On Oct. 11, 1975, the social commentary comedy show called Saturday Night Live (or SNL for short) hit the screen. It is widely considered to be one of the most successful broadcast television shows of all time—and for good reason. Even in its early days, the culture of SNL began to seep into American society, by taking political jabs at presidents, prominent business leaders, and celebrities themselves.
SNL was something of a modern version of political cartoons. Arguably the most popular form of political satire, political cartoons put most every political figure under the scrutiny of their critical eye. Watch on of the very first sketches to be shown on the show, which presented then president, Gerald Ford as a bumbling, clumsy, fool. SNL’s portrayal of Ford almost certainly played a role in his defeat by Jimmy Carter the following year.
- Is it important in a free society that people are allowed to satirize their political leaders?
- Does SNL push the envelope too far with its criticism?
- Should SNL be considered “the press”? And therefore receive protections under the First Amendment?
1, Aug. 2017, Chevy Chase on SNL’s “Weekend Update” [Digital photograph]. Retrieved from <newsday.com>.