives leaders a glimpse into the mindset of a generation of voters who will be voting for many years to come. That’s a lot of elections.
The following is an actual prompt from the 2010 AP English Language and Composition Exam.
“In his 2004 book, Status Anxiety, Alain de Botton argues that the chief aim of humorists is not merely to entertain but “to convey with impunity messages that might be dangerous or impossible to state directly.” Because society allows humorists to say things that other people cannot or will not say, de Botton sees humorists as serving a vital function in society.
Think about the implications of de Botton’s view of the role of humorists (cartoonists, stand-up comics, satirical writers, hosts of television programs, etc.). Then write an essay that defends, challenges, or qualifies de Botton’s claim about the vital role of humorists. Use specific, appropriate evidence to develop your position.”
Students have a suggested time of forty minutes to complete this prompt. However, since this is the third question in the writing portion, they may not have forty minutes. They will have already gone through a reading comprehension section and two other essay prompts. But that is for another time.
If I was taking this test, I would totally defend this claim because it is simply true.
You can see de Botton on TED Talks. He’s a bright philosophical guy, but he does not speak over people’s heads. In fact, he is rather assessable. Listening to him makes you realize that you are smarter than you actually are, that is unless you think so much of yourself that you were already that smart.
This morning, an Associated Press article entitled “Trump on the attack against ‘SNL’ again” was syndicated throughout the country’s newspapers and while it really reported nothing new to the world, it did put into perspective that De Botton’s assertion about the role of humorists in society as being incredibly vital.
Aside from Trump’s incessant tweeting in response to the parodies on SNL, his phone interview with Matt Lauer shows that Trump not only pays close attention to what the satirically inclined show says and stages, but that he takes it personally and gives it an incredible amount of time and energy.
And when Trump dos not like something, he does not simply ignore it; he attacks it.
“Can we agree, President-elect Trump, that it would be better for you to simply stop watching ‘SNL’ as opposed to watching and then complaining about it?” Lauer said.
His question was no ad-lib, since NBC quickly aired clips of the Baldwin-McKinnon sketch as Trump replied.
“I hosted ‘SNL’ when it was a good show but it’s not a good show anymore,” said Trump, who also took a turn as guest host in 2004. “First of all, nothing to do with me, there’s nothing funny about it. The skits are terrible. I like Alec, but his imitation of me is really mean-spirited and not very good … It’s very biased and I don’t like it.”
And yet, Lauer noted, he still watches.
“You look at the way the show is going now and the kind of work they’re doing, who knows how long the show is going to be on? It’s a terrible show,” Trump said.
It’s a terrible show to him. As the report went on to say, “Saturday Night Live is in its 42nd season and enjoying its best ratings since 1992, the Nielsen company said. Viewership is up 33 percent over 2015.”
- I guess that it is so terrible that more people are watching it.
- I guess it is so terrible that more people find it relevant.
- I guess more people are watching.
- I guess more people are finding not only humor in the satire, but many grains of truth.
What really becomes apparent is that Trump seems more intent on spending time bashing and attacking those who are really giving him insight into how he is perceived and that his very reaction validates the very importance of not only what SNL does, but de Botton’s assertion.
Besides, come January, Trump will have so many other important things to do.
I think because he sure as hell won’t have time hosting the show another time.