There is a part of me, a saintly and kind part, that wants to feel bad for Tina Fey.
As the late-middle-aged couple at the table next to us get up, the male half approaches, grinning: “Excuse me, aren’t you Governor Sarah Palin?” It’s so lame that Fey can barely manage a quarter of a fake smile. “Not for, like, three years now,” she says, looking as if she’d like to dive under the table.
The guy has his gag, though, and he’s going to run with it. “I so enjoy watching you on Fox,” he says.
“Thank you, have a nice day,” she replies. As he walks away, she murmurs, “Until the day I die. Until the day I die.”
It’s hard for an actor when the public comes to see them not as who they are but as one particular character they played. Leonard Nimoy, for instance, had a solid career before and after he took the role as Mr. Spock on Star Trek, but he was so identified with that character he titled his autobiography I Am Not Spock. I get that Fey doesn’t want to be locked into the Palin role any more than Nimoy wanted to be seen as Spock forevermore (at least until he embraced it and did very well with it).
On the other hand, I don’t feel bad for her at all. Fey really doesn’t mind being mistaken for Liz Lemon, the character she plays on 30 Rock, just not at Sarah Palin, the real person she lampooned with great delight on Saturday Night Live. As Sister Toldjah notes, it is because of Palin — oops! — Fey that at least one large and completely untrue myth about the former Governor and Vice Presidential candidate exists. Like Chevy Chase did to Gerald Ford in the 1970s, Fey used her spot on SNL to do real damage to the character of a politician she didn’t like and rode the fame that brought her to better roles and bigger paychecks. Seems to me like she’s being hoist on her own petard.
(Photo Credit: Hollyscoop, which noticed that Sarah Palin has the same problem but seems to take it far more graciously)