Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Saturday Night Live: Tom Hanks is on Fire, Apparently

Two highly praised skits came out of October 22nd's episode of Saturday Night Live, both featuring veteran actor Tom Hanks. The source of their appeal lends us something to talk about.

First off, Jamelle Bouie mostly covered what's interesting about Black Jeopardy.

Though I think Bouie flubs the landing. There's a whole lot more going on in that last joke than "white working class man defects." Plus the classism on display in treating all of the contestants like yokels is a useful message in how we are all dehumanized through competition.

Anyway, their Jeopardy skits remind me of Dave Chappelle's classic "Who knows black people?" (Sadly unavailable for easy linking.)

The more viral, and more interesting sketch, was the introduction of character David S. Pumpkins

There's a lot to note about this sketch. For instance, the white middle class "stand in for ordinary Americans" couple is both still innocent enough to be scared by jump-scares of people dressed up as serial killers, and is actively seeking that thrill. It's a reminder of how much unpleasantness in the world we pursue, so long as it conforms with our expectation of normality. Theirs is the Halloween activity version of retweeting bad Trump supporters.

And yet, when asking the Buddha for a scare they were instead given true horror. They are presented with this bizarre figures, full of objet-a style affectations of something being wrong, like the sexual noises of the skeletons or his pumpkin covered suit. Perhaps most frustratingly, Mr. Pumpkins ends each appearance with his catch phrase "Any questions?" that is completely fake, since yes, the audience has many questions and their is no way to answer them. Here SNL did a fantastic job of making a nightmare scenario, that gives nothing us nothing but confusion and descends into true terror at our inablity to understand reality. He's basically straight out of a David Lynch film.

For instance, compare that sketch to Lost Highway Man.

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