Saturday Night Live looked around and remembered what it was.
After a week of comedic assaults on the front-runner Republican candidate Donald Trump, led by Last Week Tonight host John Oliver to CBS’s Stephen Colbert to The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, with Louis C.K. holding the coat-tails in a comment he made earlier this week, it seemed only fitting that one of the proudest comedy facilitators would finally make a statement as well.
Last night, Saturday Night Live made its first true attack against Trump, singling out one of the most palpable traits about the candidate that daytime media has been picking apart since David Duke of the Klu Klux Klan threw his support towards Trump, and even before that. It wasn’t in the cold open, which was devoted to tossing other political figures on the skewer, such as Chris Christie (for his conversation-flooding look of discomfort standing behind Trump on Super Tuesday night) and Hillary Clinton, played again by Kate McKinnon. The cold open even heralded the brief return of Jason Sudeikis to reprise his Mitt Romney impression, who is in the news this week for offering his own assault on Donald Trump.
This week’s host, Jonah Hill, spent his monologue straying away from Trump as well, though the actor would not exactly be the leading authority on politics anyway. No, the first true attack against the candidate of the entire 2016 election season came in the skit following the monologue, a pre-taped faux commercial that Saturday Night Live is famous for and fond of doing, especially during electoral periods in the past.
The commercial features several average-joe Americans stating why they’re voting for Donald Trump, and it’s the usual list: strength, character, and strength. At first, each character seems like an innocent voter; one, played by Kyle Mooney, carries firewood through the forest. Another, Bobby Moynihan, plays a painter finishing his work on the side of a house, and so on. Then, it’s visually revealed that each are white supremacists themselves; Mooney stops before a burning cross and several Klan members where he’s about to deposit his firewood and the shot of Moynihan zooms out to show that he was painting “WHITE POWER.”
Several critics have already come out in half-support of the ad skit, calling it timely but at the same time, too late. Rolling Stone even furthered its resentment towards the belayed attack on Trump, claiming that “from the moment that SNL booked Trump to host last fall, it ceded any type of moral high ground that it might otherwise have here.”
The parody advertisement follows not only the public endorsement of Trump from the leader of the KKK, but also an incident at Trump’s rally on Saturday in which the candidate asks his supporters to raise their right hand, not unlike how supporters of Hitler did. It also follows the surfacing that white supremacist groups have been sending automated calls to Americans asking them to vote for Donald Trump in the fall.
It is unlikely that this will be the last attack SNL makes against Trump, but like the comedians mentioned earlier, this was the show’s first cutting parody of the candidate since he announced his campaign. Unlike any of the previous shows, however, SNL did have Donald Trump host, an act many fans protested because it gave the powerful a platform to speak, rather than to be taken down a peg.
‘Racists for Trump,’ though, certainly did.