Did 'SNL' go too far in mocking gov's blindess?
Saturday Night Live is known for pushing the envelope, but the show may have pushed it too far yesterday when it mocked Gov. David Paterson for being legally blind.
In the sketch, part of the Weekend Update segment, cast member Fred Armisen, his left eye squinting, wheels his chair up to the desk and then struggles with which way to face. Later while discussing the economy, he holds a chart upside down, to uproarious laughter. During a farewell speech from departing castmember Amy Poehler, he wanders aimlessly in front of the camera.
During a discussion with Weekend Update anchor Seth Myers about whom to appoint to fill Hillary Clintons senate seat, Armisens Paterson suggests taking someone out of the freak bin of upstate New York.
They dont have to be blind. It could be someone with, like, a gamey arm or the giant gums with the tiny teeth, he says. Im tired of all these fancy two-eyed smart alecks from the big city running the show.
The sketch also poked fun at Patersons admitted cocaine use in his 20s.
Patersons office released a statement last night taking the show to task.
The governor engages in humor all the time, and he can certainly take a joke, the statement said. However, this particular Saturday Night Live skit unfortunately chose to ridicule people with physical disabilities and imply that disabled people are incapable of having jobs with serious responsibilities.Carl Jacobsen, president of the National Federation of the Blind of New York, slammed the sketch, adding that the show would likely never use racist humor in connection with the governor, who is black.
I think Saturday Night Live was reaching for a cheap laugh at the expense of a whole class of people, said Jacobsen. They have to find someone to pick on so were down to blind guys.
New Yorkers said going after Patersons disability he is legally blind as a result of a childhood infection is out of bounds.
Thats definitely over the limit, said Christian Best, 35, of Brooklyn. Thats in poor taste.
Johnny Chaz, 48, of Queens, said he expects the episode to cause an uproar.
Blind people might be out there next week protesting, he said. You cant make fun of an affliction that he cant do anything about.
A spokesman for NBC declined to comment.
Sara Benincasa, a New York-based comedian, praised much of the sketch but said going after Paterson for being blind is lazy.
I was surprised they went there, she said.
Of course not all New Yorkers were offended.
I think hes big enough to handle it, said Sandy Needham, who lives on the Upper West Side. My television has a switch. If you dont like it, turn it off.