In a week full of Big Yikes celebrity controversies, Jimmy Fallon has entered the fray. The current Tonight Show host is facing heaps of criticism on social media for a resurfaced clip of him performing in blackface on a 2000 episode of Saturday Night Live.
In the 20-year-old sketch, Fallon impersonates comic Chris Rock — blackface, accent, and all — as his cast mate Darrell Hammond laughs and plays along. In the clip that began going viral early Tuesday, Fallon, who is white, riffs on the lack of black representation on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and jokes about Rick James smoking crack while recording “Super Freak”.
Naturally, people are reacting angrily, and the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty is currently trending on Twitter. Watch the clip below to see just how far Fallon took the bit.
The now-viral Twitter clip of Fallon’s performance also includes a caption about media figure Megyn Kelly, who was fired from NBC in 2018 after she questioned the offensiveness of blackface on The Today Show. The Twitter user @chefboyohdear questions why Kelly was terminated for defending the use of blackface, but Fallon has gone unpunished despite actually wearing it and never formally apologizing for it.
Update: Fallon has issued an apology on Twitter. “In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in blackface. There is no excuse for this,” Fallon wrote. “I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.”
Although Fallon is getting his fair share of shaming right now, livid Twitter users are taking the opportunity to point out the many other white celebrities who’ve donned blackface in recent history. Fellow late-night host Jimmy Kimmel impersonated Karl Malone during a 2000 episode of The Man Show, while Sarah Silverman wore blackface in 2007 sketch (she later apologized for the sketch, saying she was “horrified” by it). Robert Downey Jr. also famously appeared in blackface in the 2008 film Tropic Thunder, though his role served as a social commentary on method actors who go to uncomfortable extremes.
— s🅰️m🐀 (@chefboyohdear) May 26, 2020