One might assume that the American public receives their fill from politicians; however, it seems that we crave political parodies more than we do actual election results. Political parodies surround us in the form of skits, plays, movies, cartoons and television shows. The funniest seem to be when celebrities or comedians decide to take on politics in the form of a parody.
The latest is The Daily Show’s Jon Stewartand The Colbert Report’s Stephen Colbert will host opposing political rallies on Oct. 30 in Washington D.C.. Stewart claims that the rallies poke at the extremists from the political fringes. Stewart’s march on Washington, the “Rally to Restore Sanity,” is an agreeable, respectful movement against shouting. It is for people who believe shouting is annoying, and America needs to restore sanity. His bogus political opponent, Colbert, will respond with the “March to Keep Fear Alive,” because the nation needs to restore “truth that comes from the gut, not books.”
My favorite political parody is the movie Wag the Dog, starring Anne Heche and Robert De Niro. The president is in a sex scandal and needs a way out right before elections. Enter Heche as a political consultant and De Niro as a spin-doctor. They fabricate a war with the help of a Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) to create an entire patriotic campaign. Treated more like an ad campaign, songs and symbols are created and broadcast, with scenes from the war from a soundstage. The movie is a cynical, realistic view of our American political campaigns.
Anyone who loves political parodies will agree that The Simpsons and South Park have some of the best parodies created. However, Saturday Night Live is famous for its opening political parodies. The parody of the VP debate in 2008 is the best example of SNL‘s success in creating biting, edgy political parodies. Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, Queen Latifah as Gwen Ifill and Jason Sudeikis as Joe Biden not only poked fun at the debate but they managed to nail their characters so correctly that a few “Joe Six-packs” may have believed they were watching the real politicians.
Classic SNL performer Phil Hartman was hysterical as a super-intelligent Ronald Reagan in SNL‘s political parody of President Reagan in the Oval Office. Most political parodies of President Reagan poked fun at the image that the president was a dawdling, dim-witted old man whose staff handled everything for him. Rather than parody the mainstream view, SNL‘s Hartman portrayed President Reagan as a genius who ran the country single-handedly while hiding behind a fake public image.
Zongker, Brett. “Colbert to rally against faux nemesis Stewart” (Associated Press 2010)
Ebert, Roger. Wag the Dog, (RogerEbert.com)