Since his SNL tenure began, Pete Davidson has been a fixture of Weekend Update, but he’s mostly steered clear of the big desk in 2019, following his mental health issues at the end of last year. In fact, when the comic appeared on Idris Elba’s episode, it was only his second WU gig this year — and his first solo, after his bit with John Mulaney in January in which they discussed Clint Eastwood’s The Mule. And Davidson, absent for a while, had a lot to say.
His subject was the aftermath of the controversies plaguing R. Kelly and the late Michael Jackson, both accused of sexual misconduct. In the wake of the earth-shattering doc Finding Neverland, stations have been banning Jackson’s music and album sales have dropped. Davidson didn’t agree with that decision.
Davidson began his hot take by lobbing another grenade: “If you support the Catholic Church, isn’t that the same thing as being an R. Kelly fan?” he said. “I don’t see the difference. Only one’s music is significantly better.”
Davidson said he wasn’t necessarily jettisoning R. Kelly or Michael Jackson from his life. “You don’t know how good someone’s music is until you find out they’re a pedophile,” he jokes. He also pointed out that there’s a difference when the musician is as talented as Kelly or Jackson. “If I found out Macklemore did some stuff, I’d be happy to clear up space on my iPhone. It depends on who did it.
“When people ask me, ‘How do you listen to their music when you know what they did?’ I don’t know, headphones?” he added, to obvious audience discomfort.
Davidson’s point isn’t new. He pointed out that many, many artists have been “monsters.” “Once we stop doing our research, we’re not going to have much left, because it seems all really talented people are sick,” he said. “Charlie Chaplin was like the first movie star ever, and he married a 15-year-old. And he couldn’t even talk.” (Of course, he was ignoring The Great Dictator, Monsieur Verdoux, and Limelight — talkies in which Chaplin spoke, and well.)
Davidson’s solution? “You can appreciate their work, but only if you admit what they did. You can buy a mustang, but only if you say, ‘Henry Ford hated the Jews.’ The full sentence should be, ‘Mark Wahlberg beat up an old Asian dude, one ticket to Daddy’s Home 3, please,’” he said. “Any time you listen to a song or watch a movie with an accused serial predator, you have to give a dollar to a charity that helps sexual assault survivors. I’ve already given $142, and that’s only from the ‘Ignition’ remix alone.”
Davidson did wind up talking about his perennially spied-upon private life, namely his latest lady friend, Kate Beckinsale. “Apparently people have a crazy fascination with our age difference. But it doesn’t really bother us,” he said. “So if you have questions about a relationship with a big age difference, please ask Leonardo DiCaprio, Jason Statham, Michael Douglas, Richard Gere, Jeff Goldblum, Dane Cook, Derek Jeter, Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee, Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn and whoever the president of France is, Mel Gibson, Billy Joel, Mick Jagger, Sylvester Stallone, Eddie Murphy, Kelsey Grammer, Larry King, Larry King, Larry King, Rod Stewart, and Donald Trump.” Hmm, wonder what they all have in common.