Does anyone find 13 Year-Old Boys Funny? How about Seth Myers?

by - Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nick and I are watching SNL, and like almost every week, I end up being more annoyed than amused. I realize every era of this show has its own problems, but it seems like the last couple of seasons every episode is a little more misogynistic and homophobic. I'm sorry, but "aren't women stupid?" and "aren't gay people stupid?" do not actually count as jokes (neither does pretty much anything that Kristin Wiig does). I find this especially annoying because their other female performers actually seem pretty funny, but I think they will all just get phased out anyway. I think we have only watched one or two episodes this whole season, because we just never laugh, except at the digital shorts which we can just watch later somewhere else.

Anyway, tonight, they did one of their little fake ads on estrogen pills for MTF transitioning. The joke was, I guess, that no dud would ever really feel out of place in their body and want a female body. Because who would want to give up their balls, or have a non-normative sexuality, or be a woman! Isn't that hilarious? And just so witty? And all I imagine when I watch that crap is Seth Myers smiling smuggly at his own cleverness like he does through weekend update which is consistently intolerable.

I recognize that humor has, at its root, always had a pretty hateful side. Benjamin Franklin is my very least favorite founding father because of his comedy. Comedy is a barely indirect way to disseminate hatred, and for whatever reason, women continue to get the brunt of this hatred. I have been trying to watch Conan since he moved to TBS (because I feel a weird guilt about not watching him on the Tonight Show), but he has even been a little weird since he moved. Every time a female guest shows up, he has creepily drooled all over them. I am not sure if he figures his wife isn't watching him now that he is on cable, but the creeper action is a real turn off. I'm sorry, but women have other things to talk about then how good-looking they are.

Nicki Minaj is on SNL now, and I do love her; her confidence and quirkiness are a great breath of air after all this stale old homophobia. I think there is so much wrong with this show (which starts as much with a creatively bankrupt head writer) that the lame appeals to hateful stereotyping and misogyny is symptomatic, but that does not excuse it at all. Who people are is not a joke; Vince Vaughn's movie just failed for both sucking and trying to bolster a lame script with lame homophobic jokes. I wish SNL would learn from failures like that. Or that we could just have the next phase of people come in, because I am just over this bunch (though I do wonder how much of it is actually a Lorne Michaels issue... considering that when he started the job that sort of behavior would have been celebrated (also, how many out stars have been invited to host?). But seriously, who actually finds hate funny not disturbing? Mostly it all just makes me miss Tina Fey.

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  1. I thought maybe it was just that I was old.

    I have never enjoyed Seth Myers's smarm, either, and I have to admit that there are things I once found funny on the show that, viewed as clips today, make me wonder what the hell I was thinking.

    That said, SNL has always been a white boys club. The Tina Fey years are the aberration. The very process they use to select material favors the sort of pushy little boy approach. Many folks have noted over the years that SNL apparently has only one spot for a black guy (with that one exception which occurred mostly because Tim Meadows had successfully turned himself so white that the black guy spot could go to someone else).

    The Black Guy could only rarely do material that acknowledged that he was black-- only Eddie Murphy could get away with it and even then, the joke was often (as with Mr. Robinson's neighborhood) how funny it is that black people are all poor and urban and not like white suburbians. Har.

    I kind of think that SNL's big trick has often been to get credit for irony that isn't there. I never really got most of Will Ferrell's stuff because where other people were looking at, say, the Spartans and saying, "Ha-- look at how he is mocking their dorkiness" I could never see the wink-wink-nudge-nudge -- I always thought Ferrell was just being a dork.

    So I think when they get all homophobic and misogynistic and racist that we're supposed to see it as an artfully ironic lampoon of those sorts of attitudes, which I don't think it is.

    I will try not to get started on hosts and guests. Back in the day, we watched SNL to see musicians that nobody had ever heard of but who were awesome (Leon Redbone owes his entire career to SNL) and hosts who may or may not have been Big Time, but who were always funny. But now the corporate overlords have totally sucked the fun out of that part of the show.