Obama wearing an Obama mask, an act described as racist until people remembered Obama did it once
There’s something disquieting about the way the comedic class has treated President Barack Obama. The phrase “kid gloves” comes to mind, but that doesn’t quite cover it. Obama’s status as a trailblazer combined with a resurgence of political correctness and the fact that he, frankly, holds the political biases of most comedians has placed the presidency more or less off-limits for harsh treatment. It has become dangerous even to draw a caricature of the president: one wrong move, no matter your liberal bona fides, and you’re branded a racist.
In the place of comedy to criticize the powerful, you have comedy to comfort the powerful. You have John Oliver and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert DESTROYING and EVISCERATING straw men, but the DESTRUCTION and the EVISCERATION is kind of beside the point. It’s comedy designed to remind the smart set that it believes the right things, holds the right views, supports the right pols, vouches for the right laws. “Look at how dumb The Other is,” these shows scream. “We are smarter. We are better. We are good.”
Oppositional humor—truly oppositional humor, humor that challenges the Democratic elite that is running the country, that controls the White House and the Senate and the federal bureaucracy—is out. That’s the point that SNL producer-writer James Downey is getting at here: