by Shelt Garner
Upon the news that Lorne Michaels will be feted as part of upcoming Kennedy Center Honors festivities, I saw someone complain on Twitter about how Lorne Michaels hasn’t promoted enough POC comics over the years.
That’s a fair point, and, yet, it also misses a crucial aspect of what’s going on: that’s not SNL’s function. SNL is not meant to be The Chappelle Show. It’s not meant to be edgy or challenging or go way out of its way to introduce mainstream audiences to unknown POC comics. Though the show has begun to promote non-white comics more of late which is good, SNL is meant to be the exact center of American comedy.
In this respect, SNL is similar to Taylor Swift. Tay-Tay serves a function. And that function is to be the exact center of American pop music. If you want songs about WAP, turn your ears elsewhere.
So, in a sense, woke complaints about Lorene Michaels and SNL are more attacks on the idea of any sort of “mainstream” at all. There’s nothing wrong with simply being mainstream. There are so many other off beat, edgy venues for people to enjoy non-mainstream content that it’s annoying when people attack something for being mainstream for simply being mainstream.
It’s this type of thinking that aggravates the culture wars and makes MAGA New Right cocksuckers want to burn the whole thing to the ground. Welcome to the New Right, as Jesse Kelly keeps say. (Double ugh.)
There are no easy answers to any of this. We’re careening towards a moment in time when either we have a MAGA autocracy and everything goes to shit, or we have a civil war and there’s some sort of culture “reset” where we all agree that having a “mainstream” this or that thing is fine. (Because once such a horrific civil war is over, people are going to cling to the traditional again — at least, that’s my thinking.)