With the news of… well, you know what happened sinking in, there’s this real need of sticking up for those who are likely about to become marginalized when January rolls around. The below list made some rounds on social media late last week. I came across it, read it… and agree with every word and their necessary significance. There are a lot of groups who felt marginalized in one away or another before, and they’ll need someone — anyone — to stand with them now. (The last line and its simple request are so beautiful, by the way.)
You’ve probably noticed how people from different sides of a political aisle or any topic of great societal import really just don’t have — or want — the urge to just drop everything, smooth out the divide, and go to the bar for a drink and a simple, “Hey, how you doin’?” type of chat. But you do get something like that at the end of your everyday run-of-the-mill sporting event. Saturday night, I read an entry in The A.V. Club‘s “Block & Tackle” column, in which John Teti chews the fat about the National Football League. Like many of you, Teti was bummed out over the outcome of the presidential election, but it wasn’t so much about which candidate won or which candidate lost, but more about how half of the country would be bummed out no matter who won.
Yeah, it’s that failure of large swaths Americans to overcome acrimony and talk about a well-fought-out battle that’s so distressing. Politics is a dangerous sport here in 2016. So is football. But as Teti reminds the reader in his column, fans of opposing NFL teams can watch their teams battle each other on Sunday afternoon, then sit next to each other at work on Monday morning and talk about the game… without having any desire to ring each others’ necks. Teti writes, “We move on with our lives because sports don’t matter, which makes them wonderful practice for the hard stuff. You flex your forgiveness-and-understanding muscles on the inconsequential things so you can put them to use on heavier matters.”
John Teti has the advantage of writing a football column that’s national in scope. That affords him, despite his indicated previous passion for the New England Patriots, to learn more about a certain opponent each week. He’ll read about the other team’s performances, strengths, weaknesses, media musings, etc. And it helps him to see that team as more than just 50-some guys wearing the uniform of an opposing team. It helps him see them as a bunch of Regular Joes. It’s the exercise of preparing for and writing his column that has helped Teti in seeing people outside of football as also regular people… even if he still feels real difficulty in empathizing with those he politically disagrees with.
So, if your empathy muscles need a workout, do what John Teti practices and recommends: Follow a different NFL team for a week. Learn about their roster, their season, and their pregame prep. Then watch them on Sunday, when you slowly find yourself rooting for them a little bit, even if you’re going to go back to rooting for your own team come Monday. It’s a great column by Teti, and you can read it at this link. Oh, note the liberal use of photos of opposing NFL players giving each other well wishes after the game. (“Hey, dude! [friendly handshake] Good playin’ today!”) If those guys can do something as simple as congratulating each other after 3 hours of knocking each other silly, can we do the same after months upon months of political acrimony?
Even if you do want to sincerely congratulate the other side after falling short, there’s still that desire to release your emotions in a cathartic way. Case in point, the cold open segment to last weekend’s Saturday Night Live. Even if you’re not a regular watcher of SNL, you probably know by now of the excellent job Kate McKinnon has done portraying a confidently comical version of Hillary Clinton (she won that Emmy in September for a reason). And you’ve certainly known by now that the real-life Mrs. Clinton came up earth-shakingly short (in electoral votes, anyway) on Election Night.
The outcome, as you’ve most certainly know by now, left raw a lot of people’s nerves. I mean, half of the country were far from being in a jovial mood. SNL really needed to recognize that fact last weekend, and they captured the mood in this 3-minute-long cold open that not only captured the feelings of many Americans, but also recognized the acclaimed singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, who passed away earlier in the week (as if this week, and 2016 as a whole, weren’t awful enough already). There’s McKinnon, as Hillary, seated at a piano at sparsely-lit center stage, the same spot where guest host Dave Chappelle would say hello a few moments later. McKinnon… well, grab a box of tissues, hit the “play” button below, and pick up reading after the jump.
Yes, that’s Kate McKinnon packing an emotional wallop with her acting, singing, and piano playing abilities. The song is “Hallelujah,” which is perhaps the most famous entry in the Leonard Cohen songbook (a book has even been written about it). It’s a song that’s equal parts triumph and tragedy, and can be joyous and sweet in some interpretations yet solemn and liturgical in others. McKinnon and SNL, knowing the collective emotion of the week, eschewed the cutesy for the serious. Hearing that weighty closing verse of “I did my best/It wasn’t much” and “Mrs. Clinton’s” post-song nod to the camera only confirms that the vanquished candidate, despite an outcome that went all wrong, stands strong and proud in the cold reality of defeat. She will stand before the Lord of Song with nothing but on her tongue of Hallelujah.
It’s a safe bet there were more than a few moist eyes in the SNL audience — both inside the studio and across the country — after Kate McKinnon’s performance. No matter your beliefs, you will certainly recognize these 3 minutes as one of the most beautiful moments in SNL history.