East St. Louisans unhappy with SNL "hellhole" comment

6:30 PM, Apr 9, 2012   |    comments
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By Grant Bissell

East. St. Louis (KSDK) - When you start getting spoofed on Saturday Night Live, that's when you know you've made it big. Usually it's an honor, but the new clip takes a dig at the Metro East city when the crew spoof GOP candidate Mitt Romney and East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks.

Actor Jason Sudeikis, playing Romney, is singing the praises of East St. Louis when actor Keenan Thompson, playing Mayor Parks, says, "Are you serious? This place is a hell hole."

The real Mayor Parks isn't too happy about the parody.

"That guy didn't respect Alvin Parks by any stretch of the imagination," said Parks. "In fact I look at the skit and say it's a joke. I respect the fact that they have freedom of speech and freedom of the press to do whatever it is they'd like to do. But that clearly is not representative."

Residents of East St. Louis are also unhappy. The mayor's office has been receiving angry phone calls ever since the skit aired.

East St. Louis does have problems, from violence and drugs to run down houses and poverty. But residents say the city is trying to distance itself from that reputation and it's no excuse to be made fun of on national television.

"Being poor doesn't mean you're not good and being poor doesn't mean you don't have morals or energy and that you don't want to do better," said Sister Carol Lehmkuhl, Director of The Family Center in East St. Louis.

"I think I just goes to show there's a lot of misunderstanding about our city. We have lots of potential and lots of people who want to do well," she said.

Mayor Parks says he plans to write a letter to the SNL crew. That letter will highlight some of the positives of the East St. Louis community, like Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner Kersee.


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