‘SNL’: Fake ISIS ad with Dakota Johnson stirs controversy

Dakota Johnson, holding a flag, plays a young woman going off to fight with the Islamic State militant group in a fake ISIS commercial on "Saturday Night Live."
Dakota Johnson, holding a flag, plays a young woman going off to fight with the Islamic State militant group in a fake ISIS commercial on “Saturday Night Live.”
(Dana Edelson / NBC)

A spoof of a Toyota commercial on “Saturday Night Live” stirred some social media chatter for showing a father sending his daughter to join Islamic State, the militant group also known as ISIS.

The fake commercial, starring Saturday’s “SNL” host Dakota Johnson (“Fifty Shades of Grey”) and cast member Taran Killam, is a play on the end of Toyota’s “My Bold Dad” commercial, in which a father appears to drop his daughter off to join the U.S. military.

After a corny goodbye, Killam’s character says, “You be careful OK.” Johnson’s character replies, “Dad it’s just ISIS,” and winks.

“Take care of her,” a teary-eyed Killam says as a supposed Islamic State fighter nods and says, “Death to America.” The spot ends with a female voiceover saying: “ISIS: We’ll take it from here, Dad.”


Last night, “SNL” was tweeted about 25,000 times, according to Nielsen data. Of these tweets, about 9,926 contained “reactions,” or tweets with emotions, according to Canvs, a social TV platform created by the firm Mashwork.

The company uses relevant tweets, provided by Nielsen, to gauge what emotions people have about TV. The tweets are then broken down into reactions.

An estimated 8.7% of those reaction tweets contained the topic ISIS, including 1.3% that contained the hashtag #ISIS. Some of the reaction tweets contained the hashtag #notfunny.

One Twitter user wrote, “Horrible opening for @nbcsnl #ISIS Are you nuts?! Not funny AT ALL!!”

Another wrote, "@SNLorneMichaels @nbcsnl #ISIS sketch made me physically ill... I’m truly shocked & offended.”

“Wow, I think in the 35+ years of watching @nbcsnl the ISIS skit is the first one that truly offended me. #NotFunny @nbc,” added another Twitter user.

Despite the backlash, the official “SNL” Twitter account on Sunday tweeted a link to the sketch with a photo from it and the words “A father/daughter moment.”

Some took to social media to defend the sketch.

Comedian Arsenio Hall tweeted: “ISIS: We’ll take it from here dad! #hilarious.”

“Oh, I’m supposed to be more offended by the ISIS skit. Yes, that was horrible for being well-conceived and funny? #SNL,” said another user.

“Seriously? SNL is being criticized for mocking Isis, and the people who join it? There’s no group more deserving of ridicule. Thumbs up #SNL,” echoed another user.

This isn’t the first time “SNL” has made Islamic State a target of parody. In November, when Chris Rock guest-starred, the show made fun of “Shark Tank” by portraying a group of ISIS members pitching to judges.

“Who’s ready to invest in crushing the West?” the militants say in their fake pitch. That episode earned the show its highest ratings since last February.

Saturday’s episode was the No. 1 telecast of the night on the Big 4 networks in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic with a rating of 3.8, according to early Nielsen ratings. It posted a rating of 1.9/9 in adults 18-49 in the 25 markets with Local People Meters.

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