News World The only thing new about political parodies is Trump’s paper-thin skin

The only thing new about political parodies is Trump’s paper-thin skin

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US President Donald Trump has stepped up his criticism of political satire program Saturday Night Live (SNL) over Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of him.

Political parodies are not new, but Mr Trump is the first to take the impersonations so personally he’s gone so far as to accuse the NBC show of collusion and fake news.

“How do the networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real collusion!” the US president wrote on Twitter.


President George HW Bush

His reaction could not be further from George HW Bush, who was harpooned by the same program in the 1980s and 90s.

Mr Bush even invited his impersonator Dana Carvey to the White House and do his bit to help “cheer up the staff” at the end of his presidency.

The comedian last year wrote about the visit for The New York Times following Mr Bush’s death, and recalled the then-president saying his impression was never nasty or “hit below the belt”.

His impression mostly involved exaggerated hand gestures.

The pair remained friends for decades before Mr Bush died aged 94 in November.

George W Bush

Actor, writer and director Will Ferrell – best known for Anchorman ­– trotted out his George W Bush impersonation throughout his presidency.

His impression portrayed Bush junior as bumbling and often spoofed his reliance on his vice president Dick Cheney.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton was impersonated by both Phil Hartman and Darrell Hammond on SNL, who portrayed him as unfaithful or flirtatious and as loving fast food.

Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford learned to laugh along in 1976 at Chevy Chase’s impersonation of him as being clumsy.

That impersonation was what began SNL‘s skits mocking presidents.

John F Kennedy

Vaughn Meader parodied then president John F Kennedy in comedy album The First Family, released in 1962.

It became the fastest selling album of its time and went on to win a Grammy for album of the year.

Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president in the 2008 election, has been mimicked by Tina Fey.

Democrat Hillary Clinton has long been a staple on the program – portrayed by Amy Poehler and Kate McKinnon – and has been characterised as overly ambitious, unlikeable and robotic.

One of the most recent favourites was Melissa McCarthy’s take on former White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Julia Gillard

Back in Australia, former prime minister Julia Gillard, who came under intense scrutiny as the first woman in the top job, was impersonated by ABC program At Home with Julia.

Speaking to The Atlantic in 2016, Ms Gillard criticised the decision to fund the program – which parodied her relationship with Tim Mathieson – and pointed out no similar program was made of other prime ministers in Australia.

Pauline Hanson

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson sued the ABC for defamation after youth radio station triple j played the parody song I Don’t Like It, which also made it into the 1997 Hottest 100 at No.5.

Impersonator Simon Hunt has revived the character Pauline Pantsdown on social media following Senator Hanson’s return to Parliament.

Mr Trump

The latest episode of SNL featured the return of Baldwin, declaring a national emergency at the southern US border.

“Wall works, wall makes safe,” Baldwin’s President Trump said in the show’s opening.

“You don’t have to be smart to understand that – in fact, it’s even easier to understand if you’re not that smart.”

Mr Trump took aim at his portrayal on Twitter, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to defend SNL, simply saying: “It’s called the First Amendment.”

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