Thursday, March 6, 2008

Did this ‘SNL’ cartoon cross the line?

When I saw this Robert Smigel cartoon (“The Obama Files”) on “Saturday Night Live” last week, I thought it was hilarious. But some folks are taking offense.

On MSNBC last night, Dan Abrams devoted a segment to the cartoon, asking in all seriousness whether it could’ve cost Barack Obama votes.

I think Dan Abrams needs to go back to covering missing white women, because he’s a total waste of space as a political analyst and media sage. (His nightly Democratic campaign “scorecard” is a joke.)

Meanwhile, some commenters at the official “SNL” website had their jaws tight. Real tight.

“This is disgusting and racist. SHAME ON YOU NBC!”

“This is very racist! Sharpton has not endorsed Obama, and Jackson has been quite critical of him, so why is Obama shown with these two figures?”

“There is little doubt that the makers of this cartoon had racist intent. Portraying a Black man wearing a dog collar is at least as insensitive as calling members of a college basketball team ‘nappy-headed hoes.’ ”

“This is really a low blow.”

What say you?


Anonymous said...

I was up for the live show on Saturday and I laughed at the cartoon. I thought it was very clever. Looking back and thinking more about the show and its clear support of Hillary it definitely could have swayed some white folks away from Mr. Obama, but only if they are dumb and didn't really get the joke, not educated folks, which are his base. Overall it was a smart funny joke. I will be tuned in to the show to see how this Obama, Clinton match up plays out.............

Matty said...

Offensive? Really? It played off of mainstream perceptions of Sharpton & Jackson, plain and simple. Funny stuff. The only thing offensive about the show was how all but a couple of sketches bombed. Thank God for DVRs. Armisen as Obama isn't offensive. He's simply not funny (kind of like 90% of his characters). The one sketch that had my whole group howling was the Captain Hook/Peter Pan farce. "They're literally children! And they have wooden swords!" Even Will Forte was funny in that one.

Anonymous said...

Hey David, email me at The Root. I have a question for you.

Michael Fisher said...

Well, the cartoon basically said that Obama wants nothing to do with Jesse and Al. So how is it anti-Obama and pro-Hillary?

Curious said...

I don't want to repeat what's been said already, but the only people who should have been offended were Jackson and Sharpton. They have proven themselves to be irrelevant once again in politics just by doing nothing.

Oh and another thing, the cartoon really wasn't funny. Nothing beats a good Chuck Jones cartoon with Bugs or Daffy duck.

teresa said...

i wasn't offended. to me, it was a really clever play on perceptions of jesse & al & the juggling act that barack is faced with.

i *was* offended, however, by the opening hillary skit. to me that was partisan pandering.

Mes Deux Cents said...


Didn't Dan Abrams get kicked upstairs? I thought he was a bigshot at MSNBC now.

They really need to give up over there at MSNBC, the experiment has not worked.

Jorge Vega said...

Thought it was haha funny-- not hysterical.

Undercover Black Man said...

Didn't Dan Abrams get kicked upstairs? I thought he was a bigshot at MSNBC now.

Hey MDC. He had been kicked upstairs... but now he's back in that 6 p.m. slot.

I'm a fan of MSNBC's political chat, because of Chris Matthews (who can be annoying) but also Tucker Carlson and regular guests such as Pat Buchanan, Howard Finemann, Melinda Henneberger, Eugene Robinson, and my man crush: Chuck Todd.

I think Abrams is messing around in political coverage because he feels left out of that action.

Fantastically Misunderstood Me said...

maybe it's because i consider jesse & al to be jokes, but i didn't find that offensive at all. if you want to see a video i think went too far, watch this madtv "umbrella" remix.

my favorite parts are when hillary says she wants some "strange" and "mandingo love"

Jen Williams said...

I thought the skit was hilarious. It speaks to the irrelevancy of a particular kind of politics, in a smart and witty way.

SJ said...

Some people are too damn sensitive and are always looking for a way to get offended. Smigel is great and this skit was good.

Undercover Black Man said...

Fantastically Misunderstood: The most offensive thing about that MAD TV parody is the lack of wit.

I'm glad to see a consensus here that Smigel's cartoon was in bounds.

Wanda said...

Thank You God!, that I not the only one who thinks Dan Abrams is a waste of grade A primetime airwaves. I've watched his show twice in the past couple weeks and everytime I want to slap him.

He literally whines like a bitch.

The only thing positive about his vanity show is that Joe Scarbourough got knocked to the morning and I enjoy his show.

@ the cartoon, didn't make me laugh, but wasn't offensive either.

You know on GSN, I saw Fred Armisen as a contestant on To Tell The Truth. He was a drummer in a calypso or salsa band. So can't see that in him.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

That was funny as hell! I really dug it. Good piece of satire.

I disagree with the comments that the piece spoke to the irrelevancy of Jesse and Al. I thought it spoke more to Obama's efforts to distance himself from them. Which speaks more to Obama than Jesse or Al. To me, it made fun of Obama tap dancing around the support of people like Al, Jesse, or Farrakhan. I think that was the point.

The neat ribbon was the very unfunny Wayans brothers reference.

Good one, Dave.

Undercover Black Man said...

The only thing positive about his vanity show is that Joe Scarbourough got knocked to the morning and I enjoy his show.

Thanks for co-signing, Wanda. I like Joe, but don't get up early enough. Plus, there's something off about Mika Brzezinski. She and him just don't click, from what I saw a couple of months ago.

Anonymous said...

I found it quite amusing, but I don't like that Arminsen does a bad kermit the frog impression as Obama.

Lola Gets said...

I thought it was amusing.


Anonymous said...

I thought this was one of the best TV Funhouse cartoons in a long time, and I also thought the joke was pretty obvious. It saddens me to see how many people either don't get it at all (seeing it as anti-Obama) or think it's racist. The point was that Obama should keep these polarizing figures away from him, and all some people see is that a shock collar is put on a black man. Forget that he's black- the point is that he's an antagonistic character and would harm the campaign Obama's trying to run. If the same cartoon was made showing Hillary trying to keep Bill away from her campaign, those people would be laughing.

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are the only ones who should be offended by this, and Obama should find it discomforting only because people might expect him to stand up for those two. This extreme sensitivity to any issue that is vaguely racial does no one any favors.

Justice said...

I guess the joke was supposed to be about Sharpton and Jackson trying to stay relevant, not Obama. I don't think it was offense, but i think it could have influenced those who are polarized by Sharpton and Jackson.