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It Worked for Betty White. Why Not Slavoj Žižek?

May 24, 2010

Betty White won a spot guest hosting "Saturday Night Live" after a massive Facebook campaign was begun on her behalf. While academics were not instrumental in that effort, they are very much a force behind a new Facebook campaign to have Slavoj Žižek named as a guest host of SNL. While the philosopher and sociologist has something of a cult following, why SNL? "Let's face it: Žižek is hilarious. The man will surely shine as host of Saturday Night Live," says the campaign's home page, which suggests Britney Spears as the musical guest for the show. Posts on the campaign's wall feature fans' favorite Žižek moments, and some alternate suggestions for musical guest (Lady Gaga, of course, although others argue for the Slovenian group Laibach).

The campaign was created by Alexander Hanna, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Via e-mail, he said that the idea came to him during an IM discussion with a friend at 3 a.m. one day last week. While Hanna acknowledged that Žižek probably lacks Betty White's fan base, "there's some pie-in-the-sky vision I have of enough non-academics learning of the group to dig and find out who he is, then joining the group, leading to some kind of grand introduction of public intellectualism in the U.S." Should Lorne Michaels call for skit ideas, Hanna suggested "a rambling monologue about how the decadence of late capitalism has culminated into this one moment" or possibly a Žižek discussion of applying the ideas of his Pervert's Guide to Cinema to live sketch comedy.

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Doug Lederman

Doug Lederman is editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. He helps lead the news organization's editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Doug speaks widely about higher education, including on C-Span and National Public Radio and at meetings and on campuses around the country, and his work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. Doug was managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003. Before that, Doug had worked at The Chronicle since 1986 in a variety of roles, first as an athletics reporter and editor. He has won three National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, including one in 2009 for a series of Inside Higher Ed articles he co-wrote on college rankings. He began his career as a news clerk at The New York Times. He grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and graduated in 1984 from Princeton University. Doug lives with his wife, Kate Scharff, in Bethesda, Md.

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