Did you beauties watch “Saturday Night Live” with the lovely star of “Scandal,” Kerry Washington? They chose to kick off the highly anticipated show by tackling the issue that we all knew existed, but Kenan Thompson put a spotlight on–“SNL” is lacking Black cast members; so they had Kerry play three Black characters in the first two minutes–Michelle Obama, Oprah and Beyonce (who never seemed to show up in the opening skit and was instead replaced by a chorus of Matthew McConaugheys. I waited the whole episode for that mentioned Beyonce character to show up–she never did.
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Then there was this voice over:
The producers at “Saturday Night Live” would like to apologize to Kerry Washington for the number of black women she will be asked to play. We make these requests because Ms. Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent — and also because SNL does not currently have a black woman on the cast. Mostly the latter. We agree this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it in the near future, unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first.
Funny. It also hit the issue head on and does it with such sarcasm, the viewer is left wondering if they will indeed be addressing their lack of Black actresses or just asking the latest Black “it” girl to fill in?
But you know what moment reared its ugly head that I was hoping wouldn’t–Kerry’s koonery.
Dressed in what could only be described as “ghetto” attire, Kerry’s first hoodrat character got under my skin. Even though she clearly took most of her cues from Martin’s ghetto personality, Sheneneh, she was half as funny, almost flat.
Then they took it a step farther by making her a nagging, ghetto girlfriend. Giving her lines to sing in the musical skit like, “You done messed up now,” “I Got You Pow Pow” and “Who That B*tch,” Kerry become a neck-rolling, hands-in-your-face stereotype. This spoof of “What Does The Fox Say” was pretty funny but drenched in sassy Black girl. We’re more than that, but I guess we can sacrifice our multi-dimensions for a cheap chuckle.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not about to hop on a soapbox and call out “SNL” for being racist. Let’s face it, they’ve had enough of those criticisms and made it clear with their opening scene by tackling the topic head on. They’re going to add more Black characters to the cast on their own time. And until then, we’re stuck seeing Jay Pharaoh and Kenan Thompson play them all. And moreover, I know that “SNL”‘s comedy is often hard to swallow, but that doesn’t mean I have to sit here and choke it down every Saturday night, especially if they’re going to bring someone one who represents me.
Most comedy is etched in stereotypes, so calling out “SNL” for offensive stereotypes wouldn’t necessarily be a fair criticism. But I do think the SNL writers took the easy way out in making Kerry stereotypically Black in many of her skits. Like these:
I won’t be unrealistic and say that I didn’t laugh or at least chuckle, because I did.The “How’s He Doing” sketch that displayed Kerry in a cropped afro was well done. The in-the-mirror look at how much Black people love President Obama was hilarious to me.
Comedy is meant to be uncomfortable and offensive. It’s always looking for a gut reaction. Mission accomplished. Kerry played an African beauty queen who said, “Who are we,” “What are who” and “What is who” all over the stage, even interrupting her fellow contestants to shout those lines and tell the host she was keeping her dress. That’s smart “SNL,” let’s offend an entire continent.
She then played an art teacher at “Booker T. Washington High.” *sigh* Ok, looking over that, the powers that be at “SNL” still managed to pour stereotypes into the character. She donned a rainbow clown wig and volunteered herself for the dunking booth. I smelled it a mile away; they’re going to mention getting a Black girl’s hair wet. Check. Yet another joke at a Black woman’s expense.
What’s actually sad is that the only time Kerry played a character that was outside of a Black stereotype, she wasn’t funny at all. The rest of the cast members stole the scene in this skit:
At this point in the show, I was already invested in Kerry being refreshingly funny, but the show proved to us that they’re going to continue offending for the sake of a few cheap laughs. There’s nothing we can do about that–even if Black girls are added to the cast. I’m sure they’ll be asked to play every stereotype they left out of Kerry’s episode.
At the end of the day, Kerry was funnier than expected, but I didn’t care too much for “SNL” thinking they had to go stereotypical to be funny. Maybe they just wanted to remind Kerry of her best character to date? (Hint: Look down.)
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