Lewis Tan of Into the Badlands and Deadpool 2 fame is not mincing words when it comes to incoming Saturday Night Live player Shane Gillis. Gillis has faced criticism for a 2018 interview on Matt and Shane's Secret Podcast, where the actor made several disparaging jokes about Chinatown, including using once racial slur directed at Chinese people, and later joked that it was "good racism." While the era of social media has led to a number of entertainers, potlicians, and other public figures coming under fire for things they said many years in the past, Gillis's critics are particularly vocal since the interview was done less than two years ago, at a time when Gillis presumably knew that the interview would be around forever on the internet.
The full episode of the podcast has apparently been pulled down from YouTube at this point, but the clip is in heavy circulation on social media. The optics are especially bad for NBC since Saturday Night Live announced Gillis's hiring at the same time as they announced the hiring of Bowen Yang, the series' first East Asian regular in its 45-year history. Yang is also the first openly gay man to be a regular member of the cast.
Tan, whose series The Wu Assassins recently debuted on Netflix, had this to say about the clip:
In addition to the racist remarks on one podcast, Vulture has tracked down other clips that include homophobic and misogynistic language. They note that Gillis has made an attempt to remove the content from YouTube, but that a Subreddit dedicated to the podcast is awash in such remarks, both from the hosts and the fans.
The show and network have been silent on the issue, likely waiting to see whether the controversy will blow over on its own, or whether it needs to be addressed. One would assume that in 2019, SNL is vetting its talent and knew what they were getting into, but it's difficult to say that with any real certainty since so many people in positions of authority in Hollywood don't actually seem to understand how the internet works.
Saturday Night Live will premiere on September 28th, with host Woody Harrelson and musical guest Billie Eilish. Other upcoming hosts include Phoebe Waller-Bridge, David Harbour, Kristen Stewart, and Eddie Murphy.