The Collegian
Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Opinion: Saturday Night Live's election skits may damage voter turnout

Why SNL should stop ridiculing the 2016 election

<p>Graphic by Annie Scalet/The Collegian</p>

Graphic by Annie Scalet/The Collegian

Comedy is an inhibitor that can be used to make people feel better about different aspects of life that may typically be difficult for us to confront. We’re human. We’re awkward. We don’t have all the answers. 

I often feel as if most people don’t know what they’re doing. I used to think that adults had all of the answers, now I just think that they’re better at hiding the fact that they don’t.

"Saturday Night Live" is one of the best comedic shows currently on television. I love its sketches. I love that it comments on and points out things that typically make us uncomfortable. However, in terms of the 2016 election, I believe that SNL should forgo ridiculing the political candidates.

I know a lot of people will disagree with me. I know that a lot of people, myself included, enjoy SNL renditions of Hillary Clinton, portrayed by Kate McKinnon, and Donald Trump, portrayed by Alec Baldwin. However, there is a danger in making people too comfortable with this election. 

Already, SNL (and various other media outlets) have portrayed Clinton as the clear victor. The problem with that, although it comforts me as a Democrat, is that Clinton’s win has not been determined yet. Yes, she is currently leading in the polls, but that does not mean she will be president. In the past, polls have predicted the presidential election incorrectly. I don’t want us to make that same mistake. 

By painting Clinton as the clear victor, it is possible to make people feel too comfortable and not take their vote as seriously as they should. Just because you think Clinton has already won does not mean that she has. Trump still has a lot of adamant supporters — he might win. Regardless, we can not let SNL comedic interpretations let us get too comfortable with predicted voting outcomes.

When Michael Che portrayed debate moderator Lester Holt, he said, “Just to remind everyone at home, this was the presidential debate.” Che emphasized the word “was” to create the effect that people should realize just how absurd and comical this election is. In addition, when Lin-Manuel Miranda hosted SNL the night it covered the second debate, Miranda rapped, “And as long as I remember to vote this November, I am not throwing away my shot.” 

These are really the only two instances in which SNL takes a serious stance on the election. However, it is not these instances that are heavily shared and taken seriously, but it is instead the comedic repertoire taken from the campaign trail and the absurdity of it all that is emphasized. The fact of the matter is that this is the campaign for the presidency, and it is not something we should take lightly.

Even so, there is something deeply disturbing about SNL’s election scripts: They are not much different from the actual debate dialogues. About half of America truly believes in what Clinton says, and about half of America truly believes in what Trump says. What does this say about us? I've fought with friends and family members over this election, and I can't truly say that it hasn't affected several of my relationships. This election is creating a divide in this country, and I don’t know how we will recover from it.

When all is said and done, yes, what the nominees say is extremely comical. SNL does not have to do much digging for its election material. That does not mean that we shouldn't take this election seriously. 

There is a very good chance that either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is going to be our next president. We can’t just make fun of the nominee's opponent and assume our choice is clearly the victor. Regardless of who you're voting for, it is important that you take this vote seriously because this election will determine the future of America.

Contact contributor Caroline McNamara at

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

Support independent student media

You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.

Donate Now