Warning: This blog discusses the SNL sketch from January 15th, “Winter Formal”, that makes jokes about people with prenatal alcohol exposure. This content may be upsetting and traumatizing for some.
Unfortunately, not all news we get to share is good news. Over the weekend, NBC’s Saturday Night Live published an inappropriate sketch featuring a character with prenatal alcohol exposure. We will spare you the details, but the sketch pokes fun at a teenage boy for his hygiene and social behaviour, before linking his behaviour to prenatal alcohol exposure.
This portrayal is unacceptable and we’ve let the broadcasting company know this. Other organizations are also working hard behind the scenes to hold SNL accountable. If you want to weigh in on this topic, you can lodge a complaint with NBC using their online form or talk about it on social media. Quite a few FASD advocates have already commented on SNL’s Twitter account directly. Please be careful when engaging online (particularly on SNL’s account) as there are other people who don’t understand the impact of this skit and are responding inappropriately to our criticism.
Research shows us that that stigma negatively impacts people with FASD, their families, and people who are pregnant and using substances, making it harder to get much-needed funding and support. Stigma can also lead to feelings of shame and contribute to social isolation.
This event highlights the need for greater awareness and understanding of FASD worldwide. This need for increased awareness is one reason why we are pushing for a National FASD Strategy in Canada. This is a great opportunity to reach out to your local MPor Ministers Carla Qualtrough (Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion) and Carolyn Bennett (Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health). Share this sketch to show what we are up against and ask them to support a National FASD Strategy that will improve FASD awareness and understanding in Canada.
You can find the full SNL skit here, but be aware that the content may be triggering for some: https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/winter-formal/970181819
You can also check out our resources about stigma and FASD for further information:
Read on for our organization’s statement about this portrayal and the harms it has caused.
January 19, 2022
On January 15, 2022, NBC’s Saturday Night Live broadcast an inappropriate skit about alcohol-exposed pregnancies. Positioned as a comedy, this sketch poked fun at a teenage boy for his hygiene and social behaviour, before revealing he was prenatally exposed to alcohol.
This is ableism.
Prenatal alcohol exposure can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), a lifelong disability impacting the brain and body. “Jokes” like this contribute to negative stereotypes and persistent stigma around FASD. This stigma negatively impacts people with FASD, their families, and people who are pregnant and using substances, making it harder to get much-needed funding and support. This stigma can also lead to feelings of shame and contribute to social isolation.
Drinking during pregnancy is not a punchline. FASD is not a joke.
Advocating for our community can feel like an uphill battle, especially at times like this. It is disheartening when a popular media outlet further perpetuates negative stigma, stereotypes, and misinformation that causes harm to our community. Everyone has a responsibility to learn about FASD, so that dehumanizing and traumatizing content like this is not broadcast to millions of viewers worldwide.
This event highlights the need for a National FASD Strategy to further raise awareness and understanding of Canada’s leading developmental disability.