Positive Cynicism – Betty White will host Saturday Night Live, if by “host” you mean “appear in a brief cameo”

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

[Editor’s Note – After Joel Murphy and Lars taunted Chris Kirkman on last week’s Hobo Radio podcast, Kirkman decided to get retribution by disrupting the space time continuum, launching us into a bizarre alternate timeline where Positive Cynicism runs on Mondays instead of Tuesdays. Kirkman promised to restore the natural order of the universe next week.]

Here’s what you need to know: 1. Betty White is funnier than most people alive, and 2. there’s a Facebook petition for Betty White to host Saturday Night Live which has been signed by over half a million people.

In a complete reversal of everything we know to be true about Internet petitions, this one actually worked. Lorne Michaels actually took notice of it. He even managed to take a break from recruiting hosts by checking box office numbers to see which movie is most popular with tweens right now and decided to approach Betty White about hosting the show.

Success! The Internet wins!

Except … except …

According to Entertainment Weekly columnist Michael Ausiello (tagline: “My fawning only stops when the cocksucking begins”), Lorne Michaels is talking about who’s going to co-host the show with Betty.

What?

Yes, Lorne Michaels figures, why have just one host when you can have three or four? Apparently he’s decided to make it some sort of “women of comedy” theme episode, as opposed to the usual theme of every episode of Saturday Night Live, “a heavy overreliance on Kristen Wiig and the same socially awkward character she plays in basically every sketch, with lots of Kenan Thompson, as well.” So he’s talking about going to the Well of Souls and unlocking Molly Shannon from her crypt, as well as pulling Amy Poehler and Tina Fey back onto the show to shore up the hosting duties so that Betty White doesn’t have to do it alone.

If you think that sounds condescending, it’s because it is.

Lorne Michaels came up with this “theme” episode because Betty White is 88 years old. And apparently that makes her too darn frail and weak to host the show on her own.

According to Ausiello (new tagline: “Making the Onion’s Jackie Harvey look like the H.L. Mencken of entertainment news”), this is a brilliant idea that “will allow Lorne Michaels to appease White-on-SNL zealots (half a million and counting!) without making the 88-year-old shoulder the burden of all 90 minutes on her own.”

Oh, so this is for Betty White’s own benefit. I see. This is to help out this sweet old lady who should be in bed at midnight on a Saturday and will find the herculean task of propping up Saturday Night Live too heavy on her dusty old bones. After all, it’s not like she’s a professional actress with decades of experience working, right?

What a crock of shit. A disrespectful crock of shit.

How much work does the host of Saturday Night Live really do? It’s a 90 minute show. Now cut out 30 minutes for commercials, anyway. Another 10 minutes of musical performances. 10 minutes of Weekend Update. The Digital Short is taped, so there’s another 5 or so minutes. So that leaves us with just 35 minutes of show that Lorne Michaels apparently thinks Betty White is too old to host.

So what’s the real reason for this? Well, let’s just be honest about it: Lorne thinks Betty is too old to pull in younger viewers. He’s so desperate for Saturday Night Live to be popular and relevant again that you either need to be a werewolf in Twilight, the star of Emmy-winning hip series Mad Men, on a CW series, or Taylor Swift to host this show now. Hell, let’s face it, the only reason Sigourney Weaver got to host this year is because Avatar was so popular with teenagers and guys in their twenties. Lorne Michaels isn’t thinking about comedy at all anymore, he’s just thinking about ratings. And maybe that isn’t accurate, either. Maybe he’s really just thinking about being hip. It’s the same kind of thinking that is slowly turning Playboy into Maxim; why be sophisticated when you can be popular?

Look, Lorne, those kids that you think are watching the latest post-tween sensation are actually out on Saturday nights. They don’t even TiVo your show; they illegally download it the next day and skip through it. You’re never going to attract the notoriously fickle audience of teenagers. They’re not wetting their pants in anticipation of seeing Tina Fey do her Sarah Palin impression again.

But you know what? Who cares? You’re a comedy show. Your job is to put on a funny show, not worry about what teenagers want to see on TV. If you devote yourself to being as funny as you can possibly be, then the audience will follow because you’re giving them something of value. (I mean, let’s face it, if the writing was strong in the first place, you wouldn’t be fretting over which host is going to bring in the tweens.) Your only concern should be whether or not the host is funny. And you know who’s funny? Betty White. Betty White is always funny. At any age.

Seriously, if January Jones can host Saturday Night Live, how taxing can it be?

Just stop hiding behind this “women of comedy” bullshit when it’s bleedingly obvious that it’s only being done because you don’t have the guts to say “Betty White is too old to bring in young viewers.” Because I don’t think that’s true; I think lots of people love Betty White. Hell, even those teenagers loved The Proposal, and Betty was the best part of that movie.

Besides, if you were really committed to “women of comedy,” you’d be talking about Carol Burnett. But you’re not, because as funny as she always, always is, she’s too old for you.

Ageism at its finest, from a 65 year-old man.

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com.

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