Opinion: SNL: The Oscars and White Male Rage

“Race, gender, and age are all issues within the makeup of the Academy. In 2012, it was reported by the Los Angeles Times that the Academy was 77% male and 94% Caucasian.”

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The infamous academy has been found to consist of a majority white, male panel of judges. Is this leading to bias in what movies get nominated? Credit: Google Images

Sometimes the most effective way to respond to something is to just close your phone, and not send the angry quote tweet you just typed out. 

Jan. 25’s episode of Saturday Night Live was subject to a lot of angry quote tweets after a controversial Weekend Update segment performed by Melissa Villaseñor. Villaseñor was brought on for a segment about the Oscars in which she performed songs that narrowed the majority of Oscar nominees down to the presence of “white male rage.” She uses the songs to describe the content of films like “Joker” and “The Irishman,” and as a way to explain the snub of Greta Gerwig in the best director category for her work on “Little Women.” 

I can’t generalize and say that the responses to this segment were mostly prompted by white males, but it was certainly rage-filled. Across Twitter, people were responding to this segment by calling for the end of SNL, explaining the themes of each movie, and explaining how “Joker” is genius for showing how out of touch media personalities, like Villaseñor, are.

Whether or not the songs are effective in broaching the issues with the Oscars and the academy, the presence of the problems is undeniable. 

Race, gender, and age are all issues within the makeup of the Academy. In 2012, it was reported by the Los Angeles Times that the Academy was 77% male and 94% Caucasian. These demographics have skewed the results of Oscars towards white male stories and filmmakers for decades.

Villaseñor bringing this issue to the forefront is understandable, because there is still a lack of diversity in the Oscars’ nominations, particularly in the best director category. 

This year the nominees are predominantly male and Caucasian, aside from a few nominees such as Bong Joon-Ho, the director of “Parasite.”  There were very deserving women and people of color to choose from who wouldn’t have represented diversity for diversity’s sake. Villaseñor specifically mentions Greta Gerwig as being snubbed for not being nominated in the male-dominated director category.

It is possible to understand where Villaseñor is coming from, but most people seem to have more interest in making their displeasure publicly known. It could be a quote tweet (which is sharing a tweet with your own comment on it) or a dislike on YouTube to give the video a negative ratio. Regardless of people’s feelings, it is nonetheless engagement with the content. 

Perhaps Villaseñor and the writers over at SNL are geniuses because they created something uncomfortable which started conversations and made people think. Ultimately, sparking conversation and debate is what good satire should do, and a negative reaction to satire could mean that it was indeed effective. 

I wouldn’t call myself enraged, but I don’t think these songs are effective satire at all despite the Oscars’ problems. The general consensus seems to be that SNL didn’t hit the mark with this skit. The main problem though, is that people won’t shut up about it. With Twitter and social media in general, no one seems to consider that silence is an option as much as exclaiming one’s opinion. It is possible that the best way to show your displeasure is by not voicing an opinion at all.

The irony is not lost on me that I am writing an op-ed from my high horse, telling people to shut up. Somehow my opinion is so damn important that you should listen to me here but hear me out please. 

I don’t watch SNL weekly, and the only reason I know about this skit is because of the angry replies to it. No publicity is bad publicity, especially with the presence of social media. Whether the engagement is positive or negative, they are equal commodities. 

The conversation surrounding Villaseñor’s skit has done nothing but encourage SNL to continue making shallow and inflammatory commentary like this. Dismissive race baiting is not interesting or inciteful, but because of the engagement it caused, it now appears that it is. If you feel that SNL is a sham and this skit was stupid, I’m not entirely disagreeing with you. The surface level song was made for the sole purpose of eliciting emotionally charged reactions in the cheapest way.

These people know that “The Irishman” is about so much more than white male rage and that “Joker,” well… I’m of the mind they aren’t too far off base, but the point still stands. These songs aren’t coming from a place of incitement, they were made with the reactions in mind. Letting that ‘quote tweet’ out of your drafts gives them exactly what they want, so why not save it for something that is more respectful to our collective intelligence?

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