They’re treating it as a dark jubilee.
A controversial, two-decades-old “Saturday Night Live” sketch is causing a stir on social media following the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan.
The musical sendup, entitled “War Party,” first aired in 2001, a month after the US invaded the “graveyard of empires” following the 9/11 attacks. However, social media users have decided to revisit divisive ditty after the insurgent group took majority control of the country in wake of US troop withdrawals over the spring and summer.
The controversial sketch starts off with Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, Maya Rudolph and company bantering at a house party. Then, all of a sudden, Seth Meyers interrupts the soirée to inform everyone that Northern Alliance soldiers have captured the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
That prompts everyone to break out into a song parody, in which they ecstatically celebrate the takeover in typical tongue-in-cheek “SNL” fashion.
“Say Taliban, move your minivans, Kandahar,” croons a triumphant Seth Meyers about the alleged victory. Maya Rudolph follows up by crowing, “That’s happy news, no more bearded dudes, Kandahar.”
Despite the satirical tone, the sketch divided viewers, with many feeling that the song rang a tad tone-deaf in light of recent events.
“This disgusting garbage reminds me if how I first heard about the ‘invasion’ of Afghanistan,” fumed one critic on Twitter. “Was at International Market in Jersey City when they started playing ‘Born in the USA’ on the sound system and then announced the good news.”
“Oh, so SNL wasn’t funny back then either,” snarked another.
“I watched the whole thing and didn’t find any of it funny,” one additional detractor griped. “For decades, SNL has normalized imperialism under the guise of ‘satire.’ “
However, other viewers flocked to the jingle’s defense, insisting that critics had misinterpreted the song as “pro-war” when it was actually the opposite.
“This is satire,” explained one “SNL” supporter. “It starts at a well-heeled cocktail party with everyone being ridiculous, and then they break into song when they hear we’ve reached Kandahar. The point was to make fun of how cavalier and ignorant we were being about the invasion.”
Another wrote, “Yeah this is mocking people who casually celebrated the invasion of Afghanistan which by the way was a super unpopular thing to criticize at the time. This sketch is actually based.”
Will Ferrell’s character even criticizes their blind jubilation in the sketch, saying, “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.”
Other viewers found the critique of wartime hubris somewhat prescient given that the Taliban retook Kandahar late last week.
Currently, the brutal fundamentalist regime is tightening control over Afghanistan, prompting veterans of America’s longest war to beg the Biden administration to accelerate the evacuation of Afghan allies who aided them on the battlefield.
On Monday, seven people were killed, including two shot dead by American forces, after crowds of Afghans stormed Kabul’s international airport and swarmed the tarmac as US military flights were preparing to leave.