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Megan Thee Stallion Delivers a Sharp Political Message in an Otherwise Lackluster SNL Premiere

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Last night saw the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, with the iconic series returning to Studio 8H at Rockerfeller Center. With a reduced audience size and COVID-19 precautions in place, SNL tried to return to some semblance of normal with former cast member Chris Rock hosting. But much like last season, the show was unable to meet the current political moment with any incisive or biting humor.

Instead, the sharpest political moment of the night came during Megan Thee Stallion’s performance of “Savage”. Megan performed with the words “Protect Black Women” projected behind her. Halfway through the song, the music cut to gunfire, with bullet holes appearing on the backdrop. As Megan and her back-up dancers stood still, a 1962 recording of Malcolm X played: “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected, neglected person in America is the black woman. Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair, the color of your skin, the shape of your nose? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?”

The audio clip was followed by a recording of activist Tamika Mallory, who addressed the failure of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron to seek justice for the murder of Breonna Taylor, “Daniel Cameron is no different than the sellout negroes that sold our people into slavery.”

Megan then took the mic and said, “We need to protect our Black women and love our Black women, because at the end of the day, we need our Black women. We need to protect our Black men and stand up for our Black men, because at the end of the day, we’re tired of seeing hashtags about our Black men.”

Many tuned in to see Jim Carrey debut his Joe Biden impersonation in a rehash of last week’s debate. And while Carrey brought his signature madcap energy, the cold open was sluggish and just not funny. Carrey’s characterization of Biden as an angry old-timer tamping down his rage in the face of Alec Baldwin’s Trump lacked a hook, and the two guest stars got the biggest laughs from simply repeating dialogue from the actual debate.

Sure, it’s hard to lampoon an already absurd situation, but it’s also lazy to just rely on quotes that these politicians have already made while winking at the audience. The sketch came to life briefly when Carrey broke the fourth wall by pausing Trump via remote control and saying, “Isn’t that satisfying? … Just not to hear his voice for a single, goddamned second … Let’s bask in the Trump-lessness.” And while it’s easy to share the sentiment, it doesn’t say anything new or interesting about Joe Biden, the election, or our country’s political morass.

Maya Rudolph returned with her Kamala Harris impersonation, and referenced Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s summer hit “WAP”, claiming that it stood for “woman as president.” In recent years, SNL has moved toward using celebrity cameos for politicians. The results are more click-baity than entertaining, designed to make viral moments instead of laughs. It’s a shame that the talented cast (outside of Kate McKinnon) never get to play major political figures. Those are frequently breakout impressions, like Will Ferrell’s goofy George W. Bush or Darrell Hammond’s randy Bill Clinton.

Ultimately, the results are mediocre and lacking in bite. In a political moment rife with absurdity, SNL continues to play it safe and straight down the middle.

What did you think of the season 46 premiere? Did you like Carrey’s Biden?

(featured image: screencap/NBC)

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Image of Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.