OSCARS: Debate Still Rages About Seth MacFarlane – Is There A Double Standard At Play?

The debate rages on about this year’s Oscars. Not about the movies that won or lost, but the host. Poor Seth MacFarlane just can’t seem to catch a break. If you believe what you read he is either a misogynist, a gay basher, an anti-Semite hiding behind a stuffed teddy bear, or someone who is just downright disrespectful to Abraham Lincoln. And you thought hosting the Oscars was going to be all fun and glamour?

Somewhere along the way we seem to be losing our sense of humor. It’s just an awards show, folks.  Even if you don’t think he was funny — and apparently many don’t — it’s no reason to completely eviscerate the guy. For fronting a show that was alternately class (Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand, musical numbers) and crass, he has been getting bashed from the right and the left for his Oscar-night performance where his routines, among  many other charges, have been blasted as sexist (particularly for the musical number, “We Saw Your Boobs” which was meant to be a tasteless parody of a bad Oscar song number). For MacFarlane, who is known for edgy humor, this was relatively mild material. Yet critics like Amy Davidson in the New Yorker called it  his “ugly, sexist, racist Oscars” and his performance, “a series of crudely sexist antics led by a scrubby, self-satisfied Seth MacFarlane”. Ouch. The Anti-Defamation League joined the chorus earlier this week protesting the appearance of MacFarlane’s Ted and what they said was anti-Semitic humor. Yesterday a couple of California female legislators even filed a formal protest with the Academy over what they saw as offensive treatment of women.

It’s ironic that several women are now coming to MacFarlane’s defense, including Victoria A. Brownworth today at the Advocate.com, who said his humor was pointing out Hollywood hypocrisy against women and in fact gave his performance a ringing endorsement. The Academy itself got pro-active in sending press members positive statements about MacFarlane’s Oscar gig, offering a strong defense. All of this brings up the point that perhaps a “double standard” was at work here when compared to the media’s effusive praise for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the two female hosts of this year’s rival show the Golden Globes — even though some of their comedy bits dealt with some of the same subject matter as MacFarlane’s including women’s difficulties with issues of weight. So is there a real double standard at work? Fey and Poehler gets raves, MacFarlane gets vilified.

There’s no question MacFarlane’s performance was hit and miss and he doesn’t have the spot-on comic timing of a Bob Hope or Johnny Carson (two role models he singled out as inspiration in taking on this gig) but is it really worth this national debate? It’s no wonder he’s sworn off hosting the Oscars again even though ratings were up and, with the younger demo so coveted by the Academy significantly up.

Ultimately it just proves again that hosting the Oscars in a day and age where you are being reviewed, tweeted, discussed and dissected in real time as the show progresses is a different gig than when Hope and Carson made it seem so effortless and well, funny. It reminds me though that it might not even be so easy for Hope if he were around in this very PC era of Oscar watching. A few years ago I was seated at a table with Steven Spielberg who was a nominee for the Broadcast Critics Award that year. The awards were held at the Santa Monica Civic, site of several Oscar shows in the 1960s. Making small talk, I mentioned that correlation to Spielberg and even repeated a quip Hope made when he opened the 1962 Oscar show there with a reference to that year’s Best Picture nominee about the Nazi trials, Judgment At Nuremberg. “Welcome to Judgment at Santa Monica,” I told the director of Schindler’s List that Hope had joked. He cooly dismissed it saying, “It wasn’t funny then and it’s not funny now.”

Everyone’s a critic when you’re hosting the Oscars.

      1. They were fixated on the Pope yesterday. I understand that Rome is interesting, but there are problems at home as you said.

    1. I think that the dignity and august traditions of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would be best served if the awards were presented by a panel of distinguished professors from the humanities departments of the Ivy League, Oxford and Cambridge, dressed in academic robes and mortarboards and sporting goatees and pince-nez. No unseemly humour would be allowed.

      1. I think at that point it would be a terrible ratings bust to air it on network TV. Might as well just take 5 minutes and read off a list of the winners.

  1. I said the exact same thing in a comment on another article. For the effusive praise given to Fey and Poehler, they weren’t exactly sunshine and lollipops in their ribbing of celebrities. I’m not saying Fey and Poehler weren’t funny (they were), but the criticism of MacFarlane just isn’t fair. Most people in my day to day life whom I’ve spoken to about this think MacFarlane was a refreshing change of pace.

    The Academy just needs to decide who they’re aiming for with these shows. If you want old and stodgy, go with Crystal. For something fresher, you’ve got to skew a bit younger (though not as young as Hathaway/Franco). I will admit that I don’t particularly remember her performance well, but I feel like bringing Ellen Degeneres back might be a nice middle ground between the two spectrums.

  2. Sorry, he was offensive. Mostly because he just wasn’t funny.

    But the worst part about it is this effort to have it both ways — “No, he wasn’t actually BEING racist and sexist, he was saying all those things ironically to poke fun of racists and sexists.” Yeah. Right.

    1. But it wasn’t to be ironic. It was just his sense of humor. You can’t have seen family guy or ted and thought this show would go very differently. I’ll say this – he’s not a great Oscar host. Much like Jimmy Fallon, he’s so giddy he can’t really command the stage. But as a WOMAN and a JEW I would like to say there was not a single point in the show where I was offended by anything he say. In fact, we saw your boobs was te only thing I laughed at that night!

    2. I don’t much care for MacFarlance, but if you really think he was trying to do anything aside from satire — and I’ve watched enough crappy episodes of the misogynistic, mean-spirited Family Guy to know where his head is apparently at on these subjects — then you weren’t following.

  3. Geez people, get a life, as Pete said, It’s an awards how! If it offended you … CHANGE THE CHANNEL! Lighten up people!
    Seth, you were great!

    1. Seth was funny! And if you didn’t think he was, then apparently people had never seen Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, American Dad, and Ted. His humor on Sunday was mild in comparison to his shows/movies.

      What people should be complaining about are the endless musical numbers that went on and on and on. Craig and Neil, just because you love musicals doesn’t mean the rest of the world does.

      1. Family Guy and Ted are funny. Seth as a host is not. If you can’t tell the difference between tv/films and hosting, then you need help.

        It takes a different kind of talent to be a good host. Seth – definitely multi-talented – just doesn’t have that talent to be a good host.

        Which is good. I prefer him to continue his work in tv/films and stop trying to be a Mr. Everything.

        1. There is no difference. The academy and their audience of pompous asses would like you to believe otherwise, but there is not.

          I’d rather not be bored out of my mind every year thank you very much.

    2. I’m really sick of the “Awww, he was just being funny!” defense. It was bullshit on the playground in 3rd grade, and it’s still bullshit.

      1. That’s the difference between you and the rest of us who laughed. You’re still stuck in 3rd grade on the playground. The rest of us have moved on with our lives and accrued perspective, wisdom, self-confidence and a sense of humor.

  4. Are racism, sexism and anti-semitism “worth a national debate”????
    Uhhh, yeah.
    I’m not claiming MacFarlane engaged in any of those (not REALLY, really) but the conversation is very much important and TIMELY.
    Have you looked around lately, Pete? SCOTUS appears primed to pull the Voting Rights Act, women are listening to white male politicians try to redefine rape and limit access to contraception…
    Award season is over now so you can start paying attention the rest of the nation now.

  5. Blame the Academy, not the host. Seth did EXACTLY what you’d expect of him. Relatively polished juvenile comedy, delivered smugly.

  6. Here’s why it’s more than “just an awards show.” MacFarlane’s jokes are the type of jokes white guys make about women, Jews, gays and blacks behind their backs. Putting them front and center on the biggest showbiz night of the year sends a message to misogynists and racists that they’re actually okay, and that anyone who objects is “unable to take a joke.”

    Here’s why Tina Fey and Amy Pohler didn’t get the same criticism: They didn’t exclude their own demographic from their jokes. Although his apologists claim that MacFarlane is “an equal opportunity insulter,” he didn’t make any jokes about his target demo — non-Jewish white men 18-45. None.

    The result is that a certain demographic gets to sit back and laugh at minorities, reassured that its Mad Man-era prejudices are okay, while knowing that MacFarlane’s knives will never, ever be turned on them.

    1. That was a great comment. Are you a writer? If you are I wish you’d expand this thought into an essay somewhere. You hit the nail on the head: He didn’t make fun of his own kind. Sure there were a few jokes at Clooney’s and others expense, but he didn’t target Straight White Guys as a group, because we all know that Straight White Guys are the normal ones and it’s the rest of us “others” who deserved to be mocked. At least people are discussing the issue though, and at least that’s progress. Maybe.

  7. Yes to double standard. Crude jokes bad. BLATANT DISCRIMINATION & MISOGYNY good. The Academy is fulla hypocrites.

  8. And Bob Hope was a noted collector of Nazi memorabilia.

    One woman doesn’t speak for this woman. Seth’s hosting was classic frat boy-level humor: misogynistic, homophobic, anti-semitic. In short, the opposite of classy or classic, for that matter. If anything, it was cringetastic.

    As an Emmy voter, I was the recipient of his Emmy campaign for Family Guy. It was wildly offensive to not only Jews, but people in general. His performance Sunday was just more of the same.

  9. Part of what was disturbing about the “We Saw Your Boobs” song is that a lot of the scenes MacFarlane sang about were brutal rape scenes. What kind of weirdo watches THE ACCUSED and thinks, “Look! Boobies!”?

    1. what kind of weirdo takes satire so serious? Those are 1 second jokes, then on to the next… who sits there and searches for a context to apply in order to criticize. weirdo.

      1. Christ, JS, if I could strangle you through the computer, I would. My sister was a rape victim. So fuck you, and fuck McFarlane, yeah, it’s DAMN serious, and NOTHING to make jokes about.

  10. It’s OK for these folk to go to the Critics Awards, the Indie Spirits and GG and have these type of jokes hurled at them….but oh no, NOT the Oscars.
    As for these women who didn’t like the boobs song…maybe hollywood actresses need to STOP showing their naked bodies in Maxim, Playboy, and Vanity Fair (Demi’s naked pregnancy? remember?). No wonder the dear man won’t do it next year…it’s getting so that we’re running out of “hosts” and if they keep criticizing these poor fellows, the Oscars will be hosted by a robot.

  11. This is ridiculous. When is somebody going to blame the show runners and the Academy for Producing such self-loving and yawn inducing trash AND for being the ones that have chosen the host!?

  12. Seth MacFarlane was terrific. Much better than last years. If we cannot have Billy Crystrtal he is the next choice.

  13. Everybody seems to forget that AMPAS did APPROVED all of Seth’s materials – why isn’t anyone attacking AMPAS?!

  14. And everyone acts as if McFarlane wrote and directed the show all on his own…there were a lot of other people involved, but I guess the QB either gets the praise or the blame.

  15. Take of your rosy colored glasses…it’s just not an awards show. Politics plays a big role, too. Media is power and everything that is articulated and promoted through its usage effects millions of people, young and old, and generations to come – it promotes and establishes standards of thinking and of being. In an era where women, the right to vote, gay marriage and violence is so prevalent and in question, Seth’s performance condones the deterioration of American society and the desire of a male-dominated elite to bring the country back to the days of Mad Men and the 50’s. Those women who are defending his performance and agenda have not been Afghanistan or India where women are raped daily and are subjected to unimaginable violence. It all starts with a few jokes about actresses boobs.

      1. Yeah, really. Try being a woman walking alone when some strange guy starts tossing hostile “jokes” your way. Is he just a drunken asshole? Or is it going to escalate into a rape attempt? Women are saying, “NO, you CANNOT give the message that these kinds of jokes are acceptable.”

        It used to be considered okay to make jokes about hitting your wife, because society accepted spousal abuse as normal. Hit your spouse now and you can get thrown in jail. Times change. The Academy needs to come into the 21st century.

    1. you may be making an overly simplistic assessment of culturally entrenched misogynistic practices in other parts of the world. i’m definitely against rape. but i don’t want to live in a world without boob jokes. what a great word. boob.

    2. Speaking of politics, keep the first lady and the Pres the hell out of the show. We don’t need politicians butting in. Nice speech Michelle, but stay the F out of the Academy Awards. OMG, there was a rape and bombing in Delhi today. Must be Seth McFarlane! Why not blame it on the Obamas? What segment was it really?

  16. Many of his critics have a sense of humour; Seth Macfarlane is not that funny, and the show was not that good.

    The debate continues, because the media has to find stories to full a 24 hour news cycles.

  17. People need to give Seth a break. It’s not easy hosting the Oscars and yeah sure some of his jokes were edgey, but the guy was easily the best host we have had at the Oscars in YEARS!!!! Everyone I’ve talked to friends, family members and co workers said they actually enjoyed the show because of him.

  18. I was at an Oscar party with a bunch of young people – late 20’s – and a few old ones – 60ish – and everyone enjoyed him. We thought his song and dance routines were hilarious and he was a terrific host. It was the most entertaining Oscar in years!

    1. That’s because you are well adjusted and have a REAL sense of humor. Everyone takes themselves to seriously in this town. All these “people” with an ax to grind about Seth MacFarlane have other issues gnawing away at them inside and this is just the thing they decided to grab a hold of and snarl through their teeth. Family Guy is funny. Is it for everyone. No. But, if it’s so wrong, why is it still on the air? Obviously, people find it funny and watch.

      There are more pressing matters in this country…like not losing our footing globaly whilst other countries start to pass us by in education and every other area.

  19. My 2¢ in this whole thing is:

    I honestly feel bad for ever even hosts the Oscars. It’s like people hold the presenter(s) to some, mythical, even mysterious, standard. Ahhh Johnny Carson. Ahhh Billy Crystal. Ahhh Bob Hope….Come on folks, we go through this practically every awards season.

    It seems for many, the best thing to do is just incessantly trash whatever host is at the Academy Awards for any particular year.

    I say this as one who didn’t necessarily completely enjoy McFarlane, but, I wonder, why is it that every year, people declare “errrgh my god, worst Oscar host ever!”?

    Is that what we’re down to? Shoving, jockeying amongst ourselves, attempting to create the “best crap title for Year X Oscar Host?”

    /endrant

  20. I agree. Gee I thought he was funny most of the time. The director of the show let him stew…( was there one cut of a someone anyone laughing in the show?) It’s not possible no one laughed. Seth’s very talented and ballsy – at least people are talking about him. It’s hard to be a white guy these days without a rap sheet, people can’t wait to knock you down a peg. Okay so he’s been knocked down. Now everyone will LOVE SETH again. He just busted his cherry Hollywood style. Oh and Seth, whatever you do don’t apologize – that will be the end. Remember what happened to Dice Clay.

    1. is it REALLY hard being a white guy?
      i mean, REALLY?
      especially a white guy who makes millions upon millions at this point for merely existing?

      yeah, my sympathies.

    2. Jokes are ultimately about anxiety, and if you don’t feel the anxiety, or if you don’t feel it’s worth acknowledging (it’s hard to be a WHITE guy?!), then you’re laughing simply because you’re trained to. The reason to make, say, a Mel Gibson joke (really, Seth?) is because the anxiety still lingers, not because it has been laughed at before. So, what you have left is MacFarlane telling jokes that people find “funny” not because they are new, but precisely because they are reheated, and that brings with it all kinds of nasties like racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. I’m not saying there is no longer anxiety about these things, but that MacFarlane isn’t on the edge of it anymore. Not even close.

  21. People were offended by his jokes… Give me a break. You know what was offensive? James Franco. Seth started with a cartoon that was canceled and now he’s hosting The Oscars… You see the leap somewhere in there? To me, this weekend was nothing more than an inspirational tale of a guy who has what all of us move out to this ridiculous town for; F#@k You money. Seth, if you’re reading this, do me a favor buddy, slap someone in the face with your Oscar check and get back to making me laugh.

    1. How’s James franco offensive???????

      When the best some people could come up with was he looked stoned, and at least he was easy on the eyes too. Yeah, not everyone hated his performance.

      Seth, was racist, sexist the list goes on and twitter people were asking for Franco in particular BACK. They did the same thing with Franco when Billy Crystal hosted – YES he too received MIXED REVIEWS.

      Again, I will take a stoned Franco than a racist or sexist anyday.

      “Somewhere along the way we seem to be losing our sense of humor. It’s just an awards show, folks”, is deadline for real. You constantly attacked James for his hosting, then you use this EXCUSE for Seth?????????

      I’m glad Franco is slowly getting vindicated, not sure why he constantly gets so much hate from the media (just to build up another actor or actress) but this has clearly backfired and I’m just sitting back and enjoying the ride.

      It bad of me, but I just couldn’t believe how Franco was treated and still people use him to give Seth and others a break.

  22. Jezz people…. GET A LIFE! No harm, no foul. Okay I can agree the ‘Boobs’ number was unnecessary, may I add, so was Captain Kirk, nothing personal… But after that I thought it was DAM good! Unique if you will. I loved it when the actors came out on stage and danced! Just sayin…

Comments are closed.