Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
December 5, 2010

SNL’s “Cold Opening” Goes Wild on Hillary’s “Private Parts”

Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live seems to think that a pixilated crotch shot of the U.S. Secretary of State is a good metaphor for the State Department’s “overexposure” in the WikiLeaks controversy. Riffing on a parody of the paparazzi tabloid show TMZ, Saturday’s SNL cold open lumped Hillary Clinton in with the likes of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and other second-rate celebs who have famously been caught going commando.

Sadly, it’s no surprise that the “commando” joke was humorously paired with this one-time Commander-in-Chief  hopeful. During the 2008 presidential primary campaign, Clinton’s “ladyparts” were invoked by GOP strategist Roger Stone, who created  a very real 527 organization called “Citizens United Not Timid: a 527 Organization To Educate The American Public About What Hillary Clinton Really Is.” In case voters missed the less than subtle implication suggested by Stone’s slogan, the organization’s acronym was helpfully bolded in this image, plastered on t-shirts and websites:

It’s not just conservative zealots and late-night humorists who revel in conflating the Clinton persona with a word like “cunt.” This image went viral during the 2008 campaign:

In addition to revealing (pardon the pun) the coarsening of American political culture, images like these suggest the challenge that female political leaders continue to face. Certainly, the “private parts” of male politicians have served as punch lines for late night comedians, but those jokes typically lampoon something that the male politician did. These jokes about Hillary Clinton make fun of something that she is—her very nature as a female triggers depictions of her personal and political vulnerability. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that even before the most recent WikiLeaks dump, Clinton announced her intention to step down as Secretary of State after the conclusion of Obama’s first presidential term, citing the effects the grueling pace of the position has had on her health.

That’s not soon enough for some Clinton critics. WikiLeaks founder (and international man of mystery) Julian Assange told Time magazine that Clinton “should resign” in the wake of the WikiLeaks revelations—that charge came after Time managing editor Richard Stengel observed that Clinton was beginning to look “like the fall guy” in this controversy. Make that “fall gal” because although Clinton’s gender is certainly not the only hurdle she’s had to (repeatedly) clear on her journey from the Arkansas governor’s mansion to the U.S. State Department, it’s certainly a persistent one. I doubt that U.S. political culture would have as much tolerance for, say, repeated jokes directed at President Obama that invoked crude stereotypes of African American male endowment. It was tough for me just to write that sentence! And yet, with last night’s episode of SNL, invocations of Clinton’s “c***” have entered the mainstream of U.S. political culture.

It’s time for critics and citizens to call out examples like these and subject the misogyny that we (all too often) tolerate or ignore to some overexposure of its own.

SNL Assange, TMZ, Hillary Clinton opening video.

  • http://www.serr8d.blogspot.com serr8d

    Oh come on. This skit was not even reasonably argued, as Hillary has never worn a skirt as I recall; pantsuits have never evidenced need for pixelated (check your spelling, btw) crotch shots. Unless there were a Mick Jagger bulge where there shouldn’t be.

    And late-night humor is sexual humor first and foremost. Remember how you laughed when David Letterman made the joke about Bristol Palin and the entire New York Yankees ball club except it wasn’t Bristol with Sarah?

    All I’m saying is don’t go all Amanda Marcotte on us, please!

    • jonst

      It’s too late serr8d….most of the squishy left has gone “Amanda Marcotte”. And, oh, did it pain me to write that sentence.

      How about this? Fuck Hillary! Fuck Condi! Bush and Obama too…and all the corporate-marketing bean counters that have hallowed out the nation, whittled down the middle class, sucked us into two wars, call troops private contractors and lend trillions, repeat, trillions for little or no interest.

      Just stand back…and take a look at what the last 35 years or so has done to this nation. And these are our elites? Snopes, all of them. Falkner knew em. Well, it provides us mediocre entertainment, I guess you can say. Limbaugh, Stewart, Palin, Colbert, all of them….laughing all the way to the bank. Just going in in different doors. One door Right. One door Left. Money ends up in the same place.

      God bless Assange….at least he is fighting back.

    • Gasho

      Jonst –

      right on.

      I do feel that our nation’s been “hollowed out”.

      I ask you, though – how do we get back to a healthier state? How do we live our lives now that our nation has gone off the rails? How do we hand our kids a decent world to live in? It doesn’t seem like pitchforks and guillotines are going to work this time. Blogs and tweets don’t really seem to have the same effect, sadly. Where do we go from here ??

    • jonst

      Gasho,

      How do we get back to a “healthier state”? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it. Agree that pitch forks and guillotines are not the answer. We need to find someone who will challenge the ‘consensus’ held by the ‘elites’, in both parties, these past 35 years or so. i.e. ‘Free markets’ are not the solution to every problem. Cutting taxes does NOT increase govt revenues. IOW…no free lunch. Rejecting manufacturing in favor of an economy built on complex and convoluted financial speculation is the road to doom. So called free trade agreements do not work for our nation. 100% support of the Likud Govt aagenda is not in the best interests of the US. Start to fundamentally address campaign finance reform. Do not mistake ‘identity politics’ i.e. Political correctness for genuine economic and social reform. Finally, realize that we can not be an Empire and have a Republic, as well.

      Those would be my starters. I’m sure many others have good opinions. But if both parties reject these proposals, and they do, I don’t really know how to go up against them. But in the end you have to break the consensus. First, recognize there IS a consensus, despite all the supposed partisanship so many lament. Then seek to break said consensus.

      All this is a hell of lot easier said than done. I know. I know…..

    • weisseharre

      To: Jonst & Gasho
      Hello, oldtimers and to BlackDogBarking…
      ‘truth’…the nearest non-formal disjunction coming anywhere near to an ethical imperative I know of, “A true statement cannot imply a false one.”

    • black dog barking

      weisseharre,

      -backatchoo-

  • http://sbgypsy.blogspot.com sbgypsy

    Dear SNL

    REALLY?
    YOU REALLY WANT TO GO THERE?

    REALLY?!

    DURING TIME OF WAR?

    REALLY!!!

    DUUUUDZ!

    YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO GO THERE – TRUST ME.

  • Amir Goy

    Ya know…after what Wikileaks has just shown us…we might as well just cut right to the chase and call her what she is: a damn criminal.

    • http://motherrr.blogspot.com cmac

      What are you, crazy? The only thing wikileaks showed was that American diplomacy is working.

  • http://www.agrippinaminor.com/scarabus/ Wayne Dickson

    This still was taken from a small part of a pretty long skit. Remember the specific and overall contexts? Remember any of the other targets? Shouldn’t that matter?

    Remember the shot where Obama seemed to be checking out a woman’s tush as she was climbing some stairs? And then remember how different the image was understood when it was placed in context?

    http://www.angryblacklady.com/2009/07/10/he-likes-big-butts-and-he-cannot-lie/

    • KVA

      Just wondering–in what context would that image/notion/joke be appropriate?

  • Michael Shaw

    Just wanted to welcome weisseharre back! I’ve been working harder lately to target images that are more “discussable” and really build the conversation.

  • Michael Shaw

    Regarding Wayne’s point, sure there is more going on in this skit. The other aspect that captured my attention and is also quite telling is the fact that, in the opening, we see Obama washing out in static and subsumed by Assange. Of course, that speaks to Karrin’s point in the post about how course our culture has become, and how gutter or glitter trumps substance these days. I think it also clearly illustrates Obama’s communications failings, however, and how weak Obama has become in capturing and holding anyone’s interest and attention.

  • http://homelessonthehighdesert.wordpress.com Ten Bears

    Standard fare on CNN/Faux News, so too ABC?NBC/CBS, what’s the big deal?

  • Vvoter

    Regarding the distinction between private parts as reference to male activity versus female essence or identity, Richard “Dick” Cheney comes to mind as a fine counter example.

  • John Watson

    So you’re upset that Ms. Clinton was lampooned for something she did not do? Let’s see…Did Sarah Palin ever say “I can see Russia from my house?” NO! Was there ever any proof George Bush used cocaine? No! Did Sarah Palin ever “charge women for rape kits” as Tina Fey falsely claimed? No.

    Seems like a typical left-wing crybaby double standard.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes