Depending on what corners of the internet you hang out in, yesterday was not a great day to be a woman (or a woman-appreciating person) on the internet. Granted, that’s an accurate, if tame, description of most days on the internet. But if you start your day on Twitter (PLEASE STOP DOING THAT), you may have woken up yesterday to a lengthy outing of yet another prominent male figure in the comedy community who is generally terrible to women. Because SNL’s newest recruit, John Rudnitsky, goes above and beyond in the grossness category. The A.V. Club has dug up some skeletons in his 2 1/2 year-old closet (because people CHANGE, you know!) that are just plain gross. Like his view of gangbanging as reward for… I don’t know, not being a woman?
And his refusal to let any act or thought or word not be a sexually charged gender proclamation of consent.
Of course, the big defense that always gets thrown around here is that these are “jokes” (HA!), and that these guys were SO YOUNG when they threw these words out for all the world to see. And while I admit that I wouldn’t want the world to see the dumb words I considered jokes at the age of 22, I 1) didn’t try to launch a career at SNL at age 25, and 2) am not ashamed of my younger self because I was a stupid, hateful, misogynistic asshole, but only because I was a dumb 22 year old. I don’t think most people’s youthful indiscretions involve that much hate, only a bit of general unfunny dumbness.
But this is not the first time SNL has hired someone with a recent history of hateful tweets. It was just around this time last year that Saturday Night Live hired Michael Che as a Weekend Update co-anchor, and he came with an existing reputation of sexist behavior. But he didn’t even need to claim the youthful dumbassness and changed behavior we’re used to hearing about— he doubled down once he was in the SNL spotlight. Remember his response to that “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” video that taught the world what women deal with every day? Remember how Michael Che couldn’t have cared less?
And remember how not only did SNL not make any statement to condemn or condone his shittiness (which is not unreasonable, and certainly not specific to the television or entertainment industries), but then Che came out with the bitchiest response possible— TO HIS OWN NON-APOLOGY.
Michael Che gives so few shits about women, he can’t even let a video exist that gives some credence to the feelings and experiences so many women have every single day without making it a personal attack on himself. And if you’re writing this off as a simple case of Internet Outrage, that’s fine, but it’s worth noting that we wanted to love Che, and tried to on more than one occasion. It would be one thing if we liked Michael Che as a person, let alone as an SNL new anchor. It would be much different if he weren’t a comedian with a history of misogynistic material who had unseated a much-beloved female castmember who was much, much better at this job that he proved to be.
So keep all this in mind when you think about the outrage that erupted when Trevor Noah’s sexist tweets were revealed so soon after his announcement of Daily Show inheritance. Because this issue is not specific to Saturday Night Live. The dudebro trend seems easy to write off as a casualty of the Colin Jost era, but really, the entire entertainment industry, especially or at least including comedy, which so many of us turn to as a respected, beloved, and trusted source of relatable enjoyment, is swarming with men who want to keep women on the outside. And no, this isn’t really specific to the comedy realm, but there have been too many weird and seemingly careless casting announcements in that field lately to keep ignoring the medium. SNL and The Daily Show are both long-standing institutions of smart, funny commentary (in theory) that both genders turn to for entertainment they can identify with. But what about shows like Inside Amy Schumer, which is definitely entertaining for any human, but is moreover held up as a herald of feminist material? Not even that show is immune to hiring sexist assholes. Yesterday, one of Schumer’s writers, Kurt Metzger, was outed by a slew of female comedians and writers for harassing them online. Now, Metzger has had a reputation for major harassment since at least 2013 (which means he must have been doing it for much, much longer). But today, one woman outed him with screenshots of the gross messages he’d sent her.
And a number of other women followed suit.
Now, this is an industry is which it was “known” for decades that Bill Cosby abused women but no one said anything. Other very famous comedians are still accepted as just being “a creep” to women. And no, no one’s accusing Rudnitsky or even Metzger of that level of abuse, but this is all part of the same web of acceptance of a certain type of behavior between the genders. This is an industry and a source of simple entertainment where female comedians are finding cameras hidden in club bathrooms, where women face constant harassment and worse by their own colleagues. So are we wrong to expect more from those shows, these employers, these gatekeepers at the top of their field? There are so many actors and writers and comedians waiting to burst into this business, and so many of them are so incredibly talented— it can’t be too much to ask that these top shows and platforms make a policy not to hire anyone who has made public racist or misogynistic statements, especially not on a website where these comedians are hoping their words are seen. I’m really sick of feeling like I have to justify giving my viewing time to shows that continue to hire people that make no secret of outright hating (or at the very least totally disrespecting) my gender. Please, SNL, don’t make it any harder for me to watch you. You’re already doing a bang-up job of that.