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New NBC chief caught in fracas over transgender spoof on 'Saturday Night Live'

NBC entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt has been on the job only a few days, but he's already trying to quash an uproar over a "Saturday Night Live" sketch this past weekend.

The advocacy group GLAAD is angry about a filmed commercial spoof for a "Estro-Maxx," a drug for men who are transitioning to transgender women. "You deserve to be in the body you want," cast member Bill Hader says in the bit. "But most hormone-replacement therapies require you to take five estrogen supplements a day. Five — who has time for that?"


One could argue that the fake ad is really a parody of drug-ad tropes, not transgendered people. But in any case, GLAAD found the segment offensive.

"There were no 'jokes' per se; all the laughs came from the commercial's offensive and dehumanizing portrayals of transgender women," the group said in a news release. "By telling its audience that transgender women should be laughed at and ridiculed, NBC contributed to an environment that sees transgender people subjected to near-universal discrimination in the workplace and an environment in which at least one transgender person is murdered every month."

GLAAD called on viewers to complain to the network and also asked NBC to remove the video from Hulu, NBC.com and other sites.

A NBC spokeswoman declined to comment. But it's understood that Greenblatt and NBC diversity chief Paula Madison will meet with GLAAD officials to discuss the case.

"SNL" has frequently run afoul of critics who say the show crosses the line. A recurring bit in which Fred Armisen plays former New York Gov. David Paterson, who is legally blind, aroused the ire of advocates for the vision-impaired. Paterson later appeared on the show and confronted Armisen directly when he was in character.

One irony for Greenblatt: In his previous role supervising Showtime's programming, he was frequently praised for his handling of shows friendly to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, including "The L Word" and "Weeds."

What did you think of the "SNL" spoof? 

— Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)



Comments () | Archives (22)

Obviously, NBC was not aware that GLAAD has a special dispensation making it and all its members immune from satire, comedy, public scrutiny, casual mention, and/or anything it deems offensive.

I trust this will not happen again.

This is the most offensive, insulting and degrading thing I have ever seen on NBC. I can't believe Lorne would ok this. It is bad enough these people suffer the things they do with rampant discrimination , a 67% unemployment rate and 16x violence rate but you think it's funny to be that screwed up ? Oh and what is more believable, someone not being the gender their body is or a 2000 year old invisible Santa Claus in the sky that gives virgins messiah babies ? Try and make something funny out of that you hypocrites!

What is wrong with these people making fun and light of transgendered people and why does the media continue to demean and degrade our community?
We are like everyone else in that we are just trying to live a normal life with what we have been given. We struggle every day with this continual stream of vitriole and intentionally hurtful ignorance. There needs to be a severe enough consequence to these types of media elements to get the networks attention and stop them from having their fun at the very high expense of transgendered people. Many of this community are just hanging on to life waiting for a helping hand and this is what bottom feeding media returns. This is America at it's worst in how it treats those who different. Walk in my shoes for a day and see.

I would like to point out one major point that the author is misinformed about and points out the lack of information the populace has and the writer's lack of using the AP Style Book. (Journalism Major @ SUNY Albany here) You do not transition to a transgender woman or transgender man. Why because "transgender" is an overarching term that refers to all those who are non gender normative people. That includes cross dressers, transvesites, androgynous people, genderqueers, etc. The proper term to use in this case is "transsexual" which refers to people who transition from one physical sex to another. Just saying.

To JD,
Why not one on people shooting democrats ? Or did democrats get a special dispensation making it and all its members immune from satire, comedy, public scrutiny, casual mention, and/or anything it deems offensive ?

It was outrageous and distasteful. Lorne Michaels, NBC, SNL, and the comics who participated in the demeaning "ad" that mocked transitioning should be forced to apologize and the entire skit should be permanently removed from rotation on all platforms. I have a very hard time believing that none of the young New-York-based comedians and writers involved didn't stand up at some point last week and say, "Hey, this isn't funny -- this skit's punchline is simply: LOOK, TRANNIES. And that's not funny, it's mean and hurtful"

I hope NBC's action is swift and public. This needs to be fixed, and soon.

Anyone watches cartoon network adult swim? How dare they insult Christians and Christian beliefs with their insensitive cartoons. Oh that's right, Progressives call it satire. Plus they feel that Christians shouldn't be so sensitive to a little mocking and being made fun of. Ok, now what was GLAAD upset about again?

If you removed every SNL sketch, commercial parody or news segment that made fun of a particular person, political party or interest group, all you'd have left would be that opening jazz band. And that's offensive to jazz. GLAAD: choose which hill you want to die on. This one isn't worth your time.

Umm... you don't transition to a transgender woman. O_o
You transition because you -are- transgender.

PS this ad absolutely disgusted me.

SNL makes fun of everyone, it's called humor. If you don't like it, don't watch it. I'm tired of folks wanting every satire or comedic thing sensitized to their every whim. Get over it and go watch whatever you want.

Oh foo. Women are ridiculed all the time. Look up "Worst Dressed List" for the SAG/Golden Globes/Oscars. Fashion Police rips women a new one all the time, OHHH PLEAEEEZE! If not-even-trying-to-look-girly trannies can't take the heat they need to get out of the panties. After all, it takes a pretty big pair of balls to wear a microskirt, and most master-sergeants would rather jump on live grenade than do that. Poking fun at fugly trannies means they have arrived! They are treated like real girls, EXACTLY LIKE REAL GIRLS!

The segment was totally disgusting. Not funny at all, just a repulsive insult to a minority group of people. Will they do a spoof for Black-Be-Gone next?? How about artificial tortillas for the Latinos?? A Gay Bashing equipment bag?? NBC can apologize all they want, but I won't be watching to see it...

@JD - You seem to be one of those folks who are under the impression that all Satire is okay simply because it's Satire. Satire is defined as a technique to ridicule the subject matter. We're not saying this isn't satire. What we're saying is that the chosen subject of the satire creates offense.

If you had an episode where the whole cast were in black face talking about their bling and how they like to jack someone up with their 'peace', we wouldn't even be having this conversation. Personally I think it's deplorable that a network will give ammunition to fuel what is already a crisis in LGBT youth suicides.

Making fun of the group of people with the highest suicide rate in the world is not okay. It's beyond sinister and Disgusting NBC. 1 out of every 2 transgender persons will attempt suicide primarily because their self-image is built on mass media portrayal's such as these.

I'm TG and I have to say that I don't see the issue with it. SNL has been poking fun at people, groups and politics for years. Gay jokes are so common that no one pays attention to them anymore. This is just a sign that transgender people are making their way into more into the mainstream.

Hypersensitive people are no fun!


How dare SNL do a sketch about making the transition for transgendered individuals easier! That's so insulting. "You deserve to be in the body you want." No, you deserve the body God gave you. By poking fun at the transgendered community, they're only making it seem like they're just another social group worthy of a little playful ribbing.

PS - that's call sarcasm for those angry people who obviously need a little aid with their senses of humor.

@Amanda Stevens
Actually, it is completely up the trans* individuals themselves whether or not they use transgender, transsexual or any other words to describe themselves, whether they have gone through (or plan on having) hormone and/or surgical transition.

The word "transsexual" is actually an older term that is used generally used for medical purposes or when used by the individuals themselves...and it is more appropriate and courteous to refer to people as transgender unless they tell you otherwise, because many trans* individuals may feel uncomfortable with transsexual.

Transgender is an umbrella term for all trans* individuals, but is also acceptable for use such as describing people who have gone/plan to go through physical transition. The article's use of the word was completely acceptable, and actually better than using your suggestion for it encompasses all trans* identities instead of just one specific, and slightly anal term.

Also, even though transgender encompasses all non-binary genders, using the term to describe androgens, gender queers and such can be disrespectful for many of those people do not actually identify as trans*. It is always best to ask the person how they identify, what their preferred pronouns are, and what labels (if any) they want to use...before assuming that they all fit under the same generalized term.

I am a transgendered woman. My transition is considered successful. I've found a loving partner, my career is back on track (I am a practicing professional), and I blend in well in my new gender. In the aftermath of my transition, however, are two children, who despite my efforts to reach out to them, are ashamed of me. They've been taught to be ashamed of me. They hide me from their friends. They don't like to be seen with me. They named someone else as their parent on their college application. I was asked not to go to the college interview for fear I would reflect badly on them. I struggle daily to find the strenth to face the next rejection. Some day they'll marry. I wonder what the announcement will say? Can you guess? Can you empathize with how I feel? So what do skits like this do? Do you suppose they help? If you found it funny, what does that say about you? Don't tell me to get help. I'm not asking for it. I don't want it. There is none to be had.

People get a life! It's comedy for the sake of comedy. It may not have been funny but people are so frigging sensitive nowadays.

I don't think it was offensive, it just wasn't funny. They said you deserve the body you want.

Anyways, the only person who can make you feel bad is yourself. Get some self-esteem and stop complaining about other people. Life ain't fair, grow a pair. There will always be haters, just don't hate yourself.

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