Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Monday, February 25, 2008

SNL's brownface

So Saturday Night Live has largely stayed away from skewering Senator Obama as much as Clinton, largely because they don't have someone who has Obama's mannerisms down, as you'll see form this video below.

But it doesn't help that they don't have many actors of color and that they are trying to pull off political commentary in an election season when race has been one of the central themes.

Watching this video off of Ben Smith's Politico blog, I just couldn't help but think that it was rather awkward. First you have a white guy playing a Latino anchor, but without any of the actual intonation or accent that the anchor has.

It's as if they tried very hard to consider what would push the boundaries of funny and PC and offensive. Yes, it would be too offensive to try to replicate his spanish-tinged American English. Yes, it would be too much to make his skin darker. But it's okay to have a white guy play a famous Univision anchor without actually playing him. I don't really get it. He would have been better off playing John King, who he at least shares a jawline with.

Also, Barack Obama is played by an actor who completely lacks Obama's intonation, mannerisms, gestures, and gravitas. The guy playing him is just stilted and awkward. And I don't care if Fred Armisen is part Japanese American, part Venezuelan American. He just kinda sucks at Barack Obama. Did SNL pick him because he is also of mixed heritage? Who the hell knows. The writers at least had some good lines like journalists saying "yes we can" support Obama, and Fred delivered these well, but it was just exceedingly awkward and painful to watch.

One of the funnier moments - Amy Poehler as Hillary pulling decidedly away from Obama reaching for her hand.

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