It’s been 4 days since the Oscars aired, and I am already tired of seeing, reading and hearing exactly how offensive, misogynistic and inappropriate Seth MacFarlane was as host. And here I was, thinking Peter Griffin was the only one that ever beat a dead horse. At least with “Family Guy”, you know the episode is going to end in 30 minutes.
For the better part of a decade, Seth MacFarlane has gained legions of fans with his brand of nothing-is-sacred comedy. From gays to various religions to the education system to the Hollywood elite to himself, Seth will make fun of anyone and anything.
I count myself among his fans. I like his biting wit and satirical views and only occasionally feel a bit guilty for laughing. My feelings of guilt are not Seth’s fault; his jokes are funny because they’re true. He gets a bad rap because he has the balls to tell them, while others, including myself on occasion, are too busy looking around to see if anyone might be offended before laughing. If we took the jokes for what they are, parodies trying to point out the hypocrisy in our own views, then we would all laugh mightily and probably add a few years to our lives as we would finally stop being so damned uptight.
I’m not saying every joke was the best joke Seth has ever told. In fact, I agree with pretty much everyone that the ‘Jews run Hollywood’ and ‘all black people look alike’ jokes were tired a decade ago. But Seth was hired for a reason: to use his brand of comedy to get his more than 3 million followers on Twitter, fans of his two hit TV shows and fans of his recent box office record breaking movie to tune into the Oscars. Between hiring Seth and dropping the “85th” from the ads halfway through the promotion, the Academy was trying to rebrand the Oscars as a show Seth’s demographic would want to watch. It was a gamble that seems to have paid off. The Oscars did see an increase in viewership compared to last year when Billy Crystal, the Academy’s favorite darling, hosted for the 10th time.
The problem arises when Seth, as host, is expected to be something he isn’t. He can’t pander to the Hollywood elite during a one night gig and risk alienating his core fan base by giving an inauthentic performance. So, let’s take a look at some of the jokes that have people wishing Chris Brown would take Seth for a late night car ride in LA.
The Chris Brown/Rihanna joke seems like a good place to start. I’ve read claims that because this joke makes light of domestic violence “we’ll end up with more dead women.” I’d like to think this joke is more of a warning to Chris Brown than an attack on Rihanna for going back to him. This joke says to Chris: “We know what you did, and while Rihanna has forgiven you, we haven’t. We’re still watching; don’t make that mistake again.”
Seth’s comment about being a former exotic dancer was another joke deemed as an attack on women in general and Jennifer Aniston specifically. This was not a barb to Jennifer Aniston. It was a challenge to our stereotypical ideas that when you see a man and a woman and you are told one of them is a former stripper, you will automatically assume it’s the woman. This time, that wasn’t the case and as much as we’d like to think otherwise, women are just as capable and just as likely to objectify men. The box office success of “Magic Mike” proves that point. I’m sure you saw the memes this summer “this is the first time guys want to see a movie about a teddy bear and girls want to see a movie about strippers.” I’m not embarrassed to admit I doled out my 8 singles to see Channing Tatum body roll in larger than life proportions on the big screen. And if he was still performing in the Tampa Bay area, I’d make the two hour drive south to my hometown to see him in the flesh.
Speaking of nakedness, “We Saw Your Boobs” is a catchy tune. I didn’t have an issue with it, and obviously, neither did a number of the women mentioned as they were part of the bit. And if you notice, Seth mentioned very strong women in a number of very strong roles. If he wanted to make a true mockery of women showing skin, he would have used that opportunity to make a Kardashian sex tape joke. However, I do think Seth missed an opportunity to call out several other boobs we regularly see. I’m looking at you, Matthew McConaughey, your wardrobe must be the least expensive of all stars because you spend so much time on screen, and in real life, without a shirt.
That reminds me, the audience was okay with equating Ben Affleck’s bearded face to a Kardashian but not okay with John Wilkes Booth being the one actor to “really get into Lincoln’s head?” What does that say about us as a society? I’ll tell you – it says we are only concerned about gender equality when it’s convenient and we can’t joke about something that happened nearly 150 years ago.
Don’t agree? Tell me, where were your admonishing words when neither Time nor Newsweek bothered to feature Nancy Pelosi on the cover when she became the first female Speaker of the House, but both put John Boehner on the cover when he was merely the presumptive Speaker? Where are your condemnations over the fact that women earn, on average, $0.81 for every $1 a man makes, for the same job?
Unfortunately, I don’t have time to explain each of Seth’s jokes to you. It was a 3 hour and 35 minute show, and I do have a job. That means, I have to work longer and harder to be able to afford the same house as my male neighbor. Don’t worry about being outraged on my behalf; I know you’re busy condemning Seth MacFarlane for mentioning Quvenzhané Wallis’ name in a joke making fun of a man’s (George Clooney) penchant for dating younger women. So, let’s agree to put this topic, along with your delicate sensibilities to bed, shall we?