Monday, October 13, 2008

SNL Packs a Punch

For years Saturday Night Live has been fading into satirical obscurity, with most people convinced that the days when it represented anything close to cutting-edge satire were decades past. However, Tina Fey's recent and hilariously successful impersonations of Sarah Palin have been so spot-on that some are suggesting Fey is actually influencing the election.

Not since Chevy Chase made many viewers perceive Gerald Ford as a clumsy stooge has a television impersonation been credited with altering the political narrative to such a degree, said John Pitney Jr., a professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College.

"The parodies may have done a bit of damage. People remember Gerald Ford through the prism of Chevy Chase," he said. "Ford was among our most athletic presidents, and he had a wide-ranging knowledge of public-policy issues. But because of 'SNL,' many came to think of him as a buffoon."

A recent Washington Times poll found 33 percent of independents said the "Tina Fey effect" is hurting the McCain-Palin ticket. Palin is trying her best to laugh off the SNL skits, and her loyal base is furious about what they perceive as the 'disrespectful' parodies. But the damage has been done: Tina Fey has raised SNL's ratings by nearly 50%, and for many it's impossible to separate the real Sarah Palin from the parody. The moral of the story? - Don't run on a presidential ticket if you happen to bear an uncanny resemblance to one of the sharpest, Emmy-award winning humorists around.

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Satire pervades the web, seeping into mailboxes and mainstream news like a spilled cup of coffee. It stains and it won't go away.

The Bitter Cup is a collaborative blog for members of HumorFeed, a collaborative of satire and humor sites that has been making trouble since 2003.