Spewing Sheet(cake), Satire, & Solutions
I’ve had enough of the fighting about what “sheetcaking” represents and what Tina Fey did or did not insinuate. Here’s the funny thing about satire—it is not always meant to be obviously funny. Satire is meant to spoof reality as a form of critical commentary and reflection on society. Good satire is intended to make people think. If you had a reaction to Fey’s Weekend Update skit on Saturday Night Live, then good! You are thinking. But don’t be so quick to assume that your interpretation of the skit is the only and correct interpretation. If you are thinking about the meaning(s) behind the almost indecipherable words coming out of Fey’s cake-stuffed mouth, then you understand the point of the skit—thinking about those words and what they mean for you. If you are angered by these thoughts and have shared your point of view with your friends, on social media, or even wrote an angry blog post, then you’ve opened a discussion. Guess what? Good satire can lead to critical conversations.
To be clear, Fey did NOT tell everyone to stay home by themselves and eat cake instead of being politically engaged and speaking up against hate. She did not say that at all. Rather, she suggested that instead of yelling back at shouting Nazis and white supremacists, we (the sane, well-intentioned citizens of this country) treat their extreme, fringe views with the total lack of attention required to return these abhorrent views back to the dark shadows at the furthest margins of society. Fey’s recommendation to “[l]et these morons scream into the empty air” is intended to de-legitimize these repugnant views by not showing up and drawing any more media coverage. And let’s be realistic, the Nazi/Klan crowd is not going to hear our messages about love and equality anyway. In all honesty, anyone subscribing to such disgusting views likely has a screw (or several) lose and is unlikely to respond to rationality.
As sane, well-intentioned citizens, we need to focus on where we can make the greatest impacts. We must stand up against hate and violence, but we must do so using thoughtful and effective approaches. “Sheetcaking” can serve as opportunity to have critical conversations about what is happening in our country. I participated in a "sheetcaking" event this past weekend that brought together a variety of women (and one man) for a thoughtful discussion about politics and brainstorming solutions that we, as citizens, can develop to start addressing some of the issues. One of the remedies to the various problems caused and exacerbated by the Trump administration is the decline in political discourse (i.e., discussion) and participation. Perhaps “sheetcaking” can be defined as an opportunity for political discourse. The ability to have in-person discussions about important issues with our fellow citizens supports the free exchange of ideas and information, allows for us to better understand each other’s perspectives, and to cultivate community.
Fey’s satirical skit inspired thought and reflection in a way that is digestible to the masses (no cake pun intended). While spewing cake crumbs, she also spewed perspective on how to de-legitimize extremist views. Rather than interpreting “sheetcaking” in the vein of “let them eat cake,” let’s use the “sheetcaking” movement as a way to encourage thoughtful and on-going political discussion to promote positive change.