I spent what must have been hours in 2021 listening to Kate McKinnon talk about Verizon. The Saturday Night Live star’s ads for cell phones and cell phone service played every ten minutes throughout seemingly every television show I streamed. They were inescapable. I can’t tell you details of what the commercials advertised, though I think there was talk of a deal being the “biggest yet,” but I can tell you they filled me steadily with a deep unease. Something is not right in Verizon’s all-white Kate McKinnon habitat. I’d like to show you what I mean.
The advertisements from spring and summer showed something amiss. McKinnon approaches the screen hunched, as if she is a server at a movie theater that also offers food and cocktails, making her way to a customer’s seat. Verizon offers no explanation. When interacting with supposed Verizon customers, and walking to the left or right, McKinnon walks upright, and for a moment we are at ease. Just when we’re lulled into the belief that perhaps we imagined it; perhaps McKinnon in fact wasn’t walking as if the ceiling were being lowered upon her in an Indiana Jones sort of situation, it happens again:
She is bent afresh, walking toward us. We are left not knowing how to feel. Is Kate McKinnon being made to stand in a too-small cage at Verizon headquarters while inactive? Is the job of carrying two large water buckets between takes included in her contract? Before we can ask too many questions, an ad from later in the season soothes us:
Whew. Barely any hunching here at all. McKinnnon stands and walks seemingly without hardship. Our hearts are soothed and we are no longer worried about the comedienne’s musculoskeletal system. Instead we are worried merely about her decision to use a comedy voice similar to the fake superhero-esque voice Chris Hardwick used pre-cancelation. This relief lasts until the holiday season.
Oh no. Something is very wrong here. We’re given a birds-eye view of Kate McKinnon’s suffering as she walks toward us, doubled over, a red checkmark over her head seemingly denoting that yes, this one is doing the correct amount of hunching, check.
We think we’ve seen the worst of it until:
Oh my god. McKinnon stalks toward the screen, her body at an exact 90 degree angle. She is a broken woman. She is unwell. She is telling us about cellphones in what is clearly a remarkably weakened state. Has Kate McKinnon hurt her back? Can we break for the day and get a chiropractor to her cage? Does she have unattended-to scoliosis? Is the shame of having dated Bari Weiss weighing her down in a quite physical way? Does Verizon not allow her to see a doctor? Do we need to call her union? Are her shoes too large, and can we possibly by any chance get her a different pair?
In one moment she hunches toward a man on ice, and in the moment the hunching makes sense; she is purportedly walking on ice in heels, which is not an easy task.
But seconds later she lurches off of the ice. She continues hunching all the way to dry land, where she is free to walk as if the ground beneath her is stable, and yet she does not. She hunches toward a family on a couch, already in the seated position long before getting to her seat. She stalks toward a group of Verizon customers. She stoops away from a large 5G. She is sick. She needs help. We need to call someone. Someone needs to do something.
Kate McKinnon, your public is worried. We see you and we know you are suffering. Please, in the next Verizon ad, give us a sign that you’d like us to intervene. Just let us know, and we will do what we can: protest for a larger Verizon cage, maybe, or smaller water buckets. We just need a code word … how about “deal”? Or no, actually let’s do “phone.”