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‘SNL’ Tackles Rape Culture in Hollywood

Last week, NBC’s late-night comedy Saturday Night Live finally tackled the subject of rape culture in Hollywood, and they did not hold back. The SNL episode aired several weeks after The New York Times published a major investigative report detailing decades of sexual harassment complaints against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevigne and countless other women have come forward with accusations of lewd behavior, inappropriate touching.

Some recalled Weinstein threatening them to either comply with his sexual demands or risk putting their careers in jeopardy. Others, like Ashley Judd, gave chillingly similar accounts of being lured into hotel rooms where Weinstein would greet the actresses in a bathrobe and request massages or other inappropriate favors. SNL addressed these allegations in not one, but two skits during the show.

During the Weekend Update, anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che served up a scathing critique of Weinstein’s defense, particularly rumors that Weinstein will be going to Europe for sex rehab. “Somehow, I don’t think that’s gonna help anybody,” Jost quipped. “He doesn’t need sex rehab. He needs a specialized facility where there are no women, no contact with the outside world, metal bars —and it’s a prison.”

Che joined in on the scalding indictment, condemning Weinstein’s comment to reporters that “we all make mistakes.” Shaking his head in disbelief, Che stated, “You assaulted dozens of women, that’s not a mistake, that’s a full season of Law and Order.”

In a separate all-female skit, SNL comedians Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Cecily Strong starred as actresses in a mock film panel moderated by Aidy Bryant. The topic of discussion was “Sexual Harassment in Hollywood,” and the cast members adopted an unusually serious tone which strayed from the typically light-hearted SNL spirit.

Jones and Strong used their platforms as Viola Davis and Marion Cotillard to comment upon sexual harassment in Hollywood (“Women being harassed is Hollywood”), the recurrence of sexual harassment allegations (“The problem is the culture, there’s no accountability”), and what prevents women from speaking out against assault (“Women who speak up get called crazy.”) McKinnon broke out her signature character Debette Goldry to lighten the mood, but even Goldry’s eccentric comments were laced with darkly accurate commentary.  

“Now, many actresses have commented that there’s a whisper system to warn each other about potentially threatening men,” Bryant said to the actresses. “Does that ring true to you?”

McKinnon, playing the role of a slightly senile Hollywood starlet, nods and begins to reminisce about the old days in Hollywood. “Back then we had a secret code among us actresses to warn each other about creeps,” says McKinnon. “The code was ‘he raped me.’ That way, if any men were listening, they’d tune us right out.”

Sources: 1, 2 

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Leah Rosenfield

U Mass Amherst '20

Professional ice skater and polisci major; Lover of all things travel-related or glittery.
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