Have you ever heard a joke and thought, "Hmm, I just feel like I shouldn't laugh at that"? Or, "Something about this just isn't right," but you can't tell if you are being sensitive?
That's how I originally felt after seeing the SNL skit, "Dad, it's just ISIS."
In the skit, Saturday Night Live has Dakota Johnson join ISIS in a parody of a U.S. Army commercial. It is set up the same as the Toyota Camry commercial, "My Bold Dad," with a teary-eyed father seemingly dropping his daughter off at an airport. He says goodbye and be careful, and she laughingly says, "Dad, it's just ISIS."
The father turns to the truck that pulls up next to them and says, "Take care of her."
A bearded man says, "Death to America," and then the message, "ISIS. We'll take it from here, Dad," appears on the screen.
OK, so… I am not sure if I should be glad SNL still has the guts to make us uncomfortable because, after all, comedy is often the best form of social commentary,
Humorist Mary Hirsch said is best, "Humor is a rubber sword — it allows you to make a point without drawing blood."
Underneath the obvious usually lies a rich layer of strong truth and social commentary about things we often don't want to face or something that might be difficult to swallow. And SNL has a long history of doing just that, which gives weight to the argument that this skit isn't inappropriate.
But, yet I can't quite shake the fact that I just don't think it's funny.
The bit comes on the heels of three men being arrested in the United States with ties to the terrorist organization and when three British teenagers left to join them. Europe has been struggling in recent times with young girls leaving home to travel to Syria to join ISIS. The 15- and 16-year-old girls described as intelligent and popular have been making headlines all over the world.
So, I just think it is a bit crass to show a doe-eyed Johnson, smiling and riding off into the sunset amid a shower of bullets with a teary-eyed and proud father. If you have read anything about the families' responses to the most recent teenagers abandoning their homes, you would know they absolutely do not agree with their decisions and have made it clear they do not support the terrorists or what they are doing in the name of their religion.
Not to even mention the connection with the very powerful U.S. Army commercial of a father dropping off his daughter, who is joining the Army, which I find to be an empowering and strong message.
So, back to the question: Is it social commentary or too much?
Twitter thought it was too much and responded with some harsh words for the Fifty Shades of Grey actress.
#SNL skit with Dakota Johnson on "It's just ISIS" -- not effin' funny! They're chopping peoples' head off and you're making it a joke?— Diane Williams (@dianewms) March 1, 2015
Of course, there were plenty of people who thought the skit was spot-on for the comedy show.
Love the opener on SNL. Dakota Johnson is terrific so far! Spot on the Isis sketch. — watching Saturday Night Live— Kate Greer (@Kate_Greer) March 1, 2015
Personally, I think it's too much. I don't think it is fair to make light of a group that is murdering people in horrific and public fashions to gain notoriety or en masse with a callous disregard for human life and in bitter contrast with what their religion actually teaches.
I don't think it is right to give them any more credence or power by making them part of our social commentary by using comedy or any other avenue. By including them in such a way we are validating them, and I just don't quite agree with that.
Organizations that are burning people alive and beheading people on camera are just out of bounds for me and my taste in comedy.
Pointing out injustices or societal problems, yes, that is the place for comedy to step in and make us feel uncomfortable. Making light of ISIS, I just don't think so.
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