Yes, SNL is funny, but it reduces integrity of presidential elections

October 25, 2016 — by Saya Sivaram

SNL can't justify its breaking down of the election's seriousness

“My microphone is broken. She did it. She and Obama took my microphone to Kenya and they broke it and now it’s broken.”

As Alec Baldwin channeled his inner Donald Trump  addressed Kate Mckinnon as she played Hillary Clinton, laughs burst from the audience. It was the first presidential debate — or, at least, a re-enactment of it, done by world famous comedy show “Saturday Night Live.”

It’s a troubling time when the only difference between a real presidential debate and a comedic sketch of it is the ending. Honestly, without the “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” I wouldn’t have been able to tell that the skit where Baldwin plays Trump was a farce rather than reality.

    OK, yes, I’m exaggerating a bit, but it is true that in this presidential election, comedy shows like SNL don’t need to do a lot of work to create ridiculous and amusing tidbits. In their case, Trump is the gift that keeps on giving.

    SNL reaches a demographic that the debates often don’t and therefore leaves a lasting impression among a younger, less politically plugged-in demographic. Although the sketches are extremely amusing, they clearly sway the viewer toward one candidate over the other — often without much actual substance.

    While it is hilarious to see Baldwin’s spot-on impersonation of Trump, shows like SNL actually damage the integrity of the elections because they influence viewers without actually discussing any of the issues that are addressed in the platforms of the candidates.

    Take the sketch that SNL recently did on the first presidential debate. The aim was to make fun of the dynamic between Clinton and Trump, but it just ended up making the former look smug and the latter look incompetent. And although this might be true of the candidates (that’s up to your personal interpretation), these qualities were shown through histrionic actions such as exaggerated facial expressions and mannerisms, and none of the real issues that were discussed in the debate such as foreign policy and economic development came up.

To the people who watch SNL but not the actual debates, they are making a decision on a candidate based on a facetious interpretation, rather than an informed and well-thought-out choice. In that sense, SNL is actually lowering the validity of these elections. The discussion is more focused on Kate Mckinnon’s acting job than it is on Hillary Clinton’s plan to create actual job opportunities if she is elected.

SNL needs to decide whether it wants to be a comedy show or a source of political commentary, because they certainly can’t be both. Until then, they should stick to sketches like “The Crucible Cast Party.” Now that was funny.

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