Fifty Shades Star Takes ISIS

On 27 Feb., Dakota Johnson, who portrayed Fifty Shades of Grey protagonist Ana, starred as a guest host of SNL for the first time. In one particular sketch, played in the style of a Toyota Camry advertisement, Johnson portrays a young girl leaving her dad, presumably for the military. Instead, she hops up on a truck, decorated with the notorious ISIS jihadist banner.

Amidst the horrors of ISIS, Johnson’s sketch has been bashed on social media. “Horrible. Inappropriate,” Twitter user Rosa Hana said. “When you have loved ones being slaughtered by ISIS, the #snl skit doesn’t seem so funny,” user Chasity Amber said. To the offended, a joke on a genocidal terrorist group can be compared to Nazi and Holocaust jokes, which too has been a touchy subject. Nonetheless, SNL did get its point across: many recruits in ISIS are Westerners.

About 30-40 Americans and several thousand Europeans have joined ISIS. Many members include large ranks of teenagers and college students, both male and female, attracted to an exotic land, and a romanticized sense of adventure or a duty to uphold their religion. For example, Jihadi John, who murdered several hostages, was identified as a college student from England’s University of Westminster around the time Johnson’s episode was broadcasted.

Today, ISIS continues their bloody campaign, and though they are currently losing territory in Iraq and Syria, they have created divisions in Sinai Peninsula and Libya, along with support from Nigeria’s Boko Haram, another major jihadist who is infamous for kidnapping 276 female students at a school in the town of Chibok. They also continue to destroy the ancient sites dotting the land, which they declare as blasphemous.

Satire is one major component of freedom of speech and press. Under fundamentalist ideology, it ridicules ISIS and amounts to their interpretation of “blasphemy”. The Charlie Hebdo massacre was retaliation for satire, often involving the prophet Mohammed and issues on terrorism. Yet, the publication of the “Survivor’s Issue”, as another piece of satire, serves as a tribute to the fallen, and another taunt towards terror. SNL’s sketch is much tamer politically, but it nonetheless is representative of a touchy and prominent issue.

Upon the controversy, SNL actor Taran Killam responded, “Proud of this. Freedom to mock is our greatest weapon,” Killam said, “thanks to the writers who asked not to be mentioned by name.” What Johnson did in her sketch gives a sense of humor in light of the issue of foreign fighters, and, ultimately, denying that ability to ridicule and make fun leaves the very thing ISIS wants of us: fear.


Kenneth Tran, Staff Writer

Senior Kenneth Tran is a staff writer for the 2014-2015 Colonel. He is co-leader of the Amnesty International club and participates in the National Ocean Science Bowl.

Tell us how you feel

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.