WATCH 'SNL's Heterosexual Figure Skating Sketch: Funny or Offensive?
Nothing better than kicking off a show with a bunch of homosexual stereotypes, right? On last night's Saturday Night Live , they opened with an Olympic-themed sketch about Russia's anti-gay laws. In this bit, America sent in our B-team of heterosexual figure skaters to compete because obviously the whole A-team was gay and unable to participate. Of course SNL assumes that straight men are terrible at skating, so the gag shows how truly awful it would be if all the gay athletes didn't go to Sochi.
SNL has a history of poorly handling skits about this topic, most recently was Jimmy Fallon's gay Ebenezer Scrooge sketch on December 21. Basically it featured a lot of terrible cliches and blaming Scrooge's grumpy behavior on his being gay.
So when SNL pulled the homosexual card again last night, I cringed and hoped maybe this time it would be different, but it really wasn't. Foul number one was asuming all figure skaters are gay. This stereotype isn't even true as notable Olympic skaters like Evan Lysacek aren't gay, but far be it for SNL to acknowledge that when they're in pursuit of a joke. The worst moment was when one of the heterosexual skaters in the skit mimicked the moves of a "gay skater."
The sketch understandably received a lot of backlash on sites like Twitter as people questioned the handling of the issue:
Not entirely comfortable with the whole gay behavior vs. straight behavior jokes, but heterosexual figure skating was mostly fun :p— (@paaate_) #
New #SNL starting off strong, but if i was a heterosexual figure skater, I would be offended.— (@mikemcvay) #
I'm questioning the funniness and actual appropriateness of this skating sketch. #snl— (@badgrgrl21) #
The @nbcsnl skit titled "Heterosexual Figure Skating" wasn't funny enough to make up for being offensive. #ColdOpen— (@hallerik) #
The main thing I think is worth discussing is what was the message of Saturday Night Live's skit? That we have to let our gay athletes perform because our straight ones suck? That no one could possibly like ice skating and be heterosexual? I appreciate SNL tackling this important political issue; I find that humor is a great way to bring something to the attention of a large audience and make them reflect on it in a different way. I just wish that SNL had tackled the anti-gay angle in a way that didn't pigeonhole a set of athletes as gay, complete with stereotypical gestures, and didn't assume that straight people couldn't perform at that level.
You can watch the full skit here: