SNL Shouldn’t Be A Playground For Billionaires Like Elon Musk

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images.
Saturday Night Live announced on April 24 that Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will host, along with musical guest Miley Cyrus, on May 8. It's okay if you want to take a moment to let that sink in.
While variety sketch show invites non-entertainment people to host now and then, especially when they've done newsworthy things (like successfully docking a rocket at the International Space Station), it also has a history of treating people with outsized power as entertainment — and when those people are problematic, it's not entertaining: it's dangerous.
Why is Musk a reckless pick for a host? Musk isn't just some fun famous billionaire — he's been known to engage in some alleged mistreatment of his employees and to propagate dangerous ideas. Last December, Musk was criticized for a transphobic tweet — and then defended himself saying that he "support[s] trans," but called using preferred pronouns "an esthetic nightmare."
Then, of course, there has been his promotion of misinformation about the pandemic, which he once called "dumb." He compared COVID-19 to the common cold, and in March 2020 predicted that since there would be "close to zero new cases" by the following month, then the government should put an end to "fascist" pandemic closures. He also promoted the potential benefits of "chloroquine" despite warnings from the FDA. This earned him kudos from former President Trump (to which he replied "thanks!"), but put his employees in danger: In March 2021, The New York Times reported that more than 400 Tesla employees tested positive for COVID between May and December last year. All of these ideas were broadcasted out to his millions of Twitter followers, and if he appears on SNL, NBC is giving him an even larger platform by implicitly making him seem harmless and funny.
Sound like someone familiar?
"Elon Musk hosting SNL is the most reckless casting decision they’ve made since Donald Trump," wrote one Twitter user.
During his initial presidential campaign in 2015, Trump was invited to host the show. (Former SNL star Taran Killam, who impersonated Trump on the show, later called the move "embarrassing and shameful.")
After the Musk hosting news was announced, most people checking their Twitter feeds were likely met with a confusing timeline. Yes, there were memes of controversial SNL host and musical guest pairs — like Sarah Huckabee-Sanders and "That U2 Album That Showed Up On Everyone's IPhone" — but there was also outrage from both fans and SNL cast members.
SNL cast member Bowen Yang posted a frowning face on his Instagram story, followed by a reply to Musk's tweet where he wrote, "Let's find out just how live Saturday Night Live really is." Yang wrote: "What the fuck does that even mean?"
In what seemed like an indirect response to the news, Aidy Bryant shared a Bernie Sanders tweet about the lack of wealth distribution in America, which he called a "moral obscenity."
Fellow cast member Andrew Dismukes also gave his two cents on his Instagram story, writing "ONLY CEO I WANT TO DO A SKETCH WITH IS CHER-E OTERI."
Many fans are against the decision as well.
So the question is, why would a show like SNL want Musk to host? Well, first and foremost, views, and then relevancy. The controversy would boost viewership, just as it likely did when they invited Trump. However, you'd think that the show would learn from its mistakes — and aren't there a lot of other CEOS people that viewers would flock to their screens in order to see host? Or better yet, why not conflate billionaire business mogul with entertainer and call someone actually worth giving a platform to (read: someone check Steven Yeun's schedule).
This story has been updated.

More from TV

R29 Original Series