Saturday Night Live took on Harvey Weinstein during Weekend Update but, as they acknowledged, the situation puts comedians in a difficult position when they try to make jokes about sexual assault.
Making it their leading story, co-anchor Colin Jost began with a story about the new Apple emojis — specifically that they were adding a person at a spa, a vomiting face, and a shushing finger which would "finally give emoji fans the ability to describe what it was like to work for Harvey Weinstein." That wasn't all they had to say about the alleged sexual predator. Jost didn't believe for a moment that Weinstein's time at a facility in Europe for sex rehab would help the situation. "He doesn't need sex rehab," he said. "He needs a specialized facility where there are no women, no contact with the outside world, metal bars — and it's a prison."
Co-anchor Michael Che didn't mince words either. Addressing Weinstein's statement to the press that "we all make mistakes," Che responded, "No, man. A mistake is me walking into the wrong bathroom and using it anyway because I was crowning. He assaulted dozens of women. That's not a mistake. That's a full season of Law & Order. Your name's a verb now, dude. As in, 'If this guy tries to Weinstein me, I'm going to cut off his little Harvey.'"
Jabs and wordplay aside, Che brought up an important point. Before laying into Weinstein, the Weekend Update co-host began, "You know, this is a stuff spot for a comedian because it's so hard to make jokes about sexual assault." As comedians, it is their job to find humor in everything, but there is nothing funny about what Harvey Weinstein did to dozens of women over the course of decades. Instead, Saturday Night Live chose to focus on how un-funny the situation is, largely leaving the topic of sexual assault to a separate sketch where women on a film panel discuss sexual harassment in Hollywood.
SNL received some criticism last week for not bringing up the scandal even though it broke two days before the show aired. According to Variety, staff for the show had written two sketches on the subject which were pulled after not performing well with the audience during dress rehearsal. The show's producer Lorne Michaels told The Daily Mail that the sketches were cut because Weinstein wasn't that well known yet nationally.
To their credit, between Weekend Update and the film panel sketch this week, the show exemplified how this situation should be handled. They allowed women the space to discuss, share their experiences, and have an honest discourse without silencing or diminishing, while the news focuses on condemning the actions of those who should be held responsible.
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