How ‘SNL’ won the Elon Musk hosting stunt before it even happened

postyer snl is the winner hosting elon musk

Okay fast, when was the final time you had been speaking about who was hosting Saturday Evening Dwell two weeks forward of the present?

The right reply is: By no means.

Even for the most hard-core SNL followers, hosting duties are usually a fast eyebrow-raising piece of reports. Are you aware who’s hosting two weeks from now? Precisely. (It’s Anya Taylor-Pleasure.) Solely after a very humorous or cringeworthy efficiency is an SNL host actually mentioned with pointed curiosity. However when NBC announced last month that Tesla and Area X CEO Elon Musk can be hosting on Might 8, cue the mass-posting of head-exploding emoji.

Right here we had considered one of richest folks on the planet, a present CEO of a number of firms, and a social-media juggernaut signing up for dwell sketch comedy. It’s the closest factor to “Should See TV” {that a} broadcast present can have in 2021. Not just for the sheer potential of both a comedic triumph or an embarrassing bomb—both means, we’re laughing—but additionally the IRL big-money implications, whether or not that’s Tesla inventory or the worth of dogecoin. The parody cryptocurrency’s worth has doubled over the past week, leading up to Musk’s appearance.

The actual winner is Saturday Evening Dwell itself. Right here we’ve got a broadcast tv present in the yr 2021 that has the rapt consideration of a tradition lengthy fragmented throughout an ever-splintering leisure media panorama. If Musk kills and the space-, doge-, and EV-related sketches are a success? SNL wins. If Musk bombs, exposing his comedic expertise to be as thin as his ability to produce his own memes? SNL nonetheless wins. This can be the most zeitgeist-y episode in the present’s 46-year historical past.

At a time when broadcast viewership and advert revenues have been pillaged by digital platforms, what’s weeks of free publicity and near-constant chatter price? Very like Tesla inventory, the extra Musk tweets and is mentioned, the extra curiosity builds for his SNL debut.

According to Nielsen ratings, the best-rated seasons of the present had been 1979-80, which had a 13.5 family score, and 1992-93 at 9.1. Whereas the 2007-08 season, shortened by a writers’ strike, ranks as the worst, 2006-07 and 2014-15 tied for worst full seasons at 4.6. The present received a Trump bump in 2016-17—its top-rated season in additional than 20 years, thanks largely to Alec Baldwin’s Trump impression and Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton. However even in that hype-heavy season, most of the chatter was in hindsight and fleeting.

Like it or not, our consideration financial system is nearly solely fueled by hype and anticipation. Viral moments. Social dialog. As soon as the hype flywheel begins, the spinning is boosted each time that hype itself is acknowledged. Google “Musk SNL” and witness the barrage of commentary and protection over the previous two weeks, the promotional worth that entrepreneurs would possible peg in the tons of of thousands and thousands, if not billions of {dollars}.

Musk on SNL can also be simply the newest instance of the popular culture fixation of the whole lot. Simply as sports activities have develop into year-round fodder for rumors and hype—far past the subject of play—we’re seeing what Founders Fund principal John Luttig calls the “financialization of culture,” the place the product of the financialization of tech and the technification of tradition is pervasive finance tradition. It’s the place GameStop, r/wallstreetbets, Robinhood, dogecoin, and, sure, Tesla meet memes and social media. As Luttig places it, “What Instagram did to physique picture, wallstreetbets and Twitter are doing to checking account picture.”

So now, nevertheless briefly, old-school media stalwart SNL has managed to hook into the largest hype fish of this period.

There’s in fact loads of ammunition in the arguments objecting to Musk’s look. The present is hosting considered one of the richest folks on the planet, an anti-labor billionaire who barely donated something to COVID-19 aid (even questioning the severity of the virus at one level), but he received astronomically wealthy throughout the pandemic. Even the forged of SNL seems to be cut up, with Aidy Bryant and Bowen Yang voicing their issues, whereas Michael Che and Pete Davidson seem to have welcomed their benevolent tech overlord with open arms. Davidson summed up the broad curiosity of many when he told Seth Meyers, “I’m excited. I’m gonna ask him for a Tesla. I don’t know why individuals are freaking out. They’re like, ‘I can’t consider Elon Musk is hosting,’ and I’m like, actually? The man who makes the Earth higher, kinda?”

However it was Che who actually hit the nail on the head when he told The Breakfast Club, “He’s a polarizing man. I feel that’s what makes the present thrilling. . . . I feel it’s a great factor. I feel it means folks nonetheless care about the present.”