‘Red pill the masses’: Woody Harrelson pushes popular COVID conspiracy theory on live TV

America’s stoner uncle, Woody Harrelson, returned to the Saturday Night Live live comedy show for his fifth hosting stint and used his opening monologue to seemingly promote a pervasive coronavirus conspiracy theory.

In a monologue filled with references to his abiding use of marijuana, the actor, who went on the show to promote his upcoming movie Champions, said he read a script where “the biggest drug cartels in the world get together and buy up all the media and all the politicians and force all the people in the world to stay locked in their homes, and people can only come out if they take the cartel’s drugs and keep taking them over and over. I threw the script away. I mean, who was going to believe that crazy idea? Being forced to do drugs? I do that voluntarily all day long.”

Woody Harrelson.Credit:AP

The live audience offered scattered laughter, but viewers at home had much more visceral reactions.

Anti-vaccine proponents were delighted with Harrelson “red pilling the masses” and “speaking truth to power.”

His joke referenced a pervasive conspiracy theory that pharmaceutical companies control the government and the media, and that they’re forcing the public to take unnecessary vaccines.

The actor, who described himself as an “anarchist, Marxist, ethical hedonist, nondiscriminatory empath, epistemological deconstructionist and Texan,” immediately began receiving accolades from people who oppose coronavirus vaccines.

Others criticised Harrelson – and SNL for airing his remarks. “Thank you, @nbcsnl, for Woody Harrelson’s insipid anti-vax monologue. Who are [you] going to have guest host next week, Scott Baio? Rob Schneider? Kevin Sorbo? Maybe invite Kanye back while you’re at it,” wrote Twitter user Lee Goldberg.

Another viewer asked: “Does #SNL think just harmless noise? Normalising #antivaxx conspiracies does real harm!”

Harrelson is not the only celebrity to land himself in hot water for seemingly promoting vaccine mistrust. Earlier this month, Shazam! star Zachary Levi responded to an anti-vax tweet asking, “Do you agree or not, that Pfizer is a real danger to the world?” with, “Hardcore agree.”

Before the conspiracy theory portion of his monologue, Harrelson promoted unity, saying: “This country seems so divided. Beautiful, ugly; black, white; blue, red. I love everybody, maybe because I’m a redneck hippie.”

Washington Post

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