#DnDSelfie and the SNL Skit
The D&D Community Reacts to the SNL Skit
Saturday Night Live (SNL) is known to have some hit and miss skits. Last Saturday they had one skit that leaned heavily into the old stereotypical idea of a socially awkward nerd who plays Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D, for a sketch about being employee of the month. While the skit was somewhat funny it created a lot of frustration in the greater D&D community. The three characters were so outlandish that we do not view them as people, we view them as an ‘other.’ When a group of people is alienated in such a way it becomes acceptable to laugh at them and their behaviors. Such humor is an example of punching down, or making fun of someone less powerful than the person telling the joke.
Being belittled, ridiculed, and made fun of are nothing new to many members of the larger geek and gaming community. This skit was a throwback to some of the oldest stereotypes of tabletop role players. It would have been understandable for the community to react in anger and outrage. Instead the community reacted in a wave of positivity and love for their hobby through #DnDSelfie.
In reaction to the skit Twitter user @nicterhorst challenged the community to post selfies and pictures of their dice under #DnDSelfie. Hundreds of players responded posting pictures of players young, old, male, female, gender non-binary, and of all ethnicities. The images below help to illustrate just how diverse the greater D&D community is.
#DnDSelfie is a great reminder that within group differences are greater than between group differences. Meaning that there is more variability and variety among all of those who play D&D then there are differences between those who play D&D and those who do not. In the SNL skit all three characters looked alike, dressed alike and acted alike. We know that such a portal is not accurate. Worse, it harms all of us by causing people to think that those who belong to other groups as vastly different from us. We are all humans, and more alike than we are different.
Be wary of punch down humor. It is a form of humor that takes away the humanity of another, and thus really is not all that funny. My college Dr. B is writing a sister article that discusses the harm of punching down humor more over at takethis.org.
It would be remiss to discuss the #DnDSelfie wave without talking about some of the pushback that was seen. One Twitter user, whom I will not be naming so as to not give more power to their words, noted that they did not like that those they were seeing from #DnDSelfie did not look like them. Moreover they expressed outrage thinking that those posting under the hashtag were fake nerds. Many in the community responded noting that how one looks as an adult often does not show the internal scars of childhood. The Twitter user’s words indicate a type of gatekeeping, or trying to limit who can use or be a part of a community. Any time there is a hobby, or method of doing things there will be those who gate-keep.
#DnDSelfie has been a beautiful display of the best type of an ‘out rage’ response. It is a response that is not filled with anger, but with one of inclusion; of people wanting to show their love of the hobby. I do not believe there was any malicious intent with the SNL skit, they simply wanted to make something funny for their show. Being angrily outraged would not have been helpful in creating change or in showing how wonderful the D&D community is. Through showing the love and diversity within the Table Top Role Playing community I think we have shown some of the best in humanity.