This weekend, Saturday Night Live returns live, with controversial host Elon Musk and musical guest Miley Cyrus.
The Show Musk Go On
The announcement of billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, hosting Saturday Night Live has become the media equivalent of Lorne Michaels punting a hornet’s nest. Musk is the second wealthiest person in the world, behind Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. And he got there recently, like many wealthy people profiting significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s face it, billionaires aren’t exactly favourable in the media these days. And Saturday Night Live putting Musk on stage is tone deaf at the very least. While people still struggle through the pandemic, reports and examples on the significance of wealth inequality are spreading among working and middle class people. The general consensus is that nobody needs a billion dollars, and hoarding that much wealth is amoral at the very least, particularly in America where people can go broke from a broken arm.
Cast members have been vocal about Musk’s upcoming episode. Michael Che barely danced around his discomfort while talking to Ellen DeGeneres, noting that his wealth is problematic (though noted the episode will be interesting). Aidy Bryant retweeted a Bernie Sanders post about the “moral obscenity” of Musk-style wealth hoarding.
On the other hand, cast member Pete Davidson called out the criticisms while on Seth Meyers’ show. While saying that Musk is “saving the world”, Davidson gave his full support for the episode.
Either way, Michael Che is correct when he says the show will be very interesting.
SNL has a history of controversial guests. Many of them are after-the-fact, such as Martin Lawrence’s misogynistic monologue or Sinéad O’Connor ripping up a picture of the Pope (which now many agree was a admirable sign of protest).
But Saturday Night Live had the gall to ask a few already controversial people to host. Like the (again) misogynist Andrew Dice Clay in the 1990s, and more recently, then Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Again, Lorne Michaels steps way over the tone-deaf line.
Lucky Larry David, got to call Trump a racist on live TV, and be applauded for it. Even at the time, Trump was spouting nationalistic nonsense and dog-whistling white supremacy, but SNL put him on the bill anyway. This monologue is a difficult watch six years later, but it’s also a significant part of the show’s history.
But making another significantly tone deaf misstep? Lorne Michaels should know better after 44 years of what does and doesn’t work on Saturday Night Live. Not to mention, Elon Musk is terrible with scripted material.
One thing Michaels does know, though, is what makes pop culture history, and what makes entertainment, and this episode is going to be both.
Saturday Night Live can be streamed live and On Demand on the new Global TV App and on STACKTV. Global is also available through all major TV service providers.