Kate McKinnon as Susan B. Anthony on 'SNL' shows that feminism can be messy
Sometimes meeting your heroes isn’t all it’s cracked up to be — especially when your hero is dead. Kate McKinnon rocked it as Susan B. Anthony on last night’s Saturday Night Live, but for all the wrong reasons. The hilarious sketch cleverly shows us how fallible our heroes can be, and some of the problems with modern feminism.
A group of women, including host Felicity Jones, Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant, Melissa Villasenor and Vanessa Bayer, summon the ghost of Susan B. Anthony by chanting her name in her old home, and originally are delighted to meet their hero. They sincerely and enthusiastically thank the ghostly Anthony — at first. But the delight of her presence quickly wears off, as the women lose interest with impressive speed. Sure, meeting one of the most famous suffragettes in the world is cool, but can they catch the train in time to get home?
As the women argue over whether they should take a cab and if they’ll have enough time to get burgers before they hit the road, Anthony attempts to share with them some of her knowledge and experiences. Too bad they already heard about much of it on the tour, and are more concerned with train times than feminist ideals. The entire skit highlights how so so many people are more interested in their immediate comforts than in significant issues, let alone the history of a movement.
Anthony eventually becomes such a nuisance that the women beat a hasty retreat. They pause to earnestly thank her one more time (despite how annoying she proved to be while they tried to make their very important travel plans) for her work as a feminist. As Susan B. Anthony bids them farewell, she leaves them with one last phrase: “Also, abortion is murder!”
The women are shocked, but they shouldn’t be; despite all she did for modern feminism (and the fame that still surrounds her name), Anthony was by no means perfect: her sweeping ideology didn’t even include women of color. In fact, Anthony made some pretty horrifically racist statements that clearly showed she was fine with racism, so long as she and other white women were granted the right to vote. So uh, maybe think about your hero worship.
Pretty heavy stuff for an SNL sketch, but the show has never shied away from political discourse (particularly now). It serves as a timely reminder that we must all remain passionately involved with important issues and not just give them lip service when it’s convenience.
Oh, and people who can make a huge different can still be kind of terrible. Guess the lesson is clear: don’t summon ghosts unless you’re really ready to face the past.