Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live

It takes a lot of character to defy your critics by walking into their midst. A good way to handle mockery is to play along, fighting humor with humor. That’s what Sarah Palin did in appearing on “Saturday Night Live.” She acquitted herself well in some funny, though silly, sketches. Here they are:

For the words to the Sarah Palin rap–which are very, very funny–go here.

Working men as heroes

John Nolte hails a positive trend in television. Some of the most popular reality shows celebrate WORK. From The Return of the Working Class Hero:

We marvel at the men populating “Ice Road Truckers,” “The Deadliest Catch,” “Dirty Jobs,” and “American Chopper.” Men who cuss and smoke cigarettes and lose their tempers and get the job done. We marvel at the creativity that gets them through, and we marvel at those fascinating six minute segments taking us into the dit-dit of How It’s Made. We marvel enough that every new season brings another guy just doing what he does so well. This year it was exterminators. Like eating cotton candy or slowing to pick up the grisly details of a car crash, watching the fame-addicted humiliate themselves may well fascinate, but it doesn’t feel very good inside. But watching the people who take enormous pride in the difficult work they do makes this the healthiest television trend since Fox News upended the liberal media monopoly.

While the cultural divide grew as wide as flyover country between those who create television and those who watch it, we’ve seen the working class pretty much relegated to buffoonish sitcom husbands; balding, heavyset men, married to impossibly lovely wives who bubble with love but also deliver sharp zingers that manifest the contempt she (and the show’s creators) have for their mate’s humble station in life. Gone are the lunch bucket heroes. They’ve long been replaced by lawyers, doctors, perfectly tailored detectives, and Manhattan lofted friends.

But something good is happening on the higher-numbered channels where the nobility of hard work plays out in such a fascinating way that “The Deadliest Catch” has been “synergized” into a video game and a family of motorcycle builders are treated like movie stars by movie stars. Somewhere along the line, narcissism on parade took a back seat to the virtues of the men in flannel. Yes, it’s our dads, uncles, and neighbors.

I love those shows. Don’t you? Notice that they are celebrations of vocation!

Howdy Doody time

Perhaps one of you readers is as old as I am–that is to say, really, really old–so that you too could get a nostaligic buzz out of this memory of the Howdy Doody Show, an account of someone who actually got to sit in the Peanut Gallery. I’m telling you, THAT was children’s TV.

Doctor Who is good again

Are any of you “Doctor Who” fans? That is to say, Whovians? I would just like to say that David Tennant has to be the best Doctor since Tom Baker. Yes, he is too young, but he projects a persona that is both madcap and enigmatic. Also, the writing for that series has really gotten good. This last two-part episode about the Library had to be one of the most remarkable plots I have seen on TV, with layer upon layer of metafiction, time paradox, virtual reality, epistemology, and puzzle upon puzzle, all resolved in stunning fashion. Watch for this one in re-reruns, and if you haven’t seen the show since you were a little kid, give it a try again. (And if any of you watched them, this thread is open to a discussion of the Library episodes.)

Life imitates TV

It turns out that the unexpected rise of Barack Obama bears a strange similarity to a story line from “West Wing” a few years ago. From Peter Funt – A Race Straight Out of a ‘West Wing’ Rerun:

How’s this for a political plot: Good-looking congressman in his mid-40s, married with two young children, known for his inspirational speeches, comes from far behind to clinch the Democratic nomination and face an older, more experienced centrist Republican. If he wins, he’s America’s first non-Caucasian president.

It’s a drama that plays out each day in the papers and through nonstop cable-TV coverage. But some are beginning to notice that it’s a rerun. The whole thing was broadcast a few years back on NBC’s “The West Wing.”

The TV candidate even campaigned on a slogan of “hope.” It turns out, the writers got the idea from watching Barack Obama make his big speech to the last Democratic convention. They changed the candidate to a Hispanic guy–the ascendancy of a black guy must have been even too much for fiction–though they could not have anticipated the John McCain figure who ran against him. Unsuccessfully. If life keeps imitating the TV show, Obama will be in the White House.

The new American Idol

I Tivoed “American Idol,” as is my wont, watching it about an hour late. I sat through the most tedious, hype-filled TWO hours, consisting of shameless plugs and product placements, embarrassing song and dance numbers, and a host of pop stars who could never have won “American Idol.” Finally, the moment came. . .Ryan Seacrest announced that the winner was “David ___” THEN MY TIVO CUT OUT! RIGHT AT THE VERY VERGE, WITH ONLY THE LAST NAME TO BE UTTERED!

I thought that I may have heard the beginning articulation of an unvoiced velar stop just before the “save or delete” message came on, and, sure enough, the web revealed that the winner was David Cook.

America got it right after all! He has the stage presence, the artistry, the originality, the voice to deserve it. Voters didn’t just vote for the cutest, as I assumed they would; rather, they went for substance.

This encourages me to think that the American people may also vote in larger numbers for the best presidential candidate. Maybe what we should do is let people vote as many times as they want to.