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Why It's Okay For Us to Be Upset For Cecily Strong, Even If She Isn't

By Vivian Kane | Think Pieces | October 13, 2014 | Comments ()

By Vivian Kane | Think Pieces | October 13, 2014 |


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This weekend, as you may have read, Cecily Strong finally responded to rumors that she is SUPER PISSED about getting booted from the Weekend Update desk. She has said a number of times that she’s happy with the changes, and whether that’s just the classy thing to say (if she were railing against Lorne Michaels, we’d all be fearing for her job, no?) or if it’s sincere (despite the incredible career-launching platform that is that anchor spot), it doesn’t matter. If she says she’s cool, she’s cool.

That does NOT, however, mean that WE have to be cool. Because Saturday Night Live, like all entertainment, is created for a consumer, we the consumers get to express our opinions. That’s how that works. Lorne isn’t required to listen to us, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t state our pleasure at a great sketch, or our outrage at Colin Jost’s general presence. It’s natural to feel protective of a show or movie or piece of art when it’s something that we really love, or even if it’s just something we’ve had access to for 40 years. It’s natural to feel a bit of ownership. Where this line gets blurred, though, is when that feeling of ownership transfers from the product to the person. We’re allowed to feel like we as consumers own a tiny part of SNL. But we own NONE of Cecily Strong. It’s absurd to force a narrative on her, to fabricate drama like we’re scripting an arc on The Real Housewives of SNL. As Cecily pointed out, shrouded in humor as it may have been, that projection can also be damaging.

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Sorry @chethinks. It turns out I'm not sick of you, I'm "fuming" about you! Da Newz told me! So, I guess look out tomorrow. It's not my fault or yours though. Women just always be so angry. We don't know how to be any other way except angry or drunk dancing. @bibbymoynihan I don't know yet how I feel about you. We'll see. 💃💃💃

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This line between person and product gets blurred ALL THE TIME. Take for example the recent horrendous violation of female celebrities’ privacy and bodies. Two gross responses that echoed around the corners of the internet following that event were:
1. “Why did she take the pictures if she didn’t want them getting out?”
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and 2. “She gets nearly naked and all sexy in magazines and movies ALL THE TIME, so why aren’t we allowed to see THESE pictures. SHE DOESN’T GET TO DECIDE WHAT WE SEE AND WHAT WE DON’T.”
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This general line of thinking is: I like an actor’s movies → I like an actor → I want to know more about that person → Because they are a public figure, I am entitled to know and see everything about them.

While this is clearly a much more extreme and invasive example, it follows the same line of reasoning that has led us to grocery store check-out and full-internet bombardment of celebrity gossip. It’s what drives us (and here I use the collective “us” which obviously doesn’t include you or I, because we are beautiful classy snowflakes who have no interest in such things and have never ever clicked a sensationalist link) to swear our allegiance to Jen or Angelina and wish a lifetime of unhappiness on the other. We’ve been conditioned or conditioned ourselves to believe that because we spent a decade watching her on Friends, we are entitled to have Jennifer Aniston in our lives.

Feeling ownership of a thing, even if it’s not really ours, may be insufferable, but it’s rarely dangerous or damaging. It’s also entirely subjective. Rebecca did a great exploration last week of why we flip our lids over certain reboots and sequels but not others. Ultimately, it comes down to ownership. I have an Almost Famous-inspired tattoo on my person, so you’re damn right I’m going to feel protective of a Cameron Crowe movie. But does he need me to defend him? To project my outrage onto him and create narratives between him and NBC of what COULD have gone down? Of course not. And as Rebecca pointed out, David Lynch megafans are excited, not outraged at the news of more Twin Peaks, in part because it is being spearheaded by the creator himself. We may feel that as fans we own a tiny part of a show we love, but we sure don’t own more of it than Lynch. So if he wants to watch it grow, who are we to argue? And there’s the other reason we’re excited: the growth. Lynch isn’t looking to reboot or remake. He wants to expand. We all had the feeling that a network sitcom version of Say Anything, produced by executives who didn’t even care enough about the material to include Crowe, would be reducing what we love to a pile of neverending cliches. Those who insist Cecily Strong is full of rage are, as she herself sees it, reducing her to an angry woman stereotype. Looking at intimate, private pictures of Jennifer Lawrence because you assume you are entitled access to her body by right of her celebrity status, is reducing her body and her personhood to pornography.

A feeling of ownership, when it is based in love, and applied to products, not people, is beautiful. It can be moving, it can be a bond between friends, and it can be a source of inspiration.

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This is why television shows and movies are created, isn’t it? (Sure, yes, also money.) To find such a connection that you feel intrinsically tied to a show or movie. And incredible things have come out of that feeling. Noah Hawley couldn’t have made a brilliant Fargo television series if he weren’t a superfan of the movie. Cameron Crowe We the all-powerful fans couldn’t have gotten Say Anything shut down in less than 24 hours if we didn’t have such an intensity. Could this absolutely amazing shot-for-shot fan remake of The Empire Strikes Back have been made if fans didn’t love the movie so much they felt like it belonged to them? Of course not.

So own your ownership. It’s not hurting anyone. Be pissed that Cecily Strong was taken off the anchor desk. Rail against Michael Bay’s destruction of your childhood all you want. Be a fan. Have opinions. Foam at the mouth a little. Keep an eye out for that line, because it can be hard to see, but there’s no harm in us feeling like:
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When Cecily herself is completely:
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Vivian Kane is forever uncool.


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