Insincerity as an art form

One of the reasons that I stopped watching Saturday Night Live many years ago is that the tone of the acting seemed to change. Actors, as a matter of course, deal with the unreal, and throw themselves into roles to make themselves believable as the characters that they portray.

This is also true for a show like Saturday Night Live, regardless of the fact that a lot of these characters are portrayals of real people, and done with large helpings of satire and sarcasm. However, it seems like there came a point, probably in the early 2000s or so, when there seemed to be a change from actors doing humor and satire and really getting into the roles and, by and large, enjoying them to where it seemed like every skit was done with an edge of insincerity, as though basically they are trying to convince the audience that they’ve discovered the false world the stage is, and every performance is going to demonstrate that it’s all a lie. Call it “creepy clown complex” or some such.

There’s nothing particularly earth-shattering about these observations, I suppose, but one of the things that stuck out to me during the first Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was Clinton’s affect – it seemed as though it came from the modern Saturday Night Live. There was absolutely nothing that convinced me that anything that came from her mouth had any connection to what she was thinking or feeling; that the words she said were like a Saturday Night Live script, overperformed with that air of insincerity that has taken over a lot of sketch comedy these days. Trump may not have had a stellar performance, but if anything, it seemed like there’s a real person behind the mask, which is why, despite Clinton’s much more ‘polished’ performance, it didn’t seem to make people feel like she won.

I have no idea whether Saturday Night Live is in a new season, or if there’ll be a new episode on this Saturday night. However, if there is, I do have to wonder how they would handle this comedically, being as Clinton seems to have already mastered insincerity as an art form.

Freedom and license

Man is free, to be sure, but without the true God he is defenceless against the principle of evil. He is a like rudderless ship, at the mercy of the storm, an infant without his mother, a cloud dissolving into thin air. – Hans Scholl/Alexander Schmorell, Leaflet 4 of the White Rose

One of the popular definitions of “freedom” is the ability for one to do whatever one would like, whenever they would like. In the current culture, the idea of following “rules”, such as those set forth in the Bible, seems antithetical to the entire concept of freedom.

However, I believe this interpretation to be somewhat faulty. All actions have consequences. When one looks at the Bible, for instance, many of the “rules” laid out are not so much restrictions to hinder a person’s “fun”, but to allow a person, no matter what the circumstances, to live a life of greater freedom.

For example, our current culture these days seems to want to “celebrate” every type of sexual deviancy, under the pretense that by doing so enhances a person’s “freedom”. However, this is nothing but license, not freedom. The consequences of a radicalization of sexual “norms” obviously leads to a number of consequences not just for the person who has conducted such behavior, but also for society at large. However, in order to compensate for this, those who promote this license also demand that the collective society “level the playing field” by forcing all members to pay for the consequences for this license.

I came across this site, Freedom in the 50 States a little while ago, and find the research to be quite fascinating. My quibble with it, however, is that besides comparing fiscal and regulatory freedoms, they also compare personal freedoms. While this may not seem like a bad thing, if one looks at the subcategories for this, among the positives in this category are states that have “freedoms” for marijuana use, etc., that serve no one in a positive way (this is not including legitimate medical use, which is another topic). Therefore, I’m not surprised that the site was put together by well known Libertarians, and, to their credit, they have set up the map so that any one playing with it can customize it to issues that they think ought to be included.