Is ‘SNL’ right? Is Ivanka complicit?
Editor’s note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @deanofcomedy. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
“Saturday Night Live” has comically devastated Donald Trump — both as a candidate and now as President. The show’s comedic barbs targeting Trump have been so on point that in October 2016 Trump stunningly demanded that the iconic show be cancelled.
And as recently as January, only a week before being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, Trump slammed “SNL” on Twitter after it hilariously fileted him, calling the show, “The worst of NBC. Not funny, cast is terrible, always a complete hit job. Really bad television!”
However, this week’s “SNL” featured what may have been the most cutting sketch about Trump, but this one was not about Donald — it focused on his daughter, Ivanka. This sketch truly makes a point that many in the mainstream media won’t, namely that Ivanka is complicit in her father’s use of racism, sexism and bigotry to win and extend his stay in the White House.
“SNL” cleverly utilized a parody of a commercial for a high-end designer fragrance to make this point. It opens with Ivanka, played by host Scarlett Johansson, entering a room of people dressed in tuxedos and ball gowns, as a voiceover says, “Every man knows her name. Every woman knows her face.”
The partygoers all stop and look as the voiceover continues, “When she walks into a room, all eyes are on her. She’s Ivanka.”
The commercial continues with glamour shots of Ivanka and then comes the first comedic bulls eye: “She’s beautiful. She’s powerful. She’s … complicit.” We then hear, “She’s a woman who knows what she wants. And knows what she’s doing. Complicit.”
What makes the parody so powerful is that it’s not heavy handed. There are playful moments as well. For example, we see a group of well-dressed women looking at Ivanka, who then whisper to each other, “I bet when she watches ‘Titanic,’ she thinks she’s Rose.” Then adding, “Sorry girl, you’re Billy Zane.” (As a reminder, Zane played the villain in “Titanic” — second only to the iceberg.)
But then “SNL” goes back for the kill to call out Ivanka’s complicity in her father’s misconduct. We see Ivanka as the voiceover continues, “A feminist, an advocate, a champion for women. But, like, how? She’s loyal. Devoted. But probably should have bounced after the whole ‘Access Hollywood’ bus thing.”
True, Ivanka has been known for championing feminist issues and recently advocating a $500 billion childcare plan, but “SNL” is not having any of that. She gets no free passes for saying a few good things.
And then comes probably the best moment of the sketch. As Ivanka is putting on lipstick in a mirror, we hear, “She doesn’t crave the spotlight, but we see her. Oh, how we see her.” The camera then reveals the reflection in the mirror as being none other than Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump putting on lipstick.
The sketch concludes: “Complicit: The fragrance for the woman who can stop all this … but won’t.” And then we hear the comedic tagline, “Also available in a cologne for Jared,” referencing Ivanka’s husband and her father’s senior White House adviser.
That, folks, is an “SNL” instant classic. The show is using comedy to both make people laugh and raise a point that desperately needs to be made; namely that Ivanka is complicit in her father’s use of bigotry and sexism to further his cause.
We didn’t hear a word from Ivanka — the self-proclaimed feminist — when her father was publicly calling the women who came forward to report his alleged sexual misconduct “liars.” Nor did we hear Ivanka publicly decry any of her father’s bigoted comments about Muslims, Mexicans, Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a disabled reporter or his continued lies since assuming the White House.
And Ivanka is reportedly someone Trump trusts a great deal. If anyone can influence him, it’s her.
But Ivanka alone shouldn’t be called out for being complicit. We need to hold all key people in the Trump administration accountable — as well as the surrogates who take to the airwaves to defend Trump’s every word. Collectively, they are enabling Trump to continue to spread hate and lies.
As “SNL” joked about Ivanka, she is the woman “who can stop all this … but won’t.” The same goes for the many others on Trump’s team who continue to defend him and have never spoken out about his history of discriminatory speech. They, too, deserve their very own bottle of “Complicit.”