Another day, another stab at my dear old Scranton.
While I will openly admit the latest SNL election/debate parody was hilarious – primarily Tina Fey’s spot-on Sarah Palin-esque performance – I, as a native Scrantonian, couldn’t help but feel a bit dismayed by the criticism of my hometown. (And those of you who watched that skit and know me at all, even if through this blog alone, should’ve known a few comments on it would be forthcoming.)
For those who may have missed the skit – though, with the constant discussion of it on Monday, I’m not sure that was possible – check it out. (I would have embedded it, but NBC makes that nearly impossible on WordPress.)
In his depiction of Sen. Joe Biden – a Scranton native who constantly remarks about his “roots” – SNL cast member Jason Sudeikis calls my poor hometown “the absolute worst place on earth.” Okay okay, it was clearly a joke, but … there have to places worse than Scranton, right?
If you aren’t up to watching the skit – or already did and, unlike me, didn’t pay way-too-close attention to the Scranton references – here’s a transcript of what is said about my Northeastern Pennsylvania home:
“I come from Scranton, Pennsylvania, and that’s as hard-scrabble a place as you’re going to find. I’ll show you around sometime and you’ll see – it’s a hell hole, an absolute jerkwater of a town. You couldn’t stand to spend a weekend there. It’s just an awful, awful sad place, filled with sad, desperate people with no ambition. Nobody, I mean nobody, but me, has ever come out of that place. It’s a genetic cesspool. So don’t be telling me that I’m part of the Washington elite, because I come from the absolute worst place on earth – Scranton, Pennsylvania. And Wilmington, Delaware, is not much better.”
Yet another kick in the balls for the place I was born and raised…
And while I was fairly annoyed upon my first watching, a brief discussion with a coworker made me realize that this comedic parody was about much more than dissing Scranton; it was political commentary about Biden’s approach when addressing others about his NEPA roots.
Although he was born in the same town as I, Biden’s family left when he was only 10 years old. That’s hardly an age where a young boy would have any appreciation for … well, for anything but GI Joes, Legos and maybe toy trucks. And while Scranton may not be in the same league as other cities of the same size – unfortunately plagued with crime (which has not necessarily risen, but definitely become more prevalent), a poor job market and deteriorating conditions as a result of the slumping economy – there is value still there; value Biden claims to see and yet, consistently devalues in his remarks.
While attempting to portray himself as an average citizen, it seems Biden associates himself with Scranton – a practically perfect example of a blue-collar, working class place, which viewers of “The Office” (blah) can easily notice. But anyone can also see that Biden is as far away from blue-collar as Clay Aiken is from straight. It doesn’t take a genius to figure either of those facts out even if neither man wants (or wanted, in Clay’s case) to admit the truth.
It also helps Biden to continually mention his “home” because Pennsylvania remains such a swing state. Despite being more Republican-minded in the rural areas, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are filled with liberal voters. This mix, and the fact that Scranton remains one of the bigger cities in the state following the latter two, creates a stomping ground for candidates. And any tie – even former Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton’s somewhat weak connection – to Scranton makes for a formidable one these contenders can use to gain those necessary votes.
So even if I may not entirely approve of being called a “nobody” since I did leave Scranton, but am obviously not of the Biden-caliber, at the very least I see the undercurrent of political commentary that more clearly demonstrates the Democratic VP candidate’s tendency to subconciously berate my hometown while seemingly praising his “humble” Pennsylvania roots.
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