Speed Reads

John Oliver hits hard

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight brutally deconstructs Columbus Day, wants to replace it with Frank Sinatra Day

Most Americans don't celebrate Columbus Day anymore — few get the day off, and many people don't even remember it's a federal holiday until the mail doesn't come. John Oliver's Last Week Tonight marked the holiday with a brutal takedown.

The narrator starts out relatively gently, quipping that Columbus Day celebrates its namesake landing in the Bahamas in 1492, "starting a long tradition of obnoxious white people visiting Caribbean islands and acting like they own the place." Then things get more pointed: Columbus is "famous for his discoveries — specifically, the discovery that you can 'discover' a continent with millions of people already living on it, that had already been visited by Vikings around 500 years earlier." And then comes the animated bloodshed.

"So America's least-favorite holiday commemorates a murderous egomaniac whose most famous discovery was a case of getting lost and refusing to ask directions," the narrator intones. "Columbus Day — how is this still a thing?"

To be fair, Last Week Tonight does note the Italian-American nature of the holiday. And as one-sided as this version of Columbus Day is, let's at least consider the show's recommendation to replace it with Frank Sinatra Day. Like Sinatra, this segment features some mildly NSFW language. Unlike Sinatra, it also has some cartoonishly graphic violence. --Peter Weber