With Thanksgiving just around the corner, “Saturday Night Live” presented a “First Thanksgiving” skit that served up controversy on social media over whether it was appropriate political humor immediately after it aired.
Pocahontas, portrayed by Melissa Villaseñor, has her boyfriend, John Smith (Beck Beckett), seated at the family’s table for a Thanksgiving feast.
Smith struggles throughout the meal with digestive problems, which seems to be the only point that Beckett’s Smith and Pocahontas’ grandfather, played by host Will Farrell, can agree on by the end of the meal.
During the meal, Smith calls Pocahontas’ mother, played by Maya Rudolph, Mrs. Hontas — after which she informs him that their last name is not actually “Hontas.”
“Right, sorry. I guess I messed up again,” Beckett says as Smith. “I guess you did,” Ferrell says, before calling John Smith a “paleface.”
“Grandpa, that’s not nice, you’re being prejudice,” Villaseñor’s Pocahontas replies.
“I just see that the palefaces are taking over, they’re everywhere now,” Ferrell engaging in a dialogue with his family before transferring his voice into a whisper when Smith returns from using the bathroom to discuss his handwashing habits.
Ferrell suggests sharing thanks. He volunteers to go first. “I’m thankful for our land, and our great and mighty chief. And let’s hope he finally builds that wall.”
The palefaces are bringing in diseases and guns, he says, which is met with disdain from his family members.
Pocahontas’ father, played by Fred Armisen, proceeds to ask: “Where did you even hear a thing like that?”
“Fox,” Ferrell replies definitively.
“Grandpa, you’ve got to stop talking to that crazy old fox,” Villaseñor’s Pocahontas says. “He knows what’s up,” Ferrell replies shaking his head. “He makes a lot more sense than that lying peacock you talk to.”
The family and Smith’s back and forth continues until they landed on the topic of corn digestion, then they could all agree, it’s not a food that digests quite correctly.
Ferrell, as grandpa, still refuses to shake Smith’s hand, which he insists is unclean.
After the sketch is complete, Ferrell stands up, to give the audience a reminder.
“If you’re anything like me, you know there’s a lot of problems in this crazy, crazy sketch,” he says, noting that white actors are portraying Native Americans. “But no matter what year it is, or what color we are, or whether we get our news from a fox or a peacock, none of us can digest corn.”
That’s what’s really important, he tells the audience before wishing them a happy Thanksgiving.
The sketch prompted a quick reaction on social media.
Twitter user Tom Brazelton wrote that “The reversal of this Thanksgiving sketch – white people as ‘illegals’ – is sharp, but Ferrell playing a Native American makes me moderately uncomfortable.”
Another user said called the sketch “unbelievable” and said it presented “valid historical arguments” to “build the wall.”
@SNL’s Thanksgiving sketch presents valid historical arguments to #BuildTheWall!!😱 https://t.co/jm3bCWPrKk via @YouTube
Others had a different perspective on the skit entirely. Twitter user, Jen Pilot, wrote that Ferrell was bringing America together with the idea that regardless of where you consume news, you still can’t digest corn.
“Whether we get our news from a Fox or Peacock, we all aren’t so different. Because remember, none of us can digest corn. Happy Thanksgiving!” Will Ferrell bringing America together tonight!❤️ #SNL#WillFerrell
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