Melissa McCarthy and Acting the Truth

Donald Trump has literally revitalized Saturday Night Live.

Not because he hosted an episode in 2015, but because of the fodder he is giving the show. Alec Baldwin’s impression of the new president might just win him an Emmy Award, but what Melissa McCarthy pulled off this past weekend might be the best political satire of this television season.

When SNL spoofs the press secretary as the basis of a skit, then you know that the Trump administration is under an incredible self-created microscope. The more the president has attacked NBC and SNL (and Hollywood for that matter) through Twitter and other comments, the more the public tunes into shows like SNL to see if there is any response to him.

And Melissa McCarthy delivered as a Sean Spicer. The link is below:

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/sean-spicer-press-conference/3465162?snl=1

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With references to how Spicer began his stint as press secretary – gum chewing, claims of standing ovations for Trump and crowd sizes, a red Herring with Finding Dory, the word “ban,” blasting the New York Times and CNN, not remembering people’s names, and just confrontational – was not only hilarious, but painfully realistic.

And to add to this fantastic skit was Kate McKinnon’s spoof of Betsy DeVos and DeVos’s inability to articulate educational issues. From her growth versus proficiency bungle, to shooting grizzly bears, to her evangelical motivations, McKinnon summed up DeVos’s non-qualifications to lead public schools in a matter of seconds.

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When has a nominee for secretary of education ever been spoofed on Saturday Night Live? And they wouldn’t do it unless they knew that the viewing public had already been apprised of DeVos’s disastrous confirmation hearing.

But McCarthy was not done for the weekend.

Her starring role in the environmentally-conscious ad for Kia won the USA TODAY ad meter contest for best ad during the Super Bowl.

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And don’t think that Donald Trump’s current leanings as far as the environment were not part of the “clean” fuel for many commercials. For that matter, immigration became a central theme in the commercials of this year. Just look at the Budweiser commercial about its beginnings with Adolphus Busch, or even the 84Lumber commercial that was “banned” from the television because it so provocatively commented on immigration.

And a WALL.

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McCarthy’s specific ad showed her trying to save whales, icecaps, trees, and rhinos while hilariously failing each time – but at least she stays intact and drives a hybrid car that is environmentally friendly.

And in a new presidency where the Keystone Pipeline has been put back into action, a removal of the US from the Paris Agreement, and an anti-environmentalist chosen to head the EPA (which has now gone rogue with its own “alt” twitter account) McCarthy’s presence not only helped to keep those issues in the view of the Super Bowl audience; it challenged Trump and his administration on their nebulous policies. Ironic considering that Kia is a South Korean company.

And manufactures their cars in Georgia, home of the Falcons who just lost an epic game in epic fashion.

A good weekend for Melissa McCarthy, but a better one for those who got to see her in action doing what we need to keep all presidents and politicians somewhat honest, or at least cognizant that their alternative truths are still false  – satirical insight.

Because that insight can help us find doors in those walls.

 

Excuse Me Mr. Barista? May I Have Some More Spicer in My Sycophant Latte? – Or, The Making of a New SNL Skit

First it was about the size of the hands.

Now it’s about the size of the crowd.

New Press Secretary Sean Spicer made his first appearance as Trump’s mouthpiece on Saturday during a day of protest with the Women’s March on Washington and other metropolitan/urban venues.

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And he sounded like he was a mad elementary school child who was caught in a lie and was trying to fib his way out of it.

Simply put, he sounded like an “angry elf.”

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Actually, Sean Spicer is average height, but Buddy would have called him that anyway.

  • The tone.
  • The stance.
  • The words.
  • The angry pauses.
  • The false claims.
  • The attitude.
  • The atmosphere.
  • The “I’m so mad, I could just spit” kind of feeling.

And with it he set a tenor for the presidency of Donald Trump. But he also gave even more fuel to two different movements that just might meld into one.

First, his words did nothing more than cry out, “We can’t accept that more people showed up to protest the new president’s inauguration than actually came to the inauguration.”

Sorry, Sean. All reports pretty much say that more people came to show disgust today than to come and cheer Trump yesterday.

Secondly, he came in front of the media to state that the media is wrong in its reporting.

I am not a journalist, but married to a professional journalist and I have many friends in the newspaper business. They take the job very seriously, and while there are a few publications that are really out for sales and demonizing like Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News, journalists tend to hold the First Amendment very strongly like Alex Jones claims to hold the Second Amendment.

Mr. Spicer just added more impetus to focus even more of a microscope on the Trump presidency. Mr. Spicer just reemphasized to journalists the very power that they have.

Trump’s press conference last week when he blasted CNN for “fake news” probably made CNN’s ratings go up. Interestingly, CNN broke the story that led to the fall of Monica Crowley when they discovered plagiarism in both her book and her doctoral dissertation.

What Spicer did was really pick an unknowing fight with something that might be bigger than he or Trump – the press.

They are galvanized and ready to ask a lot of questions.

The following is the transcript of Spicer’s “press conference.” Judge for yourself, but it is funny that he thanks journalists for being there and that he will see them later on Monday after he just finished belittling the profession.

Then go and read other accounts – other news outlets – CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, BBC, etc. See what they say.

But if I DIDLS (look for diction, imagery, details or lack thereof, language, and syntax) Spicer’s spiel, then I come to one and one/half conclusions – bruised ego with a side of fear.

That fear is that it is all very real now with no “do overs.”

Good evening.  Thank you guys for coming.  I know our first official press briefing is going to be on Monday, but I wanted to give you a few updates on the President’s activities.  But before I get to the news of the day, I think I’d like to discuss a little bit of the coverage of the last 24 hours.

Yesterday, at a time when our nation and the world was watching the peaceful transition of power and, as the President said, the transition and the balance of power from Washington to the citizens of the United States, some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting.  For all the talk about the proper use of Twitter, two instances yesterday stand out.

One was a particular egregious example in which a reporter falsely tweeted out that the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.  After it was pointed out that this was just plain wrong, the reporter casually reported and tweeted out and tried to claim that a Secret Service agent must have just been standing in front of it.  This was irresponsible and reckless.

Secondly, photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.  This was the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall.  That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing, while in years past the grass eliminated this visual.  This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.

Inaccurate numbers involving crowd size were also tweeted.  No one had numbers, because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out.  By the way, this applies to any attempts to try to count the number of protestors today in the same fashion.

We do know a few things, so let’s go through the facts.  We know that from the platform where the President was sworn in, to 4th Street, it holds about 250,000 people.  From 4th Street to the media tent is about another 220,000.  And from the media tent to the Washington Monument, another 250,000 people.  All of this space was full when the President took the Oath of Office.  We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural.  This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.  Even the New York Times printed a photograph showing a misrepresentation of the crowd in the original Tweet in their paper, which showed the full extent of the support, depth in crowd, and intensity that existed.

These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.  The President was also at the — as you know, the President was also at the Central Intelligence Agency and greeted by a raucous overflow crowd of some 400-plus CIA employees.  There were over 1,000 requests to attend, prompting the President to note that he’ll have to come back to greet the rest.  The employees were ecstatic that he’s the new Commander-in-Chief, and he delivered them a powerful and important message.  He told them he has their back, and they were grateful for that.  They gave him a five-minute standing ovation at the end in a display of their patriotism and their enthusiasm for his presidency.

I’d also note that it’s a shame that the CIA didn’t have a CIA Director to be with him today when he visited, because the Democrats have chosen — Senate Democrats are stalling the nomination of Mike Pompeo and playing politics with national security.  That’s what you guys should be writing and covering, instead of sowing division about tweets and false narratives.

The President is committed to unifying our country, and that was the focus of his inaugural address.  This kind of dishonesty in the media, the challenging — that bringing about our nation together is making it more difficult.

There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable.  And I’m here to tell you that it goes two ways.  We’re going to hold the press accountable, as well.  The American people deserve better.  And as long as he serves as the messenger for this incredible movement, he will take his message directly to the American people where his focus will always be.

And with that, a few other updates from the day.  The President had a constructive conversation with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada about strengthening the relationship between our two nations.  They also discussed setting up additional meetings in the days to come, which we will follow up on.  He also spoke to Prime Minister Peña Nieto of Mexico, and talked about a visit on trade, immigration and security that will occur on the 31st.  The President will welcome his first foreign leader this Thursday when the United Kingdom’s Theresa May will come to Washington — on Friday.

Tomorrow, the President will oversee his Assistants to the President being sworn in.  The staff will then have an ethics briefing, a briefing on the proper use and handling of classified information.  Further updates as far as what he will do — oh, and then in the evening, he will have a reception for law enforcement and first responders that helped support the inauguration.

Thank you guys for being here tonight.  I will see you on Monday.

Mr. Spicer, you just became a new character on Saturday Night Live.

We Need Saturday Night Live More Than Ever

“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.

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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.

You can read it here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-on-the-attack-against-snl-again/2016/12/07/904f5b84-bcc8-11e6-ae79-bec72d34f8c9_story.html?utm_term=.84f9249ae3f4.

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.

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