Saturday, November 30, 2019

SNL & Pocahontas: A (Pre)Teen and Two Johns

John Rolfe and Pocahontas

Here's Pop Culture's plot summary of SNL's 
"First Thanksgiving": 

A controversial Saturday Night Live skit on this weekend's show [11-23-19] ended with a kind of apology from host Will Ferrell, but fans were still upset by it. The sketch in question showed Ferrell, Melissa Villaseñor, Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen playing Native Americans. If that were not enough, the skit was about politics at Thanksgiving.

The skit was called "First Thanksgiving," and it was set in the 1600s. Villaseñor played Pocahontas, while Beck Bennett played John Smith — with a subtle nod to the fact that these real historical figures were about 12 and 30 years old respectively.

Here's the relevant dialogue from the skit:

(Fred Armisen): "So, John. Pocahontas tells us you're turning 30 soon."
John Smith: "Yup. Yeah. [In a] couple weeks."
(Maya Rudolp): "And you do know she's 12 - right?"
John Smith: "Yeah. I do. I do."


In a letter to Queen Anne of Great Britain, John Smith described Pocahontas as "a child of twelve or thirteen years of age". The skit gives one the impression that John Smith is attempting to marry Pocahontas, but the relationship between John Smith and Pocahontas was platonic.  

However, in 1614, (approximately) 17-year-old Pocahontas married John Rolfe - an approximately 30-year-old tobacco exporter.

Surprisingly, no one seemed to have a problem with John Smith courting a 12-year-old, but unsurprisingly, a lot of people seemed to have a problem with whites playing native Americans. 




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