There have been some this week who have suggested that the best way to protest Donald Trump’s appearance on SNL this weekend is to not watch the episode or the clips that websites run the next day. I think that’s noble and well-intentioned, and probably written by someone who doesn’t cover SNL for a living. Those same people also probably did not protest when Donald Trump showed up on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert or The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and Colbert and Fallon didn’t have to invite Trump on, either, or do skits with him. They did it for the same reason SNL is doing it: For ratings.
It also under appreciates our morbid sense of curiosity. There are those among us who will watch because we want to see Trump fail, because we want to see a trainwreck, because we want to grouse and complain and seethe. If his appearance costs him the GOP nomination, we want to see why. We’ll watch for the same reason that the GOP debates were the highest-rated telecasts of the summer. We’ll watch because it’s good theater.
It doesn’t mean we’re happy that Donald Trump is getting the opportunity to host. John Leguizamo says that he’ll never watch SNL again because they let Trump host, and I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t blame anyone for bailing on SNL for the rest of their lives because of this. It’s f*cked up.
It’s also mean and disrespectful. It just is, and it’s different from appearing on Fallon and Colbert, too. On those shows, they were ostensibly asking a candidate for President of the Unites States about issues (well, Colbert tried a little, anyway), but SNL having Trump on feels more like an endorsement, if not of his politics, then of the man.
In other words, before you laugh at the trainwreck and revel in your hatred, please keep in mind how truly disrespectful it was for Lorne Michaels to invite this man to host what is — no matter what you might otherwise think — a show that is still relevant, if only for the talent it puts out. To give a man who has such little regard for an entire community of people such a huge stage for the sake of ratings is unfeeling. It says to the 33.7 million Hispanics of Mexican origin in the United States that, “We honestly and truly do not care about you. We care more about a few ratings points. Your objections do not matter to us.”
That’s more than a simple case of greed. It’s hurtful.
Donald Trump is a foolish man, and in my opinion, he’s not a good person. However, we don’t expect SNL to only invite “good” people to host the show, because they’d run out of hosts halfway through any given season. SNL doesn’t have to invite on guests whose politics we all agree with, either. This, however, goes beyond politics. Trump has expressed blatantly racists viewpoints, and by inviting him onto SNL, Lorne Michaels is basically saying he doesn’t care what the host of his show thinks about Latino immigrants, as long as he can temporarily boost the ratings.