Did SNL Go Too Far In Governor Patterson Parody?

@anniepa (27510)
United States
December 17, 2008 2:57am CST
I had a feeling as I watched this past week's episode of SNL there would be some fallout from the Weekend Update segment featuring Fred Armisen as New York Governor david Patterson who is legally blind. He was portrayed as a bumbling, disoriented guy who unwittingly kept getting in the way of the camera after he was supposed to be gone. http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/15/paterson.snl/index.html Patterson said on Monday, "Now that [Alaska Gov. Sarah] Palin's not around, they seem to have run out of material. The idea of a person rolling around the stage in a chair, being disoriented, can't find anything, bumbling, in a sense looking like a clown is a way disabled people are portrayed all the time. The perception that disability equals inability to be responsible is totally wrong." I really can't disagree with him. I laughed as I watched it but I think we're all guilty sometimes of laughing at something even as we realize it's not very sensitive towards the feelings of others,, namely whatever group is being lampooned. In this case it could be argued that Patterson has been known to be willing and able to make fun of himself but that doesn't excuse the way all people with similar disabilities were portrayed. What do you think? Are people simply being much too sensitive or did SNL cross the line - again? Annie
5 people like this
21 responses
@ZephyrSun (7382)
• United States
17 Dec 08
It depends on if he is a Republican or a Democrat lol No, I'm just kidding. I think making fun of someone on national television that has a disability is pretty much wrong. I think there's a big difference between not being able to give an interview and not being able to see...
3 people like this
@ZephyrSun (7382)
• United States
17 Dec 08
I had forgotten all about him replacing the one before him. It really appears that the past few years has really brought out the criminals for public office here. Our former governor was brought up on ethics violations I don't remeber for what and so far our new governor is only focused on ruining our state education system. They are all either criminals or idiots no matter their party lol
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27510)
• United States
18 Dec 08
Gee, I feel left out! Pennsylvania's got its problems but I don't think we've ever had a Governor go to prison. A few representatives and congressmen, but no Governors...lol! Annie
@ZephyrSun (7382)
• United States
18 Dec 08
Just wait a few years Annie you'll have a bad governor...
1 person likes this
@jerzgirl (8170)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
17 Dec 08
Gerald Ford was known for his fumbling and bumbling and, therefore, a vast wealth of comedic fodder for years. To my knowledge, Gov. Patterson ISN'T known for his inability to avoid large objects or for running into things because of his disability, so I think it was in poor taste to target him for a comedic parody. Now, GWB's inability to get off stage when the door wouldn't open would be a valid target - we saw it, it was filmed, and it couldn't be denied. To parody that would be fair. But, to parody something assumed rather than witnessed just plain is unfair.
2 people like this
@anniepa (27510)
• United States
18 Dec 08
That's an excellent point. I know from all I've seen of Governor Patterson if I hadn't already known he was blind I may not have realized. You're right, once we've seen something for ourselves, like Ford's lovable klutziness or Bush's...well, Bush's "Bushness" it's fair game but to make fun of a blind man like that just assuming he runs into things wasn't very sensitive, was it? Annie
1 person likes this
• United States
17 Dec 08
i thought it was hilarious! and if you noticed "Patterson" made quite a few digs at Illinois and their choices for officials lol! personally i think he is fair game..he is a public official they are all fair game in my opinion. shoot look how many times Bush was made fun of for being a moron..id say thats a disability LMAO! in actuality..i think that last part where he is bumbling in front of the camera was done spur of the moment because Amy Poehler was getting a bit teary eyed when she was saying her final farewells to the show and its audience. a bit of levity brightened her up and made it funny-sad, instead of just a plain bummer.
2 people like this
@anniepa (27510)
• United States
18 Dec 08
I kind of got that impression too about the last part. Heck, I was getting teary eyed! Good point about Bush's "disability"... Annie
1 person likes this
• United States
17 Dec 08
I definitely did think they crossed the line. I did not find it funny at all. I thought it was in very bad taste and very cruel.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27510)
• United States
19 Dec 08
I think you're the first one with that view. Like I said, I'm wishy-washy and can't make up my mind what to think! It WAS cruel and made fun of blind people in a tasteless and unfair way. Some have said the governor is a public figure which is correct but there are millions of others with his disability who are not. Geesh, I'm contradicting myself! I have a good sense of humor but I've never cared for humor at someone else's expense when it's over something they can't help. I mean, parodying someone who's rather clumsy is one thing but there should be a place where they draw the line. Annie
• United States
19 Dec 08
Actually I was not thinking so much about the governor's feeling as all public figures are fair game but my feeling were for all the blind or other disabled people to them their disability is not by choice or a joke.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27510)
• United States
23 Dec 08
That's how I feel too regarding others who aren't in the public eye. I understand it's one thing for a governor who's been used to being made fun of and who's obviously accomplished a great deal in spite of his disability, but for the average person it would be seen as very hurtful and discouraging to put it mildly. Annie
@loved1 (5332)
• United States
17 Dec 08
I think you need to have a sense of humor about your disabilities or you will become a bitter and cranky person. SNL has been making fun of all kinds of people for many years. How many times have they made fun of Stevie Wonder? I had to hand it to him because he took it all in stride and laughed along with them. People are offended too easily sometimes.
1 person likes this
@loved1 (5332)
• United States
18 Dec 08
lol good to have you back!
1 person likes this
@loved1 (5332)
• United States
19 Dec 08
Same to you! Hope Santa brings you something good.
1 person likes this
@irisheyes (4372)
• United States
20 Dec 08
I think they pushed the envelope a little on that one. They want to keep those ratings up but I don't think it will be easy finding anything as funny as the Tina Fey takeoff on Sarah Palin. Opportunites like that one with a public figure lampooned by the right comedic genius just don't come that often.
1 person likes this
• United States
18 Dec 08
No, I didnt see that suprised I didnt catch it in the news. I think its dumb for them to go so far because first of all its not accurate and its like....I dont know, not right? I've seen Patterson and one of the first things that did suprise me--maybe because of my own stereotypes--is that he was so capable even though he was blind. So if I had saw it I would be shaking my head like, its not right, this man has proven himself.
1 person likes this
• United States
18 Dec 08
and I think Patterson's statement was on point, if anything it took away from some of SNL's glory because they were on a roll with the whole Sarah Palin thing.
1 person likes this
@spalladino (17921)
• United States
17 Dec 08
Well, wouldn't you know it...hubby and I couldn't manage to stay up late enough to watch SNL so I missed the whole thing and have only seen short clips on news reports about it. I first gut reaction was that they shouldn't be making fun of someone's disability but then I started thinking and, really, they're known for poking fun at public figures...whether it's a disability or mishap. I do feel bad that Patterson is upset though.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27510)
• United States
23 Dec 08
As I've said, I think he was possibly thinking of how others with a similar disability may take it more than just of himself. Sometimes comedians can be poking fun at a single person but they're also hurting innocent people in the process and I think Patterson may have felt compelled to defend them. Annie
@cynddvs (2949)
• United States
17 Dec 08
While I don't necessarily agree with people making fun of anyone with any sort of disability it's SNL. SNL is known for making fun of ANYONE and EVERYONE no matter what their background, disability, political standing, etc. They don't discriminate. They just write comedy. And anyone who is a public figure, especially in politics is going to eventually be made fun of on SNL. I've seen far worse skits on SNL that have almost made me cringe and wonder how they got away with it. Everyone just really has to take SNL skits with a grain of salt. Honestly I was more sad to see Amy say her goodbyes!
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27510)
• United States
19 Dec 08
I agree,I was very sad about that! She'll really be missed. Now who will do Hillary? Annie
• United States
17 Dec 08
I did not see it. But I have read that he is pretty upset about it. He needs to calm down. SNL goes after everyone. THey are equal opportunity picker oners. No one (wether celebrity or politican) is exempt from them. With the scandal that got him into office and now the fact that he gets to pick Hilary's replacement. You knew a SNL was going to jump into it somewhere. He should just laugh it off and go on.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27510)
• United States
18 Dec 08
"Equal opportunity picker oners" - hey, I LIKE that! I'm not sure "pretty upset" accurately describes him, as far as I know (which I could be mistaken) he only made that one statement about it. I'm thinking - hoping, actually - he's more defending others who are disabled who aren't in high-level positions than complaining that he was "picked on" personally since he does seem to have a good sense of humor about himself. I think he was right when he said about the wrong perception many have about people with disabilities and that can hamper disabled people because nobody wants to give them an opportunity to show they can do more than some may think. Annie
@ParaTed2k (22971)
• Sheboygan, Wisconsin
17 Dec 08
It's not the first time SNL has parodied Barbara Walters, Stevie Nicks and others were made fun of for speach impediments, Rush Limbaugh's weight, even Christina Crawford's speech problems and abuse by her mother was fodder for comedy. The Sarah Palin skits were, of course was absolutely hillarious, but was it "going to far" when they brought incest into it... “What about the husband?” asked a Times reporter during a mock assignment meeting for the paper. “You know he’s doing those daughters. I mean, come on. It’s Alaska.” The assignment editor for the Times, portrayed by actor James Franco, responded: “He very well could be. Admittedly, there is no evidence of that, but on the other hand, there is no convincing evidence to the contrary. And these are just some of the lingering questions about Governor Palin.” Or was it just like any other "red-neck, marry your cousin" humor? One has to wonder what the fall out would have been if the same skit was done about Bill "doing" Chelsea... after all, they are from Arkansas. ;~D In short, Gov. Patterson needs to get over himself. Word is that Stevie Wonder really got a kick out of Eddie Murphy's skits parodying him.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27510)
• United States
18 Dec 08
Ted, I honestly hadn't seen the skits with the incest references and YES, that was going to far. I remember the "Baba Wawa" bits very well as done by Gilda Radnor. Part of me tends to agree with you that Patterson needs to "get over himself" but then again it seems everyone is soooooo sensitive these days. Annie
@starr4all (2865)
17 Dec 08
I find it funny that it's not ok to make fun of this guy but Sara Palin is ok. So it's ok to make fun of republicans but not democrats? Double standard.
1 person likes this
@anniepa (27510)
• United States
18 Dec 08
Seriously, that's no comparison in my opinion. I don't think it has a thing to do with what party they're in either! Palin has no disability unless you happen to agree she's a bit of a ditz and that's a disability...lol! Annie
1 person likes this
@quinnkl (1667)
• United States
23 Dec 08
As long as they make fun of everyone equally, I don't have any complaints. Comedy is comedy. I don't always agree with their ways of doing things (especially when it comes to disabilities), but that is what the show is about. That is what they do. And comedy is just that, comedy. Sure they go to far sometimes, but that is what SNL is famous for and what they do. It is another one of those "turn the channel if you don't like it" things for me.
1 person likes this
@Opal26 (17684)
• United States
18 Dec 08
Hey annie! I didn't see the skit so I'm not really sure that I'm qualified to make an informed statement as to whether it was "politically correct" or not. From what I have heard and read about it though, I am leaning towards the facts that it may have gone a bit too far in this particular instance. I don't feel that it is correct to make fun of people with disabilities in any way. Governor Patterson is doing his job as any other Governor would and I don't feel that it was necessary to take things to that level and make fun of people with disabilites as the Governor said. He wasn't so much upset about them poking fun at him as he was at others who might have taken offense and I tend to agree with him. After all he has a job, he is the Governor of NY! He is my Governor and I respect him as such!
1 person likes this
@bam001 (941)
• United States
18 Dec 08
I think that SNL went WAY TOO FAR in the Governor Patterson parody. It was not just disrespecting the Governor, it ended up showing complete disrepect to those who are blind. It is one thing to joke around with someone, but making fun of a physical handicap is going to far. Already, we have too many people who look down on others who are not exactly as they are. Now, we have a national television show basically saying that it is o.k. to make fun of blind people. Think of young people (not necessarily children) who are watching this show. We all know that kids/teens can be cruel to one another. This is adults being cruel to others and it only reinforces that it is o.k. to act this way. It is not o.k.! And, we shouldn't be subjected to it on t.v. or in real life situations. Further, we should teach others (adults and children alike) that there are some behaviors, such as teasing and making fun of others, that are absolutely wrong.
@Bd200789 (2994)
• United States
17 Dec 08
I didn't get to watch the episode, but I saw a clip of in on CNN. It was funny, but I can see where it would offend some people.
1 person likes this
• United States
17 Dec 08
At first, I really enjoyed it. When it should have been over, though, it didn't end. The "governor" walked into things and crowded the camera, and seemed to want to be in everyoe's way. It went too far, I think, and it added to my many reasons to get to bed earlier than that!
1 person likes this
@Rosekitty (19387)
• San Marcos, Texas
17 Dec 08
I really thought it was funny and know how SNL goes after anyone and feel that if you are, then you got one of the best compliments.
1 person likes this
@worldwise1 (14887)
• United States
23 Dec 08
SNL has habitually been known for going too far, anniepa. It's typical of most of this genre of shows. While I don't go along with censorship I do feel that there should be limits set as to what is acceptable to be shown on TV. Fat chance of it ever happening though. I just happened to be watching the show on the night in question, and I immediately found it to be distasteful.
@suspenseful (40312)
• Canada
20 Dec 08
I do not watch SNL but I think you are upset because he is a Democrat and is for things I do not approve of like embryonic stem cell research and same gender marriage. If it was a Republican, and SNL was making fun of him you would not care that much. I do not think it is about his disablity, I think you feel it is all right to mock Republicans like Sarah Palin, but hands off the Democrats, they are beyond reproach.