Timberlake Double Feature: Fake Boobs and Motherlovers

Former boy band-er and current Michael Jackson wannabe (hey, I love him, but he’s no King of Pop) Justin Timberlake hosted Saturday Night Live over the weekend. While funny, a few of these JT SNL (omg acronyms!) sketches are crying out for a bit o’ feminist analysis. Let’s give it to them!

Check out the “Dick In A Box” follow-up, “Motherlover”:

On to the pros and cons…

To start with, I thought this video was hilarious. Far funnier, in fact, than its predecessor. I might be biased, however, because I am a big fan of both Susan Sarandon and Patricia Clarkson, and I think Samberg and Timberlake’s cheesy International Male get-ups are really charming. What can I say? Maybe I’m a sucker for gold chains and badly-groomed facial hair.

In addition to the fashion, it’s nice that this video shows “older” (read: over 40) women as the hotties they are. There are a million examples of mass media portrayals of mature women that somehow suggest that once a woman hits middle age, she goes numb from the waist down and is satisfied with a cat in her lap and a rerun of Matlock on her television, so props to SNL for bucking that trend. As a daughter of a single mom, I know that moms need love too, and not always the kind they can get from their kids (though I don’t like to think about it too much).

As a final “pro”, I think this song is super-catchy. I especially like the lyric that goes “ ‘Cause every Mother’s Day needs a mother’s night/ If doing it is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.” The tune has been in my head since I first watched the video this morning, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

Well, there is the obvious taboo here of a guy having sex with his friend’s mom (and sexually objectifying his own mom). Lots of the comments I’ve been reading about “Motherlovers” are from people who are shocked and offended by the content of the video. Says Maria

this video reflects the lowering of ethical standards in the minds of some very public personas and through the influence they have, our society of the future at large.

While I am not sure I agree that this video reflects a “lowering of ethical standards” (since SNL has been airing questionable material for going on three decades now) I can see why this is offensive to a lot of viewers. It basically takes the sexual objectification of women and applies it to mothers in an attempt to be funny, and maybe that’s not okay. Imagine if this video showed Clarkson and Sarandon saying they wanted to get freaky with each other’s sons? I’m sure people would feel differently because of the gender/objectification reversal, even though the outcome (mother does it with her son’s friend) would be the same.

Confusing to say the least. What do you think?

Before you answer, let’s watch “Surgery Center”, another Timberlake SNL clip from Saturday’s episode:

Ummm… Will Forte looks cute dressed up as a barbell? Also, I laughed when he pronounced it “sween flu.”

I don’t think I need to be the one to tell you that Justin Timberlake dressed up as a saline breast implant singing songs about how women should risk their lives and their life savings to fix their “mediocre” faces is somewhat problematic. Sure, it’s meant to be a joke (and I did laugh at a few parts, mostly because of JT’s dance moves in that suit), but the underlying message is that plastic surgery is a good option for people (men and women) who want to be more attractive. Forte’s barbell character ended up being on steroids (and defecting to the Surgery Center), so the message extends to include the notion that going to the gym is for ‘roidy losers.

I know that SNL is a sketch-comedy show, and that we’re not meant to expect perfection when it comes to portrayals of gender/race/politics, etc. However, while the “Motherlover” video struck me as clever and maybe even a tad progressive(?), “Surgery Center” seems to be relying on the lowest common denominator (fake boobs) to get laughs at the expense of women who don’t feel good about themselves (in part because of the way the mass media portrays women). In the interest of a reversal, I don’t know if I’d feel as put off had Timberlake been dressed up as a giant penile implant (thus highlighting men’s insecurities), because men aren’t objectified by the media in the same way as women (and because Timberlake would have looked even funnier as an eight-foot tall erection). What do you think?

Did you watch this episode of SNL? Do you find these videos funny, or offensive? Can they be both?

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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13 Comments Have Been Posted

Offense in Humor

I liked the first video and giggle profusely. In the second one, all of the jokes seemed to fall flat. It just wasn't very funny. It would almost seem that the argument is that funny is inversely proportional to the offensiveness of the vid, and I just can't really agree.

Now, I know there's exceptions to this rule, but I've generally found that people who find comedy offensive just don't get the joke. Are Timberlake and Forte making fun of people who get plastic surgery? Or ugly people? Or plastic surgeons? Or the people who dress up in ridiculous costumes and dance in front of stores? Are they making fun of guys who use steriods? Or Timberlakes dancing?

By making fun of something, are they supporting it or deriding it?

re: mother lover is all pros!

pros: at the start of the mother lover video they are leaving the jail, carrying the offending boxes, so there is a consequence for their inital actions

also, i don't think there is a "lowering of ethical standards" at all. neither of these women are made fun of; they both are shown to be the total hotties that they are, rather than making fun of them as "matronly". in other words, the dudes aren't making love to the moms as an act of charity, which could have easily been an undercurrent in the skit and would have been problematic.

these characters are obviously the brunt of the joke, and i think the skit is making fun of their ignorance and egoism. they think they are being "thoughtful" but obviously these ladies can take care of their own needs! they are assuming that "older" ladies don't get to have sex, but they are discredited from the start (w/ their arrest, not to mention attire) and the joke is on them.

I agree with you that the

I agree with you that the brunt of the joke is these characters and their early 90s pop r&b swagger. I think the song is also these guys (Sanberg or Timberlake) making fun of other guys for the whole MILF thing. But, again I don't think the joke is on older women. It's on young men who don't think about the reality of what sexually objectifiying moms means between men. The song is really taking it to an absurd extreme. I can't make out the line...but it's something like "I wanna (something something) where you came out when you were a baby." That line is so hilarioulsy over the top. I also think that's the joke being made when Patricia Clarkson puts the photo of Justin Timberlake face down and Andy Sanberg puts it back up.

i vote funny

the video was cute...i like dick in a box better.
& i did find the skit about plastic surgery cute. i abhor plastic surgery, & even worse than plastic surgery is the way they advertise--preying on your weaknesses. ie--post baby bodies. i mean, all mamas struggle with the post baby body, why not accept it & celebrate it? but, no, plastic surgeons get in there & dig at it, prey on it. this skit, i felt was making fun of the advertising schemes, not endorsing them--so in that light, i did find it funny.

it hates us (channeling Gollum)

Just want to give you a heads up that those of us located outside of the US can't view videos hosted by the major networks: ABC, NBC, Fox, CW, etc. They block non-US viewers.


I don't think I am even prepared to address the Surgery Center bit, mostly because I haven't figured out how I feel about it at all yet.

As far as Motherlover goes, though, I had a few more thoughts:

*Recognition of female desire/ "older" female desire.
*Pretense of some desire to attend to mothers' emotional and physical wants and needs. (Actually this is probably a con- kind of presumptuous to assume that they need help or that you know what kind of help they need and how to give it to them, as Annie pointed out.)

*"Make your mom do a million poses." Umm, MAKE? That sounds sorta non-consentual and assault-y/ rape-y, am I right?
*"When I'm up in your mother, I'll never use a rubber." How about we discuss this with Mom first, instead of assuming that she wants to "make you another brother," or have unprotected sex at all regardless of the outcome. Because, you know, it's Mother's Day, so we can let the ladies have a say in what kind of sex they have this once, right?

@Annie, they have done their jail time and thrown out their boxes, but in the end they call their mother-loving scheme "the second best idea we've ever had." I'm pretty sure we're meant to assume that they consider Dick In A Box their number one great idea, so do the "consequences" really mean anything? They got in trouble, but they are still proud of it. Also, I've never actually watched the entirety of D-I-A-B so I don't really have a judgement on that one...

ANYWAY, I found Motherlover entertaining but at least partially problematic and would like to read more more more ideas about it...

I think this is a point of

I think this is a point of view piece. We're obviously seeing the sons version of their mothers lives, and that is slanted terribly. What if their moms are going out on dates and the like, and they just hide that from their sons? I'm not too concerned with the views presented here, because it's presented as the views of these two idiots. These guys have a lot to learn, for sure, but I doubt it's an overarching lowering of moral standards, or whatever the original beef was.

That it portrays the women as unable to take care of their own needs... well, not everyone can take care of their own needs all of the time. We all need some outside help, masturbation, no matter how fancy your Rabbit, won't substitute for a real, flesh and blood lover. And sometimes people have a hard time breaking out of past patterns. That's where your friend comes in and drags you to the club. The idea that every woman can take 100% care of herself is ridiculous. No one's that self-sufficient.

As for the "Make your mom do a million poses," well, I find different poses sexually stimulating. I think he's just saying here that there's no way she's not going to have a wonderful time, he'll be so attentive, etc. and the poses are kind of a logical conclusion. I don't see anything threatening here. With these guys, I'd take the gist, rather than the word by word English major breakdown.

Oh, for christ's sake. This

Oh, for christ's sake. This seems like a dash of non sex positive feminism to me. Not all male heterosexual desire is objectification (nor is objectification, within consensual contexts, always wrong) and it seems it's totally about the hotness of the mature women, which is amazing.
As for the fake boob sketch--I'm not sure. I do think it's mocking plastic surgery ads more than anything else--also, it seems to be gender equal to some extent in its attempt to make people feel bad about their bodies, as the skit ends with Timberlake convincing the dumbbell character that his nostrils are too big and he should get them fixed.

Get Over It

I didn't think there was anything wrong with either video. It seems like most of you are ignoring the fact that these skits were written and performed on a comedy show. Humor doesn't need to have an underlying meaning or a hidden message. Humor is simply to make light of situations so that people can laugh and not be so uptight.

It doesn't offend me at all that people can laugh about seducing friends' moms or that plastic surgery appeals to more people than working out does. Americans are lazy and take the easier way out. Maybe it is easier to argue against something than it is to laugh at yourself and realize that maybe you take things to seriously.

Being humble can really help you out. Maybe you could move past your insecurities and focus on bettering yourself, rather than complaining about people who may or may not make fun of you.


So I don't know if any one here knows about Samberg's "band" The Lonely Island, but it's basically him and his two friends singing stupidly random and silly songs (anyone remember "I'm On A Boat"?). Anyways, it's Samberg's style to be just totally idiotic with these songs, and because they're so absurd, they're hilarious. I think it's comedic genius.

The moms aren't being objectified. They're loving it. And one of the reasons it's so hilarious is because it's Susan Sarandon and because of this whole "cougar" trend. It's not taboo anymore for a younger man to sleep with an older woman, and in many cases, it's encouraged. I thought that the MotherLover was another great contribution from Samberg.

Anyways, i didn't find the surgery center skit that funny but mainly because it's a tired skit. it's been literally done twice before when Tmberlake was on the show. One with Homelessville and the other with Omleteville.


Motherlover surpasses 3ick in a box. Too funny! Plastic Town...was just as funny. Oh and lenord nemoy's one liner was great too.

Thanks for the article and

Thanks for the article and for the cute videos. Especially I enjoyed the first, it made me laugh. I appreciate the idea to popularize in society cuteness and sexiness of women who are over 40, I think sex positive feminists will appreciate it too.

Discussion of Topic @ Hand

Historically, sketch comedy shows are know for pushing the envelope. But I think that saying the Plasticville sketch supports breast implant and will overtly degrade woman enough to get them is sad. Some jokes are harder than others but this sketch I will have to agree is a bigger poke at the advertising scheme than the implants themselves. He recently did a sketch called Liquorville which I guess I'm suppose to feel is a jab at alcholics. Nope, I'm not buying it.

Though I can respect the spirit of the discussion for purely arguemantive purposes, I personally feel deeply sadened by anyone who feel that a particular sketch done in that particular vein would be degrading.

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