[Marxism] Did SNL help to elect George W. Bush?
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Nov 12 07:21:27 MST 2006
In the 2000 presidential election, [Will] Ferrell voted for Al Gore.
This would not have been especially noteworthy if at the time he
hadn't been impersonating George W. Bush every week on "Saturday
Night Live." His depiction of Bush as an inarticulate, slightly
addled frat boy who spoke about "strategery" and about his wish to
emerge "victoriant" played no small part in defining the public
persona of the real Bush. In one particularly memorable sketch,
actors playing Gore and Jeb Bush debated the country's future while
Ferrell, as Bush, the soon-to-be president, stood in the corner of
the room playing with a ball of string like a contented cat.
Not long after that sketch, "S.N.L." ran a prime-time election
special, and Bush and Gore themselves visited the studio. "It was
that strange sensation when art and life collide," Lorne Michaels,
the producer of "Saturday Night Live," told me on the phone from his
office at NBC. "There were the two candidates making fun of
themselves to the actors who were playing them. Will, especially,
captured something essential about Bush, and because Will is so
likable, I believe, he tilted the election toward Bush. Often, it's
the messenger that makes the material."
Although Ferrell portrayed Bush as bumbling and not too bright, the
impersonation was strangely affectionate, and Bush reportedly loved
it. He asked Ferrell to make an appearance with him at the White
House Press Corps dinner in 2000, which Ferrell declined. Bush later
made a similar request for a charity event held by Barbara Bush. When
Ferrell said no a second time, Bush phoned Jeff Zucker, then the head
of NBC, and asked him to persuade Ferrell to perform. "He said, 'You
gotta get your guy to do my mom's charity,' " Ferrell recalled, using
his Bush accent, over dinner at Kelly and Ping's, a restaurant in
downtown Manhattan. "The idea was that Dana Carvey would imitate the
dad and I would be the son. And then the two real people would come
up behind us, and we'd go, 'Oops, sorry!' That was the whole thing.
So George the son called Zucker and I was ... busy. In both cases, I
especially did not want to do the inevitable photo op afterwards
where we are all holding hands. That would have been a gesture of
support." Ferrell paused. "I've actually had people say to me,
'Thanks a lot for Bush,' as if I helped him win the election.
Luckily, no one has said that in a while. But I can't help the fact
that people in America seem to not mind stupidity."
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