Ryan Gosling has always had a talent for playing obsessives, from the stoic getaway man in Drive to his star turn in the “Say Cheese and Die” episode of Goosebumps, in which he played a teenager so unhealthily fixated on The Twilight Zone that he meticulously recreated the premise of “A Most Unusual Camera.” So it was only natural that Saturday Night Live would give him a role that played to his strengths, and with Julio Torres on the writing staff, only one obsession would do:
Gosling plays “Steven,” a man who simply cannot abide the fact that the poster for James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar—remember Avatar?—used the Papyrus font on its poster. The trick to this kind of bit is getting the language right, and Gosling’s voiceover nails it:
He just … got away with it. This man, this … professional graphic designer. Was it laziness? Was it cruelty? … And now here I am, doing what I vowed to never do again. Sitting outside his house, hoping to catch a glimpse of him, to see him do his little things, live his insane little life.
Saturday Night Live has always been two shows, really: there’s the political satire about those clowns in congress (an increasingly inadequate response to Donald Trump lately) and then there’s the back half, in which weirdness reigns and masterpieces are nearly as likely as total disasters. So even if the rest of this season becomes an exhaustive mathematical proof that there’s nothing funny about Donald Trump anymore, we can still look forward to flashes of brilliance like this one.
What’s more, the skit might end up being more politically effective than Baldwin’s Trump: if Saturday Night Live gives right-wingers the impression that Papyrus “triggers libs,” they’ll start using it for everything from Breitbart to The Wall Street Journal, rendering their ideas as ugly on the page as they are in the world. For example, here’s the Wall Street Journal declaring that institutionalized racism no longer exists just a few days after Dylann Roof’s killing spree:
Finally, form matches function! Now if Saturday Night Live can convince them we hate Wingdings even more, we’’ll really be getting somewhere.