Spoofs in the mass media are for the purpose of making light in topics found in films, videos, political issues, or songs by exaggerating the issue with comedy. Spoofs take the form of videos, and sometimes even pictures that touch up on humorous or even tough topics. In 2014, Saturday Night Live took on the task of making Ebola, a fatal virus, funny to the mass media. Saturday Night Live took the popular romantic comedy “The Fault in Our Stars” and added a twist to it: Ebola. Coming out in the summer of 2014, “The Fault in Our Stars” was a huge success. The film followed the story of two cancer patients falling in love.
Their illnesses only drew the two teens closer together and opened up the media to all the processes and hardships cancer patients go through. In short, the two sick teenagers meet through a support group and are inseparable from then on. This is opposite of the spoof. Saturday Night Live makes topics funny by imitating their targets and pairing it up with commonly a sore subject. In this case that subject was Ebola. Ebola is a fatal disease caused by the Ebola virus and spread through bodily fluids, much like how HIV, mononucleosis, and Hepatitis B are spread.
Its factors include fever and severe internal bleeding that leads to death (Oxford). Ebola is an issue that has Americans worried for their health because of its fatal statistics. The outbreak can be traced back to African countries where the virus has effected 9,000 people 4,500 in which lost their lives to the battle. Ebola is also an issue in Nigeria but has been recently declared Ebola-free. In The United States, the Ebola worry is seen as an overreaction because of the fact that “you can count the number of documented cases in America with two hands – and still have fingers to spare (CNN)”.
The spoof created by Saturday Night Live is a movie trailer that changes the female character, Olive’s, illness of cancer into Ebola. The skit shows clips of the male, Theodore, and Olive meeting each other. They begin hanging out, having fun and laughing together. When Olive tells Theodore that she has Ebola he is disgusted. All of Olives’ persistent efforts to get closer to Theodore are shut down, making the audience laugh because of his not-so nonchalant measures to get away from her. The rejection is found to be funny because it contrasts the movie’s storyline where the real characters couldn’t be separated.
In the movie being targeted, “The Fault in Our Stars”, the male is the one who goes after the girl, only after numerous advances does the girl comply because she was first scared of the risks. The two are in love but also fear losing each other due to their cancers. Unlike the movie, the spoof reverses the roles and changes the disease. The characters’ relationship swaps to make it evident that the spoof is different from the movie. The purpose of the spoof is to inform the mass media of America, as to how the panic of the Ebola epidemic is an overreaction contrary to all the worries about it.
In fact, doctors urge Americans to be more worried about the flu than Ebola up to this date. By informing America through humor, the audience can make light of the issue and start to feel at ease. When the people watching the spoof find things funny, they feel better about the situation because then it does not seem so serious. The spoof’s main purpose is not to make fun of just “The Fault in our Stars”, but Ebola too. In the 2014 spoof “The Fault in Our Stars 2: The Ebola in Our Everything” the creators make the situation of the characters humorous. In one instance, Theodore suggests to Olive that she ask her doctor before they hold hands.
Olive responds, “If doctors know so much, then why is my doctor dead from Ebola? ”. The audience attending Saturday Night Live that evening chuckle in the background, suggesting to television viewers that it is okay to laugh despite the topic. They make the fact that Ebola is contagious humorous. In a way, the creators of the spoof are making fun of the contagion but at the same time, making fun of America’s panic of this rare, rare disease. Through analyzing the spoof, evidence of the logos, pathos, and ethos are found. Logically, the spoof is showing Americans that the panic of Ebola is silly and impractical.
Through rhetoric situations in the spoof such as the sarcasm of Theodore to Olive, show the audience the foolishness of actually being heavily worried about Ebola. In a way, the spoof makes the audience feel silly about worrying about Ebola because of all the crazy exaggerations of the disease. The foolish precautions that Theodore takes to stay away from Olive are indirectly warning the audience “Hey, you don’t want to be this guy, so relax”. The spoof also acts on America’s emotions. Although there is humor in the skit, there is also death. Both cancer and Ebola can be fatal which is a sensitive subject.
Not all viewers find humor in such fatal subjects, especially when making jokes about Ebola or cancer. There is an emotion toll to deaths especially in family and close friends. Since cancer effects so many Americans, it is hard to make audiences laugh about it. Anywhere you go you can find someone who has either been effected by cancer in their own bodies, or effected because of the cancer found in friends and family. Ethos is found in the faults in character of the producers because of the simple fact that the creators are indeed making fun of both Ebola and cancer.
This poses a great crack in the writer’s ethical characters and morals even if it is a rhetoric situation. The majority of the audience may laugh at the jokes made out of the movie and Ebola but not all Americans may see it this way. Some might be disgusted by the fact that people laugh about this serious health issue. What would be the downfall of the Ebola/The Fault in our Stars spoof is that fact that death is serious issue and is not found funny in the realm of disease of hardship. “The Fault in Our Everything” is a logical spoof in the way that it assists Americans into reasoning that the disease of Ebola is not serious yet in the United States, and the danger of its spreading does not yet pose a serious threat.
The creators and writers of the spoof aimed to lessen the worry of Americans by making Ebola a funny topic. Majority of Americans take Ebola seriously as they should because of how harmful and deathly the disease is. The creators too, have knowledge of how dangerous Ebola may be but at this time with how small of an issue it is in The United States, they are not worried and they share this view with the viewers. Not to mention that the disease is only contagious through bodily fluids which makes it hard to spread to vast amounts of people.
The targeted audience is Americans and after seeing the spoof, the hope is that the worry of Ebola in America weakens since it is in no way in danger of major escalation at this time. The intent of Saturday Night Live is to make people laugh even when it may come to tough topics, and this is not always an easy task. Death is, in most cases than not, hard to make light of but Saturday Night Live does a good job of making the spoof effective. The producers write a script that is not entirely brutal and insensitive to the issue which makes the audience feel better about laughing at Ebola.
Saturday Night Live makes Ebola funny through the actor’s expressions and actions rather than raw jokes about the Ebola virus. If the spoof was based on insensitive jokes about Ebola, Americans would have a harder time laughing about it. However, since Saturday Night Live takes on tactics of humorous acting skills, the audience can easily laugh and not feel immoral about it. For example, the male character, Theodore, adds humor by making funny facial expressions, running away from his own girlfriend, wearing a protective body suit around her, refusing to kiss her or hold her hand, and even laying ten feet away from her on their “romantic” picnic.
Theodore’s funny measures that he takes to stay away from Olive make the skit funny, not just the subject of Ebola funny. By analyzing the spoof “The Fault in Our Stars 2: The Ebola in Our Everything”, it becomes apparent what works and what does not work in the spoof. The effectiveness relied on the humor as spoofs often do. Saturday Night Live took on a tough topic, Ebola, and got the point across while succeeding in making the audience laugh. Overall, everything the spoof did worked in its favor and made an effective piece.