In an extended fake movie trailer that can stand with any of the best from Seth Meyers’ old Saturday Night Live home (yes, even the Queen Bey double feature The Day Beyoncé Turned Black and The Beygency), Late Night preemptively Green Book-ed this weekend’s Oscars with its omnibus parody of every Oscar-friendly race relations movie ever, White Savior. With Late Night writer and all-around delight dispenser Amber Ruffin essaying the role of the film’s ultra-dignified, secretly accomplished real-life black costar (in her own story), Meyers tagged along throughout as the white guy whose condescending praise and showy, isolated acts of individual bravery and enlightenment are shown to solve racism, forever.
Because while Ruffin’s brilliant activist, mathematician, and cellist has to endure discrimination, unequal accommodations, violence, and bigotry, Meyers’ coworker (he scoffs at the revelation that Ruffin’s actually his boss): adjusts her microphone; tells off a bigoted barfly (and then asks about his family); and Sharpies Ruffin’s name (and only hers) on a “whites only” bathroom sign. He also, according to the pitch-perfectly self-important narrator, gets to punch out a racist “so cartoonishly racist that other racists watch this movie and say, ‘Well, at least I’m not that racist.’” As Ruffin’s character notes, if she’d punched out the buffoonish, braying bigot (30 Rock’s John Lutz) instead of Meyers, “they’d’ve locked me up until I died.”
Name-checking Hollywood’s “We solved racism!” feel-good, awards-grabbing cinematic back-patting, the sketch name-checked everything from Green Book, to Hidden Figures, to The Help, all the way back to Wildcats, tagging on a “testimonial” from the real woman portrayed in White Savior, “This is not at all how it happened.” Oh, and, naturally, the seemingly de rigeur love story between Ruffin and Meyers’ characters stops short at a handshake and a thank you, since, even in a pandering white audience fantasy of the Civil Rights Movement, interracial romance just doesn’t test well. As a review from our pals at The Root explains, White Savior “push[es] a Black helplessness narrative that paints Black people as passive in their own history. Plus, it’s corny.”