SNL did a spoof of the Toyota Camry commercial involving a proud father taking his daughter to meet up with fellow military recruits at the airport. In the SNL version, 50 Shades star Dakota Johnson played the daughter who, this time, joined ISIS.
I could get all uptight over this, but I’m not. The entire sketch played out rather well by SNL standards. It wasn’t too long, too overbearing, too improvised. It played on the fact that yes, young women in the West are joining ISIS, and it did so in a rather clever way, contrasting the proud military dad with the teary-eyed dad asking the ISIS commanders to take care of his daughter. All in all, why wouldn’t the sketch have been green lit for production?
The fact that the sketch also highlights the audience’s relative naivete and passive-aggressive, ultimately non-responsive attitude towards the threat posed by ISIS shouldn’t be dismissed as a typical conservative take-down, either. As a member of the generation who grew up with SNL, I am battle-hardened by the cynical, borderline nihilistic thread in the show’s ironic humor. We are the powerless generation, after all. Our baby-boomer parents gave up, gave in and didn’t give a crap about us, so why should we care about anything? The target audience might be so-called “hopeful” millennials now, but the dark Matt Groening/Kurt Cobain reality is what informed the show’s current set of writers and producers. Had they wanted to take the irony to a newer, funnier and even more relevant level, they would’ve had Johnson present the ISIS commander with a sex contract app via iPhone. But that’s still a little too 21st century for this obviously ’90s crowd.
SNL’s original baby boomer generation cast had their own ironic take for sure. But it was a hopeful one that mocked the system with the goal of improving it, if by no other means that simply inspiring thought-provoking conversation. Today we just throw our hands up at the threat, laugh and look around for that joint we keep misplacing backstage. And that’s the real shame of the now-infamous Dakota Johnson/ISIS sketch. Not that it wasn’t funny, but that its humor doesn’t really matter at all.