The emails were really just used for “Fun woman talk” and the ‘“Unsexiest email ever to Bill Clinton”- Kate McKinnon impersonating Hillary Clinton in an Saturday Night Live spoof in March of this year.
Beyond Bernie Sanders epic declaration “the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails”, McKinnon’s SNL spoof may be most well remembered moment in the Clinton email saga.
McKinnon played Clinton in an SNL episode soon after the private email scandal first broke loose, while Clinton herself made a guest appearance on the show. In October Clinton made a second appearance on SNL taking full advantage of SNL’s comedic twist yet again. She tweeted after the show “A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for four more years of Kate McKinnon’s impression #citizens.” Following the show, audiences began to see Hillary in a different light. Previously, she had a reputation for being cold and dull. Afterwards, audiences had a new respect for her and her ability to poke fun at herself, and make light of past situations she has been in. Performing on SNL was helpful in Hillary’s branding, making her more relateable and “human” to the target audiences she wanted to reach as a democratic candidate for the 2016 presidential election.
Clinton isn’t the first nor will she be the last politician to appeal to SNL’s satiric take on politics and the scandals that dominate campaigns and news headlines. Presidential candidates alone who have recently made appearances or hosted SNL during their campaigns include John McCain, Chris Christie, George H.W. Bush, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Obama and Hillary Clinton herself. The SNL dynamic provides an alternative and juxtaposed coverage opportunity for politicians whom we associate with stiff suits, stuffy press conferences and distant televised speeches.
Politicians employ multiple strategies of branding themselves, often with formal news based media, and traditional advertising and campaigning efforts, but SNl proved throughout the years that politicians can also make their campaign worth a few good laughs. When politicians choose to go on a comedy show like SNL is a step further than being interviewed by John Stewart or Stephen Colbert. SNL’s audience includes people who follow politics but also includes a whole segment of people who don’t. Appearing on SNL is a way for politicians to reach these publics and show everyone that they have a personality beyond formal media interactions. This recent movement for presidents and presidential candidates to act on SNL started with Gerald Ford and has been successful in adding positive aspects to their brand, just like the changed perceptions of Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump and his quote of the day have become America’s latest source of entertainment, leaving some Americans wondering whether his campaign is little more than a publicity stunt. Whether you are a Trump fan or not, November 7th is not an SNL episode to miss out on. Trump will be hosting SNL bringing his own Trump style “authenticity” to the table. With SNL delivering its witty and sarcastic take on politics, viewers may just want to stop, put the remote down and kick back for what promises to be much more humorous than yet another presidential debate.
Aki Suzuki, Carey Poniewaz, Carey Shetterly, Lexie Trimnal, June Wilkinson