SNL: Michael Che responds to cultural appropriation criticisms of ‘Gen Z hospital’ sketch

·2 min read
A still from the ‘Gen Z Hospital’ sketch on Saturday Night Live (NBC)
A still from the ‘Gen Z Hospital’ sketch on Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Saturday Night Live star Michael Che has responded to criticism of a skit in the latest episode of the long-running sketch series.

The scene, entitled “Gen Z Hospital”, starred guest host Elon Musk, as well as Melissa Villasenior, Kate McKinnon, Bowen Yang, Heidi Gardner, Ego Nwodim and Mikey Day.

The sketch is set in a hospital, and sees the characters speak using “Generation Z” phrases that have been popularised online on TikTok and Twitter.

However, viewers pointed out how some of the language used, including words such as “bruh,” “stan,” “no cap” and “sis”, were ridiculed as generic “youth-talk”, when in fact they are specifically derived from African-American Vernacular English (AAVE).

“Love the relabelling of AAVE and a few assorted BLACK LGBTQ+ phrases as ‘Gen z’ speak,” wrote one viewer on Twitter.

“The appropriation of AAVE by white people is gross, the mislabelling of AAVE as a ‘Gen Z phenomenon’ is also gross, but on top of that, the SNL skit reads like they just pulled a list of terms from UrbanDictionary and sprinkled them in, not caring that AAVE has a defined grammar,” wrote another.

Addressing the criticism on Instagram in a since-deleted post, Che, who created the sketch, wrote (per Deadline): “I’ve been reading about how my ‘gen z’ sketch was misappropriating AAVE and I was stunned cause what the f*** is ‘AAVE’?

“I had to look it up. Turns out it’s an acronym for ‘African American vernacular English.’ You know, AAVE! That ol’ saying that actual black people use in conversation all the time…”

The “Weekend Update” host continued: “Look, the sketch bombed. I’m used to that. I meant no offense to the ‘AAVE’ community. I love AAVE. AAVE to the moon!”

The full sketch can be viewed here.

Saturday’s (8 May) episode of SNL also proved divisive among viewers for its choice of host, with many objecting to the decision to let Tesla founder Musk take centre stage.

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