Elon Musk's hosting of the May 8 Saturday Night Live was controversial from the minute it was announced. It stayed that way through its airing and afterward.
In his opening monologue, Musk said he was the first person in the show's history to host while having Asperger's Syndrome a term for what is now often labeled ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Some people prefer to refer to themselves as an Aspie or as having Asperger's or Asperger's Syndrome, while others prefer the term autism or ASD due to the problematic past of Hans Asperger for whom it was named. Older autistics tend to have grown up with the term Asperger's Syndrome while younger people associate with the modern designation of autistic or ASD.
As with all disabilities, how a person prefers to refer to themselves is up to their individual discretion. Musk chose the term Asperger's Syndrome.
After making his claim, Musk then added:
"Or at least the first to admit it."
You can see his monologue here:
However, his claim is false.
The first autistic person to host the show was Dan Aykroyd—who was also a four-season alumnus and Emmy Award winner by way of Saturday Night Live. He hosted the show's season finale in 2003.
Well there you go -- Aykroyd hosted in 2003. (Thanks @Un_Poco_Chris). Musk not the first.— Steven Zeitchik (@Steven Zeitchik)1620534122.0
Three things: 1. Dan Aykroyd has Asperger's. He was one of the original cast members and hosted in 2003. 2. Davi… https://t.co/NWclsCHpDJ— Ben (@Ben)1620545270.0
1. No he’s not. Off the top of my head, Dan Aykroyd is on the autism spectrum and hosted in 2003 years after he was… https://t.co/01qmQkgbS3— abolish the death penalty, abolish prisons (@abolish the death penalty, abolish prisons)1620533586.0
Lol Dan Aykroyd STARTED snl with Asperger’s, but nice try.— Joshua Simon 🥺 (@Joshua Simon 🥺)1620532393.0
Aykroyd himself said his diagnosis of autism was actually responsible for some of the best parts of his career.
"One of my symptoms included my obsession with ghosts and law enforcement—I carry around a police badge with me, for example," he said.
"I became obsessed by Hans Holzer, the greatest ghost hunter ever. That's when the idea of my film Ghostbusters was born."
When Elon Musk claims he’s the first SNL host with Aspergers but he was not informed about Dan Aykroyd and Jerry Se… https://t.co/rlE3AU75S9— Diamond Joe (@Diamond Joe)1620532615.0
Elon Musk isn’t the first Saturday Night Live host with Asperger’s. Former cast member Dan Aykroyd hosted in 2003 a… https://t.co/6zAnBsJMnt— Eric Alper 🎧 (@Eric Alper 🎧)1620559932.0
Dan aykroyd sweetie I’m so sorry theyre forgetting about you like this https://t.co/qTUQygEa16— ichabod (@ichabod)1620532480.0
Dan Aykroyd has Asperger’s and was one of the seven original seven cast members who basically started SNL. You’re… https://t.co/QhnD40lHYI— Meredith Lee (@Meredith Lee)1620551389.0
Some people called out Musk's use of the term Asperger's Syndrome, citing its origins.
Re: Elon Musk, SNL Aspergers is no longer a recognized diagnosis in the DSM because Hans Asperger was a Nazi. When… https://t.co/TTdmbrEZ96— Dylan (@Dylan)1620571816.0
Don’t believe me? https://t.co/zRkcFjdMKh— Dylan (@Dylan)1620572195.0
Musk's reputation continues to impact him negatively, as the episode he hosted was lambasted by critics and fans alike. However they tuned in to watch—even if the aim was to criticize—giving the episode the 3rd highest ratings of the season behind Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock.
The controversial figure, who is heir to a fortune made in South Africa during the time of Apartheid, has some shrewd and ambitious ideas for the future of humanity, but some public relations issues.
Whether his first stop on his image renovation tour proves effective remains to be seen.