Race Card: SNL

Nadra Kareem Nittle
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Saturday Night Live’sBride of Blackenstein” skit did black women no favors. In this blaxploitation-like spoof of The Bride of Frankenstein, which aired Jan. 30, we learn that even a black chick created from scratch in a laboratory is demanding, bossy and built like an extra from the “Baby Got Back” video. Starring SNL guest host Jesse Eisenberg as Igor and musical guest Nicki Minaj as the Bride, the skit opens as the latter first emerges from her coffin:

Upon laying eyes on her, Master—played by SNL’s Jay Pharoah—declares, “Uh, it’s alive. It’s…dayummm!”

What accounts for his animated reaction? Master spots what Igor calls “the swelling” in the Bride’s backside. Her derriere also excites Blackenstein—SNL’s Kenanan Thompson—who anticipates getting his “groove on” with his new wife. The Bride, however, isn’t having it. Although she was happy to exhibit her rump made of “jelly-filled basketballs” for the boys, she draws the line at letting Blackenstein have his way with her.

“You think you can just walk up on me and get some of this…all of this?” she asks. She then proceeds to demand that Blackenstein get a job.

Stunned by her noncompliant attitude, Master asks Igor where he got the parts for this creation. Turns out she was assembled from a DMV worker, a Walgreens cashier and a “ho who didn’t know her place.”

To call the segment cringe-worthy would be an understatement. The audience, of course, ate the skit up—laughing most raucously at the “ho” jab. Meanwhile, Igor is vexed as to why Blackenstein won’t tell the Bride that she must do as he says because he’s a man. But that tactic wouldn’t work on “sisters.” Not only are black women “hos” who demand that our men bring home the bacon if they expect to get some loving, we’re also emasculating shrews. Igor wouldn’t know this, though, because he’s never been with a black woman.

“I’ve just been with Jewish girls,” he explains.

Master’s reply? “Oh, then you kind of understand.”

Oh, snap! It’s not surprising that dig got laughs, considering that Jewish girls, like black girls, are oft painted as overbearing and undesirable.

The skit took aim at WASP women as well. When villagers storm the laboratory after discovering Master’s scientific shenanigans, one is particularly transfixed by the Bride’s backside, which she happily thrusts his way. This gets a rise out of the villager’s wife, played by Kristen Wiig, who demands to know if he’s checking out the Bride’s derriere.

“You know I like my booty like yours—flat and shapeless,” the villager says flippantly. Then, the camera zooms in on his wife’s bony butt, eliciting more laughter from the audience.

When the villagers leave after the Bride demands to know if they have a warrant, she immediately resumes bossing Blackenstein around. But it’s all good. The Bride’s luscious ass makes her worth the trouble, Master says.

Oy, vey. I don’t know how SNL managed to stuff so many stereotypes into one short skit. Truth be told, some parts of it were funny. I especially liked its use of 1970s diction and Eisenberg’s portrayal of the clueless Igor. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make up for the writers inserting one stereotype after another about black women. These stereotypes, of course, lead to real black women being told they have chips on their shoulders, even when that’s absolutely untrue. These stereotypes lead others to make no bones about addressing a black woman as “girlfriend” and proceeding to roll their necks in the manner they’ve seen black women do on TV. Lastly, these stereotypes lead to black women being told that men don’t want them because, no, the ass isn’t worth it.

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15 Comments Have Been Posted

SNL: doing no favors for

SNL: doing no favors for anybody for thirty-six years. In other news, sky blue.


Thanks for posting this! I too had issue with the content of this skit, and I wonder why Nicki Manaj agreed to play such a stereotypical role/conjure up such stereotypical images? Perhaps she felt it was all in good fun? I'm assuming she had a choice in the matter as she wasn't the host (I have no idea how the SNL process works) and I guess we have to respect that choice...but I do think it's perpetuating awful stereotypes that haven't gone away since the 70s (or before). Thanks again for an insightful post!

Nicki Minaj

I can't say I'm surprised she took part, hell, she's in that heinous Kanye vid isn't she? I realize that we've only seen the raw, "leaked" version, but it still looks unsavory torture porn no matter what message they were trying to get across.

I didn't see this skit

I didn't see this skit because I was so genuinely upset by the horrendous "Estro-Maxx" commercial that I had to turn the TV off.

Thank you, someone else was

Thank you, someone else was horrified by the Estro-Maxx video as well. I wanted to talk to my friends about it, but half of them are trans anyway and sensitive to talk about hormones, and I don't want to make things any more difficult for them as it is. It really made me almost want to cry, though.

Wait, WHAT?

You really absorbed me with this article, but then you completely lost me at the end.

I agree with:

These stereotypes, of course, lead to real black women being told they have chips on their shoulders, even when that’s absolutely untrue. These stereotypes lead others to make no bones about addressing a black woman as “girlfriend” and proceeding to roll their necks in the manner they’ve seen black women do on TV.

I'm a black woman who has lived in mostly white areas my whole life. I find myself almost always dealing with this kind of crap when I go to a big party where I don't know most of the people and everyone is drunk. At this point in your conclusion I was thinking, "Yes, exactly!" But then it all fell to pieces with your claim that "Lastly, these stereotypes lead to black women being told that men don’t want them because, no, the ass isn’t worth it."

Wait, WHAT? Since when is being not being wanted by men something that black women above others must struggle with? Black women are beautiful! At these same parties where I had to fight glib black stereotypes I STILL had to put up with white guys hitting on me. I find amongst my group of girlfriends, of ALL races, the majority of my friends who are single are not black. I love this article, but I found your last claim to come out of left field with not enough explanation to back it. Black women are beautiful and men DO want us.


Check out my Steve Harvey article written last week. There's been an overload of news articles about men not finding black women desirable as mates. Even if you do a Google search with single black women as terms, you'll find a lot of info. I'm not saying that men really don't want us, but it's a common stereotype that they don't and one reason why is that we're too much trouble.

So what if some men don't

So what if some men don't find black women desirable as mates?
Their loss, who cares!
Maybe it's coz I'm european and race really isn't such an issue over here.
I find it difficult to believe that there seriously exist sum predjudices like "black women are too much trouble", who can be that narrow minded?-not anyone I would want to date.
I can understand not finding someone atrractive coz they're skinny/fat/blonde/redhead/brunette/dark hair/have big boobs/small boobs/and their skin color is whatever black/white/yellow/red
A lot of ppl have a "type" they go for, whatever, mediteranian, latin lover type versus swedish blond guy candy...
Having a "type" to go for I can understand-but is it really that way that there are predjudices against smbody's character based on their skin color?
I find that truly shocking.
Whoever is stupid enough to think that way is not worth your time!!
All the best ...

I don't exactly expect much

I don't exactly expect much out of SNL, but the racism on display in this piece is utterly disgusting. Did she really say, "It's check day"?!

yeahhhhhhhhhh BUT(T)

the thing that i think is overlooked by this reaction is that it is meant to parody blaxploitation films, a genre that was built upon bad stereotypes. it was meant to offend & to play off stereotypes. blaxploitation films were all about that kind of thing, see: sweet sweetback's baadasssss song, which was hard to get through for me, but i think explains the genre nicely. and blaxploitation films, like any film genre with exploitation in the title, often became sexpolitation films, where women were objectified & parodied. i mean, maybe i have just always loved exploitation films o i can see the silver lining, but i didn't find that skit to be all that offensive. i mean, the play on blaxploitation might not have been the best idea, if people haven't seen exploitation films (i recommend that you do!) & i don't think most of america has, but i think it still worked out well, especially with nicki being in that kanye song, "monster"*.

* this does not mean that i approve of things that kanye does or says.

re: SNL

The show has gone seriously downhill since Amy Poehler left. It's been nothing but the awfulness that reminds me of the dreadful "boys club" days of Adam Sandler, Chirs Farley, and David Spade (the early 1990s). The problem isn't the talent, but the WRITING. Who have they got on board their writers staff these days? Former Ivy League fraternity brothers from privileged backgrounds spewing xenophobic, mysogynistic, homophobic, classist, and racist frat-boy humor?

Sketches such as the aforementioned, and the equally awful skit on the same show making fun of Trans-folks, prompt me to turn my set off more often than not every week. Kristen Wiig and Naseem Pedrad are funny and uniquely talented, but they deserve MUCH BETTER material.

Unfortunately, now that the behemoth that is Comcast owns NBC, this show is likely to get even worse before it ever gets better again.

If you must watch something funny, how about the new six-episode series "Portlandia" starring SNL's Fred Armisen (Isn't it time he called it a day from SNL?) and Carrie Brownstein (Yes, THE former Sleater-Kinney member!) on IFC?? So far, I am finding it MUCH BETTER than SNL, if you ask me!

I have to agree that the show

I have to agree that the show has gone down hill since they let most of the female talent go (love Kristen Wiig, but she has to be in every skit to make up for the lack of women). SNL now panders to a younger audience of guys (Thanks Andy Samberg)

But I'm not sure why someone would watch SNL expecting progressive, unoffensive jokes. That's like watching Family Guy expecting there not to be a fart joke. The same can be said with stand up comedy. There are ways to make people laugh without making fun of or making light of someone's differences, which should be employed more often. But I think that the point of comedy is to make fun of those differences and therefore celebrate them. Things can be funny because they clearly aren't true. Something I've always thought about: are people offended by Tyler Perry's Madea? Doesn't she promote the stereotype that older black women are wild and take no prisoners and are straight forward, even cruel, when it comes to telling it like it is?

To be quite honest, I've known girls (black, white) who are like the Bride of Blackenstein. Do I think that every single (black, white) person I come across is The Bride? Of course not.

Missing the point?

I feel like you may have missed the point of the skit. I took it as a jab at the racism of blacksploitation films of this era. The humor is in the fact that these films at the time really perpetrated these stereotypes and this skit poked fun at this with a rather heavy hand.

I don't know, I thought it was funny. But maybe I'm a racist. Either way I thought it was actually a fairly decent episode of SNL and that's a pretty rare event these days.

On blaxploitation

Yeah, I think the few people who defend this as a parody of blaxploitation films may be missing the point of those films. Those were very transgressive and political films that took themselves very seriously, even the comedic ones. Consider how Robert Rodriguez's Machete takes a negative stereotype and turns it on its head to make it something empowering for a Mexican audience. It's extremely similar to blaxploitation films and even Bitch Magazine in that it's taking back the stereotype (word), so to speak.

This is not to say that those films were, you know, perfect. But this skit doesn't criticize them in any way that could be considered constructive. If you want to watch a funny movie about how blaxploitation films marginalized other races and women, watch Black Dynamite.

MadTv did it better with

MadTv did it better with "Bride of Funkenstein". Check it out on You Tube.

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