In a sly nod to Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Saturday Night Live drew big laughs this weekend when a room full of White male actors parodied the viscerally devastating Mandingo fight scene that took place in the bowels of Calvin Candie’s notorious slave plantation Candyland.
During Justin Timberlake‘s victory lap of an opening monologue, celebrating his 5th time hosting SNL, he takes his first visit to the 5-Timers Club, which includes Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, Chevy Chase and Dan Akroyd, among other SNL luminaries.
During a portion of the otherwise awesome skit, Baldwin — how apropos considering his alleged penchant for racist slurs — and Hanks invite Timberlake to come watch the new cast members fight to the death for their approval. What follows is an uncomfortable condensed version of the psychological torture that occurred when two Mandingos engage in a brutal fight to the death in Django — almost verbatim.
And the crowd loved it.
Skit begins at 6:43
What more could be expected from a show that mocked the media coverage of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin less than two months after he was gunned down by George Zimmerman? Compounded with the Black defense and White adoration of Django,this negligent, cultural insensitivity was inevitable.
As I previously wrote in a piece for TheGrio, Tarantino is the auteur of “Blackface in Whiteface” and his irreverent fetishizing of Black Manhood and exploitation of Black experiences — both real and imagined — has paved the way for more of the same. It is much easier to tread on the hallowed ground of slavery once the boundary of acceptability has been shattered, and of course, in our culture that requires making it entertainment.
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Tarantino once cited the 1975 blaxploitation film Mandingo as “one of [his] favorite movies.” Why is it his favorite? Because it’s a “full-on, gigantic, big budget, exploitation film,” in the same vein as Showgirls. And now, SNL, following Tarantino’s lead by wallowing in White privilege and hipster racism, has danced on the corpses of all Black men who were enslaved, brutalized, dehumanized and murdered for White profit — all for a few laughs.
Jewish SNL producers would have never considered — not even for a second — the thought of Black cast member Kenan Thompson re-enacting a brutal scene from Schindler’s List. But their pain is perceived as a holocaust, while ours is just history — or in the recent cases of Lisa Lampanelli, The Onionand now SNL, humor.