Thousands of Colorado families are impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), a term used to describe a range of effects that can occur in a fetus exposed to alcohol before birth. To learn more, visit our topic page on Alcohol & Pregnancy.
As I watched the skit on Saturday Night Live play out entitled, Winter Formal, I came to the realization that those who created the skit, as well as those who participated in it, had no idea about FASD and its impact. Of course, this is my opinion, but I would guess that if any of the individuals that were connected to this skit truly knew about FASD they would have at least ixnayed the following line: “And I drank while I was pregnant!”
Sarah Sherman, who portrays Donna Lacatza, says this line after she and Pete Davidson, portraying Ron Lacatza, describe why it is best for young ladies to purchase formal wear from their business for the upcoming winter formal dance. The skit pokes fun at the Lacatza’s son, Donovan, who is mercilessly made fun of and humiliated throughout. His ‘parents’ have him displayed after drawing back some curtains. The gist of the skit is that they offer him as part of the deal when it comes to a formal wear purchase. The parents say the safety of any daughter’s sexuality will be well intact because who in their right mind would ever want to have sex with their son? They continue to cruelly bash him all throughout the skit.
I recognize that comedy like SNL walks a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate. I understand that it pushes moral boundaries, occasionally going too far. In other words, nothing is off limits. That is the whole point, and the controversy behind what makes comedy what it is. Making fun of everyone and everything. So when is much, too much? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?
“So when is much, too much? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?”
Of course, because I have a son with FASD and I’m also an elementary school teacher, my sensitivity was turned up several notches. Putting their son on display to humiliate him was a form of abuse as far as I’m concerned. I’m a big fan of humor, and will admit I’ve laughed at comedy sketches that would be considered offensive to various groups of people. I’d be a hypocrite to say otherwise.
So what is the answer here? I honestly don’t know. It would be too easy to say “don’t watch it.” But that’s a copout as far as I’m concerned. There is a much bigger issue here as it relates to human decency. This is an attack on a young person who doesn’t fit society’s definition of what is considered ‘normal’. I ask this question: what is normal and who is the authority that defines it? That’s where the issue lies.
“What is normal and who is the authority that defines it? That’s where the issue lies.”
We live in a dark world, so I get why people want to laugh. We need to laugh! What needs to be considered is when content becomes too much, what are we willing to do about it? Should I never watch SNL again? That’s probably not going to happen. I tried to reach out to Pete Davidson to let him know of my concern with his part in the skit, and going one step further by asking if he’d be willing to issue a formal apology to the FASD community and pay tribute to those with FASD. I unfortunately wasn’t able to reach him. Surprise, surprise!
Real change is going to happen with education. Since our son was diagnosed with FASD, I’ve intensely educated myself and have become a huge advocate for those impacted by FASD. Although this particular skit was a loss for humanity, there is a much bigger war out there that is being fought to proactively educate and eventually eradicate FASD from the face of this Earth.
“There is a much bigger war out there that is being fought to proactively educate and eventually eradicate FASD from the face of this Earth.”
About the Author
This article was written by a father of four beautiful children, three of whom have been adopted. He is committed to sharing the experiences of his family impacted by FASD, anonymously, through the Becoming FASD Aware blog series to strengthen families and build awareness.
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