Bring it on down to Veganville

I know, I know, I’m super late in the game here, but I finally got around to seeing the Justin Timberlake “five timers” Saturday Night Live episode. It was mostly good, with a few misses (Caligula anyone?) but this Veganville skit was surprising.

Sorry for the quality, Youtube is a beautiful thing but it has its limitations. The Justin Timberlake in a funny costume singing about a food and dancing is already a regular occurrence but what I loved about this particular skit is the fact that it took an often mocked group (vegans) and never once stooped to mocking them. And it must have been tempting. After all, the writers for SNL have tight deadlines and demanding schedules so a quick and easy punch at Vegans would be easy. The 95% of Americans who don’t identify as Vegetarians or Vegans would laugh (probably half-heartedly because they’ve heard it all before) and the skit could be over and done with. Instead, the writers had the courage to never betray the character Justin Timberlake plays.

A lesser skit would have gone something like this:

Meat guy is trying to sell meat. Vegan guy in tofu costume comes up and starts rapping about vegetarian dishes. Meat guy tempts him with the foregone conclusion that meat tastes so much better than anything a vegan could eat. Vegan guy breaks and starts shoving his face with sausage.

The premise being that vegans are:

A) Deluding themselves

B) Moral hypocrites

C) Easily led back to the “better” life of meats

If you laughed at a skit like that you would be laughing AT vegans (or the stereotype of them) and not WITH them like was done in the real sketch.

Hats off to SNL for avoiding that tired trope. It would have been poor comedy and also poor taste. I’m not advocating either way for a particular lifestyle (maybe in another article someday), but it’s a larger statement about the easy victimization of minority groups that we should look out for (especially ones that are perceived as choices and not unavoidable such as skin color or disabilities). There are ways to talk about these groups without betraying them or selling them out for the benefit of the majority. Other TV shows/comedians/movies/books/etc. would do well to take note of this skit and marvel at it’s courage.

English: Justin Timberlake at the Shrek the Th...

Nice work, Tofu-man (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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