Pete Davidson was met with some boos and a few gasps from the studio audience during his Saturday Night Live “Weekend Update”, when he tackled the controversial topic of famous artists being accused of sexual misconduct.
Specifically, Davidson brought up R. Kelly and Michael Jackson, who have both been recently accused of sexual misconduct in high profile documentaries. Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly resurfaced abuse and misconduct claims against Kelly, while allegations of child sex abuse against Jackson resurfaced in the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland. Kelly and Jackson’s estate both deny all allegations against them.
“Before I continue like this, [R. Kelly] is a monster and he should go to jail forever.” Pete Davidson said. “But if you support the Catholic Church, isn’t that like the same thing as being an R. Kelly fan?” Davidson asked, as some audience members booed.
Pete Davidson accused people of only being upset about the allegations against Jackson and Kelly because they admire them as musicians.
“If I found out Macklemore did some stuff, I’d be happy to free up the space on my iPhone,” he joked.
He then pitched an argument that essentially calls for the critical consumption of artists who are accused or found guilty of sexual misconduct and/or other prejudiced behaviour.
“The rule should be that you can appreciate their work, but only if you admit what they did.” He said. “You can buy a Mustang, but you have to say, ‘Henry Ford hated the Jews’ as you buckle in. The full sentence should be ‘Mark Wahlberg beat up an old Asian dude, and I would like one ticket to Daddy’s Home 3 please.’ Because if it’s that important to you, at least own it. I don’t need to ever see a Kevin Spacey movie again but if the CEO of Swisher Sweets turns out to be a cannibal, I can’t just change my whole life.”
Davidson then added that people should donate a dollar to charity every time you listen to the music of an accused person, and joked that he had already donated $142 for listening to R. Kelly’s ‘Ignition’.
The problem with that ‘solution’ is that it’s an easy (and cheap) way for us to sidestep holding people accountable. But at least Davidson definitely has the right approach with the call for people to not let their admiration for artists motivate them to outright reject any unsavoury narratives simply because it makes it uncomfortable to be a fan.