What’s happening: On his February 25 Saturday Night Live appearance, actor Woody Harrelson made a joke about the COVID vaccination mandates by the U.S. government. He stated that he read a script about drug cartels that forced people to stay inside unless they became users of the cartel’s drugs but threw it away because “who is going to believe that crazy idea?” The remarks surprised many watching the show, with Elon Musk commending Harrelson.
This isn’t Harrelson’s first time speaking out: In addition to previous statements made since the start of the pandemic and his stint on SNL, Harrelson further critiqued COVID protocols in a recent interview with The New York Times. “I don’t think that anybody should have the right to demand that you’re forced to do the testing, forced to wear the mask, and forced to get vaccinated three years on,” he said. “Let’s be done with this nonsense.”
Other celebrities speak out: While most celebrities have either supported or stayed quiet on the matter of vaccine mandates, there are multiple that have made their opposing opinions clear, including actors Leticia Wright, Evangeline Lilly, and Rob Schneider, musician Nicki Minaj, football player Aaron Rodgers, and several NBA players.
Why it matters: Hollywood is an insular place where you can be blacklisted if you go off-script. Although it’s widely acknowledged now that vaccine mandates are largely ineffective, many celebrities stay quiet out of fear of being canceled. Harrelson’s SNL monologue may help more celebrities find the courage to speak up.