SNL’s unfunny, racist White Christmas sketch tops off a year of embarrassing white pop culture

Paul Rudd dressed as a grandmother wielding a gun in SNL's White Christmas sketch

Saturday Night Live is really running with their jokes about how they’re aware of the criticism that their cast is super white and male. They think it’s hilarious and edgy to joke about that while not actually recruiting women of color to join the cast. Their latest not remotely funny bit of hipster racism came this weekend (after an opening monologue that featured the white guys from Anchorman 2 and the almost all white guys from One Direction. It was really white and dudely) with this White Christmas sketch. Warning: it’s racist.

(I apologize I haven’t found a transcript for this terrible sketch yet. One should appear at this site soon.)

Oh that’s so clever. A bunch of white people making fun of Tyler Perry movies, the most stereotype-laden part of Black culture they have access to. These movies are critiqued within the Black community, but it’s very different for a Black artist to work with stereotypes or for a Black audience to critique that than for a bunch of white folks who have been criticized for not hiring people of color to use Tyler Perry as an excuse to make race jokes. Lazy jokes, too – as simple as white women talking about how men are dogs who will leave you for a white girl and a grandmother wielding a gun. Jokes that are supposedly clever because everyone’s aware they’re racist. This is backed up by a few fake quotes from Black publications about how offensive it all is:

“Can’t we have anything?”

“The Macklemore of movies.”

See, everyone’s in on it.

There’s way more to Black cinema than Tyler Perry, and while this wasn’t the year of the Black movie reducing Black cinema to his work does feel particularly offensive when films like Fruitvale Station and Twelve Years a Slave are in theaters.

Also I’m a big fan of drag, but what Paul Rudd’s doing here is not drag. This is a man in a dress mocking drag and specifically Black drag. I’d probably be more focused on how offensive this is if it wasn’t so embarrassingly unfunny.

When did “It’s funny because we know it’s racist” become so damn mainstream? And what is with the nonstop racist cultural appropriation? Why are white pop stars and comedians not pausing for a second to realize how ridiculous this all is? Awareness of racism does not give you a pass to be racist. We are not in a post-racial world where white people can say racist things and it’s not racist. Voting for Barack Obama did not give you a pass to be racist and have it magically turn into not-racism.

The constant assault of casual pop culture racism needs to stop. I would love it if all the problematic white pop stars and white comedy hipster bros just took a seat for 2014. Just spend the year in the corner thinking about what you’ve done. You’ve had an embarrassing year.

Jos Truitt Jos Truitt hasn’t watched SNL in a while.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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