One of the best skits ever produced by Saturday Night Live was Steve Martin’s rendition of the song, King Tut. It made fun of the commercialization of the nationwide King Tut phenomenon sparked by the “Treasures of Tutankhamen” exhibition that toured seven cities from 1976 to 1979, drawing about 8 million visitors. These days, however, the video is seen as “cultural appropriation” by students at Reed College in Portland, Oregan.
According to the Washington Times:
the context to the SNL skit eludes students who are upset. They are now calling the song a form of “blackface.”
The video and song was brought to students’ attention when it was played in a humanities class at Reed to spur discussion. Students became so worked up over the video, however, that they have demanded the course be made optional until alternative coursework can be created.
The group primarily upset about the video being played in class, Reedies Against Racism, is comparing Martin’s comedic song to the use of the N-word. The Atlantic spoke to members of Reedies Against Racism to get a better idea as to why they are upset about the King Tut song from 1978.
One member of Reedies Against Racism told the Atlantic the song is “like somebody … making a song just littered with the N-word everywhere.” She went on to say that the Egyptian clothing that the backup dancers wear is racist as well. “The gold face of the saxophone dancer leaving its tomb is an exhibition of blackface,” she said.