Perhaps everyone at Saturday Night Live has decided that they’ve held onto their simmering resentment from (still) Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s abysmal, deeply compromised, and horribly unfunny hosting stint earlier this season long enough. Or maybe it’s the mounting evidence that Trump’s supporter base is swelling with disaffected white voters attracted to the ugly bug-zapper glow of the candidate’s not-so-subtle race-baiting. Or maybe it’s just that the reality of this year’s even more ludicrous than usual political campaign season has left satirists with no choice but to abandon subtlety altogether. At any rate, the parody campaign ad “Voters For Trump” from last night’s otherwise lackluster Jonah Hill-hosted episode was the show’s bluntest attack on Trump and his supporters yet.
Starting out as a garden-variety political ad extolling Trump’s “tell it like it is” style, a group of “real Americans” (played by Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan, Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, and Vanessa Bayer) are shown doing real American things like painting a house, gathering wood, and ironing before their smiling earnestness in praising Trump’s supposed business savvy, leadership, and outspokenness is revealed to be merely a cover for across-the-board racism. For SNL, which has earned a reputation for watery political comedy, the first appearance of a Nazi armband (followed by Klan robes, a “white power” sign, book burning, and Mooney’s armload of firewood being used to burn a cross) is about as brutal as it gets, with the audience letting loose some all-too-rare gasps. If there’s any backpedaling, it’s that the piece makes the distinction that the ad is paid for by self-described racist Trump fans rather than Trump supporters as a whole, but it still plays a lot like a symbolic bridge burning between the show and the candidate/former host. Whether SNL having Trump host in the first place makes all these subsequent Trump attacks a case of closing the barn door after the orange-maned horse is running wild, whipping up xenophobia, and bragging about the size of his dick is another question, though.