Why Seth MacFarlene Offending at the Oscars Isn’t News
A headline that reads “Seth MacFarlene Offends,” (aside from usually ending with ‘again’) is just as newsworthy as “Rush Limbaugh goes on an angry right wing rant.” So when it was announced that the Family Guy creator was to host the 85th Academy Awards, it should be expected that he’d at least have a couple low-brow and offensive jokes.
The year that the 85th Oscars was celebrating, 2012, was a tough year for women. Between the whole Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke issue, the rampant attempts at stopping abortions and birth control and Hillary Clinton resigning as Secretary of State, 2012 was not the best year of good news for women. So it’s safe to say that jokes made at the expense of women at this time, in front of an audience of millions, is probably not the savviest of moves.
So you can see why MacFarlene’s opening song, “We Saw Your Boobs,” would offend. But everyone seems to be forgetting something. Didn’t William Shatner introduce that song and dance routine as being a really bad decision? The answer is yes. The context of that joke was “this is not okay.”
People also forget that, Oscar night, MacFarlene made jokes at the expense of Jews, gays, black people, and Chris Brown. And that his show has taken a stab at everyone from the handicapped to the elderly and hasn’t apologized once. Offending everyone and everything set to the sense of humor of a 14 year old boy is how Seth MacFarlene has made his money, so it should be no shock that he did the same thing at the Oscars.
But instead of focusing on how Seth MacFarlene offended people again, let’s focus on what he did right as the best Oscar host in five years. When I think of Seth MacFarlene’s job as host, I think of his song and dance number featuring Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum doing a wonderful job together. I also think of Flight being reenacted by sock puppets, but that’s not really my point. Seth MacFarlene had a surprisingly tasteful moment on stage with a talented dancer and a beautiful actress not many people knew could dance so elegantly.
MacFarlene handled the night with a lot of well-rehearsed bits and more confidence than Jon Stewart did at his second go around as host. Sure he had an easy offensive joke about Chris Brown and Rihanna, but he also had a joke about John Wilkes Booth that I don’t think anyone was expecting.
MacFarlene was certainly not a classic Oscar host like Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg or Steve Martin, but he managed to keep the night moving along quickly with a confident sense of humor, a surprising amount of charm, and actually looked like he was having fun. And let’s remember, he thankfully wasn’t James Franco and Anne Hathaway.
It’s too easy to get mad at Seth MacFarlene’s jokes. People put too much social responsibility on comedians when that’s simply not their job. A comedian’s job is to make people laugh. Seth MacFarlene wasn’t standing on a soapbox yelling about how women aren’t equal. He wasn’t trying to sign Jennifer Lawrence up for a transvaginal ultrasound. He did what Seth MacFarlene does best: make jokes aimed at high school boys. And that’s what everyone knew he was going to do when they first announced he was to host Hollywood’s biggest night.