This week’s Hollywood Reporter cover story is about the remarkable year SNL has had making fun of Donald Trump and our current political swamp. When you step back to look at how they’ve successfully navigated a particularly divisive cultural moment and walked away with a ratings bump of 11 million viewers, it’s truly amazing.
It’s particularly impressive given that so much of what’s happened in the news is either really serious and scary to many people, or is so absurd that it in-and-of-itself goes beyond parody. What I appreciate about their approach in these instances is that they often simply repeat what actually happened, giving us all a second to laugh out loud at it. It turns pain into catharsis, and makes SNL a type of antidote that people have to tune in to get.
In the interview, Leslie Jones quotes Lorne Michaels commenting on the numerous celebrity self-pitches to play other administration officials – most notably Rosie O’Donnell as Steve Bannon. What he says, I think, is actually incredible advice for how artists must approach despicable characters who do unsavory things, whether real or invented. Continue reading What Lorne Michaels Can Teach You About Compassion
Written in the form of a multiple-choice Madlibs, it tells the story of Wilmington (read: Williamsburg, Brooklyn or Venice, California), which goes from a dangerous den of “spongecake” addicts with cheap housing, to a community of genderqueer youths and pour-over coffee colonic spas, to a neighborhood packed with Wholefoods full of babies where no one can afford their own artisanal hand-milled toilet paper anymore.
Read, enjoy, laugh – but always remember the days when the Cinnamon Toast Festival was just about the cinnamon and the toast, and wasn’t the corporate sellout monstrosity it is now!!
The first, and most obvious, is the frequently useless critiques that writer’s groups provide. Between batches of patting one another on the back, there’s a tacet “I’m smarter than you” subtext that pervades their friendly notes.
And then there’s the endless harping on “Why.” Yes – we must understand the motivations of a character. But sometimes the motivations of a character are implicit in the actions themselves. We relate to their actions and thus we understand “why.” We do not need to be told, and not everything needs to be explained away.
But I think I’m most fascinated, on my subsequent reads of this article, at the (perhaps-not-so) subtle sexism. The labeling of “chick lit;” the constant comparisons to “superior” works by men (Chaucer, Shakespeare); the sexualization of Kitty; the criticizing of having too many women in the piece; and the suggestion that the active protagonists should be three men who discuss war, while Mrs. Bennet “lies unconscious in the background, holding a ribbon.”
Thank you for your interest in our Artist Residency Program. Please answer these few questions about your proposed project, and our team will review your application for workshop space in our facilities.
Please describe your proposed project.
Um. It’s a portrait of a woman in a white dress. But her face and body will be disproportionate and angular. Her nose will appear to be coming out of her right eye, and her head will appear to have been bashed in with a sledgehammer.
What would you hope to accomplish during your residency here?
I plan to paint it…?
If your project were an animal, which would animal would it be?
What the fuck?
Please write a three-word sentence to describe your intention with this project.
Make people look.
That’s not a complete sentence.
Sure it is.
Is it an imperative sentence, with “you” as the implied subject, or…?
Otherwise I don’t get it.
I have a feeling you don’t get a lot of things.
And finally, why this project now?
Because there are too many portraits of normal looking people. I want to do something different? I’m an artist with an idea and you’re an arts space. Why don’t you be the judge of why this now? Is it really my place to decide the importance and relevance of my own work? You know what…this whole thing is stupid. I’ll just work on it in my own studio.
Thank you. Your answers will be taken into serious consideration.