Over the weekend, fans of Saturday Night Live lauded the show’s skit about the lack of diversity at the Oscars. The sketch-comedy show poked fun at the lack of diversity of the award show and its nominees in a way only SNL could. Sure, it was funny. But in the world of “pot meet kettle,” does SNL have room to be making fun of anything that lacks diversity?
Saturday Night Live has been on the air since 1975. Personally, I probably watched my first episode sometime in the ’80s, when I was allowed to stay up past my bedtime on a Saturday night. Throughout the show’s 40-year run, quite possibly the longest of any show on television, it hasn’t been a cornucopia of diversity.
Between 1975 and the present, there have only been 17 black cast members, many of them short-lived (yes, I’m counting Maya Rudolph as black), one Latino and one Persian. That’s definitely not saying much in terms of diversity. And the show only recently hired Sasheer Zamata and Leslie Jones after receiving the same backlash for its lack of diversity.
So, now I’m assuming SNL thinks it can get a pass just because of its two most recent hires? Nope. It doesn’t. If it weren’t for the backlash in 2014, do you really think SNL would have made an effort to hire two black women? Probably not. And it’s a similar case for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
When people make their voices heard and force a company to make changes to its roster, I’m not going to hand out kudos and forget about how things used to be. That goes for SNL and the academy. For years I watched black men portray black women on SNL because it didn’t have any black women in the cast. And it wasn’t because there weren’t any black women out there. It was because that’s what the show chose to do.
For years, the academy was OK with the majority of its members being old white men. It made that choice. But now, since people are up in arms over it, it’s making changes. Sorry, it doesn’t get kudos.
What both SNL and the academy get kinda looks like the Michael Jordan crying meme. And as for SNL making fun of the Oscars’ lack of diversity? There’s the old saying that people living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.