So. Saturday Night Live did a naughty. If you haven’t already seen it, here it is, in all its lack of glory:
Yeah. Someone rolled a natural one on their performance check. There are a few of my fellow nerdy D&D players who are offended by this. Which is fair. The stereotypes presented in this skit are about thirty years old. If D&D players have ever looked, talked, or behaved like this outside of a session (or even during one), it has been a very long time.
While I personally am not offended by this skit, I am less than impressed (but more than happy to use the #dndselfie to take a photo of myself with my dice). But instead of being one of those whiny bitches who constantly complain that SNL is not funny anymore without giving any reason beyond the typical “they made fun of my political party and now I’m upset,” I’m going to explain to you exactly why this skit fell flat.
As has previously been mentioned, the stereotypes presented are out-dated. The collective conscious has not envisioned nerds as khaki-wearing, pocket-protected, nasally-voiced weirdos with unkempt hair who speak in faux Shakespearean Middle English, since the early nineties. Now, nearly everyone identifies as a nerd or a geek. Nerdom is everywhere. Nerdom controls all.
But even if the skit hadn’t relied on decades-old stereotypes, it still wouldn’t have worked. There was not enough context, or any, really, to explain what was happening and why. That’s not to discredit random humor. Random humor, when executed correctly, can be hilarious. Random humor is the reason “the cake is a lie” meme lasted as long as it did. Yes, it’s a Portal reference, but that is a hugely underrated game, and a lot of people did not know the reference, making it all the funnier for those who did get it. The complete randomness of the situation did not do this SNL skit any favors. The strangeness of a grown man kneeling before his boss and calling him “sire” was not amusing so much as it was confusing.
Now, had they provided a little context, I think the skit could have been mildly entertaining. Having the boss come in while they were playing, instead of having them working at their computers, could have provided some added tension. The boss could have reprimanded the players, handed out his employee of the month award, and as soon as he left, the players would go right back to playing, allowing the conflict amongst them to bleed into their game. Or, the players could try to convince their boss to join them. I know from experience that that can be an entertaining situation.
My last problem with the skit isn’t a problem with the skit so much as it is a problem with many of the reactions to it. Guys. This is not D&D. Yes, it does appear that some of the spells they used are from D&D. But this is not D&D. Dungeons and Dragons is a table top role playing game. That means that the players, in order to actually play the game, need to gather around a table and roll their dice in order to determine who goes first in battle, and whether or not they hit their target when they attack. What they’ve done here most closely represents a LARP, or, live action role play. Yes, the two are similar – they both heavily depend on the players’ own imagination in order to work – but they are not the same.
So, final thoughts: Overall I think the skit could have had great potential had it been handled correctly. However, it was not handled the way it should have been, and is, as we D&D playing nerds would call it, a critical fail.