“Saturday Night Lie: How ‘Comedic’ Trump Trolling Encompasses a Complete Materialization of Frank Zappa’s Dystopic View of Politics”

When I first saw the semi-famous quote from Frank Zappa, that “Government is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex,” [1] [2] [3] I have to admit it was a hefty step ahead of me: I still believed in, if nothing else, at least our leaders’ proclivities for acting as good role models for young people, something at which Trump’s undeniably failed [4]. In reality, I’m not sure if it’s the bleeding heart aspiring teacher in me or what, but I’m still clinging to a SCRAP of hope that our governmental officials can catalyze auspicious change and progress in our society, with no little help from Obama, with his ACA, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with her brilliantly eloquent and cognizant quote that “I’d like to look at foreign policy through a humanitarian lens and achieving peace more than JUST national security… Peace IS national security [5].”

Well perhaps it’s possible that the truth to Zappa’s statement is transitive and if so, we’re currently living in a swell, or increased, period of its applicable truth level. For grotesquely obvious evidence of this you need only view Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” [6] segment, featuring Michael Che and Colin Jost [7], in which the idea is to report things that are going on in the world, the way a news program would, but then interpolate opinion or a sort of “commentary of the masses” analysis, as if it were actually two people at home sitting and making fun of the news, albeit in an ambitious intellectual vein.

Unfortunately, the show’s current reliance on Donald Trump for “comedic value,” manifest as a sort of garishly obvious fleecing of a public official, has rendered the show almost completely monochromatic and obviated, or at least affirmed the relevance of an absorption of, Zappa’s quote that “Government is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex,” later reincarnated as I mention as “Politics is the entertainment branch of industry,” an equal in spirit. For a while during “Weekend Update,” which just last year I thought featured some pretty witty commentary about things like women caring more about yarn than the entirety of humanity [8], they were literally just moving from one joke about Trump’s tweets to another, with very little extenuating postulation on their dubious semantic interfaces other than just what any ordinary person on the street would see as a complete oaf, as which Trump is obviously being presented to us by what Zappa termed the “military-industrial complex,” or simply, “industry,” to follow his other permutation of the quote. Later in the show, the cast brought out two actors who were meant to play Trump’s two buffoonish sons, one of whom, granted, did show some comedic moxie by mentioning that the other had made the accomplishment of developing “a crush on a girl,” a girl who ends up being, as the other agreed, “my wife.”

Obviously, then, Trump is the head of maligned and ridiculous “politics” these days and the “military-industrial complex” could be chalked up to whatever conglomerate currently owns NBC, the entity theoretically benefitting from the variable “entertainment” level of said politics (I haven’t taken the time to look up what company this is, as I currently regret to say).


[1] For some reason I can’t seem to locate it now but I remember seeing a 1968 BBC interview as the original source of this quote, which would certainly make sense, in a temporal context.


[2] The quote’s materialization as “Politics is the entertainment branch of industry” is explained as Zappa citing, or paraphrasing, himself, in a later 1987 interview with Keyboard Magazine.


[3] Based on this “quote”’s evolution over time, a moral progress on the part of the artist himself seems to be suggested, that “politics” are the banal entertainment cog but “government” is needed for civilized society, corroborated later with Keyboard by the artist: “We have a diverse population in the United States, with all kinds of different needs that have to be taken care of… That is the righteous function of government.”


[4] For proof of this I look to, aside from just the bare fact that he goes on Twitter at all and makes “political tweets,” his reference to Senator Chuck Schumer as the “head clown” leading the congressional democrats.


[5] https://www.facebook.com/alexandriaocasiocortezprogressives/posts/peace-is-national-security/648439768868032/.


[6] Interestingly, when Norm Macdonald hosted the segment in around the late ’90s, he would introduce the skit with the announcement “And now the fake news.” Now, he was not the arbiter of the SNL bit, a token which would belong to Kevin Nealon or rather someone before him who initiated the segment, but was the first on the show, and perhaps, in our society at large, to apply the term “fake news” to something pervasive and commercially rendered, the type of the in which the newspaper The Onion would later dip his hands. This is all of course before, and autonomous from, this recent “fake news scare” which to me seems more like a “fake news scare scare,” the uncertainty of goings on in the minds of the masses theoretically behooving foul play on the parts of governmental officials like Trump.


[7] Although in as racist form as ever, the primary Youtube links available upon Google searches list “Colin Jost and Michael Che,” relegating the black constituent, Che, to the latter, despite his name’s alphabetical premiereship. They also position the white panelist, Jost, to the viewership’s left within the camera eye, as if to suggest his forerunning status on the show. It’s little but it isn’t, I’m thinkin’?


[8] The exact joke, administered by Che, was something like a news report that the world was entering a mode of climate change in 2030 that could kill off all humanity, but women would be more up in arms if you’d announced that yarn were going to become extinct in 2030.


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