In a recent episode of “Saturday Night Live,” President Joe Biden, played by Mikey Day, welcomed a “Chinese dignitary,” Tian Tian, portrayed by Bowen Yang. Tian Tian is one of the three pandas that were transported from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. to China earlier this month. During the skit, Tian Tian expressed surprise that the focus of the meeting between the presidents of the two biggest economies was on pandas rather than more significant issues. He jokingly mentioned his attractiveness and asexuality but emphasized the need to address bigger concerns.
In real-life news, President Biden did meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week. President Xi indicated that China would send more pandas to the U.S., considering them as symbols of friendship between the Chinese and American people. However, after the departure of Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and their cub, Xiao Qi Ji, only four pandas remain in the U.S.
The “SNL” sketch highlighted the excessive media coverage of the panda storyline. One reporter’s question, originally directed at President Biden, took an unexpected turn when he asked Tian Tian if he liked America. Tian Tian humorously responded that he loved it and mentioned things like legal weed. He also expressed concern about returning to China and having to make friends as an adult.
Another reporter asked Tian Tian about President Xi’s description of pandas as envoys of friendship. Tian Tian, who identifies as Black, white, and Chinese, spoke about his unique position to unite different peoples and jokingly compared himself to Tiger Woods as a “blasian” icon.
President Biden concluded the skit by jokingly mentioning that he and Tian Tian have something in common: people love sharing videos of them falling down.
While the “SNL” sketch provided comedic relief, it also highlighted the media’s tendency to focus on trivial matters rather than more important issues.