A sketch from Saturday Night Live which aired in November 2001 – just a month after the invasion of Afghanistan began – has resurfaced on social media after the country fell to the Taliban following the withdrawal of Western troops.
It comes after president Joe Biden announced that US troops would gradually begin to withdraw from Afghanistan between 1st May and 11th September, bringing to an end the 20-year conflict in the country.
In the wake of this news, many have been revisiting the legacy of this war, with the aforementioned SNL sketch coming under scrutiny.
In the sketch, which aired on 17th November 2001, just over a month after the US invaded Afghanistan on 7th October, cast members such as Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon and Maya Rudolph are seen exchanging small talk at a house party. Then Seth Meyers bursts in to announce that the Northern Alliance has taken the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
The group then rejoices and breaks out into a song, which is primarily about Kandahar and how the Taliban is now on the run. Of course, this is all done in the typical SNL tongue-in-cheek satirical fashion but, with 2021 eyes, many feel the sketch was now in very poor taste.
Thinking about how SNL literally broke out in song a month after the US invasion of Afghanistan: https://t.co/qetYylGglJ
— Human Rights Watch Watcher (@Human Rights Watch Watcher)
Kandahar! SNL talking about Afghanistan sure is, uh, comedy. No consent being manufactured here. Amazing when you r… https://t.co/sLBV8VLQe0
The clip was also shared on Reddit with one person writing: “I refuse to believe anyone found this funny, even then.” Another added: “I remember watching it when it aired, and you are correct—it wasn’t funny then. Certainly didn’t get funny since.”
In the full clip, which is available on Facebook, the song takes a more serious tone when Tracy Morgan shows up and warns the Americans that celebrating battlefield victories is not how wars are ended and that celebrating any kind of war is gaudy in nature.
After this Will Ferrell chimes in and says: “Wow. Wow. Hey, guys, I’ve gotta tell you, even though a lot of the words this wise man used are not real, he’s right. Just because some cities have been taken in Afghanistan, it doesn’t mean the war on terrorism is over. We can’t forget now is not the time to celebrate. We’ve got to show some patience.”
SNL, which first aired in 1975, has covered many US global conflicts over the decades, with varying degrees of satire including Iraq, the Gulf War and even 9/11.