Former boy band-er and current Michael Jackson wannabe (hey, I love him, but he's no King of Pop) Justin Timberlake hosted Saturday Night Live over the weekend. While funny, a few of these JT SNL (omg acronyms!) sketches are crying out for a bit o' feminist analysis. Let's give it to them!
Check out the "Dick In A Box" follow-up, "Motherlover":
On to the pros and cons...
To start with, I thought this video was hilarious. Far funnier, in fact, than its predecessor. I might be biased, however, because I am a big fan of both Susan Sarandon and Patricia Clarkson, and I think Samberg and Timberlake's cheesy International Male get-ups are really charming. What can I say? Maybe I'm a sucker for gold chains and badly-groomed facial hair.
In addition to the fashion, it's nice that this video shows "older" (read: over 40) women as the hotties they are. There are a million examples of mass media portrayals of mature women that somehow suggest that once a woman hits middle age, she goes numb from the waist down and is satisfied with a cat in her lap and a rerun of Matlock on her television, so props to SNL for bucking that trend. As a daughter of a single mom, I know that moms need love too, and not always the kind they can get from their kids (though I don't like to think about it too much).
As a final "pro", I think this song is super-catchy. I especially like the lyric that goes "'Cause every Mother's Day needs a mother's night/ If doing it is wrong, I don't wanna be right." The tune has been in my head since I first watched the video this morning, and I don't think it's going anywhere.
Well, there is the obvious taboo here of a guy having sex with his friend's mom (and sexually objectifying his own mom). Lots of the comments I've been reading about "Motherlovers" are from people who are shocked and offended by the content of the video. Says Maria
this video reflects the lowering of ethical standards in the minds of some very public personas and through the influence they have, our society of the future at large.
While I am not sure I agree that this video reflects a "lowering of ethical standards" (since SNL has been airing questionable material for going on three decades now) I can see why this is offensive to a lot of viewers. It basically takes the sexual objectification of women and applies it to mothers in an attempt to be funny, and maybe that's not okay. Imagine if this video showed Clarkson and Sarandon saying they wanted to get freaky with each other's sons? I'm sure people would feel differently because of the gender/objectification reversal, even though the outcome (mother does it with her son's friend) would be the same.
Confusing to say the least. What do you think?
Before you answer, let's watch "Surgery Center", another Timberlake SNL clip from Saturday's episode:
Ummm... Will Forte looks cute dressed up as a barbell? Also, I laughed when he pronounced it "sween flu."
I don't think I need to be the one to tell you that Justin Timberlake dressed up as a saline breast implant singing songs about how women should risk their lives and their life savings to fix their "mediocre" faces is somewhat problematic. Sure, it's meant to be a joke (and I did laugh at a few parts, mostly because of JT's dance moves in that suit), but the underlying message is that plastic surgery is a good option for people (men and women) who want to be more attractive. Forte's barbell character ended up being on steroids (and defecting to the Surgery Center), so the message extends to include the notion that going to the gym is for 'roidy losers.
I know that SNL is a sketch-comedy show, and that we're not meant to expect perfection when it comes to portrayals of gender/race/politics, etc. However, while the "Motherlover" video struck me as clever and maybe even a tad progressive(?), "Surgery Center" seems to be relying on the lowest common denominator (fake boobs) to get laughs at the expense of women who don't feel good about themselves (in part because of the way the mass media portrays women). In the interest of a reversal, I don't know if I'd feel as put off had Timberlake been dressed up as a giant penile implant (thus highlighting men's insecurities), because men aren't objectified by the media in the same way as women (and because Timberlake would have looked even funnier as an eight-foot tall erection). What do you think?
Did you watch this episode of SNL? Do you find these videos funny, or offensive? Can they be both?