SNL has a rich history of commercial parodies and using humor to comment on more serious current events. It's kind of their thing. The show used a current Toyota campaign to do both on the most recent episode, and the provocative result has many people wondering if it went too far. The sketch was inspired by this commercial, in which a father drops his daughter off at an Army recruitment center to join the military. In the SNL version, the setup is the same. The dad (Taran Killam) chokes up and tries to keep his daughter (Dakota Johnson) from leaving the nest. The comedic payoff will be where she's actually going. I guessed it would be a strip club, but that was too benign for SNL. "Looks like your ride's here," the dad says as a truck bearing ISIS flags pulls up and honks. "You be careful, okay?" "Dad, it's just ISIS," she responds and winks. The dad then watches her board the truck with tears in his eyes. "Take care of her," he urges. "Death to America," is the ISIS member's response. The commercial's tagline: "ISIS: We'll take it from here, Dad." The sketch was inspired by the many recent reports of teens who have, in fact, run off to join the militant Islamic group ISIS. Did it go too far though, by making light of such a serious issue? Viewers were divided on Twitter.
Taran Killam also weighed in about the role mockery and humor can play in such serious issues.
Fans rushed to agree with him. "THANK YOU and yes please MOCK THEM!! With every resource you have within grasp, show them their fuckery will not work on us!" @dianamail17 responded. "@TaranKillam it was brilliant. it was more of a commentary on how stupid young girls running away to join ISIS is. and bad parenting," @nygrlnla wrote. Was it funny? We'll leave it up to you to decide. Should SNL have done it? Yes. The outcry over the sketch is proof that it might be hitting a little too close to home about our discomfort with a mounting concern. "Hundreds of young women and girls are leaving their homes in western countries to join Islamic fighters in the Middle East," The Guardian reported in September. "The apparent trend of studious, seemingly driven young women leaving home to join violent jihadists has become disturbingly familiar," The New York Times wrote just last week. After the young women join the Islamic State, they become recruiters themselves. They "try to entice other women to marry militants and help them build a new, retrograde Islamic society," The Times reported. The SNL sketch does a good job of demonstrating that the young women joining ISIS don't seem to realize what they're getting into. Johnson's character assures her dad that, "It's just ISIS," with that telltale wink. He says that he'll see her at Thanksgiving. Yeah, she's not making it to a family holiday anytime soon. When the voiceover says that ISIS will take it from here, it's the truth — but not in the touchy-feely, reassuring way this dad would want for his daughter. It's an entirely scary and provocative concept; it's something that is actually happening and needs to be addressed.