I wasn’t introduced to Saturday Night Live until 1979 when I was 17 years old. SNL was my first attempt to break out of the fifties life of institutionalized traditions. I came to it a bit late and my rebellion didn’t have much effect on my parents since they were asleep when I snuck out to the den to secretly watch the SNL players order a “cheebuger, cheebuger”. My parents had no clue what the hell was wrong me as I went around laughing with my friends saying, “oooo noooo Mr. Bill”. They kept wanting to know who Mr. Bill was. I shouldn’t laugh at them but, at 42, I still can’t help it.
Seriously though, SNL opened a lot of eyes in the seventies. We learned that it was okay to challenge authority, to speak our minds, to choose to receive information from other sources besides the daily newspaper and those annoying special bulletins on television. And, best of all, we learned we could laugh at the insanity of our world. SNL helped us laugh at the long lines to get gas, and the constant paranoia of being nuked. SNL, in its own amazing, insane way helped us grow up.
SNL knockoffs are all over the television today but somehow they just are not the same. There is something about having the courage to fly in the face of convention – a trait the SNL players all had in abundance. The bits today are just playing the roles, unafraid of attack from the society they present to – in large part because everyone is doing it these days. I can’t help but wonder if there are anymore wonders to uncover, anymore eyes to open. I am waiting for the next SNL.
May 19, 2004
K. Y. Hamilton, BA, MA - Copyright 2004, 2006