There is always a buzz about the mishaps and shining stars of the Oscars come the Monday morning afterward. However, the most talked about part of the 85th annual academy awards was not, thankfully, the fashion, the stars, or even the winners. It was the “offensive,” “crude,” and edgy humor of the host Seth MacFarlane. MacFarlane needs no introduction to any Oscar viewer under the age of 60, and was an obvious choice to bring in an audience of the young, hip viewers that James Franco and Anne Hathaway failed to entice two years ago.
The Family Guy creator left the crowd, and the media buzzing, but for all the wrong reasons. USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and the New Yorker (to name a few) gave reviews of the show as if Seth MacFarlane had committed a murder on stage and laughed about it. About MacFarlane’s comedy, Amy Davidson of the New Yorker wrote that “Watching the Oscars last night meant sitting through a series of crudely sexist antics[.]” The entire media and viewing audience seemed to have been mortified by the off-color jokes of the host.
Seth MacFarlane was chosen to host the award show because of the type of humor he performs. It should have been no surprise that his jokes that were bold and fearless, while also unsophisticated at times. What was surprising however, was the uptight crow that seemed legitimately offended every time a punch line was hurled their way. Even more curious was the response of the viewers at home on social media. Facebook and Twitter were riddled with posts of how MacFarlane’s jokes were sexist and unfunny.
One of the most controversial of MacFarlane’s jokes was one concerning domestic violence. While talking about Best Picture Nominee Django Unchained, MacFarlane quieted the crowd by saying that the movie is a “story of a man fighting to get back his woman, who’s been subjected to unthinkable violence. Or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie.”
The problem is not with the joke. The problem is with those that are offended by a shot at the poster couple of domestic abuse. Throngs of fans idolize Chris Brown and Rihanna, even after numerous stories about Brown’s violent temper and woman-beating attitude at the same time in which Rihanna is releasing songs about being bound by an ill-tempered man and beaten because the “chains and whips excite [her].” Brown and Rihanna pollute the airwaves and media stream with the message that domestic violence is cool, and we get offended at MacFarlane for cracking jokes at it?
Now that domestic violence is on the table, what else can we throw into the feast? MacFarlane made notice of the women in Hollywood that could double as science classroom skeletons by saying “And those of you [women] who gave yourselves the flu two weeks ago to ‘get there’, it paid off.”
Uproar! Blasphemy! How dare MacFarlane make an observation about the unhealthy methods and images of the women of Hollywood? You need look no further for the inspiration of that joke than award presenter Renee Zellweger. Zellweger’s unnaturally-thin frame (along with most of the other women of Hollywood) is the real offensive part of the show. Those women are the cause of more pain and suffering, just ask the 500,000 American teens with eating disorders, than any joke made by the comedy writer that many of those teens idolize.
The case that Seth MacFarlane was just not quite as funny as he could have been is not the issue. I will concede that his hosting job was fit more for a Comedy Central roast (as he did in 2010 and twice in 2011) than an Academy Awards show. However, the fact is that Hollywood’s inhabitant’s need to get away from their holier-than-thou attitudes and the smug approach to life that they feel needs to be envied and praised. Actors and actresses, directors and producers can and should be the subject of any good comedy act.
MacFarlane’s jokes may have been less-than-appropriate at times and observed as slightly “self-indulgent” for an event like the Oscars, but that is exactly what they paid him to do. The Academy Awards had turned into Sunday evening soap for senior citizens and MacFarlane was employed to change that. He was chosen to get the younger crowds watching because his comedy is what the younger viewers enjoy. MacFarlane had every right to perform the way he did and used his rightfully unapologetic style extenuate his grievances, observations, and shortcomings about Hollywood. The real media ridicule of the show should be aimed at the self-indulgent speeches, from people like African-American Director Quentin Tarantino.
Forget the headlines reading “self-indulgent” performance by Seth MacFarlane. Quentin Tarantino, in accepting the award for Best Original Screenplay, gave a speech as though he had just found the cure for cancer. “I actually think that if people are knowing about my movies 50 years from now, it will be because of the characters I created,” he spouted, ineloquently. He goes on to say that this year is the “year of the writers” and that he is the best of the bunch.
If your inner monologue is shouting, “Don’t forget about MacFarlane’s racist joke” (even after a white man won Best Original Screenplay for a script in which the N word appeared about 110 times). If you believe it is insensitive to make jokes about Spanish actors and actresses, think really hard before laughing at any stand-up comedian’s observations about race the next time you attend a show. If you don’t throw your hands up and walk out the door of the comedy club, you are a hypocrite.