Looks like at least one joke from October 26’s Saturday Night Live episode didn’t land. During the Weekend Update segment, Michael Che made a crack about Kanye West turning into an old white lady — and while doing so, he referenced Caitlyn Jenner. Only he didn’t call her Caitlyn. He called her “Bruce” and “fella” and referred to her using the pronoun “he.” Needless to say, the bit didn’t go over well — and now the comedian is facing accusations of being transphobic.
“Rapper Kanye West released his new gospel album, Jesus Is King, yesterday,” Michael, 36, said on the show. “At first I thought Kanye was losing his mind, and now I feel like he’s fine. He’s just turning into an old white lady,” he said in the segment. “It’s like, how long before this guy changes his name to Kathy? … Now, you might think that I’m crazy, but about five years ago, there was a fella named Bruce Jenner, and he moved to Calabasas.”
The remarks struck a chord with several fans who took to Twitter to air out their grievances. “The thing that gets me about this transphobic SNL joke is that Michael Che clearly thinks this joke is the Height of Comedy since he cannot contain the giggle storm forming on his face,” one wrote. “I’m so upset by what I saw on SNL last night,” tweeted another. “Transphobia is literally killing people. TRANSPHOBIA IS NOT A JOKE.” A third added, “Hi, @nbcsnl. Please note that deadnaming and intentional misgendering is a form of transphobic violence. I’m so done with transphobic humor on #SNL.”
“Deadnaming” is the term for calling someone who is trans by the name they were previously known by, a.k.a. their “dead name.” Caitlyn, 70, may have become famous as “Bruce” before her transition, but she came out over four years ago, reintroducing herself to the general public as a woman. And regardless of how the star might have felt about the joke, many viewers at home saw the segment as a reflection of the comedian and the show’s feelings about trans people in general.
Despite the backlash, Michael has yet to apologize. However, he did reveal on his Instagram Story that he’s aware of the hate. Unfortunately, it seems like some of the messages he’s been receiving rise above the level of the normal calls to cancel someone. After a fan sent him a racist message calling him a “transphobic, grotesque ape,” he seemed to laugh it off by joking, “How would you know what I’m afraid of?”
Caitlyn also hasn’t spoken out, though she proved at Comedy Central’s roast for Alec Baldwin that she can roll with the punches when it comes to jokes about her gender transition. “All of you are making these silly comments and jokes about how I kind of cut it off,” she said while referencing her genitals. “Let me remind you — it made Kylie Jenner, the youngest self-made billionaire in history. It made Kendall Jenner, the highest paid model in the world. I raised 10 children. I currently, well I am coming up on 20 grandchildren. I didn’t cut it off, I just retired it. It was done!”
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