When Saturday Evening Dwell introduced that meme-connoisseur and aspiring immortal Elon Musk can be hosting the present on Might 8, the information didn’t a lot break the web because it broke the world document for most immediately furrowed brows.
The announcement fueled a complete information cycle, clearly by design. First got here the annoyed response on Twitter, adopted by careful bemusement from some forged members, after which the weird announcement that none of them can be forced to appear on the present with Musk. The episode hadn’t even come near airing but and the dialog round it already felt like being caught in an annoying, pointless tunnel with TikTok lights. It was exhausting.
Why all the fuss over this explicit host? Take your decide. There’s his latest vaccine skepticism, preceded by his preliminary COVID-19 skepticism, each of that are simply the newest in a protracted historical past of Musk being dangerously wrong about important things. There’s the doubtless mobilization of his Swiftie-level rabid fan base in opposition to those that don’t take pleasure in his comedic stylings. However primarily, individuals simply appear to really feel that a centibillionaire who’s effectively a defense contractor in all probability shouldn’t have his terrible sense of humor—image a attractive Zoomer who’s too into Rick and Morty—validated by one other comedy establishment. (The truth is, it has already been validated by Rick and Morty, which threw Musk a vocal cameo final summer time, together with The Simpsons and South Park.)
Oh, and there’s additionally simply the basic queasiness round a giant enterprise bro attending to do no matter the hell he pleases, irrespective of how unwarranted. When Musk crowdsourced some potential sketches for his imminent hosting duties, he got here off a bit like Donald Trump did when he used to fireside off breathless tweets about all the neat individuals he was assembly with as president. Each males appeared to have come into their alternatives on account of having gained some sort of contest.
In Musk’s case, there may be really some precedent. Throughout the third season of Saturday Evening Dwell, 80-year-old grandmother Miskel Spillman took middle stage after profitable the present’s Anyone Can Host contest. The very fact that she acquitted herself admirably meant that being an skilled comic was under no circumstances a prerequisite for the present.
Musk is simply the modern-day proof that Anybody Can Host SNL. (If he proves incapable, nonetheless, in the similar method that Spillman had Buck Henry readily available to assist out throughout her episode, Musk has capable SNL vet Miley Cyrus in the bullpen as musical visitor for his episode.)
Whereas it nonetheless feels very unusual that the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla shall be hosting the present, there may be loads of cringey precedent for it past Spillman. SNL has a protracted historical past of utilizing its platform to sanitize controversial figures, and it’s this custom wherein Musk’s look is greatest understood. Listed below are 5 different moments from the present that paved the method for this week’s potential space-train wreck.
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Donald Trump hosts whereas operating for president
In arguably the most shameful second in the sequence’ 46-year historical past, SNL invited the future president to host the present in fall 2015. It’s one thing the present has been unable to atone for and doubtless by no means will. At the time, it might need appeared like a good counterbalance to the present’s usually left-leaning politics, however in the end it hinted at some ethical rot inside the infrastructure. Trump might not have dedicated any of the sins of his presidency but—from the Muslim ban to COVID-19 negligence—however by that level he’d already waged the racist birther conspiracy principle in opposition to President Barack Obama for 4 years straight. Whereas Musk isn’t precisely on the degree of Trump by way of sheer malevolence, the two share a sure trollishness and palpable enjoyment of leaving controversy of their wake wherever they go.
A minor custom of enterprise chief hosts
Enterprise persons are tough to alternatively mock and embrace on a TV comedy present, as a result of sponsorships can get in the method. For example, it will be notably bizarre if Apple CEO Tim Cook dinner determined to take his comedy chops out for a spin, contemplating Apple’s investment in advertising on the show. Nonetheless, over the years, Saturday Evening Dwell has invited on a handful of enterprise leaders, to various levels of success. There was press magnate and fellow presidential candidate Steve Forbes; then-owner of the New York Yankees George Steinbrenner; then-head of NBC Brandon Tartikoff; and Playboy founder and mascot Hugh Hefner.
An extended line of sanitizing cameos
In the third episode of the third season of Veep, Vice President Selina Meyer (performed by former SNL forged member Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is stricken by an unflattering impersonation on Saturday Evening Dwell. Her resolution? Make a cameo on the present, thus proving that she is in on the operating joke about her—and proudly owning it. Artwork was imitating life on this case, as a protracted line of divisive public figures have appeared on the present with the intention to show they’re good sports activities and fetch some optimistic headlines. The listing consists of Sarah Palin, the possible inspiration for that second on Veep, together with Fb CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw of Texas. Irrespective of how self-deprecating the context of their sketch, although, guesting on the present solely makes these people seem extra grounded by an in-check ego.
That bizarre Amazon episode
No, Jeff Bezos by no means hosted SNL. He may as properly have, nonetheless, for all the optimistic reinforcement the present gave Amazon and Bezos personally in a weird episode from 2018. Proper at the fever pitch of the debate over whether or not Amazon ought to set up half of its second headquarters in Queens, one sketch framed Bezos establishing store in New York as a heroic assault on Trump, whereas a “Weekend Replace” phase shamed New Yorkers for being outraged about it. How will the writers deal with Tesla and SpaceX throughout the Musk episode? It’s uncertain any sketch shall be solely flattering, however it’s much more uncertain any will get too deep into how Musk has exaggerated the Tesla’s self-driving abilities and the potential real-world impact of that.
Kanye West’s rant
Throughout the summer time of 2018, Kanye West drove his already-sputtering fame to the junkyard and left it there. (His 2020 presidential marketing campaign didn’t help matters, however the injury had already been executed by then.) The spiraling West spent a disastrous few months praising Donald Trump and claiming that “slavery was a choice.” Though a part of West’s career-suicide jaunt was guided by his pure instincts, he has additionally been very open about how mental illness played a role, too. He was fairly clearly an unwell man. So, SNL capo Lorne Michaels knew what he was doing when he invited West to be the musical visitor on the season premiere of the present that fall. He needed the instability. He needed the uncertainty. He needed a giant second. And he obtained one, in the type of three lackluster performances and one shambling pro-Trump rant.
Elon Musk isn’t the similar sort of unstable as Kanye West, however the two share some similarities. Musk is thought for reliably making wild statements that have tangible reverberations on the stock market and on people’s lives. (Certainly, traders are already speculating on how Musk’s look on the present will have an effect on the dogecoin, a factor all of us simply must know exists.) One promo video for the episode treats Musk like a naughty live wire who just might say anything. Greater than anything, maybe, that feeling seems to be what Michaels desires out of a number. With West, it was exploitative; with Musk, it’s simply sort of pathetic.