Political Comedies

Is it the chicken or the egg? Does pop culture influence politics or does politics influence pop culture?

Pop culture, specifically television, often features or bases skits and even entire episodes on politics. Politics is always associated with touchy, controversial issues; these provide writers a lot of material to work with. Writers can leave their opinions on certain subjects in subtle or sometimes obvious ways.

There are several shows that seem to constantly “push the envelope” by addressing politics in their shows. Comedy has been an excellent tool at addressing the issues without hurting anyone’s feelings. Shows that come to mind are Family Guy, South Park and Saturday Night Live.

Saturday Night Live always dedicates a skit or two making fun of politicians or laws. This year is an election year, the presidential candidates offer a ton of material to make fun of. SNL often opens the show with a presidential update with one of the actors impersonating Obama or Romney. In addition, the show has the “weekend update” segment which takes the past weeks news and makes fun of it. The segment hosted by Seth Meyers simply explains the issue and says “Really?” The weekend update makes fun of politicians and political issues without missing a beat. It is one of SNL’s longest running skits. Proof that politics and humor are one in the same.

Saturday Night Live capitalizes on politics stubborn ways and the result is excellent entertainment. Perhaps, the best television occurs during election years because there is so much material to work with.

Politics fuel television but, political views also gain popularity through entertainment. Someone who may not be interested in a hot issue maybe educated on the issue through the television medium. It may not be the best way or the most unbiased way to educate Americans, but it does occur. Politicians understand this and occasionally guest star on shows to show their softer sides and offer a more personal view to their voters.

Do you think it is ok to poke fun at politicians and politics? Or should television shows have a greater respect for the political leaders of our country?Image


6 responses to “Political Comedies

  1. I think that it’s okay to poke fun at politicians to an extent. It is worrying to think that people’s views about politicians, and in particular, the future presidents of the United States, are formed only by shows like SNL. I love SNL but I think that sometimes they can cross the line. Some remarks are simply disrespectful by some television shows but the humor is so on-point that respect takes a back seat. Politics can also be ridiculously serious and humor is an escape from that. Politicians are known for being stuck-up and conceited and shows like SNL and South Park are a sort of “check and balance” against that. So, as long as the future president of the United States isn’t defamed by pop culture, a little bit of humor is totally okay.

  2. I love the first question you posed. I can argue both ways. Sometimes I see that politics influences pop culture and sometimes I see it the other way around. I think it is perfectly fine to poke fun of politicians as long as everyone gets cracked on. Both sides have to feel the heat for it to be fair. I mean, everyone is entitled to freedom of speech!!

  3. I agree that it is very difficult to determine if pop culture influences politics or if politics influence pop culture. I don’t think that it is necessarily one or the other but more a combination of the two feeding off of each other. I think that it is ok for TV shows like SNL to poke fun at politicians during the election because it helps lighten the mood during the high pressure time. I agree with Nicola that there is definitely a line that often gets crossed with shows like SNL, but in general I think the pop culture helps the public form a better connection with the future President and makes them seem more human.

  4. ” Proof that politics and humor are one in the same.” How is that exactly? In your paragraph, it looks like humor follows politics. A better example of the reversal of order, humor causes politics would be, maybe, campaigns angling to get on (or off) the joke circuit, when Dana Carver was invited to Bush I WHite House, Al Franken running for Senate…

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