SNL Gets Criticized for Using ‘Aggressive’ and ‘Vicious’ Irish Stereotypes in Banshees of Inisherin Oscar Sketch

Saturday Night Live (SNL) is a long-running American late-night sketch comedy show that has been on the air since 1975. The show has been known to be controversial at times, and its recent sketch titled Banshees of Inisherin has faced backlash for its portrayal of Irish stereotypes, specifically the stereotypes of Irish women as aggressive and vicious.

The sketch takes place at the Oscars, where a group of Irish women from the fictional town of Inisherin interrupt the show and proceed to make a scene. The women are dressed in traditional Irish clothing, complete with shawls and headscarves, and they speak in thick Irish accents.

The sketch was met with criticism for perpetuating negative and harmful stereotypes about Irish people, particularly Irish women. Many viewers were offended by the portrayal of Irish women as aggressive, vicious, and drunk, and called out SNL for reinforcing tired and offensive stereotypes. Several Irish and Irish-American organizations have spoken out against the sketch, calling it “offensive” and “damaging.”

Eileen Flynn, the first Irish Traveller to be appointed to the Irish Senate, tweeted her outrage, stating that the sketch was “beyond offensive and carries harmful stereotypes for Irish women in particular.”

Others took to Twitter to express their disappointment with SNL’s stereotypical portrayal of Irish women. One user wrote, “SNL needs to do better than rely on tired, racist stereotypes of Irish women as drunk and violent.”

The Irish National Caucus, a Washington-based advocacy group for Irish Americans, released a statement accusing SNL of using “archaic and harmful stereotypes” that “contribute to the marginalization of the Irish.”

This is not the first time that SNL has been criticized for its portrayal of Irish people. In 2019, the show aired a sketch that made light of the Irish potato famine, which killed over a million people in Ireland in the 19th century. The sketch featured a man wearing a leprechaun outfit singing about the famine while surrounded by people dressed in costumes reminiscent of Irish stereotypes. The sketch was widely condemned, with many Irish people expressing their anger and frustration at SNL’s insensitivity.

It is disappointing that SNL has yet again failed to recognize the harm that comes from perpetuating harmful stereotypes. At a time when we should be working towards greater understanding and acceptance of different cultures and ethnicities, SNL’s use of stereotypical caricatures serves only to deepen division.

Irish people, like any group, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, not reduced to harmful stereotypes that have been used to oppress and marginalize them for centuries. If SNL truly wants to make people laugh, it should strive to do so in a way that doesn’t rely on harmful stereotypes and instead celebrates the diversity and richness of Irish culture.

SNL has since responded to the criticism, with a spokesperson stating that “the sketch was intended to be satire and poke fun at the Oscars and the various awards show traditions”. While satire has its place in comedy, it is important to remember that satire can be harmful if it relies on stereotypes that are already firmly entrenched in people’s minds.

The use of stereotypes in comedy can be a tricky subject, and it is important to tread carefully and with sensitivity. While comedy can and should push boundaries and challenge norms, it should never be used to demean or dehumanize people.

In the end, we all have a responsibility to critically examine the media we consume and to speak out when we see harmful representations of different groups. By challenging harmful stereotypes and pushing for greater understanding and acceptance, we can create a more inclusive and compassionate world.