One thing you have to grant about Barack Obama: he is consistent. He never wavers from his cherished principles. This is not, however, a case of authoritarian government censorship — he wasn’t President yet. It is a case of the entertainment industry’s willing submission to his perspectives, which we see on an ongoing basis in the mainstream media as well, which is effectively a one-party state in which only one point of view is allowed to be aired.
…The bit in question was one of Smigel’s “TV Funhouse” sketches. It would have been a live action sketch following a video with colorful commentary on how the American populace often perceives race. Here’s what Smigel had to say, below.
“It wasn’t until my last season that the network refused to air a “TV Funhouse.” It was a live-action one that was meant to be about racism and profiling, an airline-safety video with multilingual narration, and whenever you heard a different language, they would cut to people of that nationality. First, typical white Americans, then a Latino family, then a Japanese family, all being instructed about seat belts, overhead compartments, et cetera. Then it cuts to an Arab man, and the narrator says, in Arabic, “During the flight, please do not blow up the airplane. The United States is actually a humanitarian nation that is rooted in the concept of freedom, and so on.”
According to the writer, the sketch did not go over well with “the standards people.” Smigel says Lorne Michaels had his back, though, eventually coming up with asking then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama whether or not the sketch worked.
“Lorne said, ‘I have a plan.’ Obama was doing a cameo in the cold open. Lorne told me he would show my sketch to Obama. ‘If Obama thinks it’s OK, they won’t be able to argue it.’…
As you may have guessed, Obama wasn’t exactly down with the basic premise of the sketch. Michaels says he called it “funny” but the “TV Funhouse” segment was ultimately cut for the very reason the standards department was worried about. It’s less of a shame that the sketch never made it to air than it is an amusing story with a terrific punchline….