'SNL' Tackled #OscarsSoWhite

by Marisa LaScala

When Ronda Rousey hosted the Jan. 23 episode of Saturday Night Live, some of the jokes were expected. It wasn't surprising that the show made jokes about how strong Rousey is, or how hard mixed martial arts are, or even how snowy it was outside, since the episode filmed during the 2016 blizzard. (I refuse to call it Winter Storm Jonas, since we really can't go around naming every snowstorm, can we?) But, of all the jokes, I was particularly impressed with the way SNL weighed in on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.

Of course, the show didn't call out the Oscars specifically. And the cast members didn't take aim at any one particular movie or actor outright. Instead, the sketch featured a fictional awards show — the Screen Guild Awards (not to be confused with the very real Screen Actors Guild Awards airing next Saturday) — and its presentation of the award for Best Actor. SNL then presented clip after clip of movie after movie, which resembled films like Creed, Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation, and others. In each clip, an actor of color gave a stirring performance, followed by a short snippet of acting from a white actor. And, of course, the white actors were the ones nominated for all the awards. Who won in the end?

Yes, all of them. "It's a five-way tie — all the white guys!" It was a short sketch, but it packed a punch and really got its point across. The #OscarsSoWhite controversy has carried over from last year thanks to a lack of diversity in the nominations for this year as well. Some actors have even threatened to boycott the 2016 ceremony. In response to all the talk, the Oscars did announce they'd be implementing some changes and plan to double the membership of women and minority voters in the Academy by 2020.

SNL's sketch was a good way of commenting on the issue of the lack of non-white actors at this year's Oscars, while bringing attention to some of the overlooked performances this year in an indirect way. The sketch didn't blame any specific, real-life people for the problem. Instead, it took on Hollywood and awards shows as a whole and proved that there needs to be change across the board — not just in one award ceremony.