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Hawaii steamed about late-night parody

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Hawaii's lieutenant governor and some tourism personnel were upset with a "Saturday Night Live" skit on March 14 that parodied locals' attitude toward tourists.

The skit (which can be viewed below) starred cast member Fred Armisen and guest host Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as entertainers at a Kauai hotel. They go from table to table, intermittently singing and making wisecracks at the tourists.

During one part of the skit, Johnson's character said Hawaii's biggest export was coffee, and that its biggest import was "fat, white tourists."

Incidentally, Johnson is of Polynesian heritage (his mother is Samoan).

According to a USA Today report, Hawaii Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona said he was concerned that the skit could scare people away from Hawaii, and that he would send a letter in protest to Lorne Michaels, Saturday Night Live's longtime executive producer.

Aiona said the skit "went too far in its negative depiction of Hawaii's native people and tourism industry."

Hawaii politicians and tourism executives likely are more sensitive than usual because the state’s tourism industry is taking a beating because of the recession. But they should lighten up; SNL has been satirizing individuals and groups of people for years.

While this particular skit perhaps was more cruel than humorous, I think Hawaii made a bigger deal about it than it should have. This kind of protest generally serves to draw more attention to the thing being protested, and thus defeats the purpose.

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I go to Hawaii every year. This skit would not stop me from coming. I was able to see the humor in the skit. That may be because I wasn;t the brunt of the joke. I could see how a native Hawaiian may be offended....but I don;t think it will effect tourism!
Posted by: marketing( Visit ) at 3/27/2009 10:49 AM

I am taking my family to Hawaii next week for Spring Break for 10 days...I thought it was cute...sorry, the locals, can't take a joke...if anything, it will remind people how great Hawaii is and will always be to spend their vacation time.
Posted by: marketing at 3/27/2009 12:32 PM

It's not funny and it's mean spirited. It stereotypes Hawaiians, who are generally very giving and gracious people, in the most negative possible light. If the target were any other minority, everyone would condemn it as racist. SNL is rarely funny anymore. A typical "best of" can't even manage a half hour of entertaining skits.
Posted by: marketing at 3/27/2009 9:51 PM

Having spent months at a time in Hawaii working on tourism projects, I can say there's certainly an element of truth behind the SNL sketch. There are certain attitudes towards non-Hawaiians (you know who you are) that run deep and, in my opinion, these locals have gotten off light with just an SNL sketch. And we all know all little smack from SNL does little damage. Best not to make it worse with official protests.
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