Goldarn and fudge you SNL

This week (“Rummaging in the government’s attic”) released a response from the Federal Communications Commission to a Freedom of Information Act request for complaints filed about Saturday Night Live. With a cover letter dated “December 21, 2021,” the FCC provided more than 350 pages of documents, which also covered a request for complaints regarding Dave Chappelle’s November 7, 2020, appearance on the show.

Given the response covers 2017 to 2020, there were far fewer complaints than I expected. It also is electronic, so you can’t determine which complaints were submitted in writing and which online. A few, though, plainly are notes of telephone calls to the FCC. Regardless, they’re fun and interesting reading.

As you hopefully know, the FCC has jurisdiction over obscene, indecent, and profane broadcasts on radio and TV. It also has some regulatory authority on political programming. The complete FOIA response is here but I’ve picked out several I found entertaining. They’re grouped below by theme and I occasionally offer some thoughts. Although some are excerpts from sometimes long missives, nothing has been added, removed, or changed.

Some People Don’t Like the “F” Word or “GD”

Many of the complaints stem from language used on SNL, especially with versions of the “F” word. For example, Kristen Stewart said “fucking” on the February 13, 2017, broadcast (although someone from Tulsa thought she was Melissa McCarthy). That prompted a New York City viewer to say, “SNL said the f word. Please put them in jail.” Sorry, sir or ma’am, the FCC doesn’t have the power to jail anyone.

Similarly, on January 14, 2018, a Jackson, Mich., resident wrote: “repulsive F word plain, loud and clear by Sam Rockwell in science class skit. It’s on my DVR, I am offended to a high degree.” My suggestion: Delete it from your DVR so you aren’t exposed to that filth again.

Others really disapprove of using “God” to swear. For example, someone in Pine Level, N.C., had this to say about SNL‘s May 20, 2017, episode:

God’ s Holy Name was taken in vain and no effort was made to bleep it out, this is the second time that I am aware of Saturday Night Live doing this in violation of Federal Law. I have reported their actions before and hope you will enforce the strictest penalty under the law!

Two Florida residents were offended by later broadcasts. “On SNL they said God dxmn, which is highly offensive to Christians,” reported a Riverview, Fla., viewer in December 2017. And on October 1, 2018, someone from Jacksonville wrote, “While a longtime fan of SNL, I had to turn off the NBC show which aired last Sat. when Pete Davidson, used GD for humor. This should be punished.”

Trumann, Ark., was upset with the 2020 SNL Election Special on November 2, 2020. At 11:40 that night, someone wrote, “Saturday Night Live had a skit about the presidential debate where Jim Carey took God’s name in vain. This is RIDICULOUS. There should NEVER EVER be language such as this allowed on television.” That was followed 75 minutes later by this missive:

As an American tax payer and citizen, I am asking/calling upon the FCC and the Department of Justice to investigate “NBC”. Last night on 11/2/2020 an episode of “SNL” (Saturday night live) aired a skit in which the actor Jim Carey blurted out God’s name in vain. I am calling on the FCC/Members of Congress/The Department of Justice and any entity that has control over America’s Broadcasting Airwaves, to send a message that Americans are tired of the morally corrupt, indecent, foul and profane language being speed out over America’s airwaves.

Trumann is a town of only 7,000 or so and these are the only two complaints about this episode in the FOIA material. So that leads me to speculate that, if not the same person, someone else in the original complainer’s household submitted the second complaint.

Turning Racism Inside Out

There were also numerous complaints about racism. If anything, though, they seem to reflect a Trump-era pushback against the focus Black Lives Matter brought to the issue. For example. near the end of 2020, there were numerous complaints about Kanye West and David Chapelle using the word “nigger,” arguing the term is racist no matter who uses it. And at least once that thought had to percolate a bit. On March 2, 2017, a Middleburg, Fla., resident complained about a Dave Chappelle sketch on the November 12, 2016, episode:

In this segment the word Nigger and God Damn was said. I know that SNL is after hours, but I am offended that 1. God’s name was used in vain and 2. That a black person can go say Nigger and not be criticized, but if a white person says it they are held responsible or made to apologize

The floodgates of this “but if I’d said something similar” mindset opened wide open when Michael Che referred to Trump as a “cheap cracker” in a “Weekend Update” segment on October 21, 2017. Many complained that it was equivalent to a white person using a racist term to describe Obama. A Tulsa resident calmly wrote: “fucking racist show, dude called President Trump a cracker GET THE FUCKING RACE BAITING BULLSHIT OFF THE AIR,” Someone in West Jordan, Utah, put it more succinctly, “A black man called my president a ‘cracker.'” A Baytown, N.J, complaint best synopsized what the FCC heard: “Calling a white man a ‘Cracker’ is the same thing as calling a black man a ‘NIgger’ as far as I’m concerned. What are you going to do about it?”

Leave My President Alone

The “my president” part of the Utahan’s complaint hints at what motivated another class of objections — a perception that SNL picked on Trump. A Long Beach, Cal., resident wrote to the FCC in May 2017, saying, “I’m enraged that SNL can publicly, with their lewd and filthy humor, insult the PRESIDENT of the United States. Do your job, this crap needs to stop! Enforce the censorship laws on the books.”

Three months before, a viewer in Butler, Miss., titled their complaint “SNL is disgusting!”

For a public broadcasting company to slander the acting president is the same as slandering the people! It is actually high treason (18 US Code 2381) and I am horribly offend by their acts. They are in act of breaking several constitutional laws set forth in the beginning and the comments made by the actors and the show is completely appalling! They must be stopped now and blocked from public T.V. (which is paid and supported with public funds) and is abuse of such programs.

First, a question for Mr. Butler, Miss. Maybe I’m confused, but who was “acting president” in February 2017??? That aside, NBC’s use of public airwaves doesn’t make it a public broadcasting company. Likewise, that Comcast, which owns NBC, is a publicly traded corporation doesn’t make it a public company. While the Corporation for Public Broadcasting relies on public funds, it has nothing to do with NBC’s programming or SNL. Finally, 18 U.S.C. § 2381 mirrors Art. III, § 3 of the U.S. Constitution, defining treason as levying war against the U.S. or giving aid and comfort to its enemies. “Slander” is neither and the Constitution’s language was intended to avoid turning “ordinary partisan divisions” into treason.

Jumping the Shark

Of course, some complaints contained critical analysis. For example, someone in Kenyon, Minn., told the FCC in late November 2019, “SNL is not entertainment, it is a left wing political party.” In October 2017, a Buras, La., viewer, who apparently doesn’t realize the limits of the FCC’s authority and power, said, “Do what needs to be done: SNL is a limping, wounded dog that needs to be taken out behind the barn and shot.”

Given the complaints the FCC received after that, many people believed that wounded dog bit them, their religion, or their politics. While I haven’t watched SNL in years, you gotta admire something with humor biting enough that many demand a death sentence.

If you are learning anything from the football protests, this liberal whining shit is over.

FCC complaint from Charlotte, N.C., October 1, 2017

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