Sinéad O'Connor Says Artists Must Start 'Difficult Conversations' as She Reflects on SNL in New Documentary

·2 min read

A new documentary is shedding light on Sinéad O'Connor's rise to fame, and offering new insight into her infamous appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1992.

The Irish singer, 55, reflects on the incident in a new trailer for the documentary Nothing Compares, and says she was moved to rip up a photo of Pop John Paul II on camera after learning about the ways in which the church was covering up the sexual abuse of children.

"I had come across an article about families who had been trying to lodge complaints against the church for sexual abuse and were being silenced," she says in the trailer. "Basically everything I had been raised to believe was a lie."

O'Connor appeared on the late-night show in October of 1992, and tore up the photo after performing an a cappella version of "War" by Bob Marley. She then told the audience to "Fight the real enemy."

The stunt sparked serious backlash toward O'Connor, though she has since said she has no regrets ("A lot of people say or think that tearing up the pope's photo derailed my career. That's not how I feel about it," she wrote in her 2021 book Rememberings. "I feel that having a number-one record derailed my career and my tearing the photo put me back on the right track").

Sinead O'Connor performs on stage at Vogue Theatre on February 01, 2020 in Vancouver, Canada.
Sinead O'Connor performs on stage at Vogue Theatre on February 01, 2020 in Vancouver, Canada.

Andrew Chin/Getty Sinéad O'Connor

The trailer features insight from an unidentified woman who says she was the one to have booked O'Connor on SNL.

"She blows the candle out, she goes off stage," the woman recalls. "I had gone into the dressing room after her and I said, 'You know, I can't get you out of this.' And she said, 'You know what? I don't want you to.'"

The "Nothing Compares 2 U" singer weighs in, too, and says she feels it's her duty as an artist to spark dialogue on tough subjects — and despite the backlash she faced from the performance, still believes that.

"I wasn't thinking to myself, I must be strong. I didn't know I was strong," she says in the trailer. "An artist's job is sometimes to create the difficult conversations that need to be had. That's what art is for."

RELATED: Sinéad O'Connor Backtracks and Says She Is Not Retiring from Recording and Touring: 'I Retract'

Nothing Compares, directed by Kathryn Ferguson, will start streaming on Showtime Sept. 30. The documentary chronicles O'Connor's "phenomenal rise to worldwide fame and examines how she used her voice at the height of her stardom, before her iconoclastic personality led to her exile from the pop mainstream," per a press release.

The film focuses on the singer's life from 1987 to 1993, and includes music videos, concert performances, previously unseen footage and a new interview with O'Connor in which she reflects on her past.