After more than 40 years on TV, some of the absolute funniest moments from Saturday Night Live still come from those first few years in the 1970s.
One of the most famous and beloved sketches is Steve Martin’s funky musical number, “King Tut.”
The song was an instant hit featuring Martin and a few actual members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It sold over a million copies when it was released in 1978 and hit number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The funny tune pays homage to pharaoh Tutankhamun, the famed boy king of Egypt who ruled thousands of years ago. The song originated as a parody of the highly commercialized and sensationalized Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibit that toured across the United States from 1976 to 1979. In the video, King Tut’s subjects attempt to appease their singing ruler, played by Martin, with modern kitchen appliances.
While the song seemed harmless for decades, a group of liber arts students from Oregon have decided that the sketch is “horribly racist.”
“The gold face of the saxophone dancer leaving its tomb is an exhibition of blackface,” the triggered college students told The Atlantic after viewing the video for the first time in Reed College’s freshman Humanities 110 class. “That’s like somebody … making a song just littered with the n-word everywhere,” a member of Reedies Against Racism said.
Watch the video below again. Do you think it is racist or a harmless criticism of the commercialization of Egypt’s history?