What: The departure of this week’s musical guest on Saturday Night Live after videos of his dangerous behavior emerged online.
Who: Country musician Morgan Wallen.
Why we care: Last year, SNL sparked a trash-fire discourse by rescinding an invitation to comedian Shane Gillis to join the cast, after a blogger circulated recent racist material created by Gillis. The reason behind the comedy institution’s last disinvitation, however, provides a clear contrast between where the country is now and where it was at the same time last year.
In the fall of 2019, racism and the countervailing force of so-called cancel culture were hot topics. Racism, of course, remains evergreen, but it has nothing to do with the reason why this week’s musical guest, country singer Morgan Wallen, will no longer be appearing on SNL. Instead, it’s the much more topical reason that multiple recent videos of Wallen making out with seemingly random women in bars have made the rounds this week. And while making out with strangers is classically a part of the rock-and-roll lifestyle, in the COVID era, it’s an irresponsibly hazardous breach of protocol.
By doing so, Wallen is not merely setting a terrible example for his fans, he’s endangering the lives of everyone he comes in contact with, in and out of his time in the striving-for-safety SNL studio this week.
For his part, Wallen has responded to being uninvited from the show, on in his Instagram, with a classy message: “My actions from this past weekend were pretty short-sighted, and have obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams. I respect the show’s decision because I know I put them in jeopardy, and I take ownership for this. I’d like to apologize to SNL, to my fans, to my team for bringing me these opportunities, and I let them down. And on a more personal note, I think I have some growing up to do.”
It’s the kind of message that leaves the door open for Wallen to be invited back on the show again, in a safer time—unlike Shane Gillis’s non-apology, which chalked his racism up to “pushing boundaries.”
Watch Wallen’s Instagram message ahead.