It happened. The Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk hosted NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Do we care? The internet certainly tells us that we do. Musk’s appearance on SNL has generated a sizeable discourse ranging all the way from perplexion to criticism to approval.
Was this the first time that SNL invites a controversial figure to host its show? The 2015 episode with Donald Trump, then still a presidential candidate, does not think so. A billionaire and/or a political figure implicated in controversy hosting the comedy show is not entirely off-brand for SNL.
Would one have hoped that Trump’s incident and the present political climate taught the show to know better? Perhaps. Are we supposed to be entertained by watching this billionaire doing “skits” and building his image as the funny one of the 1%, while the world is hit by a global health and economic crisis that could be significantly alleviated by redistributing the wealth of the said 1%? Hm.
Musk as the host evoked a public reaction from the cast members of SNL as well. These reactions also have a wide range. Aidy Bryant posted Bernie Sanders’ tweet on her Instagram. Bowen Yang felt compelled to express his befuddlement with some of Musk’s tweets. Andrew Dismukes engaged in some wordplay and nostalgia for Cheri Oteri, a former SNL cast member.
Michael Che equated Musk to Oprah as if she too has tried to illegally stop her workers from unionizing. “I think white people just don’t like their billionaires for some reason. It’s weird because we love our billionaires. If Oprah or Tyler Perry was coming, we’d be all excited about it,” Che said in an interview for Power 105.1 FM.
Pete Davidson is genuinely confused about what did Musk ever do wrong to cause such a stir among the public. “I was like, what did he do? He’s just like a really wealthy businessman,” Davidson shared in his interview for the same radio station.
It is unsurprising that Davidson, along with many other people, does not know what is exactly wrong with Musk and just sees him as this quirky rich guy with a lot of haters. In addition to the general cult of the wealthy that exists in America, Musk has made a point to build his image as the ‘funny’ billionaire. Instead of distancing himself from the masses in a manner similar to Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos, Musk took a different approach. He is very active on Twitter. He appeared on such popular shows and films as Iron Man 2, Rick and Morty, and The Big Bang Theory. Unlike many other billionaires whose wives are delegated to deal with the philanthropy foundations, Musk’s romantic partner is Grimes, the electronic and synth-pop musician.
In many ways, Musk puts on a public persona of how any ‘nerd’ would behave if he suddenly found himself a billionaire in the spotlight. He does not shy away from the attention afraid that it will bring to light many controversies regarding his violation of labor rights and the safety of his company’s technology and workers, especially during the pandemic. On the opposite, Musk appears to boldly shape his own image hoping that the scandals will just lose their merit buried by all the tweets and cameos. So far, this has worked for the billionaire and earned him a spot at SNL, where he can prove once and for all what a “wild card” he is.
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