Thursday, January 26, 2017

It's not nice to make fun of Donald Trump, Max says

"He's funny!" says Max. My iPhone is open to CNN, which has a photo of Donald Trump.

"Max, the guy in the show that you and Daddy watch is not Donald Trump—he's an actor." I'm talking about Saturday Night Live's skits with Alec Baldwin. Max thinks they're hysterical, especially when Baldwin enunciates "jina."

"Actor?" Max asks.

"Yes, like someone in a movie," I say.

Max ponders that. We've had this conversation a bunch of times. He is convinced that Donald Trump and Alec Baldwin are one and the same. Every single time Max sees a photo of Donald Trump or I mention him, he says, "He's funny!"

This is how Max's brain works. It sometimes takes him a while to wrap his mind around a concept.

I look up a photo of Alec Baldwin online and show it to Max.

"Alec Baldwin is the actor who plays Donald Trump on the show," I explain.

"Actor?" Max muses.

"Yes, actor—someone who is in shows on TV and in movies," I say.

Max stares at Baldwin's photo.

When I open a Saturday Night Live Trump skit on YouTube, Max says, "It's Donald Trump!"

"No, that's Alec Baldwin," I say.

My patience has drastically increased since having children.

We watch a skit of one of the Clinton/Trump debates. "On this TV program, sometimes they make fun of people," I tell him.

"That's not nice," says Max.

Ah. How do I explain impersonation? Satire?

Meanwhile, Max has got me thinking about making fun of people and the current climate (and I am not referring to global warming). There's the time Trump seemingly imitated a reporter with a physical disability. But I am also thinking of how people regularly mock Trump's appearance—his hair, his coloring, his hands. Ashley Judd's "nasty woman" speech at the D.C. Women's March was powerful enough; she didn't need to refer to Trump as someone who bathes in Cheetos dust.

It's not that I feel badly for him. Hardly. He's a big boy with a big ego. You open yourself up to that level of scrutiny and ridicule when you're a public figure, especially a divisive one. But in making comments about Trump's appearance, people aren't just going low—they're diverting attention away from the real issues at hand.

Max isn't aware of all the social media chatter. All he knows is that he finds Alec Baldwin's exaggerated gestures and speech amusing. Me, too.

"No, it's not nice for us to make fun of people," I agree. "But sometimes, they do it on TV."

Maybe it's not the best explanation, but it's all I've got.


  1. Hmmm, that's a really tough one! Max is wise and he made a very good observation -case in point the SNL writer who got fired for making a hurtful 'joke' about Barron. So maybe Max has revealed that there are rules to making fun of people. Here's a stab at some rules. It's OK to make fun of people on TV if a) they are not children 2) they are powerful, like the big boss 3) if they are powerful and they have done something that has hurt other people and 4) the jokes should never be really really mean (we, the audience, should still be able to identify with the butt of the jokes but not sure how to explain that in kidspeak)

    1. Thanks, Donna. Those are excellent rules, but beyond Max's comprehension right now. This discussion will certainly continue, and hopefully bit by bit I can make things clearer.

  2. Ellen this is going too far, it's really lowering yourself, aand Max to Trump's level!! Rosie O Donnell faced very little criticism, you certainly didn't call her out for making fun of kids with autism. Why not? Barack Obama made fun of people in the special olymics, no backlash

    1. Justin, I'm honestly not sure what you're objecting to here.

  3. I as amazed when I heard about the Baron Trump incident. I thought the no-children-rule was made perfectly clear back in the day when Chelsea had all of those wonderful curls.

    This is very tough thing to teach. For the most part I like SNL and how they have imitated Trump and Clinton. But how do you teach any child the difference? And how do you teach the when/where it is OK (e.g. you don't imitate the teacher in the middle of the classroom) And for all of us, what is too far?

    Part of the issue with our kids who think differently is that the material is age appropriate, but they think differently. This is the gray area.

    1. Yes, this is the gray area, indeed. My daughter does get that SNL is satire, and can distinguish between it and real-life behavior—I think....

  4. It's okay to poke fun at people as long as you're doing it with good intentions and not hitting too many sensitive areas.

    I poke fun all the time and people poke fun at me. I mean, how would I survive as a piccolo player if I couldn't take a joke?


Thanks for sharing!

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