This weekend's Saturday Night Live cold open centered around the vice presidential debate on Wednesday, casting two unlikely figures as the fly on Mike Pence's head: Joe Biden and Herman Cain. In the sketch, Kenan Thompson played Cain, explaining that he had been reincarnated as a fly after passing away from the coronavirus back in July. While some viewers laughed at the bit, others thought that it was too soon to make light of Cain's passing in this way.
The SNL cold open went surprisingly high-concept as it showed Biden — played by Jim Carrey — getting into a teleportation machine to rush to the VP debate. Little did he know he was accompanied by a fly, transforming him in the teleportation process. This bit referenced the classic sci-fi horror movie The Fly, but SNL slipped in Cain as a second fly to complicate matters further. Biden and Cain then took turns mocking Pence from the top of his head as flies in a 12-minute skit that divided viewers on social media.
Many commenters focused on the representation of Cain, arguing that it was disrespectful to his loved ones to create a parody of him so soon after his passing. Cain died on July 30 of complications due to COVID-19. He was photographed at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump before he contracted the virus, not wearing a face mask or observing social distance protocols.
Cain was hospitalized for four weeks with the virus before his passing. Within days of his death, his political associates had assumed control of his Twitter account, using it to continue posting pro-Trump political content. Many SNL fans argued that the show's mockery of Cain was fair game since his colleagues had already done it online.
Others were not convinced, and they had other issues with the sketch as well. Some thought that the jokes were too obvious to be funny and only served to make people "cringe" at the ongoing process of the 2020 presidential election. Here is a look at how the conversation played out on Twitter.
I think using a dead mans twitter account the day after his death to claim that the virus that killed him isn’t as deadly as everyone thinks is pretty tasteless bro— JohnnyyF's (@JohnnyyLaw) October 11, 2020
I was really hoping they wouldn’t do this https://t.co/1QcYwihlw2— kési (pronounced casey) (@kesijrfelton) October 11, 2020
Other Deceased Public Figures
Would SNL mock the late RBG ?— Robert Davis (@radrobd) October 11, 2020
RBG dies and gets a solemn tribute on SNL. Herman Cain dies from complications from a virus that has killed more than 200,000 Americans in the past 7 months, and he gets roasted by SNL.— Ellen Carmichael (@ellencarmichael) October 11, 2020
It writes Itself https://t.co/ezob8fwWN5— Count Joshua Bluemel #GoldVote #BroncosCountry (@kal_kenobi83) October 11, 2020
SNL was basically gifted that fly thing on a silver platter and this is what they do with it. joe biden is the fly. really. https://t.co/BcJVCy1ncI— shoe (@shoe0nhead) October 11, 2020
WAIT WHAT https://t.co/eVjYMWvp46— ecco (aidan) | communal boyfriend (@sailorheartz) October 11, 2020
Kenan Thompson’s Herman Cain stole the show on #SNL
“Reincarnated as a damn fly and these fools, Trump and Pence, killed me, man! ...If you’re watching this at home, don’t trust this white devil about that ‘rona.”https://t.co/pGfheX5sXs— Matt Wilstein (@mattwilstein) October 11, 2020
Jim Carrey injecting the most humor SNL has had in years! 🤣🤣🤣— Stacy NYC (@Hustlediva1) October 11, 2020
Bummed on this. I’m a liberal and even I think the Herman Cain stuff was too far. The guy’s barely passed. Show some respect to his family.— Nothing to See Here (@Nuthin2SeeHre) October 11, 2020
Wow the SNL cold open was already a disaster.. then they decided parodying Herman Cain (who JUST passed away) would be funny.
I know hate-watching and hate-tweeting about SNL is dumb but I do it anyways.— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) October 11, 2020
CRINGE https://t.co/26A5AAqD5C— José G. (@JGoyoD) October 11, 2020
Cringe— ThePowerOfMath (@Cartwright_Four) October 11, 2020