SNL, IPhone 5, and Writing

Our discussion today of systems and technology studies made me think of Saturday Night Live. Yes, that’s correct; the skit comedy show reminds me of research methods. I think that comedy, like research, is most interesting when it’s critiquing something either overtly or subtley. Like the short documentary we watched in class today, SNL skits often analyze human relationships and comment on inequalities. The skit about the IPhone 5 I have linked to is a very over-the-top example, but I think it illustrates my point, and is certainly an interesting and humorous examination of how certain social systems function and intersect with technology.

Another way that comedy sketches often resemble more traditional methods of research is how they’re written. I’ve been reading Tina Fey’s book “Bossypants” (2011) and Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me” (2012) and both authors/comedians describe how SNL skits are created. Basically, writers prepare sketches alone or in pairs based on a humorous idea they had, and then revise the sketches together. These creative processes reminded me of Knight’s concept of writing-as-thinking. I’d be really interested to see if other comedians employ this style of sketch writing! Cheers and enjoy the comedy,

Katherine Laite

One thought on “SNL, IPhone 5, and Writing

  1. Hi Katherine,
    I have been a fan of SNL since I was probably about seven years old and I agree that it is a great example of social commentary on human relationships and technology, especially when considering the writing over the last three or four years. I specifically think of Digital Shorts and how they satirize popular culture and contemporary mores. You also brought up Tina Fey and I couldn’t help but think of the way she (and her team) conceive of the show 30 Rock. The writing is stellar in my opinion and while the show has definitely stretched certain boundaries of the thirty minute comedy formula, the overall structure is more or less finite. I think applying the practice of innovative writing within a structured medium would similarly make for an effective research paper.

    Also, your clip immediately made me consider the similarities between an iPhone and the Zimbabwe Bush Pump that de Laet & Mol (2000) discuss as well as the theoretical debates in science and technology studies they illustrate. The Zimbabwe Bush Pump, and I would argue the same could be said for the iPhone “is not well-bounded but entangled, in terms of both its performance and its nature, in a variety of worlds. These begin to change more or less dramatically as soon as the Bush Pump stops acting. Yet it is not clear when exactly the Pump stops acting, when it achieves its aims, and at which point it fails and falters.” (de Laet & Mol, 2000, p. 227) Both the article and your posting have me considering the implications of fluid technology.

    Thanks again for your insight and the hilarious clip – I particularly love the traditional sarcastic dance at the end.

    – Vanessa K.

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