Sinead O’Connor Reflects on Controversial ‘SNL’ Pope Photo Incident in ‘Nothing Compares’ Trailer: Watch

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Sinéad O’Connor‘s controversial performance on Saturday Night Live is getting a brand new perspective from the singer herself, nearly 30 years later. On Thursday (Sept. 15), the trailer for Showtime’s forthcoming documentary Nothing Compares — named after O’Connor’s 1990 Billboard Hot 100 No.1 hit “Nothing Compares 2 U” — sees the singer reflecting on her infamous appearance on the late-night comedy show, in which she tore a picture of Pope John Paul II to pieces.

“I had come across an article about families who had been trying to lodge complaints against the church for sexual abuse, and they were being silenced. Basically everything I had been raised to believe was a lie,” the 55-year-old singer explained of her thought process for the performance.

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O’Conner appeared on the Oct. 3, 1992, episode of Saturday Night Live as a musical guest, and made a few unique choices for her performance. She gave an a capella performance on Bob Marley’s “War,” intended to be a protest against the Catholic Church for silencing its sexual assault victims. While singing the word “evil,” O’Connor held a picture of Pope John Paul II. After tearing the photo into pieces, she said “Fight the enemy,” and threw the pieces toward the camera.

Someone who had worked with O’Connor at the time of the performance provided additional context in the trailer. “I had worked around Saturday Night Live … She blows the candle out, she goes offstage. I had gone into the dressing room after her and I said, ‘I can’t get you out of this.’ And she said, ‘You know what? I don’t want you to.'” A younger O’Connor said, “I acted at the time in the way that I felt would be most true to myself.”

The incident result in a swift backlash against the singer. O’Connor, reflecting on the experience in the trailer, noted, “I wasn’t thinking to myself I must be strong. I didn’t know I was strong. An artist’s job is sometimes to create the difficult conversations that need to be had. That’s what art is for.”

According to Showtime’s official description, Nothing Compares “charts Sinéad OʼConnorʼs 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.”

The documentary will arrive on Sept. 30.

Watch the trailer for Nothing Compares below.

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