It certainly wasn’t what anyone whose life has been shattered by addiction anticipated seeing when they turned on SNL expecting to have a few laughs. Addiction isn’t even a little funny. People are dying and lives are being destroyed every single day – and there is no humor to be found in any part of this epidemic.
They say ‘you know you’ve made it’ when SNL writes about it, so I guess in one way we should be glad that we have been loud enough about the epidemic to get their attention. This parody was one of their most tasteless to date, but what has made people react so viscerally to it goes to the heart of the matter. Our kids are dying. Heroin use, as SNL pointed out, is on the rise. And yes, mothers, school bus drivers and soccer coaches are not immune to addiction.
Parody and satire are a form of social commentary and SNL is known for taking a swing at the hot topics of the day. The over marketing of prescription pain meds is part of what got us here, so I imagine that is where they were trying to go with the skit.
They missed their mark. Social commentary about this topic is hard to make funny. Maybe an ad parody on the opioid constipation commercial that makes me crazy every time I see it would have worked – but I doubt it – because in the end, something that is destroying so many lives is just.not.funny.
This sketch could have been satire … I think it tried. Calling a time out to shoot black tar heroin ‘seems to come with a stigma’, and ‘side effects include: it’s heroin – so all that stuff’ were almost there……but the writers were lazy, trying for the laughs without the satire. ‘Side effects include’ should have listed the true side effects in the typical drug commercial high speed. THEN it could be considered satire, but it still would not have been funny.
If it was trying to be parody, it would have to make us laugh. Tell my friend Tracey it was just for laughs as she was watching SNL on her only son’s 24th birthday without him because he died of an overdose last year. Explain to my friend Bill who lost his son after a heroin overdose and six-week vigil in the ICU that he was supposed to chuckle. Tell the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost loved ones to this epidemic, explain to the millions living this nightmare as well as the millions more living in recovery it was only a joke.
Many movies, television shows, comedians etc make light of drug use. I have never watched Breaking Bad – I just can’t do it. The subject is simply too raw for me and I can find no entertainment in watching a high school teacher become a meth dealer. There are a lot of movies and shows I now avoid because I do not find watching drug use or laughing at addiction entertaining. For way too long teen drinking and substance use has been a part of movies and shows aimed at younger viewers. We need to take a look at what is deemed entertainment through a much wider lens. One long running TV sketch show known for offensive comedy is not our problem. The peddling of drinking and drugging as entertainment through all media is a much bigger issue. Commercials tell our kids that we can’t have fun on weekends or watch football without beer. Movies tell our youth it’s OK to get a girl drunk to get her to have sex with you. Hollywood makes drinking and drug use funny, and we have allowed it by buying their tickets and watching their movies and shows.
SNL tried and failed. I’d like to thank them for starting a bigger conversation. It’s time we ask television and Hollywood to stop making light of something that is destroying an entire generation of our children.
Stop the Silence.
Speak the Truth.
Start the Conversation.
Saturday Night Live and “Heroin AM” , Bill William’s Blog